The story of the LEANHEROES

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About a year ago we, 3 passionate guys from Cologne / Germany, founded our startup Cabismo. It was supposed to be a mobile app for booking of minicabs in Germany.

The LEANHEROES-Team. Starring from left to right: Rado, Kamil & Mladen.

The LEANHEROES-Team. Starring from left to right: Rado, Kamil & Mladen.

We were driven by this great feeling of creating something new and being the master of our own destiny. When we first started working on Cabismo, we didn’t know what the term startup means. I personally even hadn’t heard it before. At the University of Cologne where I studied Business Administration there were only a few courses about entrepreneurship and those were not very popular. So due to the lack of experience and relevant knowledge we started working eagerly on our startup following what later turned out to be a very conservative approach.

We invested more than a month writing a huge 30 page business plan which got read by a total of two people, one of which was a proofread. In addition we spent a lot of time doing an online survey which wasn’t really that helpful either. In other words, we lost around 3 months doing stuff that didn’t help us validate our business model. We were tilting at the windmills of theory and were getting nowhere!

Luckily for us in Nov. 2012 a few awesome guys from the Cologne startup scene – @blacktar, @francis_dierick, @tohrmann, @yeromee – initiated the first ever Startup Weekend NEXT Program (SW NEXT) in Germany. This great course is supposed to teach entrepreneurs how to develope business models via the Customer Development approach. You can check out the SW NEXT Cologne video here.

For the period of one month our awesome coaches have been kicking our asses to get out of the building and talk to our potential consumers. Stopping random people on the street or making appointments with potential customers was a big challenge. But we grew with it and learnt a lot about developing business models.

Mladen is conducting face-to-face customer interviews with two students in cafe.

Conducting face-to-face customer interviews is a focal point of Customer Development.

So as the program finished we continued using the Customer Development method intensively in the search of a product-market fit. Unfortunately, the results we were getting weren’t as promising as we hoped. This, combined with the fact that the minicab market in Germany is not really big made us stop working further on Cabismo. But that didn’t dishearten us! Instead, we opened our eyes and started looking for new possibilities and ideas. We came up with our own process of generating and validating new ideas:

  1. Every week on Tuesday we made as we call it the “idea-meeting”. We brainstormed ideas that we had collected throughout the previous week and evaluated them.
  2. We then chose the idea we liked most and without investing too much time created a Lean Canvas which includes various hypotheses about the business model.
  3. The next step was to…you know what: get out of the building and validate those hypotheses.

After a few weeks of validating concepts we came across the interesting idea of showing our love for Customer Development and our respect for the Father of the movement – Steve Blank @sgblank. We created the “Blank-Shirt” and made it available for pre-order. And just after a couple of hours we received the first pre-orders. In fact, you can grab your own Blank-Shirt right now.

And the whole thing got even better when our friend Vidar Andersen went on a trip to the Silicon Valley to participate at the Lean Launchpad Educators Program of Steve Blank. This was our chance – we gave him 2 Blank-Shirts one for himself and another one for Steve. Here is what the reaction of the crowd at Stanford to the Blank-Shirt was:

Everybody loved the tshirt, Steve loved it. Made it talking point! Everybody taking pictures! Handover of his shirt yet to come at the end of the presentations! – Vidar Andersen at The Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, 20.06.2013.

Vidar Andersen wearing the Blank-Shirt – next to him Steve Blank holding the Blank-Shirt at the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, 20.06.2013.

Vidar Andersen & Steve Blank with the Blank-Shirt at the Lean LaunchPad Educators Program, 20.06.2013.

But before sending the Blank-Shirt out we had to come up with a domain name. After some brain storming LEANHEROES was born. The idea that lies behind LEANHEROES is not only to help propagating the Lean Startup Movement. In addition, we want to share our knowledge and experience from the last 8 months with other startups and existing companies. And we are being offered the best perspective for doing so, as we won a three-month admission to one of the hottest co-working places in Cologne – STARTPLATZ.

So be aware of what is coming in the future and take part with us in the Lean Startup Movement! Together we can make the world a leaner place!


Author: Mladen

Co-founder of LEANHEROES. Passionate about startups, customer development and loves to pitch his ideas.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Kunal Sharma says:

    Congrats on your success so far! As a startup co-founder myself, I can totally relate to the hurdles you faced. Great persistence, and effort indeed. Wish you all the best in the future!

    • Mladen says:

      Hey Kunal,
      thanks for your positive comment! At the beginning we thought we just needed a good idea to make the million-$ startup.
      After all we are being exposed to all sort of success stories from the Valley. Just a few mention the failures and the hard work though..
      Have a good one!

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