This is part 2 of the series, if you haven’t read part 1 click this link: My experience at PR Ventures’ Startup Bootcamp Part 1.
After the first session, the lessons learned really started to sink into my brain. The Startup Bootcamp was teaching how to launch my startup using their own flavour of the Lean Startup Methodology. It’s sort of a Mythbusters‘ way, based on the scientific method, to test your own ‘mythical’ business ideas.
At the end of the first session we designed a very simple experiment to objectively determine if we had identified a real life problem, need, frustration or customer pain.
We had to make a list of people to call, and using a series of non-leading questions we had to explore what their daily frustrations were. While taking notes, we would encourage our subject to talk about the things that bother him/her, and what they had tried to do about it, without ever (ever!) mentioning our business idea or influencing their answers. I would then tabulate my results based on these criteria:
- If over 70% of my subjects mentioned the problem I had hypothesized, I could continue with the next experiment
- If less than 30% of my subjects mentioned the problem I had hypothesized, I had to change my hypothesis and retry the experiment
- If between 30% and 70% of my subjects mentioned the problem I had hypothesized, I had to correct my hypothesis and retry the experiment
So what is my hypothesis, and experiment? Thank you for asking.
My Hypothesis and Experiment
Hypothesis: Installing security camera systems is labour-intensive, messy, and hard.
Experiment: Call people that have installed security camera systems in the past and ask them about the process, their frustrations, etc. Extract as much information as possible.
Sounds stupid, right? Everyone is going to agree with me. There is simply no way I’m wrong!
Busted! I was wrong… Installers of security camera systems were perfectly fine doing their job, no problems, no frustrations, no unbearable pain or desire for change!
Shit! It turns out people didn’t agree with me at all. I wasn’t even overestimating their pain, I was seeing something that wasn’t even there!
Reality check. The experiment was a humbling experience for me. I had to go back to the drawing board, and scramble through all my notes, to find the hidden clues in my interviews that would help me re-formulate my hypothesis to find a real need, problem or frustration.
I repeated the experiment and was thrilled to discover why I was on the wrong track: I was asking the wrong questions!
Good news! After digging deeper, I found several problems to work with. I also got detailed explanations on the reasons why they are so passive about finding solutions to these problems.
Real problems I found:
- Installers agree that wireless cameras would make installations easier. They have no problem with cabling, however they all agree that cabling for power only would be a great advantage for wireless, but choose to avoid using wireless cameras because:
- they find wi-fi is unreliable due to high loss of signal in concrete buildings, and insufficient coverage or bandwidth
- the camera still needs electricity to function
- those that have tried it say clients complain on the low performance/reliability of the system
- they see wireless as impractical for installations with more than eight 8 high definition cameras
They respond by ignoring wireless cameras as a viable alternative because they see no way of solving these issues.
- They agree that battery backup time for their systems is too short (30 minutes on average)
But they haven’t found any cost-effective solution in the market to improve this.
- They like the idea of using solar panels to power the cameras, but it’s so expensive, most clients aren’t willing to pay the extra cost
If I can figure out how to use these results to my advantage, I may have a fighting chance, as opposed to the 100% probability of failure, by confidently/stupidly following my incorrect/invalid initial premises.
What we did on the second session
Ok. Like before, here’s my fast and furious overview of what happened:
PirañaTank – Antonio gave us two minutes to explain the results of our experiment, and the first try to pitch our idea to the group. Then you shut up, and take all the criticism. Listen. Learn. Take notes. Mentors and students have no mercy pointing out any flaw, wrinkle or weakness in your presentation. There is blood in the water! We all suck!
- Antonio then explained what to do with the experiment results.
- We learned the basics on how to use the results of our experiments to construct a good “pitch”. We learned what a good “pitch” looks like, since we showed during the PirañaTank session, we are already experts at how to do it wrong! LOL
- Learned the 10 commandments of a good startup. Learned R-O-T and the 4P’s.
- We focused on getting better on our experiments, and set the stage for the second experiment.
- Homework for next session: Repeat your experiments as needed. Share your Business Formula with Antonio. Share your “pitch” in the PRV Startup Bootcamp facebook group, to get feedback from group members.
- Get ready for another PirañaTank attack!
It’s amazing how easy it is to critique other people’s ideas, while at the same time it’s so hard to get your own idea right. It was a good exercise, and I feel determined to do better on the next round, by using the techniques we learned during this session. I also can’t wait to re-think and re-write my “pitch” based on my experimental results, and the feedback from my fellow Piranhas, ironing out the wrinkles, fixing flaws, and eliminating obvious weaknesses.
I will keep you updated with future posts. Thanks for reading!
About Startup Bootcamp
Startup Bootcamp is a program where you learn to create a startup, validate your business idea, and make your first clients, without risking your time or money. It is an initiative of Puerto Rico Ventures.
Puerto Rico Ventures‘ goal is to support the entrepreneur community in Puerto Rico. We contribute by providing essential elements of the startup ecosystem. We believe that startups are the key to the economic future of the island, and help provide a strong foundation to anyone that is willing to launch a startup.