Category Archives: Lean in the North East

Lean Sales and Marketing event, 21st October


Can the principles of Lean Startup – release quickly, test with real customers, measure and iterate – be applied to sales and marketing?

Join us at our next event on Monday 21st October when we’ll be exploring this idea with speakers from HubSpot, Websand and Lean Sales Panel.

This is a great opportunity for anyone working in sales and marketing to find out more about Lean Startup and how it’s being applied to the industry and anyone working in a startup to find out how they can fire up their sales and marketing. We’ll also be eating pizza.


Ellie Mirman, Head of Inbound Marketing Funnel, HubSpot

Ellie Mirman

Ellie Mirman leads HubSpot’s inbound marketing funnel team, focused on inbound lead generation and nurturing. She specialises in lead generation, email marketing, sales and marketing alignment, and marketing analytics. She has experience launching new lead generation channels, including HubSpot’s email marketing program, growing it into the largest lead generation channel, as well as HubSpot’s webinar series, attracting thousands of attendees to each event. She led the product team’s customer research efforts and loves to work at the intersection of Marketing, Sales, and Product.

Ellie will talk about the principles of Lean Marketing (AKA How to Run Your Marketing Team Like a Startup) and provide tips of how to be a Lean Agile Marketer.

Saul Gowens, Founder at Websand

Saul GowensWith 14 years experience in loyalty and direct marketing, Saul has helped clients to build long lasting customer relationships all over the world for brands such as Porsche, Visa, and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Saul has poured his experience into the development of marketing process software provider Websand, which is currently being accelerated through the 2013 Ignite100 programme.

Saul will present ‘The 4 C’s; Creating a Lean Marketing Process.’

Richard Lane, Founder and Director at Lean Sales Panel and durhamlane

Richard LaneDetails to follow… @richardmlane

Adrian Howard, Co-Founder at Quietstars

(Potential Bonus Speaker – Dependent on Work Commitments!)

Adrian HowardAdrian is co-founder and generalising specialist at helping people build great teams and great products by applying Lean, UX & Agile practices.

If we can grab him after a long day’s work Adrian will chat to us about ‘Lean Branding for Startups’, the presentation he gave at Lean UX NYC earlier this year.

Please join us

Please book your ticket straightaway – we’re looking forward to another successful event, and hope you can join us.

Please bring your friends and colleagues, and help us in our continuing mission to bring the Lean Startup to a wider audience — and hence improve startup and entpreneurship success across the Region.


Interview with with Carl Jones, MD at Technically Compatible

Lean Startup 101: Interview with Carl Jones, Managing Director at Sunderland startup Technically Compatible.

After the recent Lean Startup 101 course we caught up with Carl Jones, Managing Director at Technically Compatible, to chat about his interest in Lean Startup and how his company is applying Lean methods to product and business development.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your company, Technically Compatible?

TC LogoNo problem, Technically Compatible is a start-up offshoot of The Test Factory Group. The Test Factory provides high profile customised assessment solutions to mainly bluechip clients and has a presence globally.

Technically Compatible is a SaaS product that makes it really easy to build a customised test for any given IT role as part of the recruitment process. The idea came from our own headaches experienced when recruiting our own developers, where we wasted a lot of time interviewing candidates who on paper looked great, but in practice didn’t have the skills we needed. Existing solutions on the market were all pretty clunky and expensive, so we thought we’d disrupt the market with our own product that made skills assessment cost effective and easy.

I come from a sales background and have worked with the TTF group in a few roles before being asked to head up Technically Compatible. Whilst I have responsibility for the strategic side of the business, I still like to get my hands dirty with sales and the odd coffee run!

Outside of work I’m a Durham University MBA Candidate, enjoying playing Sunday League football for a local side and spend my winters skiing in beautiful Colorado!

