Validating Startup Ideas With Lean Startup Machine Los Angeles

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After attending Lean Startup Machine L.A., I can say that the LSM model provides some of the most practical and focused guidance on how to define and launch a business that I’m likely to ever receive.

By Kelsey Greenberg (Co-Founder, Difference Lab)

My Lean Startup Machine (LSM) team was formed of two separate MuckerLab companies currently working on GetMeRated and Blayze. We were told that in order to get the most out of the experience, we shouldn’t work on our current products, but come up with something new.

Reaching into personal experience, we started with a service that allowed women to remember the outfits they had previously worn to avoid public fashion repeats (I assumed that was a common and painful problem). Courtesy of the LSM philosophy, we immediately “got out of the building” to interview women at a local mall. Ten conversations later, we learned there was no pain associated with repeat outfits, but the bigger and very real issue was deciding which outfits looked good in the first place.

Assumption invalidated: Ready. Set. Customer need pivot.

The new idea was to create a tool that allowed women to quickly decide what looks good. We described a product that allows people to catalogue clothes for an easy way to coordinate what looks good together (picture the Clueless closet via an app) including the ability to pull in photos of outfits from social networks. They would do that right? “Get out of the building round two” went something like this:

Me: “Would you like this?”
9 out of 10 women: “Absolutely.”
Me: “Would you take the time to take photos and catalogue your clothes?”
9 out of 10 women: “Absolutely not. But I’d connect my social networks.”

Assumption invalidated: Ready. Set. Zoom-in Pivot.

Knowing that women would connect to social networks, we decided to focus on Instagram users that had tagged their photos with #ootd (outfit of the day). These women had done half our work for us by defining themselves as people who create records of their outfits on social networks and seek validation from others. Perfect.

Next, we invited 100 women with at least one photo tagged as #ootd to try our service. Our invite led them to a landing page asking them to join Wearsi – a tool that tells you which outfits look good by ranking previously posted outfits by the number of “likes” they had received on Instagram (and gives recommendations based on other Instagram users highly ranked #ootd photos).

We also let them “invite others” to get into Wearsi faster. 15 hours later, we had over 1,000 signups and 500 emails submitted asking to be notified immediately when Wearsi was available.

Idea validated.

There was a pain, we found a way to solve it and were able skip the anguish of building something unnecessary – all in under 48 hours.

Although we will not likely continue with Wearsi, we have already taken tactics and knowledge acquired from LSM and applied it to our current products. GetMeRated especially, given that 65% of our current users are 15-25 year old women and have the same “pain” – they just want to know what looks good. However, I believe these tools apply to anyone starting a new business or improving a current one

Overall, my biggest takeaway was this: cut out all of bullsh*t and get focused fast.

Make your decisions, features, and ideas worth the sweat, blood and tears (and time!) you are putting into them. Invalidate your assumptions quickly. If there is no pain, there is no product and you might as well save yourself the headache.

After attending Lean Startup Machine L.A., I can say that the LSM model provides some of the most practical and focused guidance on how to define and launch a business that I’m likely to ever receive.

Women 2.0 readers: What do you think of the Lean Startup Machine process? Let us know in the comments!

About the guest blogger: Kelsey Greenberg is Co-Founder and Community Manager at Difference Lab, creators of GetMeRated, a web and mobile app that helps you discover new people. She spends her entire day searching for the right minimal viable product that GetMeRated users will love. Kelsey graduated with her B.A. in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara and immediately launched herself into startup life. Follow her on Twitter at @KelseyGreenberg.