Startup How-To: 
7 Steps to Creating a Successful Product
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Startup How-To: 
7 Steps to Creating a Successful Product

The tutorial used by accelerators around the world for launching products customers love.
Best Seller
4.4 (95 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,550 students enrolled
Created by Janice Fraser
Last updated 8/2013
English [Auto-generated]
Current price: $10 Original price: $20 Discount: 50% off
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  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Discover which of your assumptions are wrong (and which are right!)
  • Understand what your customer really needs
  • Hone a value proposition that combines user needs with your business vision
  • Measure your product's effectiveness
  • Make key decisions efficiently
  • Decide what NOT to build
  • Learn new techniques that you can use forever to make progress quickly
View Curriculum
  • Sticky notes (3" square)
  • Sharpie (fine point recommended)
  • White printer paper
  • Colored dots or colored marker
  • Blue painter's tape
  • Critical thinking, empathy for you customer, drive, and commitment

Startup How To walks you step-by-step through the hard work that business founders must do to prove out their ideas and launch a successful product.

This is a premier tutorial currently in use by top accelerators and incubators around the world. It is endorsed by Lean Startup creator Eric Ries, and our customers include 500 Startups, Singularity University, and the US Presidential Innovation Fellows. Whether you're a tech entrepreneur or simply learning how to apply lean principles, this course will set you on a productive path.

This is a HANDS-ON workshop, not just talks — Allow yourself extra time at the end of each step to do the work and move your company forward. A complete set of handouts and worksheets is downloadable as PDF files. 

---If you're an active entrepreneur, there is no better online resource for getting started and moving forward efficiently.---

The seven workshops in Startup How To cover:

  1. Document your assumptions about your customer
  2. Do GOOD customer development interviews
  3. Figure out the key learnings from customer development
  4. Hone your value proposition based on what you've discovered
  5. Use that value proposition to prioritize your product features
  6. Identify which metrics clearly show your product's success
  7. Root your whole business, and your product in a statement of vision and values.

This isn't a "how to" curriculum, it's an active experience, rooted in the principles of Lean Startup. Our promise is that if you give us an hour, we'll move your company forward.

“Teams using the Luxr curriculum understand Lean Startup at a fundamental level.”—Eric Ries, Author The Lean Startup, and Luxr advisor

"If we'd used this material six months ago, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions." —Bill Gross, Idealab

Who is the target audience?
  • Active entrepreneurs
  • Corporate innovators
  • Business founders
  • Product managers
Students Who Viewed This Course Also Viewed
Curriculum For This Course
60 Lectures
Envision your customer
10 Lectures 33:29
Before starting this workshop, you need to do two things:
  1. Download the two files: zip file has all of the worksheets for the entire series, and the pdf file has all of the supplemental materials.
  2. Gather Supplies: Sticky notes, a Sharpie or other thick black marker, blue painter's tape (it won't leave goo on the walls the way other tape does), white (printer) paper, and colored dots (or a colored marker).
Can't wait to work with you!!
Preview 03:37

Every startup has a customer in mind. Some startups have SEVERAL customers -- eBay, for instance, has buyers and sellers. This step is about choosing which customer you want to use for these workshops. 
Preview 01:51

In this step, we start to get in the head of our customer by doing a quick sketch of our customer. I can't draw, but even I find that sketching helps me to think through who my customer is and what their life is like. I promise it will be easy. And maybe a little funny. 
Preview 04:22

Here we get out all of that demographic information that's right at the top of our mind when we try to describe our customer - age, job, married or not, kids or not. This is about all of those things you might read in the census. 
Preview 03:54

Here we begin to get to the parts of the persona that REALLY matter. What do these people DO that indicates they are a potential customer? How are they trying to solve their problem now? 
Brainstorm behaviors

This step, we think about what our customer needs. What is the problem that they are trying to solve? There are some needs that are so broad that they're not really helpful—like "Spend more time with my kids." Try to dig one level deeper, and ask yourself, what would have to change to make that possible. 
Find needs & goals

With these three checks, we make sure that you've created a "plausible individual." Not someone you actually know. Not a silly caricature. You're documenting the assumptions that you have, which describe a type of person who would benefit from your product.
Three checks

This step is for teams only! If you're not working with your team right now, you can skip ahead. In this step, we go from having several versions of the persona to one version. 
Consolidate as a team

The persona you just made records a lot of assumptions that you have about your customer. Here's the big question—what if you're wrong? Which of those assumptions might be fatal to your business idea? In this step we identify the most risky assumptions. 
Identify key assumptions

This step wraps up workshop number 1 by reviewing the techniques and identifying which ones were most helpful to you. 
Review patterns and wrap-up
Conduct quality interviews
8 Lectures 32:58
The most essential element in an early stage company is how well you understand your customer. This workshop prepares you to do great Customer Development interviews, so that you can make a product that hits the mark. 
Getting started

