You have heard the old adage, “It is better to be lucky than good.”
As a believer in this time-tested proverb, I am grateful of my own personal and professional good fortune. At The Creative Coast we have the opportunity to mentor numerous entrepreneurs every month, and to do so we rely on the wisdom gleaned from the writings, blogs and talks of successful experts such as Steve Blank and Eric Reis.
Blank and Reis, individually, are credited with pioneering the Lean Startup movement that favors experimentation over elaborate planning, customer feedback over intuition and iterative design over traditional “big design up front” development.
I often share Steve Blank’s Harvard Business Review article, “Why the Lean Startup Changes Everything” with aspiring entrepreneurs.
In this article, Blank introduces the Business Model Canvas that illustrates nine hypotheses each entrepreneur needs to test. Additionally, Blank encourages a feedback intensive approach to customer development emphasizing speed and nimbleness.
Agile development is the final key tenant of Blank’s movement, which is predicated on rapid development cycles and opportunities to pivot as a result of customer feedback.
Similarly, in the article “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses,” Eric Reis highlights five principles of the Lean Startup:
• “Entrepreneurs are everywhere.” Everywhere, according to my observation, includes Savannah.
• “Entrepreneurship is management.” So all those great leadership and motivational skills collected in corporate America are needed and welcomed here.
• “Validated learning” is the customer feedback opportunity to determine if the idea has traction.
• “Innovation accounting” leads to setting up milestones and establishing metrics to measure progress and prioritize work.
• “Build-Measure-Learn” is the product development feedback loop that reminds us that “good enough” never is.
Developed independently, both authors offer strikingly similar and insightful opinions and methodologies for improving the odds for entrepreneurial success. Blank and Reis are revered names in the startup world and rightly so.
So how does all this tie into luck?
At a recent 1 Million Cups program at the Creators’ Foundry, I had the good fortune (luck?) of meeting Kevin Dewalt, who recently moved to Savannah and is immersing himself in our local startup scene.
Kevin is an entrepreneur, adviser and investor whom Eric Reis introduced to speak at last year’s Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco. Kevin shared how pleased he was that The Creative Coast and ATDC (Advanced Technology Development Center) host Lean Startup Circles on the first Thursday of each month.
During these sessions, we discuss the Lean Startup principles in light of current and real challenges presented by the entrepreneurs. Kevin was so pleased, in fact, he offered to lead a session, and we quickly took him up on the offer.
Kevin will be the special guest presenter at the Lean Startup Circle at 4 p.m. Thursday at the Creators’ Foundry at 415 W. Boundary St. This monthly gathering is open to the public.
A chance encounter or good networking skills? Who knows. But I can say this: It’s good to be lucky. It’s also good to position yourself to be lucky. With that said, I invite you to begin engaging in Savannah’s startup ecosystem.
Participating in the customer feedback loop might be the most immediate way to begin. So bring your idea, your business or just your opinion to the Lean Startup Circle or next Wednesday morning’s 1 Million Cups session.
Who knows? It may be your lucky day.
Bea Wray is the executive director of The Creative Coast, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the creative and entrepreneurial community within the region. Wray can be reached at 912-447-8457 or firstname.lastname@example.org