Indonesia Scrum Experiment: Lean Startup Lessons
Last week, I did my first ever training in Indonesia. I’ll give a little background as to why and how I came to this.
I went to a workshop last year in Amsterdam at the school of life. The facilitator had one idea that triggered the actions I took next. He said that if you want to find out what to do next in your life, just start an experiment, whatever it is. If you plan to be a coach, then just start right away. Invite a couple of friends or colleagues and offer them free coaching. Ask them for feedback, see what you do or don’t like and iterate from there. Change path or keep going. I think that’s lean startup applied to life and to setting up a service business. Products are more complex to start!
The context of that last statement is this. I applied it to building an online marketplace for software teams. I started building an MVP. Then on the way, I searched 2 co-founders. In a way, it worked. And in a way it didn’t. The main reason (looking in hindsight) is that we built too much too quickly. I thought I had generated enough feedback and based on it, that we made the right decisions. But it appeared we overlooked a couple of things. Generating feedback for a product idea is more complicated than for a service business. The big thing that got us stuck was becoming a service business versus a platform.
To get a double-sided marketplace going, you need to attract 2 sides. I had set out creating this marketplace to remove ‘sales’ from software services. The big block in the growth of my first company Bridge Global has always been sales. Long sales cycles, hard to get good sales guys (and then also very hard to deliver quality consistently). So I didn’t want to do sales in the marketplace. Now on the provider side that worked: we got 600 companies signed up within a year. But on the client side, I learned there’s no way to get this started without building trust, relationships and that meant…back to the long sales cycle which I wanted to avoid. The platform is still live and I’ve got a business partner who’s going to add sales to get it going.
Last year, I took a sabbatical and as part of that, went to Indonesia for a couple of weeks. And I fell in love with the country. When I came back I decided to do a one year experiment together with my wife: move to Bali with the whole family. If everything works out and the children are happy at school, we may stay (we decided last week to add 1 more year already now :)). This is part of the reason I wanted to move:
So I moved to Bali (with my 3 boys and wife) in June of this year. My plan was to build an online training academy for distributed teams and work on that remotely with my team in India. When I came here, I realized it would be nice to do some local activities as well. I had started giving (distributed) scrum and agile trainings last year. So I figured it would be a nice ‘test’ (lean startup thinking) to organize a meetup in Bali and announce a scrum training. Two days later I thought I could extend the test to Jakarta to see what the market is over there.
I announced the meetups and trainings in September. And we started building the Scrum User Group Indonesia (the official meetup format of Scrum Alliance) in Facebook. Today, we have over 900 people in the group. The first meetup in Bali was rather small (10 people), so I learned that the community here is too small. In Jakarta, the meetup had over 50 people, we hosted it in BCA (thanks again guys :)) and it was a very energetic, inspiring event.
The training in Bali I postponed to December (I’m getting a few people there now but guess where they are from….Jakarta! :)). The training in Jakarta got 12 people. And on the way, I met a lot of people who are asking me if I can do training and coaching inside their company. I also found out that there is a big need within companies for help in becoming agile and implementing scrum. The experiment worked out.
I’ll update on the next experiments I’m just starting in a couple of weeks.
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