A busy eighteen months for Souter Consulting #2: Lean Startup

by Justin Souter on September 22, 2015


I’ve been living the startup rollercoaster ride in my role running Dynamo North East.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to draw upon my experience and learnings connected to the Lean Startup framework; check out Steve Blank’s summary as a great place to start.

This post summarises what I’ve been up to in this realm over the last several years.

Other posts which tell (some of) my Lean Startup story

I first became aware of ‘The Lean Startup’ book whilst working at Happiest, and have been taking on board insights from conference, books, webinars, blog posts, podcasts, slide decks, videos, and events.

Here are some excerpts from what I’ve shared myself.

  1. My work at Happiest and lessons learned
  2. How I learned from Bobby Paterson about the Lean Startup framework
  3. A little bit about the backstory re Searchcamp with Bobby

Workshop delivery

My work has evolved into helping other people:

  1. My first gig was Delivering Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas workshops for a-n – the Artists Information Company; big thanks for Mark Adamson for making it possible, and for helping with delivery!
  2. Lean Startup mentoring at Startup Weekends – e.g. Evolv (x 2); Social Enterprise

Entrepreneurs at Tees

Over the past year, I’ve been part of the Start UP programme at Teesside University, and also detailed via University offers lean start-up business workshops (and the Appendix at the bottom of this post).

There’s more info in the embedded flyer below:

This is fun: here is one of my graduates with sewing machine:

It’s been exciting time delivering workshops at The Forge at Darlington and also on the main Middlesbrough campus – and to explore how the Victoria Road incubator centre is evolving into the Teesside Launchpad. Teesside Uni’s Fusion Hive in Stockton is also somewhere I hope to visit very soon.

Other organisations where I’ve been helping

I’ve also been (hopefully) empowering students at:

  • Northumbria University – on the Entrepreneurial Business Management course
  • Newcastle University Business School – E-Business MSc
  • UKTI Sirius programme – I’ve delivered two Business Model Canvas workshops [“The Sirius programme is run by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) helping international graduates with high gowth business ideas to set up in the UK.”]

Unfortunately, due to other commitments for myself and other folks who have been involved Lean North East has been on pause.


“Every now and then a man’s mind is stretched by a new idea or sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

I’ve been lucky enough to have this experience several times recently:

  1. I volunteered at the Lean Startup Conference in San Francisco in December 2014 (brilliant)
  2. Attending Lean Conf (Manchester) 2013 & 2014
  3. Lean Agile Scotland 2014

Experienced and passionate Lean Startup evangelist

In short, I’m passionate about empowering entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) with the Lean Startup Framework.

I feel there’s much more to come from applying iterative methods to provide a framework / structure which facilitates innovation under conditions of extreme uncertainty – and turning ideas for products and services into sustainable businesses using the Business Model Canvas.

A forthcoming post will bring together resources relating to ‘Lean Innovation’ – innovation in existing organisations.

Appendix – Start UP Lean Startup workshop outlines

“This innovative two-part workshop brings the very latest start-up methodology to the region in an accessible way, giving you the tools you need to generate, test and execute your business ideas whilst minimising the risk of future failure.

Effective and engaging delivery matched with practical hands-on tools and techniques will see you develop your business model and test your assumptions with real customers. So if you are an entrepreneur trying to disrupt an industry with your innovative start-up, or an intrapreneur trying to provoke change from within your existing business, sign up for our lean start-up workshops today and get off to a good start. This workshop is in two parts.

Lean start-up workshop part 1: creating and testing your ideas

In this engaging and interactive workshop you will be introduced to lean start-up thinking by our expert coach and guided through a creative hands-on process designed to help you generate business ideas and validate them in the real world with real customers. The most common question we get from entrepreneurs with an idea is ‘Where do I start?’ This workshop answers that question and sets you on path towards your goals.

Learning outcomes:

• Understand the background to the lean start-up process through case studies, examples and stories.

• Understand key lean start-up terminology.

• Start to generate business ideas based around customer problems.

• Design experiments to test the core hypothesis and assumptions on which your business model will be built.

• Learn how to refine your business ideas through a process of validation with real customers.

Lean start-up workshop part 2: planning to succeed

In this, the second of our innovative lean startup workshops, you will return with your ideas refined and tested and start to build a flexible business model for your start-up. Create a single page business plan, setting the right goals and measures that will help you to learn about your business so that you can change or pivot where needed early on, before it’s too late.

Learning outcomes:

• Create a one page business model canvas

• Test your riskiest assumptions and refine your business idea

• Understand how to create, measure and deploy minimum viable products to learn from real customers

• Understand the need to pivot or change direction

• Set meaningful start-up goals, targets and measures

In summary, the goal was to “test and execute your business ideas whilst minimising the risk of future failure” ”

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