Now that you know how to do an interview...where do you find the people to talk to? 
Create a "Find" list

In this step, you will create my favorite research tool—the topic map. I use it to keep myself on track and guide the conversation toward those topics that are most useful in my research. 
Map the topics

The hardest part of interviewing a stranger is breaking the ice. In this step, you get ready by writing out the first few lines to get the interview off to a good start. 
Identify the opener

Feeling prepared will help you to get the best data out of your Customer Development interviews. 
Craft your approach

Seriously...this is the most embarrassing scene in the entire course! Even so, doing a few practice interviews will really help. I hate approaching strangers in a coffee shop, but I've done it because it helps me to know my customer and make products that they love. 
Practice an interview

Before you head out, decide who on your team will do what. If you're working solo, you'll need to wear many hats...and maybe bring a tape recorder!
Decide on roles, rules & notes

Now is the moment of truth. Go forth and research!
Go out and have conversations
Learn from your customer development
8 Lectures 21:13
Without a good debriefing process, there's not a lot of benefit from the research you've done. In this section, we're going to take a look at how to extract lessons and insights from your research. Having worked for many years doing this as a consultant, I've seen how transformational succinct research results can be for a company—and how useless research is if it's not "digested" and summarized into actionable lessons. 
Getting started

Obviously, the first thing you need to do is go through the notes and pull out the important observations. If you've done a great job of interviewing several people, you might feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of information you have. This step is about looking into the chaos of information. 
Review your notes

If the prior step is about observing chaos, then this one is about finding order. Sorting is where you begin to see patterns and find some clarity.
Sort your learnings

Even if you don't have a team, it's very helpful to talk with another person and try to explain to them what you've learned and observed as patterns in the data. This step is where you have a good conversation about your research findings and begin to draw conclusions about what they mean and how they might affect your product. 
Discuss as a team

Research for its own sake is not effective enough. The real "Win" for your company comes when you update your persona. This is what we call "validation"—is this a valid persona? What must we change to make it more accurately reflect our target customers? 
Validate your persona

Here we make sure to capture the interesting findings that were not our primary research goal. 
Cluster additional insights

You may have heard of approaches like Lean Startup and Agile Software Development. Both of these have "continuous improvement" as a core philosophy. Here we reflect on the process so that we can grow more effective in our work. 
Learn from the process

It's not enough to do customer development one time. At Luxr, we have two or three Cust Dev interviews every week. In this step, you decide how you want to integrate research into your fledgeling company. 
Make customer development a ritual
Capture the value proposition
7 Lectures 22:10
By now you've learned something about your customer, validated some key assumptions, and updated your persona. It's time, then, to transform that new insight into a product vision. This section will walk you through the process of identifying a customer value proposition that reflects your business vision and your customer's actual needs in the real world. 
Getting started

Once again, we take up the Sharpie pen to make some sketches. This time, we learn to add simple emotions to our drawing. It's fun, trust me!
Sketch expressions

A picture is worth a thousand words...Even if you can't draw, I can teach you to show a person, in a place, with a feeling and a thought. That complexity, even if poorly rendered, captures far more information than a simple sentence. 
Sketch collaboratively

In this step, we create a lot of ideas. By drawing rough sketches, we capture those moments where a customer needs our product (the moment of pain), or is using our product (the moment of satisfaction).
Generate many options

Collaborative work is all about understanding each others' contributions. Here, a team of 3 people can look over the 18 ideas (6 each), and by discussing them gain a deeper understanding of each other and of the potential of this product. 
Understand the ideas

Ultimately, you can have only one value proposition. In this step, we introduce a way to simplify  decision-making when you have several options and several people. 

NOTE: If you don't have the colored dots (available in office supply stores and even many drugstores), just use a colored pen. 
Choose options

In this final step, we reflect on the techniques from this section and decide how that might affect our work going forward. 
Review patterns & wrap-up
Focus your minimum viable product
7 Lectures 16:33
With a clear Value Proposition, we can pretty quickly determine what features to create. Lean Startup, which is a philosophy we believe in strongly, calls that an MVP, the Minimum Viable Product. The smallest thing you can make (well) that will deliver on the value proposition. That's what this Section will focus on. 
Getting started

Using our favorite method—the Dump and Sort—you will brainstorm the features that you could include in your product. 
Brainstorm features

Choosing what to build is one of the critical decisions that cause startup companies to get stuck, sometimes creates conflict, and really slows everybody down. When you use a few special techniques, though, sorting and prioritizing features can be a rational process that respects the gut instincts that all entrepreneurs have. 
Sort and prioritize

In this step, we really begin to focus the features to a crisp, tight MVP. The sooner you can get a small but great version of your product out into the market, the sooner you can learn what works for your customers. 
Define a minimum viable product

When you get down to those few things that are HARD but IMPORTANT, you need to begin making tradeoffs. This step gets you to a more clear picture of importance that will help you decide what's in and what's out for this first build. 
Stack-rank options

