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Effective learning, essential and important requirement to successful early stage startup?

In a recent MIT Sloan article, I read that "Instead of failing fast, companies should learn fast by designing initiatives to ensure learning." This excellent article explains how to articulate and test hypotheses, create empowered cross-functional teams, encourage probing questions, or shift reward structures.

Early-stage startup and learnings

Since my last post, which I wrote shortly after leaving my previous employer, a few companions and I embarked on a journey to build something new, something we find exciting, which we hope will find its niche. Our crew never worked together, and currently, we live in Calgary, Houston, Montpellier, Paris, or Perpignan (center of the universe as claimed by an obscure painter).

I believe we are a true cross-functional team with different expertise disciplines. In this adventure, we started with an idea. By testing hypotheses validated with customers, investors, and peers over many hours, that idea slowly metamorphosed into a minimum viable product. We learned how to market, develop frontend and backend services, define and implement personas to facilitate user experience, operate in a containerized environment, and more.

Capturing learnings

I believe that capturing knowledge, especially with a diverse distributed team, is essential to learning fast. Over the last few years, I worked with Obsidian, TiddlyWiki, Bear, Goodnotes, or Roam Research to capture knowledge. I experimented with Bullet Journal or Second Brain methods to further organize that knowledge. Knowledge capture is a fast-growing field.

For now, and until a better tool comes along, at Start Bridge, we decided, as a team, to use Notion and Slack, our two workhorses, to collaborate, gather and capture our learnings.

Learn effectively from professional networks and potential customers

Incidentally, the product Start Bridge is developing can help teams derisk by learning and capturing insights from their stakeholders.

A lot of us, as entrepreneurs, have observed that more often than not, individuals with strong technical expertise and promising ideas launch startups. Those founders are generally capable of developing those ideas into a minimum viable product, just like we did. Still, they do not necessarily have the commercial acumen to present that product to the market effectively. We, at Start Bridge, believe that this is a critical point in the life of an organization where there is an opportunity to learn fast from professional networks and potential customers.

By offering a digital platform that allows entrepreneurs, among others, to create commercial offers and to leverage their professional network to review, assess, and evaluate those offers, we think we are helping organizations learn fast without failing. Of course, some commercial offers will sadly crash and burn, however, it is nice to figure this out early on without putting too much skin in the game and letting our professional network guide us gently towards that outcome.

Similarly, a more established organization that has already found its fit-to-market can achieve additional fast learning by leveraging our tool internally rather than externally. In that case, co-workers can review, refine, and improve existing commercial offers before exposing them to the market.

Moving forward

Last August, we bootstrapped, and now, in December, we have a minimum viable product, our first customers, and a tight schedule to onboard users and demonstrate our product to a larger audience.

I will keep you posted on our learnings on LinkedIn and our blog. Finally, I invite you to join one of our demos if you want to know a bit more about bridges.

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