3 Ways To Start Hustling based on The Lean Startup Methodology

Getting started is one of the biggest roadblocks for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Lean Startup Methodology has been hailed to help startups achieve maximum acceleration at a minimal cost.
We engaged in a lecture and hands-on session about running a startup, the lean way. Conducted by Bryan Long, Co-Founder of Stack and Founder of The Testing Ground, we knew we were in good hands.
We have combined our key takeaways from the session with our own experiences to share 3 ways you can get hustling!

1. Embrace Failure

Singapore is no Silicon Valley. We avoid failure like the plague!
However, failure is a mental hurdle that founders must cross and eventually, embrace. Want to reach the finish line faster? Fail early and learn early.
Failure has been lauded as the mother of success, and for good reason. Startups that ultimately succeed emerged from failure after failure while iterating on their ideas.
At TreeDots, we’ve been shoved out of offices and spat in the face. Our early ideas were far from perfect. The F&B industry was also a brutal one. We were uncertain, tired and discouraged.
But we pushed on.

2. Test Your Idea

Startups don’t usually start with deep pockets. When we’re strapped for resources, developing a perfect prototype can often be out of the question.
The solution: Create a Minimum Viable Product (MVP-yes, you read that right!) An MVP is the fastest way to effectively test if your idea and return with the most valuable insights.
Traditionally, corporations can take up to a year to develop their business models, prototypes and final products before finally testing them.
As a startup, you can run your tests monthly or even weekly with an MVP. That’s 52 times more opportunities for validated learning!
Our MVP was a photo of a blemished head of cabbage. We went door-to-door, showed this photo on our phones to potential customers and asked, “Would you buy this, if it was cheaper than the market price?”
Our MVP cost us nothing to produce, and taught us that:
  • Food distributors and importers are our potential customers, not wholesalers.
  • There was a market for ugly but perfectly edible food.
  • Yes, we can continue building on our idea.

3. Make Continuous Improvements

After rounds of testing with your MVP, you are sure to end up with lots of data. Use the insights and feedback you received to decide whether to pivot or iterate.
Were your initial assumptions correct? Can you proceed with several tweaks in your business model? If yes, go ahead and make iterations to further refine and develop your idea.
If no, your idea may require a pivot– A change in your business model while maintaining the essence of your initial vision. Remember, the changes you are making should be guided by the data you have collected from your tests.
Here at TreeDots, our ultimate goal is to reduce food waste.
We started by thinking that food caterers would be our perfect early-adopters. We assumed that they had flexibility over their menus and were accruing low-profit margins from their sales.
Over time, we realised that these food caterers value their relationships with their food suppliers. They were also already well-versed in the art of negotiating for the best prices to survive in the low margin environment.
It turned out that our service wasn’t that valuable towards that sector at the beginning.
This called for a change in our entry strategy. We shifted our focus to organisations that wanted to procure their raw ingredients at less competitive prices. These organisations included small restaurants, cafes and voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs),
A pivot in our target audience then became key to kickstart our sales.

Start Hustling Now

Get creative with designing your MVP. Go out and talk to your customers, users and partners. Consolidate feedback and make iteration after iteration. Prepare to fail but also be sure to emerge wiser after every stumble.

TreeDots at EarthFest Singapore 2018 – Our first ever event!

Some time in December, TreeDots was invited to set up a booth at EarthFest Singapore 2018. We were having a bunch of mixed feelings then, it was between excitement and fear because of the same reason, the entire TreeDots team had never set up a booth before!

Fast forward till now, we were glad we went took the leap of faith and went along with joining EarthFest Singapore 2018. Plenty of sleepless night, and thankful for some of our friends who decided to help us out – special thanks to Flora Artisan for helping us with the styling of the entire booth! The weather was great that day as well, despite having rained for the past few days.

TreeDots Founder Team at Earthfest Singapore 2018

TreeDots Founder Team at Earthfest Singapore 2018 with our booth beautifully set up by Flora Artisan

Made plenty of new friends along the way, started a new product specially for that which is awesome for our fresh produce sellers onboard – Adopting a Veggie box. Nobody knows what will be under-demanded by the market, and being able to put them into a box and sell it to customers whom are cool with surprises? PERFECT PLAN. Check them out here, and probably order some to take a break off grocery shopping for a week (or more) and prevent all these perfectly fine vegetables from being thrown away!

Many exciting collaborations are also in place, we met organic farmers who are keen on being listed on our platform, content generators willing to help us publicise our ideals, professional executives who are volunteering to improve our business operations for free, and we even got ourselves a short paragraph in a Straits Times article!

We thank everyone whom have supported us thus far, and for those whom have missed EarthFest, worry not for we have taken a short montage of us working hard that day for you!

Click here to view if the video isn’t working!

With this, the event is over and we thank all of you for your continuous support. Do check out our page more often for more upcoming events!