Because we've made a TON of decisions very quickly, it's important to have a fail-safe. One easy fail-safe is to look back at the decisions you've made and do a couple of quick checks. 
Two checks

By assembling all of the decisions into one storyline, you can get a very clear picture of your business so far. This is where you can see the value of all of your work. From a big mass of options and choices, you have arrived at a focused story that you can test, experiment with, and execute on. 
Tell the story & wrap-up
Define actionable metrics
10 Lectures 24:38
Once you know your customer, choose a value proposition, and build an MVP, you need to observe whether it's working: Are customers getting value from your product? In this Section, we will isolate a set of metrics that specifically measure customers' connection to the product. 
Getting started

This step follows the established pattern: Come up with a lot of ideas about what you can measure in your product. 
Brainstorm metrics

Using the category cards, sort the metrics according to what kind of insight they will give you. 
Sort and prioritize

Identify which metrics are most important for you TODAY, rather than a year from now. 
Focus near-term

Learn the tricks that make a metric truly helpful, and avoid drawing false conclusions about how well your product is doing. 
Three checks

This step is for teams, only. If you're working solo, you can skip this step. Here teams decide which metrics are right to move forward with. 
Consolidate as a team

Put together a tracking system for your measurements. 
Draft a metrics dashboard

Devise experiments and track trends based on what you do with the product. 
Move the metrics

Instrument your product so that you can gather metrics. Learn to observe metrics over time. 
Gather the data

Reflect on this section and make decisions about how you want to move forward. 
Review patterns and wrap-up
Prepare for pivots
10 Lectures 24:40
A Pivot is a change in business strategy in order to better deliver on the vision of your company. To do that, you need to know what your vision is. Eric Ries says "values are the foot you leave on the floor when you pivot." So, in order to know how to pivot the company, you need to have an explicit understanding of your vision and values. That's what we take on in this final Section. 
Getting started

The pattern recurs in this Section: We start with a dump and sort to brainstorm values. 
Brainstorm values

We use stack-ranking to get from many ideas to a small number of values that really define and differentiate your company. 
Stack-rank and select

If you're with a team, you will need to take some time to bring your values into alignment. If you're working alone, you have it easy!
Combine and cluster

The collaboration continues as you cluster your values and make a final decision about what matters most.
Cluster (more) and select

In this step, perhaps the hardest in the whole course, you will write a single statement that captures the purpose for your company and your product. To do this, you will answer questions like, Why does this matter to you? 
Draft a purpose statement

Take as much time as you need to arrive at one purpose that the whole founding team can agree to. 
Create a collective purpose

Here you create a record of these decisions and statements. At Luxr, we have ours posted on the bathroom door, so that everyone can see it and reflect on it frequently. 
Build a pyramid

In this penultimate step of the course, I ask you to think about all of the different ways you could deliver on that vision. If this product doesn't work out (for whatever reason), what would you do next. Every successful company has had many pivots, especially in the first two years. This step gives you the flexibility to think about the company not just as a one-product entity, but as a phenomenon that will have an impact on the world. 
Practice pivoting

It's the last step—if you've made it here, you're well on your way to having a great chance at success. Thanks for the optimism, dedication, and courage that you bring to the world.
Review patterns and wrap-up
About the Instructor
Janice Fraser
4.4 Average rating
860 Reviews
83,176 Students
2 Courses
Startup Founder & Coach. SVP at Bionic Solution

Janice Fraser

Janice Fraser is a serial entrepreneur and a globally recognized expert on the management practices needed to support innovation at scale. Her clients have included the Obama White House, Proctor & Gamble, Lyft, and the Navy Seals Training Command. Frasier currently serves as SVP at Bionic, where she installs entrepreneurship and venture capital as forms of growth management in Fortune 100 companies, which enables them to launch new billion-dollar businesses. 

Previously, Fraser was Director of Innovation and Transformation at Pivotal. For 16 years before that, Janice started half a dozen companies with a variety of outcomes — both exits and flat-out shutdowns. Among them, Janice was founder/CEO of Luxr, an early Lean Startup firm (sold to Pivotal), and Adaptive Path, the world’s first UX firm (sold to Capital One). 

The material presented here was developed for LUXr, which provided workshops for hundreds (thousands) of entrepreneurs around the world. She personally worked with more than 50 companies in a 10-week product acceleration program. With backing by 500Startups, Mitchell Kapor, Bill Gross's Idealab, and Tony Hsieh's Vegas Tech Fund, Luxr reached entrepreneurs around the world before the company joined the exceptional team at Pivotal, where Janice & team continue to coach entrepreneurs inside large companies as well at startups.

My promise to you is this: You give us a day, and we will leapfrog your company forward at least a month.

Janice is a guest speaker at many conferences and top business schools around the world, including Haas, Kellogg, Stanford, and the Presido Graduate School of Management.