My first real encounter with birthing startups dates as far back as  2011. It was Startup weekend Lagos, and we were supposed to turn Lemonades into Heliocopters (Tina Seelig’s definition for being an enterpreneur).

We were supposed to think and develop viable technology ideas in 54 hours, Friday evening till the end of Sunday. Should I mention, investable ideas, since we had Tayo Oviosu of Paga and others, as part of the judges and potential investors.

Garage48-callcamp-winners

Garage48 Startup Hackathon: Voting for the Winner. Image via Garage48

This was a hackathon event where we had around 30 people -programmers, designers, strategists, and marketers busting with startup energy, ready to kickstart a business within 3 days.
It was going to be fun, it was indeed fun and learning and networking with brilliant minds, except for the part where I was close to paying the ultimate price, that aside, we ended up with about 8 prototypes from the Startup Weekend Lagos event.

  • Finding Jimoh
  • Ticket Mobile
  • Prowork
  • Event Wallet
  • Healthtrack
  • School of Profession
  • Comedrive.me
  •  Traffic Watch

See the details and winners here

Today, asides Prowork, I simply cannot point to one of these startups that made it through up till now, and not 1 made a dime as revenue, I stand corrected -most just ended with the event.

Perhaps you know of Ticket Mobile and the most recent state it was in, not dead, but very close to that – to be fair.

Before the Startup Weekend event, there was the Garage48 hackathon, but the event suffered the same fate – in the end, there was no sustainable product, not any I know of, even the winners have a website link that don’t seem to be working.

That’s another set of 9 startups, and no $how.

Other random startups from way back, adloopz.com, flippii, Yarnables  and many more experience this same fate.

That 1 out of 19 startups mentioned. People, Startup failure rates are at a whooping 98%!

If only we knew about lean Startup back then.

build-measure-learn_leanStartup_99digital

There have been even more hackathon events, most have been the perfect platform for networking and startup community bonding, but they usually fail to accomplish their goal, kick-start businesses, because the focus is mostly on the product. To have a business, customers are very much critical, but we tend not to include them in the mix, and this is a common reason why startups fail  and why most hackathons are not appropriate for starting startups. Good for techie bonding and competition purposes, but not for business or serious stuff.

Recently, at the just concluded Social Media Week Lagos event ,  there were a few hackathons, and just like in the past, we would promise to follow through, but we all know the chances of survival is this slim.

We sure can’t keep on this way to realize the economics promises we talk about. Forget MINT for now, there needs to be a shift in thinking or else we remain where we are.

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result

Problem solving in this world has never truly been about technology. It has always been about solving problems, meeting needs and building products people really really want – want, Simples!
Lean Startup principles gives you the best shot at equipping budding entrepreneurs with knowledge to build successful startups, and this includes established enterprises.

My point exactly

Rather than Hackathons and totally focusing on application development, let’s do customer development, let’s spend the time focusing on getting paid or be as close to getting paid as possible. That way, you would learn about the actual factors that could prevent you from receiving value or not and discover if there is a need to meet or a problem to solve. It is beyond the obvious. This, people, is the ultimate smoke test, a valid pointer that you would be around in the next years and not close shop.

Instead of Hackathons, lets do Custdevthons – Customer Development Marathon.

Something is brewing behind the scenes to kickstart this practice across the tech ecosystem in Nigeria. Here is a workshop being organized by Lean Startup Machine. Be sure to signup to stay updated, and as you would expect, this is lean in itself.

Share this post, the information here could save a budding entrepreneur from any field, not just technology and would certainly increase your chances for success.

Enough said for the moment, Leave a comment if you know about the Lean Startup and would like to get involved.

See Pictures from Startup Weekend Lagos 2011 [Flickr]

  • LB

    Very solid point made here …. I will also like to add that true long-standing Mentorship and some seed funding will go a long way in helping budding entrepreneurs in scaling up as soon as possible and sustaining their early adopters (customers). YCombinator in the U.S. is an example of an outfit that does this.