Illustration of Entrepreneurial optimism vs. Reality

Assumption vs. Hypothesis – To the Death!

Something has been irritating me: The startup community uses the words assumption and hypothesis interchangeably.

We also rarely use hypothesis correctly, often referring to laughably vague statements as hypotheses such as this gem I overheard:

Our hypothesis is that a $50k seed round will be enough to show traction.

I do the same damn thing, hence my irritation. So we should stop doing that, because it has an OVERSIZED effect on our next decision for our startup.

tl;dr: Assumptions should be challenged and clarified with research. Falsifiable hypotheses should be tested with an experiment.

Bonus: I'm writing a more complete version of how to design great experiments as an open source "Real Book", you can get on the download list here:

 

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Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 1.31.12 PM

Playing Lean – Interview with Simen Fure Jørgensen

(Simen is the creator of Playing Lean, the board game about Lean Startup that is now live on Kickstarter. He’s the CEO of Iterate, a Norwegian consultancy that specialises in Lean Startup. I reached out to him to chat about his approach to teaching Lean. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.)

Q: How did the idea of teaching Lean Startup through a board game come up?

A: Two years ago I set up a Kanban workshop for a customer. We used the getKanban board game, and it was a great success. People were really enthusiastic about a pretty dry concept and the lessons seemed to stick afterwards. At the same time, we were having frustrations with a Lean Startup consulting gig for another customer. We would hold workshops and classroom trainings, but behaviour was slow to change afterwards. What if there was a board game to teach Lean Startup too? I Googled it quickly and saw that there was none: We would have to make it ourselves.

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Picnic in the Graveyard

Picnic in the Graveyard & Generative Research

What features should we build? What's the feature set for our MVP? There are a lot of questions we need to answer before we write a single line of code.

This isn't about testing a hypothesis, this is about generating ideas. I've mentioned the difference between Generative and Evaluative in lean startup before.

If we know our goal is to generate ideas, there a variety of methods you can use in the Unofficial Startup Real Book. One of my favorites was told to me by Sean K. Murphy and covered in his post on pretotyping:  Picnic in the Graveyard

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Comprehension test - stop clubbing baby seals

Comprehension vs. Commitment

I love smoke tests. They’re a great way of testing whether or not there is any serious demand for our value proposition.

One common form of smoke test out of the Unofficial Startup Real Book is a landing page test. The landing page states a value proposition with a call to action that asks the user to commit some form of value such as an email address or even money to sign up. Based on the % of users who signup, we get a rough signal from the market if the value proposition is in sufficient demand to build a minimal solution. If not, pivot!

But as much as I like smoke tests, I hate premature surrender. That’s what happens when the signal we get from the market is NO, but we don’t truly grasp why.

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illustration - missing puzzle piece

Startup Risk: Working with large companies

(This is a guest post by Sean Murphy, who coaches early stage technology firms. You can find Sean on Twitter, LinkedIn or on his blog.)

Startups have to take care to extract as much as they can of a larger firm’s understanding of a problem. Without this a startup can have "missing pieces" in their solution. Even when the larger company lays out the full problem and what's needed to solve it, a startup may mistakenly decide to address a subset of the problem. If the larger company supplies the residual pieces without complaint, the startup is lulled into a false sense of security until they have tried to sell their solution to other companies and have been turned down several times. I have personally experienced this several times from both sides of the table, here are a couple examples of what this looked like for startups.

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