Serious about entrepreneurship? Find out with JFDI Discovery
By Digital News Asia June 3, 2014
- 21-day programme offers blend of self-directed activity and online support
- All teams applying to JFDI Accelerate will be encouraged undergo course first
JOYFUL Frog Digital Incubator (JFDI) Asia has launched a 21-day programme called JFDI Discovery to help business startup founders in the quest to achieve ‘problem-customer fit’ via a market deep dive process. [UPDATE: The Discovery programme has been renamed Discover]
The term ‘problem-customer fit’ stems from the lean startup methodology and is a process of finding a group of customers who have the problem you would like to solve.
The program will run every month and teaches participants to apply the formal methods used in Singapore-based JFDI’s main 100-day accelerator programme.
Hugh Mason (pic), co-founder and chief executive officer of JFDI said he and co-founder Meng Weng Wong were inspired to set up JFDI by the fact that “it’s now possible to systematize innovation and to teach entrepreneurship like never before.”
“The information you need to do it is all open source and online but, like trying to get fit, anyone who’s tried it on their own will know that it’s like learning to dance salsa from a book.
“Our experience is that it helps a lot to have a coach to do it right and that’s what JFDI Discovery provides,” he added.
However JFDI Discovery is not just for first-timers, according to Mason, as it also helps experienced teams that feel they are facing a roadblock, or who want to put new hires whom are not the original founders through a start-up experience.
“Even teams that have been together for years often struggle to achieve close ‘problem-customer fit’. After early success, or a positive initial response on a crowdfunding site, growth stalls and they just don’t know why.
“JFDI Discovery shares how we apply powerful techniques like the OKR (Objective Key Results) method, Lean Canvas and Customer Discovery to understand what really drives the business forward,” he added.
The start of the beginning
Ray Wu, JFDI’s former accelerator manager, who is now a JFDI mentor alongside running his own startup, first piloted the programme from January 2014.
The programme offers entrepreneurs a chance to answer three key questions in less than a month, namely:
Are we serious about entrepreneurship?
What problem are we fixing in the world?
Who would pay to have that problem fixed?
The pilot immediately resulted in two startup teams being offered and accepting places in JFDI’s main Accelerate program. With JFDI Discovery’s launch, all teams applying to JFDI Accelerate will be encouraged to undergo the programme first.
New team members Adrian Tan (pic) and Huang Chi-Kai are now building on the successful pilot program, incorporating the learning from JFDI’s work accelerating 40 startup teams and mentoring over 150 teams at the events it has organized and supported across the Asia Pacific.
Tan returns to JFDI in the role of lean startup coach, having been part of learning startup team Remember in 2012, and shared that it has been the organisation’s experience that Lean Startup methods which work so well in the West don’t always deliver ‘out of the box’ in the East and require adaptation.
“Asking customers explicitly about their problems, for example, could easily result in a loss of face in some cultures or stalling and failure to capture accurate information.
“The private online community we have set up for JFDI Discovery participants helps everyone share insights and find workarounds when they meet these kinds of issues,” he added.
Delivered every month through a blend of self-directed activity and online support, JFDI Discovery is intended to be available to anyone, anywhere, any time.
Participants set their own goals within the framework offered, so are able to pace themselves depending on how much time they have available and how far they are starting down the road.
There is no need to attend physical meetings or group webinars unless participants want to, so it can run alongside existing work commitments.
Every participating team that completes its assignments gets a weekly ‘Office Hours’ call from the mentor team to keep them moving forward.
Mason likens it to signing up for a gym, where working with a coach helps participants decide ‘how hard do we want to push ourselves this month?’
A key objective is to help teams find out for themselves if they have what it takes to succeed and teams that don’t achieve the goals they set themselves can try again.
Huang noted that while events like Startup Weekends and Hackathons are great for introducing strangers and forming energetic new teams, there comes a moment when “you need to know if your new friends are serious.”
“JFDI Discovery creates a relatively short but intense commitment which teams can try part-time. They make promises to each other and us and then whether they deliver or not, is down to the team.
“That way they can find out if they really want to be entrepreneurs and if they really want to work together. It’s also deeply reassuring for them to get hard evidence that they have something solid to work on before they tell family they plan to quit their jobs.”
For more information about JFDI Discovery, click here.