Eric Ries pays Pollenizer a visit – five things you can learn

Team members at Sydney-based tech incubator Pollenizer have outlined lessons learnt from start-up guru Eric Ries, who visited Pollenizer earlier this month as part of a trip to Australia.


Ries, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, is the author of The Lean Startup, which advocates the creation of rapid prototypes and using customer feedback in an effort to evolve designs faster than other, more traditional practices.


Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle says while Pollenizer has been “living the lean start-up approach” for a few years, there is always room for improvement.


“Eric Ries came by [the Pollenizer office] for a clinic on our start-ups… It was extremely helpful to throw our real experiences against the [lean start-up] practice,” Morle says.


Here are five lessons from the Pollenizer team:


1. Identify your growth engine


“The first thing you need to do is identify your growth engine. Only build a website once you have that. Concentrate only on that,” user interface engineer Daniel Thomson says.


“Go out and push your product. Hit the streets and find out what the customers want. There is no use in doing any web marketing until you have customers and are learning from them.”


“Customers use a service for only one purpose. Find out what is the one thing you can provide to the customer that they will pay for [and] forget the rest.”


2. Prioritise the product


Both Morle and product manager Michael Dijkstra say the product represents the entire customer experience, not just the code, user interface, etc.


“So our idea of putting pressure on an MVP (minimum viable product) doesn’t apply. The product is continually worked on, through tests, from day one,” Dijkstra says.


3. Be more aggressive with manual testing


“We need to be hitting the streets, not the keyboard,” says Robert Love, general manager of product and engineering.


“We should charge money first and ask questions later. Never offer the product for free with a view to charging at a later date.”


“How much time should we spend testing? 100%. Everything we do is a test. The user story is the hypothesis and the test is only proven once the hypothesis is validated.”


4. Stop guessing and get serious


“We are making too many assumptions and not really validating them,” says Andy Coffey, head of user interfacing.


Meanwhile, Pollenizer’s team and culture curator Claudia Barriga-Larriviere says Pollenizer needs to ensure it provides useful information.


“We seem to be married to numbers that don’t provide any insight. We need to move away from vanity metrics,” she says.


5. Question your business


“Once a week, we should take a step back and question our businesses,” Dijkstra says.


“We need to get good at answering those questions and making sure we’re focusing on the right stuff. To answer the questions, we need to be looking at our numbers daily.”


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