Build a better startup by running lean

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<strong>Build</strong> a <strong>better</strong> <strong>startup</strong> <strong>by</strong> <strong>running</strong><br />

<strong>lean</strong><br />

Airbnb is now a household name, over the years they've become a<br />

powerhouse in the travel sector.<br />

They've disrupted an industry <strong>by</strong> providing travellers with an<br />

alternative to staying in hotels, and also provided a new source of<br />

income to individuals with spare rooms and apartments.<br />

Key metrics<br />

When it came to growth, the founders had a very ​<strong>lean</strong> mindset​ and<br />

focused on that one key metric that could change things.<br />

It happened to be professional photography.<br />

It all started with a hypothesis.<br />

Hosts with professional photography will get more<br />

business.<br />

This is where gut instinct comes into play, they were all pretty<br />

confident that professional photography would help their business.<br />

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Instead of implementing it straight away, they were smart, they built<br />

a concierge ​minimum viable product​.<br />

A concierge minimum viable product is essentially the smallest<br />

thing you can build, with the least amount of effort, but still delivers<br />

the value you said it would.<br />

A concierge approach is where you manually run<br />

things behind the scenes for the first batch of<br />

customers, this lets you validate whether the need<br />

is real, before writing a single line of code.<br />

Initial tests showed that listings with professional photographs got<br />

two to three times more bookings than the market average.<br />

In the early days, Airbnb had 20 photographers out and about<br />

taking pictures for their hosts.<br />

Once Airbnb proved their original hypothesis, they took it a step<br />

further, they started to watermark their photos to add a sense of<br />

authenticity.<br />

Customer service then started to offer professional photography as<br />

a service when hosts or potential hosts called.<br />

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Each step of the way, Airbnb kept measuring the results and<br />

adjusting as necessary.<br />

By 2012, Airbnb was doing close to 5000 photo shoots per month.<br />

Key points<br />

Airbnb had the notion that <strong>better</strong> photos would lead to more rentals.<br />

They tested the idea with a concierge minimum viable product,<br />

putting in the least amount of effort as possible, but still getting valid<br />

results.<br />

When the experiment yielded positive results, only then did they<br />

build the required components to roll it out to all their customers.<br />

Conclusion<br />

Sometimes growth can come from parts of your business that you'd<br />

least expect.<br />

When you think you've got a decent idea, you should figure out how<br />

to test it quickly, with the least amount of cash.<br />

You should define what a successful test will look like before you<br />

start, and what you're going to do if you're right.<br />

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