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Startup Garage is everything. Or how to build a Lean Canvas yourself

Once, on my LinkedIn, I started writing about my path to Startup Garage.The program ended, I reached the end and soaked myself in the final. The investors still didn't call me, probably the connection is not catching well.

Unfortunately, I couldn't tell you everything in real time and tell you everything in stages, so there will be a little confusion of the main conclusions. 

After looking again at the scheme that turned out, I realized that in fact this is the Lean Canvas

I came up with the idea to make an AI English tutor for children, but the product is not ready for the general public yet. For refueling, here is a small side project for you - a bot for practicing spoken English.

And so, here is the process of validating the startup idea that I noted for myself:

0. And so you have an idea, fine.

  1. Now let's break it down into the problem being solved and your solution and for whom your solution will be created at all.
  2. First, we need to make sure that there is a problem and it is worth solving. To do this, you will need to conduct a market analysis (will solving the problem bring enough money?), an analysis of competitors (what solutions are there on the market, red ocean, how can I stand out?) and of course, direct communication with the target audience (see p1)At this stage, you can get a lot of insights.And so from point 2 we realized that there is a market, competitors have been studied, we understood who we can sell to in the future, we can proceed to the validation of the solution
  3. The main thing is not to hit the development with their heads, but to check the solution as quickly as possible and get feedback in the initial pairs, you can and should do everything with your hands to understand the process and know the ins and outs. Assemble a landos, a banner, a USP flyer, a whatsapp group or a telegram channel where you can sell your solution
  4. First, the most important thing is to get feedback on the solution and make sure that it solves the problem of our consumers
  5. Secondly, you need to try to sell the solution and make sure that they will pay for it (until you go into expensive development or spend a lot of time)
  6. Sales channels follow from the portrait of the consumer or your guesses

Everything at this stage is your hypothesis: user problems, solution, USP, user segments and sales channels, creatives, marketing strategy. The main thing is to test these hypotheses as quickly as possible and move on to new ones. The confirmation of many of them depends on what your decision will look like, maybe you should make a pivot?

As soon as you feel that the solution can be sold and scaled, congratulations, here it is your PMF (or maybe not)

Along the way, you will collect all the necessary material for pitching to an investor: problem, solution, market size, competitor analysis, traction, business model (how much money you need to pour in to make investments more than worth it), team and expertise.

And here is an additional list of random tips that I have done during my time in the incubator:

1. Validation of the problem: For initial interviews, find such people in your environment and have a short conversation with them about their problems, whether such a problem really exists and whether it is worth solving. Is the problem acute for them, what other problems do they see? Accumulate knowledge and insights.

You can start with your environment, groups in telegram or WhatsApp

A lot of books and other material have been written about cust dev, so I won't go into it.

This way you can kill an idea in its infancy without spending time and money on development. If the need is confirmed, we move on.

2. Coin Verification: Sell your solution as early as possible. Describe what kind of pain you solve and how. Collect pre-orders, sell through all available channels (you don't have to spend money on advertising or you can invest as much as you want to quickly kill the idea). In the image of a potential customer, think about where you can find him and sell him your solution there. If they buy it, then there really is a market. If they don't buy, can you find out why they don't want to buy? At the same time, you need to think about how many sales will be enough to confidently move forward. One or three sales may not be enough. And the amount of sales is also important. These will also be the first figures of the tracking, which investors love so much (and for good reason). The main thing is that the payment has been made, otherwise the applications do not matter.

3. Development is not so important (or maybe it is not necessary): development takes 1/5 of all the efforts that you will have to put in, or maybe you will be able to sell the solution without development at all. Sales, marketing, analytics and so on are like other vital processes without which the product simply will not take off. I would say that these are the wings that lift the product and bring it to users :)

It will also help you as a developer to get closer to the business and understand its point of view, which will increase your value as an engineer.

4. Find a cofounder/team (you can do it earlier): For whatever reason you don't want to do everything yourself, you need a partner. He should cover up your missing expertise (from point 3) and help you look at the idea from a different angle, while being motivated to work with you on the project. At the very least, this will help relieve you and increase the speed of hypothesis testing.

I thought that I would take everything out myself, and AI would help with the rest, but no miracle happened, as in coding, you need to know that what the neural network was pumping makes sense and what to do about it. Marketing, target audience search, castdevs and so on will have to be done with pens. One person is frankly not enough. As long as you do everything in one, you will lose both the desire and the resources, or someone else may get ahead of you (it's a shame).

5. Which idea should I take up, which one should I start with?

There are several options: to take according to the volume of the market, according to their expertise and interest.

Choosing a market by volume will help weed out inappropriate startups at the root, because your time is precious, and there are a dime a dozen ideas for startups. Plus, you will immediately answer one of the questions that the investor will ask you.

If you already have expertise, then it is more likely that you will reach sales faster, which is very important. And it also increases your attractiveness to the investor.

Well, personal interest as one of the criteria, because we have only one life :) Although it is unlikely that anyone will make a startup in a field that they are not interested in.

6. The most important thing is diligence: you need to move from thought to done as quickly as possible.

That's basically all I would like to share in this article. I hope to share my project with you soon. Or maybe projects :)

Thanks to the Astana Hub team for such a program, I recommend everyone to participate in it (it is also free)

If you have any questions or suggestions, you can write to me on telegram @adntgv

I'm really looking forward to feedback on the process (which I dream of automating one day). Maybe you know life hacks on some of the points, or do you disagree with me on something? Write in the comments

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