Tag Archives: education

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.

How to be a Mind Reader, Like Netflix

The Problem

When planning out your career, forecasting what you’ll need in future can be daunting. While many skills may come to mind, it’s impossible to ignore the significance of data. With companies collecting information on our every move, all industries are going to need employees who can make sense of that sea of information. How does Netflix know what to recommend? Data. How do these new billboards know when to show you what image? Data. But, if you’ve avoided analytics and numbers, can you even learn how to use these big, scary, complicated tools?

The Solution

Meet Dmitri Adler, the founder of Data Society; a startup that’s helping everyone learn about data, but in an approachable way. Together with Merav Yuravlivker (Education Expert), Josh Touyz (Advisor) and a team of collaborators, they are helping professionals of all kinds begin to harness the power of “data.”

Through a custom built online platform, the team has developed a curricula that allows students access to real data from real companies to gain a real life understanding of how these tools apply. They’ve even interviewed every instructor to make sure they have the right personality, energy, and ability to break down the 0’s and 1’s for your average individual. With their first class launching this weekend, major corporate clients are already considering Data Society to fill the gap in their employees’ skill sets. By teaching these skills, Data Society hopes, as Merav has said, “That everyone becomes data literate enough to understand and use what they have.”

The Back Story

Dmitri Adler (left) Merav Yuravlivker (center) Joshuah Touyz (right)
Dmitri Adler (left), Merav Yuravlivker (center), Joshuah Touyz (right)

But how did this power team come together? Fittingly, Merav, Dmitri and Josh all met at various places in their schooling. Dmitri and Josh from elementary school, Merav and Josh from university, and Merav and Dmitri through Josh.

By maintaining their friendship over the years, the three were able to share insights from their very different fields. When Dmitri could beat his competitor’s capital gains using data science at his Wall Street job, Josh was perfecting an algorithm that could generate an almost perfect picture of someone’s life by simply using their Facebook profile. Merav was building her teaching skills in New York and obtaining her Master’s in Education from Pace University. Their vastly different backgrounds have provided the perfect needs for their online education company.

The Insight

Looking back at their journey thus far, the greatest piece of advice the team would provide is be intentional and do your research. With as many free tools, books, articles, and resources there has never been an easier (or cheaper) time to start a business. “What would have taken $10 million five to ten years ago, is now only costing $250,000,” said Dmitiri, who speaks from his experience as a JP Morgan Investment Banker. By surrounding yourself with a good team and following a specific plan, are crucial to giving your business the best chance.

The Perspective

As Merav, Dmitiri, and Josh are all millennials, they have hopes and fears for what once was termed “the Great Generation.” Systems behind education, interacting with the environment, and healthcare all need reform. With their respective experiences in these fields, Merav and Dmitri were most concerned with how our generation will be tasked with addressing these crumbling, hefty problems. In terms of hopes, they believe the millennial generation should take advantage of today’s tools to build businesses that enhance the human to human connections to make the world a slightly better place. As the great Steve Jobs once said, “Everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”

 

Not convinced? Check out Data Society’s site here and use the discount code DS100. If that kind of commitment is too much, check out their DC area Meetup group Data Driven DC. How has learning about data analysis helped you?