HackFwd Build 0.7 - Berlin September 2011
Tom Hulme, IDEO Design Director and HackFwd Referrer, talks about entrepreneurship being a form of mad science. There is much chaos and uncertainty, but there are also great formulas for succeeding.
We have more computing power in our smartphones than NASA had when they put a man on the moon, "so you have to start feeling guilty about using that to fire little birds at pigs", Tom says. Throughout the talk Tom challenges our thinking about where we currently are and how the contexts where we operate in as founders are changing.
The world is in flux, it's unpredictable. Pretty much anything can be reverse engineered, fast. Technology is no longer a constraint, we are. The cultural latency is approaching zero.
What is our job as founders in this kind of a world? "We want to make cool stuff that drives great human experiences", Tom says. "For us founders, business models are our units of design and we should always view them from the perspective of the customer. All the value in the business model flows from the customer."
"As founders, our task is to navigate a series of unanswered questions. If you don't have a set of hypotheses in your mind right now, you're not doing your job," Tom continues. "And we can now answer these questions of high uncertainty much better than before." The key is picking the right questions, the right hypotheses to experiment on. Great experiments are hypothesis based, testable and important to your business.
To be efficient, the experiments we construct to test our hypotheses have to be accurate, low cost, and controlled. Accurate means making it as real as possible, preferably doing it in the real world. Low cost means using existing technologies and networks where possible. And since premature scaling is the number one reason why startups fail, control means being on top of your virality and ramp-up rate, so that it makes sense to what stage you're at.
"It's kind of like setting up minimum viable experiments", Tom says. So, think about what's your minimum viable experiment? What gets you to the end goal of testing your hypothesis most efficiently?
Tom finishes off with a step-by-step analysis of example experiments pertaining to different parts of the business model. From hacking your funding to faking a backend to testing product versions in the physical world, Tom's examples show that there is nothing that is beyond smart, scrappy testing and validation. This is powerful and inspiring watching for all entrepreneurs and founders. Follow this advice to radically improve your chances of success.