Profile: Ed Relf

Why are traditional lean practices, once aligned with heavy industry, now equally applicable to start-ups and software development?

Lean practices have become a staple of digital startup life, none more so than at Laundrapp. In this new digital age of rapid product iteration, real-time consumer analytics and multi variant testing, it’s essential to test, test, test! Gone are the days of kicking failed attempts into the long grass, we’re now in the age of digital experimentation and it’s a guiding principle that is very important to us. At Laundrapp we celebrate successes as much as failures, building cutting edge technology and services requires a rapid product development methodology and this doesn’t always go to plan from the offset. Successful startups are masters of the Build, Test, Learn methodology, one of the many principles of lean practices that are perfectly suited to hyper growth digital startups.

Describe the importance of rapid product iteration for start-ups looking to remain in the spotlight 

Nine out of ten startups fail and often this failure can be attributed to poor market fit or slow product or service iteration in the early stages of a business. In such a competitive digital landscape where a service will live or die by its customer engagement and retention it’s essential to continually innovate through rapid product innovation, growth through learning and ongoing insight from your customers. In this new digital age, if you don’t continually reinvent yourself, you’re already dead.

How do start-ups avoid the ‘flash in the pan’ effect?

“Flash in the pan” is a dreaded but all too common term that invariably, more often than not, is the fate of most startups in Britain today. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have a long history of failures (learning’s) behind them. The odds aren’t stacked in your favour, but they do improve with experience and a little luck!

How do you avoid the flash in the pan effect? I think the simple answer is to ensure you first create a product that isn’t seeking a market, but a market seeking a product. Be honest, don’t create a product you want, create a product consumers want, They aren’t the same thing. By all means create the product you’ve always dreamed about, however, if you’re not careful and don’t first validate the market then don’t be surprised if you end up being the only customer.

I’ve personally found that you can increase your chances of winning by:

  • Validating your idea, be brutally honest with yourself and get actual, non bias feedback
  • Don’t drink your own kool-aid, be self critical, honest and avoid vanity metrics
  • Know your KPIs and pivot everything around them in your business from product development through to marketing
  • Move fast and break things, scramble teams, stay scrappy and learn
  • If you create a great product, profits will follow!

Why is Britain becoming a breeding ground for the on-demand economy? 

The UK is regarded as one of the most creative startup hubs in the world, backed by a great investment community and some of the most talented individuals in the world. Geographically, the UK also lends itself extremely well to the on-demand sector. London, in particular, is ideal due to the strong financial and professional service sectors, busy lifestyles, relatively high incomes and time poor population etc. These factors make London a global leader in the on-demand economy and we are proud that Laundrapp is one of it’s pioneers.