2. How did you first hear about Lean Startup and what got you interested?

I actually first heard of Lean Startup from our Group CEO who was adamant that I should read Eric Reis’ book when I took the reins here. As with most of his advice, I took it with a pinch of salt (Sorry Kev!), but saw the book when sitting around in an airport somewhere in the US and thought I’d pick it up. I was hooked from the offset and the main reason was that I could see a whole plethora of ways we could implement the methodology into TC straight away.

3. Technically Compatible brought a team of four along to the recent Lean Startup in a Day course – what did you learn?

Picture 012Out of the 4 of us I was the only one that had any real knowledge of the Lean movement, and I was also the only non-techie. I was keen for my Head of Technology to come along as it is he and I who are most involved in the product development side of things. So I think the majority of learning was for him and the others in terms of the Lean way of developing ideas, building proveable hypothesis and rolling forward from there.

For me, the main thing I took away from the Lean North East event was the importance of forcing yourself into an alternate way of thinking. When we were asked to consider a radical business model which had to involve giving away our product for free, as opposed to anything else that we’d considered, it really engaged your inner innovator and proved a cool way of looking outside of the box.

4. How do you see the company implementing what you learned in your day to day business?

Like most startups, TC has had its fair share of challeneges. Not least of those has been in identifying our best route to market and understanding what direction we should take our product development. When considering a new way of doing things, or building a new feature, we now implement Lean methods to ensure the work is worthwhile.

We’re also making use of the Validation Board when looking at where best to point our resource rifle.

5. What business benefits do you hope to achieve by implementing Lean Startup methods?

The main benefit that we’re hopeful of achieving is quite simple; to find the most efficient way of growing our business. We know there is a big market, and we know what our competitors are doing, but in an effort to compete we could quite easily burn through a lot of cash heading in the wrong direction if we’re not careful.

6. If other North East entrepreneurs and company directors are considering finding out more about Lean Startup, what would you say to them?

Well for a start I’d encourage anyone with an interest to drop me a line or connect on LinkedIn, I’m always happy to talk through and learn wherever I can as well.

Other than that I can highly recommend getting involved with the local Lean communities which are all over the world now. Lean North East is ours and I think it’s well worth going along to their events throughout the year.

Oh, and buy The Lean Startup!

7. And finally, what does the future hold for Technically Compatible?

We’re confident we have a really great business based around a great product which is going to change the way people assess IT skills. We’re about to push our experiments overseas to the US, Canada and Australia and on the back of that we want to grow as aggressively as possible, all the while remaining lean of course!

Big thanks to Carl for taking the time to chat with us.

You can find out more about Technically Compatible here, follow Carl @CarlJones84 and the company @TechCompatible.

Write up: Lean Startup 101 – Lean Startup in a Day


This post is a rapid reflection of Saturday’s proceeding, delivered by Tendayi Viki.

Please cross-refer to my earlier post Lean Startup 101 – Lean Startup in a Day for more info.




Initial feedback

Some initial feedback from the survey I sent out:

  1. “Tendayi was absolutely brilliant”
  2. “The speaker Tendayi Viki was not only knowledgeable but also very fun and energetic, keeping interest of the room throughout the day.”
  3. “A good overview of lean. The practical aspect helped reinforce the learning and the other participants made it an enjoyable day.” “It felt quite whistlestop. Good from the point of view of seeing a bit of everything. But at the start there was a lot of jargon that was assumed to be known. Some of which came out during the day, some of which I’ll need to go away and read. I think it would have been advantageous to have read the Eric Reis [sic] lean book before I came but I’m certainly motivated to do so now.”

Wash Up

A top day of Lean Startup learning – with positive feedback, and also things for us Lean North East organisers to learn from.

Big thanks to our sponsors ignite100 and Gateshead College.

We hope you’ll join us for future events; please get in touch if you’d like to help us organise them and the future of Lean Framework learning and exploitation in North East England 🙂

Lean Startup 101 – Lean Startup in a Day

Lean North East, ignite100 and Gateshead College are teaming up to bring ‘Lean Startup 101 – Lean Startup in a Day’ to Newcastle on Saturday 14th September.

