Lean at ITP Wisdom at the MVP Stage

At this stage in Lean at ITP, we’ve moved from the canvas to agile MVP development. Sometimes defining the MVP feels like you are killing your dreams, your big vision, as you cut out features and benefits that are just too hard to build quickly, and not high priority enough to prove your initial use case. If done well, the MVP is the raw test of the most pressing problem your “hair on fire” customers have articulated, in their words.

But fast growing, scaling companies often start with the MVP. All of our guest speakers at this stage in the course are deliberately chosen –they know how to start with an MVP, and stay lean and agile as they grow large scale businesses.

Wisdom from Angad Singh of Lolly Wolly Doodle:

Angad joined Lolly Wolly Doodle when it was so lean, it was just a Facebook page, but one of the largest social commerce success stories to date. Founder Brandi Temple started her Lexington, NC as a happy accident from leftover remnants from making her daughters’ dresses. She posted a few samples on her Facebook page, offering to make-to-order, and sold out instantly.

The company still operates on the same feedback loop mechanism, using social to determine need and solicit orders, and mass producing the most popular dresses. Temple stumbled upon a business process and business model innovation but not following the typical rules of e-commerce or fashion. With little to no inventory, and few returns, the company has redefined how a clothing company can scale and deliver.

Temple’s story and connection to the NY tech and VC community has been well documented if you want to learn more.

Angad came on board to help build the technology that powers the business, including the first e-commerce site and iPad app for the company’s end users, young girls, to design their own dresses.

Lessons from Angad: how to build a strong, low cost, high outcome engineering team:

• Learn how you work together to solve problems before you hire. Angad is a fan of defining a discretely scoped 2 week project that can be accomplished in a 20 hour period. Pay the potential employee for their work – rather than asking them to invest the time value add. This is the best way to evaluate someone’s thought process, ability to learn a new coding language and solve problems.
• Avoid code tests. A smart engineer and problem solver can learn any new type o\f code or process. Find full stack developers, the cream of the crop.
• If you choose to work with developers overseas (in Angad’s case, India) make them part of your team, don’t just outsource. Motivate them with equity and upside as you would a US-based engineer.