What I learned at Orlando StartUp Weekend

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I attended Orlando StartUp Weekend in August at Chiles Preparatory School, and it was absolutely amazing.

The wealth of knowledge and the people you will meet in those 54 hours is invaluable, and if you are smart you will continue to utilize the resources you gain long after the weekend’s end.

Prior to the event, I thought the acronym MVP was only applicable in sports, and I certainly had no idea what the Lean StartUp methodology entailed. I learned the hard way that launching a services’ website is anything but easy, and if we waited until every feature was added to unveil it, well, then we would never launch.

Fortunately, I met Himanshu, who is now a fellow co-founder, the first of night of Orlando StartUp Weekend, and he conveyed the Lean StartUp methodology in Lauren terms.

“Think back to when the iPhone launched,” he explained. “It didn’t have all the features it has now. All the iPhone featured was ‘a widescreen iPod with touch controls. A revolutionary mobile phone. And a breakthrough Internet communications device.’ If Steve Jobs waited until he had all these features then someone else would have created the iPhone.”

That night I went home and watched the Steve Jobs’ video in which Jobs unveils the iPhone. Until then, I had no idea how valuable Himanshu’s advice was, and I still remember how important it is to date.

For those of you who are clueless, like I was, MVP stands for minimum viable product. An extreme example of an MVP is the iPhone when it first launched. Another example from Eric Ries’ book, The Lean StartUp, is Zappos, the world’s largest online shoe store.

You might be surprised to know that the largest online shoe store began as an experiment. Nick Swinmurn, the founder of Zappos, spotted the need for one online place to buy shoes; and so, he went to local shoe stores and asked to take photos of their shoes. He then posted the pictures online, and if someone bought the shoes then he would go back to the store and purchase them at full price.

By creating an MVP, Zappos received the validation Swinmurn sought and learned first-hand, about his potential customers. According to Ries, Zappos was acquired by Amazon for a reported $1.2 billion in 2009.

Point of the post: you don’t need every feature to launch. Find your iPod, revolutionary mobile phone and breakthrough Internet communications device, and start experimenting.