Despite dropping out of business school, Trevor Owens has spent the last four years trying to show people that he knows the right way to build successful businesses, small or big. In fact, he’s spearheaded a company whose sole purpose is to teach entrepreneurs the nuts and bolts of business innovation.
It seems to be working out pretty well thus far. Last year his Lean Startup Machine bootcamp for entrepreneurs entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft. Earlier this year Javelin, his Lean Startup-informed software meant for larger companies raised $1.5 million. Today Javelin is announcing a new feature to its toolkit: Experiment Board.
To truly grasp Javelin, it’s important to understand the “Lean Startup” method for building businesses. First developed by Eric Ries, the method uses a series of business hypotheses and iterative testing to ensure that users have discovered a true audience for their product. You think your business has a good product? With Lean Startup you must develop a hypothesis about that product, ensure there’s an audience for it, and then test it with actual customers to see if it works. If it doesn’t, you pivot.
Lean Startup Machine began as a small three-day workshop teaching this process to burgeoning entrepreneurs wanting to get their feet wet in the startup world. It has now expanded to nearly 600 cities worldwide, raking in over $1 million of revenue each year.
Javelin is the other side of this Janus-faced business model. It uses the same Lean Startup pedagogy, but teaches it to larger enterprise businesses hoping to innovate on their products. The full Javelin software, which is still in beta, costs over $2,000 for companies to partake and ostensibly offers tools for these huge corporations to iterate on old business models. Companies involved in the beta include American Express, ESPN, and GE.
The Experiment Board launched today is a free tool so others remain aware of the Javelin program. As Owens explained it to me, this board is “an important marketing tool and education tool for the [Javelin] software.” Pretty much it is a way to coalesce employees in departments to posit hypotheses about how to make better and more successful business decisions, which are then tested. The board is used as a software to record and quantify this process so everyone remains in the loop. Or, as Owens puts it, it’s a way for businesses to track “how fast [they] they can get their idea down into a form that can be actually tested.”
With the launch of the Experiment Board software, Javelin is also releasing a series of case studies that have used it. Owens says this this is way to to “prove and show the results.”
Experiment Board is not unlike a product Javelin has launched before. In 2012 the company began offering something called Validation Board, which provided a streamlined and systematized visualization for what was taught at Owens’ Lean Startup Machine conferences.
In the true nature of the Lean Startup method, Javelin found that it wasn’t perfect. “Validation Board was essentially the genesis of our direction,” Owens said. After testing the waters with that, along with a bunch of tools, he found Experiment Board to be the best way to easily track the Lean Startup process.
Of course, this product is just a side project for what Javelin has in store. Owens says Javelin will hopefully exit beta this fall. Only then will we see what kind of results his program has for bigger companies.
If it doesn’t go so well, I suppose he can take his own advice and pivot.
[Illustration by Hallie Bateman for Pandodaily]