It Takes Being Lean to Play Lean

“We’ve only just tapped into the beginning of the potential.” – Tore Rasmussen on teaching Lean Startup.
Test playing in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Test playing in Rotterdam, Netherlands with Co-Founders Tore and Simen.
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Taking an idea and turning it into a business is risky and the likelihood that you will be successful by copying and pasting someone else’s business model will only seal your fate as another failed startup.But how can an innovative millennial founder-to-be get over this potentially idea killing situation?

Meet the masterminds behind the incredibly successful Kickstarter campaign for Playing Lean, the board game, Simen Fure Jørgensen and Tore Rasmussen. Based on the Lean Startup Method, Simen and Tore built a teaching tool that simulates the process of rapidly building a successful business. Made famous by Eric Ries in 2011 by his book, The Lean Startup, the Lean Startup Method is centered on building the simplest prototype, testing it and gaining customer feedback, and then applying those lessons to improve the product. Today, the framework is deemed an essential piece to building a successful startup.

How I found them

I discovered Playing Lean by participating in the Lean Startup Academy’s Meetup, “Playing Lean.” At the time, I had heard of Lean and understood the basic principles, of “build, measure, learn” but, wanted to learn more. As luck would have it, I was able to join a testing group for a board game, Playing Lean. After 2 to 3 hours of maneuvering the prototype and relentlessly trying to push the boundaries of the game, I gained a greater appreciation and understanding of the importance of Lean.

Photo Credit: http://blog.necomputersolutions.com/
Photo Credit: http://blog.necomputersolutions.com/

This experience was not unique. For the past 18 months, Tore and Simen have been traveling throughout the U.S. and Europe testing low level prototypes. Organizing a variety of groups tests of the game and carefully documenting the interactions with the product led the duo to gaining 500% more than their goal on Kickstarter within a year and a half of the first prototype.

How They Started

But how did these two meet and create a game as well as an educational tool? Simen worked as an IT consultant and often had to teach the Lean Startup Method to groups within these larger groups. Simen searched for tools and teaching aides to help his clients grasp the concept beyond just reading the book. One night, while playing board games at home the idea came to Simen to create a board game version of the Lean Startup Method. Within months he had created tons of prototypes and gained some feedback, but it wasn’t until an inquisitive grad student, Tore, was able to join Simen did the team begin to assemble.

Bringing his programming expertise, Tore was able to help Simen address the technical aspects of the game. They wanted to build a game that would take 90 minutes to play while still allowing players the ability to firmly understand Lean.

More test play. Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Using Lean to build the game, get customer feedback often.
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Lean Challenges

Through their first iteration they faced many challenges. First, they failed to raise capital through their first Kickstarter campaign. Second, they struggled to get the scenarios just right. To properly address it, they had to be willing to toss out good work, 200+ of it, all in the hope of building the right product. But through each challenge, Tore and Simen continued the process to build, test, learn.

By taking the game out into the U.S. and European markets to their ideal consumer, not only were they able to build a better game but they were also able to build a massive following. That following, paired with new team members and the guidance of Lean Startup evangelist, Ash Maurya, Playing Lean was fully funded in 10 hours and is now available here.

Lean Successes

Ash Maurya, Lean Celebrity Advocate Photo Credit: Playing Lean
Ash Maurya, Lean Celebrity Advocate
Photo Credit: Playing Lean

Although laden with challenges, Tore points to seeing people playing the game and have moments where they clearly see how their last project went astray. “It’s not like reading a book. You have the euphoria from winning and the pain of losing,” says the millennial co-founder. Seeing those moments, Tore hopes that Playing Lean will save entrepreneurs tons of money and time in their business’s future.

Lean Advice

Looking back, Tore’s greatest piece of advice is:
Really challenge yourself. For example, if in the testing stage ask if what you are doing is the absolute MVP (Minimally Viable Product) or is there a way you can make it cheaper and faster to get that learning.
For more information on Lean Startup visit Eric Ries or Ash Maurya or buy the game from Playing Lean here.

Why Millennials Won’t Be Defeated

Today’s blog post is the 50th! And as a testament to the true mission of the blog, promoting snake people, I mean millennials, who are creating impact in our world, over the last couple of days there have been several articles that heaped on the fears and doubts if any millennial hoping to live a happy life. For example, this Vice News video does an overview of how our economy is changing. By the end of it, the expert panel paint a patchwork economy vastly different from the one we’ve prepared for. I closed the tab feeling a sense of dread for this “new” economy and fear that I have played all the wrong cards during my 20’s.

After taking a sip of my white wine and some deep breathing, I realized that the fear and panic I was experiencing  was inherited baggage from our older generations. The rate at which things are changing, it is absolutely terrifying and creating a panic across all of society. Think of it this way, 7 years ago the first Iphone was premiered and fundamentally changed the way we use phones. Now, everyone has a smartphone and are using them to make money. Millennials are perfectly poised to capitalize on all of these changes for the following reasons:

1. We are young.

Youth

Although I often feel as if I’m 45 and I’ve figured everything, there’s a greater sense of relief that I have at least 30 years to correct my life’s course. This also applies to my peers,  what ever past mistakes we have made we have plenty of time to make our way to a life that works for us. Having that much time is a very precious gift that our parents would often kill for. As my roommate always says, “Most successful people started from a different place than  where they are now.”

2. We are creative.

Creativity

Never have we had the opportunity to express ourselves in mediums beyond the classical arts. So keep working those Insta filters, embracing your creative side not only improves your mental health, but the future economy will heavily rely on out of the box thinking and doing more with less.

3. We’re resourceful.

Resourceful

Yes, the Great Recession was terrible, I lived in Florida at the time, I can tell you stories. The dramatic shift of a spend happy middle class to one losing houses and jobs which lead to feeling, and still dealing with, the pinch of stagnant wages and rising costs. Whether we’re building money saving apps or embracing the DIY instructions from Pintrest, we’re finding ways to save here and there.  Creating that kind of value is what our future economy demands, and millennials have completely embraced it.

4. We are thirsty for knowledge.

Knowledge

Cited as the most educated generation , our incessant consumption of media demonstrates leads one to believe there is a strong desire for knowledge.  According to this Entrepreneur article, millennials spend 18 hours consuming media material.

 5. We are strategic.
Strategic

With the rise of Postmates, Uber, Lyft and, others, millennials have found ways to create an income that funded by a variety of sources, and have time to socialize. Making the world work for us will be critical as we cope with this rapidly shifting economy.

The Takeaway?
So the next time you are faced with the inevitable millennial tear down, take the time to sit back and identify all of the ways you’re getting ready to handle the quickly shifting economy. No other generation will be ready like we are for this evolving economy, no matter what it ends up looking like.