Saturday, January 26, 2013

Eating Your Own Dog Food

I’m a mentor at the eCentre in Auckland, New Zealand. The eCentre is an incubator that follows the concepts of the “Lean Startup” as described by Eric Ries who in turn was a student of Steve Blank, author of “The Four Steps to the Epiphany”.

For this blog I am going to describe the journey of one of the startups. The intention is to demonstrate agile principles are at work.

The startup’s name is AgileCore. As of writing it doesn’t even have a proper web site, just the domain has been reserved. AgileCore’s idea is to provide technologies for cloud-based, scalable web applications that can be developed very quickly and then release many times each day.

Where does the idea come from? There were two independent events that coincided a couple of months ago.

One event was that while mentoring startups I discovered that their minimum viable product (MVP) – some call it a prototype – had certainly functionality that wasn’t core to their idea. Instead quite a few of those startups had similar requirements. Examples include sign-up, profile management, social network integration, support for mobile devices and similar more. At some point I started to assemble the same off-the-shelf technologies for some of them and I felt as if I was doing duplicating work instead of having something that they could share.

At around the same time a group of entrepreneurs had a discussion between themselves about how they would be building their first prototype (MVP). They found that they had certain requirements in common and came up with a list similar to the above.

So there was a problem and there was a solution, two important ingredients for a new business idea. As a consequence we started an initiative which we called AgileCore.

Of course we are at the very beginning of our journey and the path forward will be long and tough. It is possible that AgileCore joins all the other failed startups. That would be a success, too, as a failure is nothing else than the discovery of a path that didn’t work (see also Thomas A. Edison and is over thousand attempts to create a working light bulb).

On the other hand for AgileCore we intend to follow the principles we teach in our Sprint program. So we will be eating out own dog food if you like. And that is what I want to blog about once in a while.

Books that I mentioned in this post:

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