Startup: from concept to launch, on a weekend!

My startup weekend journey continues… Check out my previous blog post on my unique startup weekend experience, for an overview.

This blog post details my maiden startup weekend experience, from the conception of the idea to the product launch.

The Positives’ was launched during the online startup weekend!

A lean(er) approach-in a nut shell

Being lean and positive was going to be our startup mantra for building and launching a product during the weekend. Adopting a lean approach means reducing the cycle time for delivery of the product by eliminating unnecessary steps in the process, so as to quickly deliver a product based on what the target audience is interested in.

Going by the lean lines, with the 2 days we had at hand, we tried to:

  • reduce uncertainty of the idea- We validated the idea by testing it through market research. Reaching out to the target audience and understanding their need/pain-points, reduced our uncertainty about the idea.
  • reduce effort by building an MVP- To begin with, we came up with a minimum viable product (MVP) or a basic version (for testing the idea concurrently through market research), instead of wasting effort on directly building the end product.
  • mold the MVP into a final product- Feedback obtained from the target audience enabled us to produce a product to suit their needs.

The idea evolved through the stages of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle (discussed further), to take the shape of an end product by the end of 48 hours.

It was primarily through Slack and Zoom that we communicated amongst us. We made use of Teamwork (a cloud productivity platform) for managing the tasks at hand as well as for keeping track of project deadlines. Despite having these productivity tools at our disposal, I found that it was our sense of responsibility, dedication, self-motivated attitude and team work that helped steer the startup in the right direction.

The long story-Nuts and Bolts

Now, let me break up our process flow into stages: Idea discovery and diving deeper into the idea (Build-Measure-Learn).

1) Idea discovery

Discovery of an idea is a crucial stage in the startup process where it is necessary to come up with the right idea as well as to get the idea right!

  • Coming up with the right idea- This is a very important decision to make, as I believe the idea should be able to provide solutions to the needs existing in the market. While brainstorming for ideas, there should be a larger focus on the problems and solutions, rather than on random ideas. Key takeaway: The best ideas either solve an existing problem or create a new category altogether. While the latter is hard to come up with in such a short time, we wanted to rather address a need/problem.
  • Getting the idea right: It can be easy for anyone in the team to slip away from the crux of the idea at any point of time. Misinterpretation of the idea could cause confusion while moving forward with the implementation. This is a greater cause for concern whilst working in a remote team, where communication is key. The idea and the vision for the product need to be discussed well and clearly defined, before moving forward with the validation of the idea. Key takeaway: Define a strong vision and keep everyone on the same page.

‘The Positives’- the idea

Subsequent to a lot of brainstorming for ideas, we concurred on the fact that there is a paucity of positive news shown in the mainstream media, as they are often being over-shadowed by mundane/negative news. Unfortunately, more often than not, positive initiatives taken up to create a better world never receive the spotlight they truly deserve.

Enter thepositives.org- an alternate form of media which uses meaningful engagement/expression, spreads positivity and brings life-changing experiences to the audience at large. The Positives is an uplifting news platform that allows organizations to showcase their positive achievements/initiatives towards various causes while inspiring the creation of more such stories through user engagement. This website is targeted at the audience who are passionate about viewing positive stories and who see the need to create a better world.

2) Diving deeper into the product idea

Market research was a primary factor for us to understand the audience and their need for such a platform, where the users and organizations could get equally benefited. While we could fathom the need for such a platform through secondary research, we also validated our idea through primary research, by reaching out directly to the target audience.

With a lot of unanswered questions, we set out to validate the idea using the Build-Measure-Learn cycle.

Build: Create an MVP + Design and run test experiments to validate the idea

We created a simple wireframe to sketch the possible features based on our initial understanding and intuition. RealtimeBoard, an online collaborative whiteboard came in handy to create a wireframe in real-time. We translated the wireframe into a minimum viable product (MVP) first, which was a landing page with basic functionalities in our case. An MVP is a basic product with just adequate features required for testing the idea and accelerating the learning process about the target users, enabling one to ship the product quickly, thereby saving time, resources and effort.

While my team-mates Raymond and Roni started creating the wireframe and MVP, I created test experiments and started running the tests with the target audience. We used surveys as our primary mode of testing. Another test experiment was to place on the landing page, a call to action (CTA) button as an actionable metric to measure the success of user conversion and to make sure the test experiments added value.

I first began outlining an objective for the survey and meshed questions into the survey based on the objective. Typeform was the tool used for creating the survey. In the survey, we also provided a link to our MVP/landing page, to increase awareness of our website and to encourage feedback. The survey was posted on particular channels for the target audience on social media. Another means of testing the waters was through talking to a few end-users.

Measure: Analyze the data and reach a conclusion

The data from the survey were measured through analysis. We received a good majority in favor of our idea and also a few user sign-ups.

Learn: Determine whether to steer away or towards the idea + Realign the vision for the product if necessary

We received valuable feedback which helped us understand our audience better and used this to furnish our website’s feature list. Based on the positive outcome of the analysis, we proceeded with the idea as our uncertainty was mitigated. At the end of the Build-Measure-Learn cycle, we modified some aspects of our vision based on our validated learning and implemented additional features to our website.

Vision- To spread positivity globally and inspire more people to get involved in positive initiatives.

Our product had finally evolved from an MVP to a product!

Conclusion- but not the end…

Rome was not built in 2 days and so was our startup!

Though we successfully launched the startup on a weekend, this is just the start! I believe that the best way to create a better experience for the target audience is by understanding their needs, goals and coming up with appropriate features that would create an impact. If spreading positivity and creating a better world matter to you, please visit us at www.thepositives.org. Also take a moment to fill a feedback survey on the ‘about us’ page.

Although there are many aspects of the process that could have been done better, my first startup weekend experience will always remain a memorable one!