Sightseeing and LSM in Boston
On the 24th of September we took our flight at 7 a.m. from Vienna International Airport to Paris Charles de Gaulle. The flight was super easy and we got some peanuts and brezels as “breakfast”. After we’ve landed in Paris we had a little over 1 hour to find our new gate and board onto the plain to Boston. We thought that this will be an easy procedure, but don’t be mistaken, the airport in Paris is probably the most miss build airport I’ve seen in my life. You have to go by bus to switch terminals, but the bus drive slower than my grandfather did with his 88 years. We still did manage to catch our flight to Boston – don’t know how, but we did it. So we had another 5 hours to spend on an airplane. There was a wide range of movies to watch: “The Heat”, “Fast and Furious 6”, “Lone Ranger”, “I give it a year”, … After the first 20 min of safety instructions, advertisement for the airline and the at least second or third welcoming from the crew the TV screen was online and you could chose from the wide range of movies. For lunch we had chicken, it seems always to be chicken 😉 and a lot of coke. The second flight was also a very nice and steady and I really appreciated it 😉 The only thing to mention is that the temperature was at top 15 °C = freezing cold. It was so cold that, although I was prepared and had more than enough clothes attached to my body, the stewardesses on the plane had to wear jackets! *brrrrrr* So after watching “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and starting to watch “Fast and Furious 6” we landed in Boston, got our luggage, bought the metro card and took the T to Newton Heighlands – our home for Boston. I had a bad feeling growing in my stomach – it seemed like I indeed caught a cold on the flight from Paris to Boston. After we arrived in Newton Heighlands and after we found the place that would be our home for the next few days, we made the bed and I immediately jumped into it to get some rest. G. was so wonderful and got me some hot water from a coffee shop, some cough drops and my first american CupCake. He was really the sweetest boyfriend ever. So after taking some rest we went for a short walk and after coming back home I took a hot shower and went to bed, to get some more rest for the next few days. On the next morning – Wednesday – my sore throat was getting worse but the cough drops were helping and I tried to drink a lot and to watch out to never be cold. We started with a cupcake some hot chocolate from our future “breakfast bar” in Newton Heighlands and headed to Boston. There we spend a really nice day walking around and having fun. On the second day we walked the whole day through Boston passing the freedom trail like a hop-on hop-off trail. On Friday we’ve been wandering around Boston, seeing again a lot of attractions especially Harvard and its campus. At Harvard we decided spontaneously to attend a Harvard tour with a Harvard student as tour guide. And it was definitely the right decision 😉 He was awesome, funny and gave us a lot of interesting and important information. One of the most important information was probably not to touch the “shoe” of the statue of Mr. “Harvard”, because the drunken freshman sometimes can’t find the way to the restrooms and use the shoe of good old Mr. “Harvard” to make some place for more beer. After Harvard we headed to the MIT museum including the MIT and a really awesome market with beautiful pumpkins made out of glass. I spend like 30 minutes choosing pumpkins for me, Ania and my mother and after I’ve made my choice I was told that they are selling the pumpkins not until tomorrow ;-( At 7 p.m. we were heading to the evening event of the Lean Startup Machine workshop.
Attractions in Boston:
What I have to mention about Boston is that the last time I felt so secure and overlooked was as I was in Canada 12 years ago. In Boston we were not able to stand on a crossing for more than 3 minutes, because people would come and ask us as friendly and polite as possible if we needed some help or if we were lost. There are three possible explanations that could explain this behaviour:
- we really looked totally lost and wasted
- people in Boston seem to be absolutely intrusive
- Boston people are, next to Canadians the friendliest people I’ve ever met 😉
I’m tending to go with number 3.
