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A Weekend Experiment with the Lean Startup – Part 1

Written By: Bob 24 July 2010 Other Posts By: Bob

I’m taking part in The Lean Startup Machine. It’s similar startup weekend that’s specifically designed with lean startup principles. Steve Blank would be proud! Eric Ries is proud (he was at the event via online video to speak and answer questions)

The goal of the event is to teach rapid customer development and to build working CD/Lean principle prototypes as fast as possible to get feedback, pivot, and eventually build an awesome product.

The night started with a few talks, speeches, and need to knows. The full agenda can be found at The main website. After an extra round of networking, we went into the pitches.

There were some great pitches. Here was mine…

CrowdMarkUp.com – Crowdsourcing Marketing Ideas for Startups.

99Designs or Crowdspring for marketing advice. People post projects where they are looking for advice on marketing, their startup, which comeptitors are in the space, etc.., and people answer their questions with advise and ideas.

Project owners give a dollar amount when they sign up, and 85% goes to the advisors, and 15% goes to us. They can divide the money to any or all their advisors, whichever dollar amount they think each advisor deserves – from the total pot, to $0.

I’ve made the mistake of starting a company with no more of a marketing plan than “I’ll tell people on facebook and twitter and it will spread exponetially”. Yeah, I know, not a great idea. I wish I could pay $50 and get answers to all kinds of questions like which competitors are in this space, who should I partner with to help spread the word cheaply, is there anyone I should talk to about this product. I would love to get these things answered by a ton of people quickly instead of scheduling a weeks worth of meetings and finding out 8 weeks later that my great and original idea has three different competitors that will destroy me (easily).

I also wish that I could have made a few extra bucks in college studying marketing by helping entrepreneurs. I knew of crowdspring and 99designs, but I’m terrible at graphic design. There wasn’t anything for me!

If it existed, I would use crowdmarkup.com as an entrepreneur looking for feedback and easy access to knowledge, and I would also use it for those times when business isn’t going well, and you need some way to pay the electric bill.

Our project made it as the last project to win in the voting (just barely squeaked by). After voting, people walked around looking for teams and we eventually put together a solid team
of people with various skills from graphic designer, entrepreneur, consultant, and php developer – a perfect mix for this project.

When we sat down, we vetted the idea to make sure we were all on the same page. We took down each other’s email and phone numbers and sent out an email immediately.

We soon put together google docs (1 excel, 1 word) and built our assumptions and hypothesis as well as questions we wanted potential users to answer.

Our simple prototype (as planned thus far).

Page 1 – Landing page – tell what website does – ask advisors and project creators to join.

Page 2 – Harvest email/password from all users.

Page 3 – Get each user base to answer specific types of questions – different questions for project creators/advisors.

Page 4 – Sorry, but we’re not ready yet. Do you want to be a part of the alpha? We’ll get in touch with you and build what y. ou want to see!

Some of the team started building the php/ajax functionality and graphic design while the rest of the team started putting together potential customers to talk to about the project and online groups to ask for reviews and ratings.

We’re working very diligently and will be ready to launch our first lean startup version of CrowdMarkUp tomorrow afternoon!

Now I’m on the long train ride back to New Jersey to try and salvage a few hours of sleep before doing this entire thing again tomorrow!

CrowdMarkup <— The site in progress…

http://bit.ly/dhLCt4 <— Help us out by filling out our survey

Continue on to Part 2

Related posts:

  1. Producing PeerAround: Lessons from Startup Weekend
  2. The Smarter Football Saga: A Lesson on Pivoting
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  • http://foundersblock.com/anecdotes/a-weekend-experiment-with-the-lean-startup-part-2-we-did-more-of-a-jumpstep-than-a-pivot/ Founders Block » Blog Archive » A Weekend Experiment with The Lean Startup – Part 2: “We did more of a jumpstep than a pivot”

    [...] those of you who haven’t read Part 1, here it is Part 1. For those of you who don’t want to read part 1, we’re taking part in a 54 hour lean [...]

  • http://giffconstable.com giffc

    btw, I really liked your pivot — lots of questions to resolve in terms of its business potential, but you really looked at the problems with the original idea and came up with a new one based on truly listening to both your possible constituents.

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