Learning At The Lean Startup Machine Lagos

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I’m currently at the 3-day Lean Startup Machine workshop going on at iDea hub, Yaba, Lagos.

Lean Startup Machine is the world's leading bootcamp on Lean Startup methodology and a global movement of entrepreneurs and innovators who are changing the way new products and businesses are built. It's an intensive three-day workshop which teaches entrepreneurs and innovators how to build disruptive products. It was founded by Trevor Owens in the US in 2010. It has organized over 200 events in over 40 countries. And the ongoing one at iDea hub, which is happening concurrently with another in Accra, is the first in Africa. Another will happen in Cape Town at the end of this month.

image: ueberproduct.de

The event started on Friday 6:00pm with participants putting down their names to pitch ideas. Then we were told what Lean Startup Machine is all about and how it's creating successful entrepreneurs and innovative businesses all over the world.

We had a fireside chat with Raphael Afaedor, ex-CEO of Jumia Nigeria and Founder of SupermartNg, and Marek Zmysłowski, the MD of Jovago. I learned a couple of things. Raphael kept emphasizing the need to start with a small market, telling us how hard it was for Jumia to focus on Nigeria as it's market, and went on to tell us how he is avoiding that problem in his new startup, SupermartNg. Marek is a very funny guy. You can't hear him talk and not laugh. He told us how he started his entrepreneurial journey from his home country, Poland, by creating a dating site. And how it failed. Then he brainstormed for an idea that no one else was implementing, in search of a business with no competition. And guess what he came up with? A funeral services booking site. He managed to get investors interested, and became part of Rocket Internet GmBH. Then not so long ago, Rocket Internet wanted him to come build a revolutionary business in Africa. He was hoping it would be in Morocco or Tunisia or Algeria. But he ended up in Nigeria and he says he is enjoying it, building Nigeria's number 1 hotel booking site.

After the fireside chat, we pitched our ideas. 13 ideas were picked, and thanks to Excel sorting bug, mine was the 13th idea even though the 14th and 15th had same amount of votes. God bless Excel. My idea is on creating an online hub for all accessible market research data.

Luckily, I got some of the brightest people to join me as a team to build a business out of the idea. A Data Analyst who is based in Germany and works for GFK (the 4th largest market research organization in the world) and 3 other great guys. Then there were very supportive mentors too who helped us fine tune the idea and narrow down to one market niche. 

We spent the better part of Saturday validating our business assumptions -- who our customers are and what they need. We started with targeting university students and providing them all the research data they need in one place. After going to Unilag and speaking to 11 students, we discovered that their problem wasn't having research data in one place but cost of internet. So we pivoted. We decided to focus on business owners. And proceeded to interview 6 business owners. Amazingly, we found out their biggest frustration starting up their businesses and making strategic business decisions was lack of reliable up-to-date market research data. Industry data that could point them to the size of their targeted market, the prevailing customer behaviour and market pricing data. They said it would be a huge relief if there was a local data bank, a single place online they were certain to get any market research data they needed and in a format they could use (not scanned pdf reports that can't be copied). They talked of how National Bureau of Statistics doesn't reply to mails and how most market research data are unavailable online or cost a fortune. So we were able to validate our assumptions. We found a set of people that have the need we are addressing.

Our Javelin Storyboard

So we worked out a solution. And if you need market research data for your business, feel free to register here http://data.myinstapage.com 

Altogether, it has been a great experience and I have been learning a lot and networking with great people. I got a non-paid training deal with LeapAfrica after discussing with the founder, I'm on-course to getting one with CcHub and met the awesome founder of Jandusradio.

The workshop is ending today. I'll probably be presenting for my team. But I can't wait to meet more great people and make great business connections.


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