The Lean Startup Machine Workshop
The Lean Startup Machine workshop took place @Broadway 1 on the 5th floor. The schedule for the evening was to get to know the other attendance and to pitch some ideas, at least to get some pitches from people who had an idea and wanted to work on this idea this weekend. After all pitches every participant had 3 votes for his or her favorite pitches. After 15 most wanted pitches were left over everybody could chose whose team he or her wanted to attend and the team building was finished. After the teams have found all team members the organisers sent us home to take a rest for the long working weekend. Meeting time next day: 9 a.m. for breakfast = Squagels = squared bagels 😉
So I’ve committed myself to the “Perfect Present” group, which was lead by Fifo. The idea was to make a service for people who didn’t really know what to buy for the beloved ones and to make the finding of the perfect gift easier.
So we’ve met in the morning after having breakfast and started with the “Validation” = “Javelin” board right away. The whole point of this workshop or this methodology is to “Fall fast, succeed Faster.”. And that was our groups motto. So right away we tried to fill out the first column of the validation board and had our first riskiest assumption: “people would ask for assistance in present buying”. For the first phase of going out of the building we decided immediately on the place to go and on our customers:
- location: the mall, that was 10 minutes away from our workshop location
- customers: male, 25-45 years old
We divided into two groups of two and asked people if they had problems with buying presents for their family and beloved ones. After the first few surveys I noticed that we had made the following mistakes or wrong assumptions:
- men do not want to commit that they have a problem
- men do not really care about the presents they buy
- the question “do you have a problem” is a no go
So we made our first pivoting and changed the customer group immediately to “people who have at least one person they find it hard to find a present for” – and that was absolutely the right customer group, because everybody seems to have this one person, they find it hard to find the perfect present for. After some more surveys the result was that most people buy gift cards because they just don’t know what to buy, so we’ve added some questions to find out what the real problem is – “Is it hard because…”:
- the person is really picky
- you have not enough time to search for the right present
- you have lack of ideas
The winner was “lack of ideas” with 82 points, where we asked people to rate the three problems on a scale from 1-10 where 10 is “yes, that’s really a problem for me”.
The second place went to “the persons are picky” with 59 points and the third to “I have no time” rated with 33 points. Most people told us, that if they had had the perfect idea they would find the time to get it, although they would be pretty happy if there would be a service that would get this present for them.
So we narrowed our customer group down to people who are searching for a special gift and decided on the problem of “having no ideas” with a solution like “providing 3-5 ideas based on likes and budget range. Are riskiest assumption at this time was ” pay x$ incl. service fee”. We identified a success criteria like 2/4 will be willing to use our service in future & 1/4 commits to buy something out of the provided ideas”. So we had already four people that were interested in this service: one person of the jury, one of his friends we only had contact via the phone and two mentors. After a hard day we decided to go home, we were probably one of the last groups to leave the building after the mentors have told us to get ourselves to bed because they had to close up the floor 😉 Next morning, after getting ourselves some breakfast because unfortunately the Squagels weren’t that good, we’ve made some internet research, had some additional talks with our customers (outline beneath) and went out of the building to search for presents for our four customers.
Questions we’ve been asking our customers:
- What is the last present you gave to Mrs. X that you know was a really great present?
- What present was not that appreciated?
- What are the favourite things of Mrs. X? Her favourite clothes, things at home, …
- What are the most preferred colours?
- What’s the last meaningful thing Mrs. X bought for herself?
After the first round of suggestions most people wanted to get another round to get a narrowed down list with enhanced ideas. At the end of the day we’ve managed to get three people an idea they committed to choose and we bought one present for one of the mentors which he was willing to pay for – so we’ve indeed earned 4 $ *YAY*.
In the evening of the last day every group pitched for 5 minutes their idea, outcomes and the things we’ve learned in front of all participants and four jurors. Unfortunately we didn’t win the contest although we’ve got mentioned additionally, which is quite an honour!
After long working days some of the remaining participants headed to a bar to make some chatting. As usual G. and I were the last ones to leave, so we headed back home for our last night in Newton Heighlands. At home we’ve managed to book a bus to New York, packed our stuff and went to sleep.
On the next morning we’ve managed to clean up the apartment, left the Mannerschnitten-XXL-boxes and a bottle of good, old Zubrowka for our host and headed towards Riverside (a few statiosn from Newton Heighlands) where the bus left to New York.
Bye, bye Boston. Hello New York 😉