Minimum Viable Product – MVP!

You have no idea how much I needed to review the material this week for my Entrepreneurship class!  I could spend pages and pages to discuss code details of the website, search engines that I’ve installed and tested and details on the most inconsequential fact about the site.  My realization after this week’s videos and article is the need to take what we’ve already put together and get out and conduct surveys and get feedback on the project from all of the customers.  This video from Steve Blank was very helpful in helping me to quit trying to get a perfect product and just go talk to people with what I have.  We need to focus on building what people want, but first we need to understand what exactly that is.

As this is a nonprofit, the business model is definitely more complicated than a regular entrepreneurship endeavor.  We have customers, the food makers, and we have payers, those that are going to support the project and make sure that we can pay the bills.  We have already talked with different food makers and acted on their feedback.  Now, we need to polish up the site and get out to talk to the philanthropists and the USDA and see what they have to say about what we are trying to accomplish.

The Minimum Viable Product is a discussion piece that allows us to get feedback before spending a lot of time working on something that nobody wants or is willing to support.  I’m not sure of which type of MVP we’re working on from the descriptions in the article on Scale My Business.  There are aspects from several of them, but I think now we are on the right track for being able to conduct our interviews and further improve the product.

“Why Entrepreneurial Mindset Matters” – My Key Point!

In the video Dr. Melton helps to explain and define the concept of “Mindsets” as being beyond what typical students may or may not be taught, skillsets.  The first part of learning any new concept is understanding what you are learning and then believing that it can be taught and learned by the student.  This definition does a great job of starting us down that path.

Understanding that what many are taught, the skillset, is very important because without a good foundation to springboard from, mindset is meaningless.  An example of a Medical Doctor that has the skills to diagnose and perform surgeries relates to his skillset.  The doctor’s bedside manners relate to his mindset which helps to keep him focused and continually learning and honing his skillset.

This was enough to get me interested in reading more from the website.  So, what is just briefly mentioned in the final seconds of the video, upon further reading contains what I believe is the most important aspect of the Entrepreneurial Mindset personally.  “Connections: Think Outside the Box.  Place Old Ideas in New Contexts.”  The article goes on to say, “Discoveries, however, are not enough.  Information only yields insight when connected with other information.  We must teach our students to habitually pursue knowledge and integrate it with their own discoveries to reveal innovative solutions.”

Typically I would think that many people that have this entrepreneurial mindset often come up with ways to improve their jobs or speed their processes.  They then look for an Engineer to make those visions become a reality.  We, however, are starting from the Engineer skillset and moving TOWARDS the entrepreneurial mindset.  This empowers us to be more agile in realizing the visions and speeding the process of improvement.  But, therein lies the real challenge in my opinion, experiencing the things that need improvement in order to exercise this mindset.  How do we “integrate it with [our] own discoveries” unless we are in a continual habit of learning and experiencing?  Our challenge!

Design Thinking, thought process of being empathetic!

If you don’t know already, then you will soon enough if you follow any of my comments or posts, that I’m very motivated with the concept of adding “DESIGN THINKING” to anything and everything that I think about and touch.  John Maeda’s work in this regard has been among what I have followed closely.  Now, I have someone new to follow, David Kelley, after watching the assigned 60 minutes video on youtube and then also watching a TED talk he was featured in.

The description of reviewing everything that we design with the thought process of being empathetic to our users is an amazing description of how I feel I approach all of the problems I encounter.  However, in a me-first society, which I think as a people we are moving towards, the concept of how and why being empathetic might be more challenging for some people to take hold of elevates the need for this Design Thinking process in my opinion.

Taking the prompt from this “Design Thinking” interview and designing our questions for customer surveys in such a way to truly be empathetic to our customer’s needs extends the understanding of the suggestions in the articles we read from Strategyzer on the 8 rules to a customer interview and the suggestions from Mark Lieberman in his article on “Customer Development Interviews”.  Both mention putting aside preconceived ideas and listening to what our customers really want by letting them talk more than us and also making sure not to frame our questions to elicit bias.

Powerful! The Inventure Cycle, by Tina Seelig

I love the introduction to the book from Steve Blank.  I too suffer from so many ideas that it was quite a revelation to realize that not everyone thinks like me, it just seems so “normal”.  I am a huge fan of John Maeda in promoting Art and changing STEM to STEAM, to include Art in the normal disciplines of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.  Something is needed to promote imagination and creativity in school as this article further discusses.

This may be the very best definition of Entrepreneurship I’ve come across from Professor Tina Seelig:  “Entrepreneurship is applying innovation, bringing ideas to fruition, by inspiring others’ imagination.”  Obviously, as an Entrepreneur, we have worked through the first steps Professor Seelig discusses, “Imagination, Creativity and Innovation”, but translating our imagination to Inspire others to imagine is the process of Entrepreneurship.

If, as the article suggests, not everyone has this skill to effectively imagine, this could be likened to trying to teach a blind person to see.  Or teach someone with Parkinson’s to drink a cup of coffee without spilling.  Perhaps, with help from Kate Rosenbluth and Cala Heath, from the article, this latter group may be able to accomplish that goal through effort.  Likewise, through our effort in Entrepreneurship we can hope to inspire others to imagine.

Welcome to my imagination!

ASU FSE-301 – Week 1 Article

Today I begin the journey of Arizona State University’s Fulton School of Engineering 301 class of Entrepreneurship and Value Creation; so, ASU’s FSE-301 class.  The class goals revolve around Rigorous Evidence-Based Action-Oriented Learning for the entrepreneur process.  This is one of our first class requirements, to post about what we learned from the first weeks required videos and articles.

I think from the video from Eric Ries ( that discusses the issue of “Stop Wasting Peoples Time” the biggest lesson I learned was the true meaning of LEAN startups.  I had always thought of this process more along the lines of bootstrapping the startup process and not spending money and hoping people show up for what you built.  But, the reality is that LEAN startup methodology could more easily be described with speed between pivots and how often we can get around the “Build, Measure, Learn” loop.  It’s about increasing the rate at which we can pivot based on data driven learning.

I also appreciated the definition of entrepreneurship being management during a period of extreme uncertainty.  If that is definition of entrepreneurship that we will be applying this methodology to, then the scope of how and where this applies is much larger in this world of uncertainty we live in.  The list of companies that use his LEAN startup, those that are out of business, provides further evidence of this uncertainty.