By Dan Casas-Murray, lead instructor at Startup Hustle
Liv and Chris, engineers and designers by training, felt inspired by what they might be able to do together as a team, so they set out to create the next awesomest game console, only with a real time social feature for people at parties.
They had a product idea, but that was about it. They didn’t have a community to sell it to, no one to make it for them, and no one to recruit on their team. So they attended Startup Hustle, Hacker Lab’s Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs.
After a few weeks and some homework, they discovered that in order to engage with their customers, they would need a much simpler version of the game console. One that had zero electronics inside.
Chris Sprague, co-founder at tCubed says, “We went to a Game Dev Conference just to try out one of the games that we were going to use on the console, and found out that people liked playing the mockup for $10 better than the promise of a fancier one for $400. We decided to start producing tCubed units with materials and tools we could use ourselves at Hacker Lab. Then, we started selling units.” tCubed has sold 1,400 units to date.
How Liv and Chris used the science of Entrepreneurship
First, they came in with a set of observations - that people like playing games socially. Then, they researched where those people might congregate, and went to a game conference to pitch and try out their ideas. They started calling the people they met their “customers.”
While trying out the tCubed idea, Liv and Chris learned that while their assumptions about people wanting to play games were correct, what they thought about a new $400 console was quite different. Finally, after several prototypes and tests on those same customers, they discovered the best way to talk about and demonstrate their product.
tCubed was using the Lean Startup method. Developed by Eric Ries, the method is a set of steps that lead to the construction of a customer base, one of the non-negotiable ingredients of any business. It is a simple process that borrows heavily from the Scientific Method.
Here’s how it’s done at Startup Hustle, Hacker Lab’s Bootcamp for Entrepreneurs:
Startup Hustle aims to lead Entrepreneurs through the Lean Startup process, which consists of multiple events and four main workshops. They’re all designed to validate assumptions Entrepreneurs have made about their customers, in this order
- Understanding your customers by making assumptions about them and then talking with customers to see where your assumptions need adjustment.
- Understanding your value proposition by making assumptions and testing again.
- Trying out the full package on customers by creating a landing page so you can gauge interest in your Value Proposition.
- Discovering which types of messaging works for different types of people involved in your startup (investors, co-founders, new customers, technical partners, etc).
The scientific method (left) is applied to every step along the way during the Lean Startup process (right).
The good news about being an Entrepreneur
So the good news is that you don’t have to be a “creatively-touched” individual, or one with special abilities or superpowers. As humans, we are innately creative and apply our imagination’s solutions in myriad ways.
Taking a new idea based on an observation, making an assumption about it, then testing to see if your observation is true or false is a systematic way of thinking that demands very little inspiration. As a human, you already have the tools you need to use this process, and when followed correctly, it provides each of us with a framework that allows us to find solutions quickly and cheaply.
See you at Startup Hustle! Click here to apply.
See tCubed and other companies that have attended Startup Hustle:
tCubed http://playtcubed.com/ A 3D version of Tic Tac Toe
Mastiff http://www.meetmastiff.com/ A smart wireless router.
Eagertronics Cyclights http://eagertronic.com/ Hands free communication with drivers for cyclists
Activity Jungle http://activityjungle.org/ Online marketplace for local children’s activities
Art Tonic https://www.arttonic.org/ Connection for artists and art enthusiasts in Sacramento
STEMtrunk http://www.stemtrunk.com/ Subscription service for STEM learning toys
The tCubed product.