Learn how to startup? Join a Dojo

On Friday May 13 Stefan Haas and Jens Otto Lange from the #PoDojo have been invited with their one day workshop ‘Lean Startup Dojo’ to work with teams from the seven startups of Program9 at Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator. At the #PoDojo we create hands-on learning experiences to improve capabilities how to build products customers love and how to find business models that work for the product ideas.


Lean Startup – hands-on

The goal of the day was to apply the Lean Startup method on a real example, improve how the teams make decisions and help the teams of Program9 to move their business idea a step further.

“The guys make a great job bringing the practical component to the Lean Startup theory”, Philipp Katz from LineUpr statet.


One day workshop to practice Lean Startup

Since Eric Ries published his business book “Lean Startup” in 2008, there has been lots of buzz about this lean way of setting up a new business without much spendings upfront. In theory this scientific, customer-centric approach seems to be easy to understand. But how to map Lean Startup thinking to your very own business model in practice? In their workshop, the #PoDojo coaches guided the teams with some instructions, visual tools and hands-on practice through one Build-Measure-Learn cycle of the Lean Startup process, to exercise how to validate their ideas behind their business model and value proposition.


Visual tools to see where you are

To be able to discuss their thoughts with team members and externals, participants first mapped out the core ideas of their business model with sticky notes on a Business Model Canvas. In a second step they visualized how their value proposition fits their customer segment, its jobs, pains and gains, using the Value Proposition canvas. Based on these visual tools, teams extracted the core hypotheses that need to be true to support their business model.

We asssume on what Richard von Schaewen from Aaron said during the workshop “There is more than just a Business Model Canvas”.


How to set up an experiment?

Equipped with some instructions about how to test their hypotheses in an experiment by interviewing, the teams had one hour to design their test setup and another hour to run the tests. It was quite a challenge to set up and run the test in such a short timeframe. Teams had to decide on their core hypothesis, they had to be creative to get access to prospect customers to get feedback from, and they had to craft a guideline what to ask them. Some teams did customer research by running short chats on facebook, others did cold call interviews via phone.


Lots of action, great learning

After running the experiments, the teams made sense of their results, to rethink the assumptions they made before they ran their experiment, to remap their insights to the Value Proposition canvas. In the reflection round where we collected their learnings, we heard: “Take a step back”, “There’s a long road before building products”, “Question everything everyday”, and “Take the time to question and validate assumptions”. The feedback of participants reflected that all of them became highly aware that early testing of assumptions  is a core and very valuable activity for a startup – and for some of them it became evident even after a short day that they could invalidate some of their ideas.



  • Without the discipline of mapping out the business model, value proposition and extracting hypothesis it’s easy to get lost in prototyping details
  • Even when product level prototypes exist it makes sense to ‘recompile’ the business model and value proposition ideas behind to make sense of user feedback when testing usability and to avoid a local optimum of the product idea
  • There’s no simulation to substitute for running experiments with real users and thus going outside of the building needs to be integral part of learning Lean Startup
  • It’s possible to run a full Build-Measure-Learn cycle from scratch with an early stage startup in a day

For our coaches from the #PoDojo it was great fun, particularly to work with startups in a very early stage: “Highly engaged people, it’s a pleasure to work with them” Stefan pointed out, and Jens added “Great crowd, lot’s of energy”.

To get an idea about the workshop, just have a look at the movie on the Axel Springer Plug and Play Accelerator Facebook page.