It is common and even expected that the product offering(s) and/or business model will change–or pivot–in the early stages of a Lean Startup as the company strives to find product-market fit. The important thing is to start with a hypothesis and iterate quickly by soliciting feedback from customers. This is what Lean Startup practitioners call the “Build-Measure-Learn“ feedback loop. You identify your assumptions, build the minimum viable product (“MVP”) that will help you test the most important assumption(s), measure the results, and use the knowledge you have gained to inform the next iteration of the product. The goal is ultimately to build a product that a reasonable number of people want to buy.
As I have mentioned before, I am in the early stages of testing a children’s riding toy concept, and am attempting do so using Lean Startup principles. Rather than manufacturing a working prototype right out of the gate–because such expense would be wasteful at this stage of the process–my MVP is simply a drawing of the concept that was in my head that a product designer helped me get on paper. I am now using this “product” as the basis for customer development interviews with both children and their parents, in which I solicit their feedback. I have also included the MVP in a Survey Monkey that is making the rounds through my social media accounts. If you have kids under the age of 10, here is the link to the survey…and you can enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card after completing it! Is this product going to be a hit? My hypothesis says “yes,” but the market may tell me otherwise.
Once I get feedback from would-be customers, I have a decision to make: pivot or persevere? In other words, have I validated my hypotheses sufficiently to continue down the path I thought I was on, albeit with a few tweaks in the next iteration of the product (the “persevere” scenario)? Or is the data telling me that my assumptions are incorrect and I should alter the plan significantly based on the new information that I have at my disposal (the “pivot” scenario)? I have done my best to define up-front what it means to validate each of my assumptions, so hopefully it will be pretty clear what my decision should be once I learn their feedback.