There was a buzz to the PHF Conference Center today as i2E conducted two workshops simultaneously for slightly different audiences.
In one conference room, i2E Entrepreneur-in-Residence Giff Constable from New York City delivered a message of “lean product development” to a group of about 30 entrepreneurs.
In an adjacent room the Oklahoma Proof of Concept Center conducted its first workshop for entrepreneurs, university researchers and economic development officers.
The groups met separately in morning sessions, then gathered for a networking lunch and a one-hour presentation by Constable that focused on the challenge of acquiring customers, before the Proof of Concept Center resumed its day-long workshop.
Constable, managing director at Neo, a global product innovation and development consulting company, presented a program entitled “The Shape and Practice of Lean Product Teams,” outlining ways that entrepreneurs can conduct small product experiments with potential customers and gain valuable feedback about their concept.
“Lean is about validating your business as you go so you can hone in on the best opportunity and de-risk your business,” Constable said.
He described his Oklahoma audience as an “engaged and interesting” group that also is developing some interesting concepts.
“I sensed a genuine desire to try and put these concepts into practice and making it work for them,” he said. “Ultimately, everyone is going to have to figure it out on their own and what works best for their startup culture.”
Giff’s background includes six software and Internet startups, with forays into the art world and doing technology merger and acquisitions. He is an innovation specialist and functional generalist, with experience in business, design and development. He was named “Product Person of the Year” for 2010 by New York City’s The Product Group Meetup and is co-organizer of the 3,500 member Lean Startup Meetup in New York.
After the morning session concluded, Giff took his engaging presentation style to a combined ENR and Proof of Concept Center audience. He offered suggestions for entrepreneurs to connect with potential customers, then answered numerous questions from a group that was obviously intrigued by the strategies presented.
Meanwhile, the Proof of Concept Center audience was engaged in developing strategies of their own that will take technologies developed on the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University campuses from the laboratory to the marketplace. Large message boards covered in Post-it notes from the group’s brainstorming activities were scattered around the room.
Before Constable headed back to the airport to catch his flight home, he talked about what he found on his first trip to Oklahoma.
“As someone who has worked in Austin, Silicon Valley and New York, I’ve been around a lot of startup hubs, and I’m really excited about the ecosystem that is starting to grow here,” he said. “It’s small, but I think it’s very promising. The stuff you guys are doing at i2E to help foster the community at the intersection of investors and entrepreneurs, bringing mentorship into play is really critical. That’s really cool.”
It was a day of discovery for audience and speaker at the i2E workshops.