We recently changed our name from Montparnas to Boom Factor. As with any name change, it wasn’t just about the name; it was about capturing a new vision for our company. Having seen numerous clients struggle with building viable, innovative products, we saw an opportunity to combine our experience building startups and leading innovation teams to help solve this problem.
The problem is that established companies often spend too much time and money building products that either fail once in the market or simply fall short of being a breakthrough innovation. There are many factors driving this problem, and many agree that a critical missing element is a leaner approach to the development process. It is a key reason why startups are able to disrupt more established companies with smaller budgets and teams. So, what is the lean startup process? It’s best summed up by Steve Blank:
The Lean Startup is a process for turning ideas into commercial ventures. Its premise is that startups begin with a series of untested hypotheses. They succeed by getting out of the building, testing those hypotheses and learning by iterating and refining minimal viable products in front of potential customers.
– Steve Blank
A startup’s ability to disrupt is why bigger companies end up acquiring these startups or even investing in early stage ventures. However, larger companies will always need to be able to build products on their own that can break through. Considering our clients’ innovation problems and the experience we had building and growing products in startups using the lean methodology, it was clear what we needed to do. We needed to offer our services as a lean startup that could build viable, breakthrough products in market spaces indicated by our clients.
Before I explain what we do, let me summarize the issues we saw that we are addressing.
Innovation Mistakes Companies Make
Not Talking Face-to-Face With Customers
A key misstep companies make is simply not talking to enough customers face-to-face. This is often overlooked at the most critical point in the process: at the very beginning, before massive investments are made. This step is necessary to validate that the problem exists and that it is worth solving.
Getting out and talking to people is a simple step that reveals the nuances in the customers’ lives, how frustrating they perceive a problem to be, what workarounds they use, and whether that extra effort warrants buying into whatever solution the company puts forward.
1. Starting with the Solution
Another common issue in the innovation process is that companies fall in love with a solution before validating that it solves a problem their customers actually have. In the absence of objectivity and proper validation, the company dives straight into a multi-year development cycle to build out the “perfect” product, while product owners are taxed with contriving a customer problem to justify the product. On rare occasions, the solution can stumble upon a problem, but often it is all wasted effort that could have been avoided.
2. Building Unnecessary Features
After identifying the problem and deciding on the solution, the next big hurdle is getting the product out and in the hands of customers. Again, this is where a company and product owners can be their own worst enemy. Instead of focusing on the features critical to proving out the solution, they often prioritize excessive features and try to build to scale before they know whether the core features solve a real problem.
3. Building for Perfection
Quality is important, but perfection has always been the enemy of speed. I’ve seen “MVP” projects span past three years for something that could be created in 3 months. Meanwhile, competitors steal market share with what are considered sub-par products. What tends to occur in the end is that the product is rushed out the door since it has taken so long to launch, and is then released as a poor quality, over-engineered and stale product that stands little chance of success.
4. Designing by Committee
In many companies, there is no clear single product owner, and even when there is, that person’s decisions can often be overridden. Product designs and features are created and recreated to suit the opinions of many internal stakeholders, and the larger the group, the harder it is to reach consensus, the longer the review cycles and the more shifts that are taken. Many cycles are wasted and sometimes work thrown out when trying to cater to all these varying viewpoints. It frustrates the team, elongates timelines and can leave everyone feeling dizzy.
5. Ignoring that Failure is Part of the Process
At its core, innovation is risky and success is never guaranteed. The failing to acknowledge this is best broken down by process and structure, and culture.
Process and Structure: Innovation needs to be done in baby steps to stay nimble and iterate with new information all along the way. Many of the aforementioned issues are a manifestation that the company has not structured itself or its processes in a way that supports innovation.
Culture: We’ve heard many times that the most innovative companies celebrate failure. This is a key missing element in many companies that try to innovate. How many times have we seen a company aim to create something innovative, and then slowly pull back risky features until they are left with an ordinary product that matches the competitive landscape? If incentives and culture do not reward risk-taking, even when they are not successful, innovation will continue to be out of reach for that company.
All of these problems may seem insurmountable as they require fundamental changes to how a business operates and thinks, but what if viable innovative products could be produced with an outside partner — one that already employs the Lean Startup approach? This is what we at Boom Factor offer: a startup for hire.
How We Address The Innovation Problem
We address the above problems for our clients by creating our own startup teams geared toward building a viable product based on the challenge provided to them. These teams apply the lean startup methodology: using rapid iteration cycles and experimentation to develop, test and grow a given solution. In the end, we deliver a product that has not only achieved product-market fit, but also shown traction and scalable growth.
Getting Out of the Building
Rather than jumping into solutions, our startup teams first dive into understanding the details of the underlying challenge and the customers better than you or any of your competitors. We do so by getting out of the building and talking to as many people as we can in real-life situations rather than in a lab or focus group room. In this process, we seek to validate a given problem before considering any potential direction.
Develop the Product Vision
Once the team has talked to and observed dozens of people, they formulate several product ideas. They then select the one that most clearly addresses the problem, seeking additional input from potential customers, if needed. Once a direction is set, the next step is to quickly get a minimum viable product in front of real customers.
Test the Solution As Early as Possible!
Our teams truly seek the fastest way to validate a given solution: if the team can test the solution with a paper prototype or manual process, they will! If not, they focus on one to three main features to build a strong MVP and get it in the market in a matter of weeks or months, not years. At this stage, rapid iteration then becomes the focus.
Iterate to Product-Market Fit
Our teams launch early because the product development process really starts once a product is in customers’ hands. It’s only once real people start using the product in their everyday lives that we can identify what is resonating and where gaps exist. The startup team obsessively listens to customers’ feedback and questions and constantly monitor behavior patterns and measure key metrics to help guide the next iteration. They continually improve, and change course as needed.
Our clients are kept involved in the process along the way, seeing how the product evolves and sharing in the insights; however the design and product direction is owned by the startup team who stays close to the product and customers all along the way. Only once we see steady, sustainable adoption and engagement, do we gear up for handing over the reins.
Grow and Hand Off
Once product-market fit is reached, we help build out the growth strategies and lay a solid foundation from which our clients can take the business forward. The startup team works closely with the client across disciplines to transfer any gaps in knowledge and learnings from each of the iterations of the product. They review key metrics and explain critical decisions that helped steer the offering. Finally, they work with the client to identify key opportunities for growth and features to explore for future iterations.
So Why the Name “Boom Factor”
We needed a name that captured what a startup can bring, and for us it was Boom Factor.
Boom Factor alludes to our ability to move quickly and the way we can accelerate a business. It captures the fact that we go beyond just designing or building things, and instead deliver the ultimate resounding artifact: a product with proven traction.
We hope that you like it and will join us on this journey. We love to hear from our readers so do tell us what you think in the comments or by dropping us a line: firstname.lastname@example.org.