Financial support from the ignite100 community fund means that we can offer heavily discounted tickets to the 24 course participants, so waste no time in signing up!

The Course

Lean Startup is an innovative approach to developing and launching new products or services in the market place. Lean Startup focuses on helping innovators eliminate waste through using a customer centred approach to developing new products and services.

This one day course takes a highly interactive approach involving presentations, interactive discussions and fun practical tasks that will be designed to provide participants with an experience of applying Lean Startup principles.


This course is for anyone involved in building new products. These can be software projects, physical products or services.

Whether you are from a brand new startup or a large established business, the course will provide you with sufficient knowledge of Lean Startup to give you a firm grounding in the methodology that you can then apply to your own organisation.


Lean Startup Principles

  • Principles of Entrepreneurial Management
  • Validated Learning: How to build a sustainable business model for your product by applying the scientific method.
  • Build-Measure-Learn: The fundamental loop for validating, testing and iterating towards successful innovative products.
  • Innovation Accounting: Using benchmarks and milestones to avoid vanity metrics and use actionable metrics.
  • Engines of Growth: Paid, Sticky or Viral.

Lean Startup in Practice

  • Testing the Problem Hypothesis
  • Document Your Plan A: Using the Business Model Canvas
  • Identify riskiest assumptions.
  • Generate falsifiable problem hypotheses.
  • Design research studies to test hypotheses.

Testing the Solution Hypothesis

  • How to design a minimum viable product (MVP).
  • How to test your MVP.
  • Vanity Metrics vs. Actionable Metrics.
  • The Anatomy of the Pivot.

Conclusion of Day

  • Product Innovation is A Thesis.
  • Open Q & A Session.


Tendayi VikiLean Startup in a Day training will be delivered by Dr Tendayi Viki. Tendayi is the Principal Consultant and Founder at Benneli-Jacobs & Company, an innovation consulting firm that helps large organisations around the globe develop innovation teams and launch new products using the Lean Start-up methods. He is also an academic who teaches Organisational Psychology and Entrepreneurship at the University of Kent.

Tendayi has previously co-founded several companies including Tasksauce, Book Editions and Research Innovations. He mentors and advises startup teams for Rockstart Accelerator, World Wide Web Foundation, Start Igniter, Evolv and Lean Startup Machine.

Venue and additional Information

We are excited that the venue will be The Bridge Gallery on Gateshead College’s Baltic Campus. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

A big thank you to Gateshead College for hosting us, and providing lunch and refreshments.

This is a not for profit event. Payments will be taken through ignite100 and any ticket/sponsorship money remaining after costs have been paid will go towards supporting future startup community events.


Please note that all tickets are non-refundable, however you can transfer them, please just let us know.

Get your tickets via our Eventbrite page. See you there!

Minimal Viable Wednesdays

Hello folks – I’m a big fan of the wisdom of Brad Feld and his insight into the Boulder startup scene.

A number of us have been meeting since this New Year on Wednesdays at 5pm — in Central Bean in Newcastle — to chat through Lean Startup, Customer Development, and Business Model Canvas thinking and our progress with our own ideas.

Random image I found when searching for ‘Community Hours’…

This is (probably) equivalent to Brad’s idea of ‘Community Hours‘ a time when folk can gather to meet and get some feedback. I’ve tried it myself, and it was surprisingly challenging / bracing.

Please join us, bring your own business model canvas / mvp and get constructive feedback and help. Let the community know you’re coming by expressing your preference in this Doodle. [anyone suggest a better tool…? :-)]

Let the customer development begin!

North East Goes Lean – Lean eCommerce


Ryan Foster @itsryan from RyanFosterDesign recently gave a presentation about Lean eCommerce at SuperMondays. Ryan spoke about how it’s possible to use tools such as Shopify to get your products on sale with minimum time and effort, so that you can start testing assumptions and learning what your customers really want.