Customer Stories #2: Hoop Carpool — How to enter with an idea and exit with a product

With a short but intense stop at the Lean Startup station

Akimad - Realistic Innovation
6 min readMar 12, 2019


When we met Paloma and Nathan they were two young, energetic people who had nothing more than what most of us have had at some point of our lives, and some of us have all the time: an idea.

They both live outside of Madrid and have identified a real-world problem occurring to many people similar to themselves: the commuting to your workplace/transportation in general.

In this particular case they realised that there was a product missing on the market, something like an equivalent of BlablaCar but meant for diary, recurring routes, for example, from home to office. The problem they saw clearly was that most of the cars move around with only one seat occupied, which surely is not the best way to go.

No matter if it was actually a good or a bad idea, the idea itself was all they had at the beginning of this journey.

They arrived in our office enthusiastic and fresh (as most of the people who have just an idea) and explained what they wanted. The only way that seemed to be reasonable to them was to develop the actual product and throw it on the market. They were motivated to proceed and make it all reality but we tried to convince them that this kind of approach was not the best way to go.

They told us they wanted to develop an app, exactly as the BlablaCar one (not exactly low expectations), but with even some more features on top, of course. Sure, we made a realistic cost estimation for a development of a native app similar to the ideal product and ended up at a really high cost estimate. Just for the development. Where is marketing, operations and all the other costs? Well, not here.

As you can imagine, they didn’t want to spent a fortune just on developing a native application. This is also a very common characteristic of people with ideas: they are not millionaires simultaneously.

Okay, so what do we do? First of all, keep calmed. Second of all, rethink the approach. We like Lean Startup, we teach Lean Startup, and we believe in Lean Startup. That’s why this is exactly where the journey for people with ideas who meet us begins.

First landing page

The first approach they had is very common in the entrepreneurial world, but it is also very risky. In this case, the founders realised early enough that there was another way to go: validating with a minimum financial risk and starting small instead of going big from the first minute.

What is exactly included in the ticket we offer? Well, first of all, proper workshops and formation, and second of all, execution which we understand as co-creation.

Making it more detailed: We grab your idea, we co-create a corporate image, business model, branding, visual materials, amazing pitch deck, screenshots of the most important app screens and a landing page. This means that with a minimum inversion of money you get the maximum output as to validate your product and look for VCs, and you learn a lot.

Pitch Deck

In this particular case it was exactly a 50/50 balance between learning and making. We organised three different workshops:

  1. Business Model Canvas — what is it and how to do it right, explained theoretically and applied practically.
  2. Value Proposition Canvas — presented, understood, applied.
  3. Customer Journey Map and Design Thinking — co-creating relevant content using the agile methodologies.

Paloma and Nathan were not only motivated but also hard-working, and at the end of this journey they have, with our help, developed a proper business model, our founders were prepared to work in a lean and iterative manner and they went right away to making interviews with potential users, getting up at 6 a.m. and asking people on the bus stops if they would be willing to share a car to get to work. Nice.

We went right away to creating the visuals and the mockup of the app and the process was almost done — Hoop team was ready to start pitching all over the place.

App screens

Thanks to their efforts to be visible in the local startup ecosystem they met a lot of interesting people and among them there happened to be some who had a similar or almost an identical idea in mind and, what a nice coincidence, had already developed a product.

That’s how they ended up cooperating with engineers who had a product but no business and design background, while what Hoop was missing was exactly the product. I guess you can call it Serendipity at its best!

After the fusion with another team and using the materials created in the Lean Startup journey with us, Hoop Carpool was able to enter a prestigious accelerator sponsored by Bankia: Conector Startup Accelerator which is founded by Carlos Blanco — one of the most influential and respected entrepreneurs and VCs in Spain. The project was selected as one of the 7 winners in the category of circular economy and sustainability. Hats off, it was definitely a well-deserved victory!

Nathan pitching at Conector Startup Accelerator

(Fun fact: when they were previously asking for mentorship and help within their university ESIC, they were pretty much ignored, but after the credits that this success provided to their names they were able to get the same mentors and support right away. Mad world!)

Today we see Hoop Carpool working hard in the accelerator, side by side with Carlos Blanco and other entrepreneurs, and we cannot help but feel excited and proud to have been able to accompany them in this fascinating journey with a happy transition to the next chapter (and hopefully also with a big happy end in some years).

Paloma pitching at #eShowMAD ’18

Fingers crossed for Hoop Carpool’s future and we can’t wait for more people with just an idea to cross our way. Are you one of them?


Akimad was created by Mika and Dam, a duo of dynamic entrepreneurs with complementary skills and personalities. We believe in realistic innovation. We want to share our experience and support young founders in creating an agile process of idea validation and product development. Say hello!

Written by Daria Krauzo.