LEAN Innovation: Learn quickly and minimize the risks

September 12, 2017

One of the biggest challenges facing startups is to develop a feasible, sustainable, and desirable solution, before exhausting their (meager) resources.

This is a race against time. The race towards sustainability or eventual investment.

It is an even greater challenge when traditional models for implementing innovation processes are based mainly on the linear methodology of intensive planning and the pursuit of perfection.

The LEAN Innovation model starts with a different concept, the MVP, or Minimum Viable Product, subject to a rapid test phase ideally in real market conditions. The idea is to refine the initial concept, quickly and cost-controlled while incorporating real market learnings.

Our innovation approach is strongly influenced by three key disciplines:

  • Design Thinking
  • Lean Startup
  • Business Model Innovation

We aggregate these disciplines with our own experience into a coherent whole. As we keep learning and improving, we constantly focus on innovating our innovation processes.

In the process of supporting hundreds of startups, Beta-i has developed a methodology that reduces the risk of startups failing to reach its product, while accelerating the organization’s learning to create a solution that resonates in the market.

When talking about a method, it is important to have a clear basis. In this case, the conceptual pillars of LEAN Innovation are:

Customer focus: although it sounds obvious, most newborn startups are unclear on the definition of the problem they want to solve and the customers who will buy the solution. It is useful to characterize the segments based on their pains, dreams, and behaviors, rather than age, gender or location.

Continuous validation: one of the tasks that mostly reduces the risk for a startup is to accumulate and structure knowledge about its product, sales, distribution channels, production, on an ongoing basis.

Iterate until you reach success: Incrementally test the improvements and assumptions (ideas for improvements to be tested) on an ongoing basis. Be aware that there is no finished product, but at most a product that is well-adapted to customers and the current market.

Compete with the business model: the product is only the beginning of the relationship with the customer. What’s more interesting is to be able to present a solution that transcends the product (for example, that connects several products in one, thus giving rise to a complete solution). Think of Hilti who, instead of selling tools, offers contractors the service of making tools available, distributing and maintaining them.

For a start-up, when a brand is not yet a patrimony and the products and processes are not yet established, the error is natural and necessary. New companies are born under the specter of failure and need to prove that they are equipped with the tools to compete in the market. From this point of view, launching a validation product (MVP) is of little concern, since there are no assets, such as an established brand, at risk of being compromised by failure.

By quickly developing an MVP you’re not evaluating success or failure. Instead,  you’re learning as quickly as possible to adjust the final version of your product.

Living with uncertainty is often against our nature, but it brings more fruitful and rewarding learnings. Just embrace it.