Identifying early adopters using Lean Canvas

Last week was a tough week for our early stage startup. A conversation with Carlos at the Happy Startup School highlighted a problem we were facing. One which was causing us all manner of problems without us even realising it.

The conversation with Carlos is what made the week tough and turned me into a somewhat grumpy person. On Monday we talked about product market fit and finding our early adopters. In my mind, up until that point, I was sure that product owners were the right early adopters to aim for. But Carlos raised questions about the size of the audience, it not being focussed enough and also whether the product benefits were strong enough for them to change their behaviours.

After the meeting I went away and completed a lean startup canvas. You can read about the details here (http://leanstack.com/why-lean-canvas/) but the main aim for me was to identify the early adopters, to see if Fidget would provide a solution to the problems they faced and whether these problems were big enough for people to care about. I created canvases for the two main target audiences that I had in mind, product owners and startups. On the surface these two audiences face very similar problems, but for early adopters we had to be focussed. When consulting I always push the need for more focus so it was time for me to listen to my own words of advice and recognise that greater focus will result in a better product. Whilst they may be similar on the surface, the way you speak to them, how you position the solution and the needs that they have outside of the problem we are trying to solve are very different. After completing these canvases it still wasn’t clear who we should be focussing on.

Lean canvas for Startups

It was Friday and I felt like I’d wasted two days researching product owners and startups. Searching quora, reddit, product hunt, medium and every other online resource to try and better understand the problems I’d identified in my Lean Canvas. I’d made very little progress in actually deciding which audience we would be better off focusing on with our initial offering.

The Happy Startup guys organise the Lean Startup meetup once a month at the office. Whilst I wanted to go, my grumpy attitude meant that I was talking myself out of it. Lucky for me there was no escape as it’s held in the office I’m in. It was time for me to snap out of it and be thankful for the amazing environment I was in and the people that were around me. Armed with a cup of tea I put on my happy face and got involved. The morning was a great success and gave me a load of insight into what other startups were dealing with and also the chance to get input on my own problem of finding product market fit. A side point that came out of the meetup was that I constantly found myself advising others to just do it; put your website out there or publish that blog post. I felt like a hypocrite because these were the very same issues I was hiding from. So here you are reading my remedy to that problem.

Later that afternoon once most of the attendees from the Lean Startup meetup had fizzled out I was eaves dropping on a workshop that was happening in one of the meeting rooms by the guys of Unknown Epic (http://www.unknownepic.com/#unknown-epic-1-1) Realising that Fidget aimed to solve some of the problems they were tackling I asked if I could sit in on the session and give myself a chance to do some undercover user research. The session turned into a full afternoon of defining their strategy for moving forward and outlining their next steps to building their tribe. Being involved in the session was a great eye opener for me, I was immersed in the moment and the sense of satisfaction in helping others plan their way forward made it clear for me that Fidget should focus on startups for the early adopters. In keeping with the idea of focus I went one step further and chose to just focus on software startups as our early adopters.

Unknown Epic planning session

Here’s my breakdown of the pros and cons of focussing on software startups as our early adopters.

Positives:

  • We are in the same boat as them so can empathise with their circumstances and we understand the domain
  • They are not set in their ways so will be open to new ideas and approaches
  • We can drive traffic just by talking about our own journey and experience of running a startup
  • We can offer guidance on how to use templates more effectively and build a hook through them
  • We’re more passionate about this market
  • It has the capacity to expand within the teams from defining vision to actually building the product
  • We have easy access to these people in and around Brighton and London

Possible problems:

  • High fail rate so could have high customer churn
  • Might not have much money to pay for it

Now that we have a clearer direction on who we are aiming at its time to bring more focus to all other areas of the business and start building relationships with software startups. If you happen to be a software startup and would be interested in having a chat then we would love to hear from you.

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