Carrying On The Lessons Learned From the ImagineIF Bootcamp


If you recall, we attended a workshop by ICTA called ImagineIF. This is a series of entrepreneurship boot camps aimed at undergraduate students of universities across Sri Lanka. On Saturday the 4th of August, we found ourselves once again at one of these sessions aiming to answer the question of “Imagine IF?”.

Constant Validation was the first step at ImagineIF

Before you go about launching your startup and getting into the startup grind, you first need to know if you have a feasible idea. This is where Validation comes into play. This was also what Faththi Mohammed was here to speak about. Faththi, one of the founders of PickMe and now Yoho Bed Lanka spoke about the different ways in which you can validate your idea.

Faththi Mohammed sepaking at the ImagineIF boot camp

This can range from googling your idea to see if anyone else has done it, to getting feedback about your idea via Google Surveys and forms. Faththi spoke in depth about the methods of validating and went on to speak about creating an MVP or minimum viable product.

Creativity is the key

You need to have a creative idea to This was a point emphasized by Chris Doering of Venture Frontier Lanka. According to Chris, “Creativity will become more important in the coming years”. In fact, by 2020, it’s expected to be the fourth most important skill to have. Anyone can be creative; you just need to convince yourself that you are. For example, Adobe says that 80% believe creativity is important, but only 39% believe they are creative.

Chris Doering speaking on how to be creative at the ImagineIF boot camp

So, what’s the best way to start being creative? Well, why not kick off with something that we use every day? On that note, Chris asked the participants of the ImagineIF workshop to redesign a wallet. This was their introduction to design thinking. Chris followed the session up by asking students what they thought of the challenge.

The common feedback was that the challenge is redesigning something they use regularly. Chris also went on to explain that this was an introduction to design jobs. Here, you get very little time and information of the goal.

Participants were asked to redesign a wallet

Then the exercise began anew with the participants being broken up into teams of three and four. The oldest was asked to show their wallet and the team had to understand how they use it and why. Having designed their wallets and variations based on these observations, the teams were reorganized to groups of 10 and were tasked with building prototypes.

Teams were regrouped and told to work on building new prototypes for wallets

The features of the wallets ranged from having inbuilt GPS to fingerprint readers and others with just simpler designs. Adding to these were wallets with mirrors as well. Ultimately all these steps showed them how to understand the problem and then work towards a solution step by step.

Getting Your Startup to go Lean.

A tool that is almost compulsory for a startup, the Lean Startup Canvas is a vital component. We’ve seen it explained it at a number of events. This time, it was explained by Mohammed Fawaz, CEO of Global Tutor. Despite it being a concrete tool, it’s not set in stone. You can change it as you build your MVP and measure its performance after you release it.

Mohammed Fawaz speaking on the Lean Startup Canvas at the ImagineIF boot camp

Does your Startup Canvas list your company becoming the next unicorn? Well, then that might not be the most ideal because Unicorns succeeded in different markets and ecosystems. Similarly, are you looking to launch your startup in two years or less? Well, Fawaz explained that anyone seeking to do so should remember that the dynamics, demographics, and other factors will change.

One should also consider the product market fit as it is the key to unlock the market. As such, tools like lean startup canvas bring you closer to it. But before you touch this, you need to understand your market and product clearly and the differences.

Mohammed Fawaz continuing his session at ImagineIF

He went onto say that your customers are people that pay for your product. But they may not be the ones that use it. In his case the consumers were students but customers were their parents. Similarly, he went onto speak about identifying the problem.

Look at existing alternatives and see how others are solving it today. Once you’ve figured out the product its time to figure out how to reach your customers and earn revenue. And this means figuring out how to earn money from them and for how long.

Hacking to grow

Growth hacking is a process to accelerate whatever you’re building. This was what Alagan Mahalingam was here to talk to the participants at ImagineIF. Contrary to popular belief, growth hacking doesn’t require a lot of capital with a big marketing budget. Hotmail, for example, added a line to the signature saying, “Get your free email with Hotmail.” This soon saw Hotmail experiencing an exponential growth.

Alagan Mahalingam speaking at ImagineIF

Another tactic for growth hacking is with pop-up ads and their accompanying catchphrases. These sell a lot, Alagan explained. They put something in your customer’s minds. Afterward, he shared the example of Google’s self-driving bicycle, which was a well-designed April Fool’s joke. Alangan’s next challenge for the participants at the ImagineIF workshop was to ask them to come up with a headline for this.

Afterward, he introduced us to the concept of drip campaigns. This is akin to using a service where after 5 days, you would get an email from the CEO asking how you’re doing and reinviting you to use the app. He shared a few examples like that of Dropbox that sends emails after you sign up.

Alangan then moved on to a case study involving the Economist. They had three subscriptions: web for $59, print for $125 and finally, Web and print $125. Whilst 84% of the target market chose option number 3, no one chose 2. So then why not remove option 2? Well after removing it, 68% chose option number one because it was cheaper. Essentially, without Option 2, people failed to see the value of 3. This made Option 2 a decoy price.

Alangan continuing his session

He then introduced an example of anchor pricing. This is where you use an initial piece of information to make judgments against all preceding information. Alangan used the example of three steaks from Australia, New Zealand and Japan priced at $50, $60 and $150 respectively.  65% of people chose New Zealand over Australia. Japan, on the other hand, was untouched. Thus the customers were steered towards New Zealand and Australian steak because Japanese steak was more expensive.

Another hack he shares is unboxing. Here, the packaging of a product is made to be beautiful. But this only works when the packaging is beautiful. A customer testimonial promoting your product would greatly benefit your product than you ever could.

Alangan then explained a number of other growth hacking methods such as encouraging customers to make irrational decisions by using a timer. You probably would have noticed this on eCommerce sites where they have a time along with a limited time discount

A two-way incentive is another hack. This is where you sign up for a product or service and then get a code to share with people to get a discount for that service. Uber does this to a great extent and so did PayPal. While not exactly the most suited manner to run the company due to the cost, it has worked out for certain companies.

Alagan Mahalingam wrapping up his session at ImagineIF

Another hack is the “Aha” moment. This is where users of your app/platform visit it and are excited to use it. For the record, Facebook did this when it first launched where you could find all your friends and everyone else online. Lastly, the “Thank You” hack is where you send a thank you message to thank customers. Alagan shared that he got a postcard with some stickers thanking him for using it. He posted the picture of this on Instagram.

Social proofing is where you encourage people to leave a positive review of your product on Amazon or other websites. Finally, there’s the turbo hack, which is where you simply make your website load faster.

With Ahalan’s session, the latest iteration of the ImagineIF boot camp came to an end. Further sessions will be conducted within the coming months as well. If you are interested in attending these events, you can click here to find out more.


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