How to apply the 'lean startup' methodology to your work

By Catherine Cheney 08 November 2016

Wendy Gonzalez, senior vice president and managing director at Samasource, presents at Lean Startup Week in San Francisco. Photo by: Catherine Cheney

Atma Connect, a California-based nonprofit that connects users in Indonesia with the goal of “warga bantu warga,” or neighbors helping neighbors, considers itself a lean startup.

“We were constantly asking our users what their daily challenges were and how we could build a product that could help them,” said the CEO, Meena Palaniappan, at the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco last week.

The “lean startup” methodology shortens feedback loops by drawing on customer insights to iteratively build products or services to meet their needs. In the case of Atma Connect, the “minimum viable product,” or MVP, was an app to share water price information, but when users said they wanted to share information on other topics, from education to garbage to floods, the team pivoted and launched a hyperlocal social network.

As these tools make their way from product development into global development, here are some ways you can apply lean startup principles such as working smarter not harder into your work.

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About the author

Catherine cheney devex
Catherine Cheneycatherinecheney

Catherine Cheney covers the West Coast global development community for Devex. Since graduating from Yale University, where she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in political science, Catherine has worked as a reporter and editor for a range of publications including World Politics Review, POLITICO, and NationSwell, a media company and membership network she helped to build. She is also an ambassador for the Solutions Journalism Network and the Franklin Project at the Aspen Institute.


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