Lean start-up methodology : a case study of customer development at Invotech Incubator in KZN.
The uncertainty created by a volatile global economy has forced large corporations to re-evaluate business strategy and reposition themselves to fend off potential threats relating to corporate sustainability. The inherent insecurity of the future has prompted the need for the development of a mitigation strategy, one that could buffer economic uncertainty to prevent the loss of jobs, the consequences of shrinking GDPs and increases in inflation. Empowering individuals by promoting the establishment of small businesses would be prudent, ensuring economic stability. Though the risk relating to running a small business in comparison to a large corporation is perceived to be small, the economic consequences are not insignificant. The promotion of small businesses not only translates into a myriad of business formations, it is also met with an almost proportional number of failures. The high failure rate can be attributed to a number of reasons such as, poor product offerings, lack of entrepreneurial training and skills or simply unrealistic expectations. The creation of ‘incubation services’ are initiatives aimed to bridge the gap between a product and a consumer, where unskilled entrepreneurs are nurtured and grown to make calculated business decisions. It is imperative for small businesses to limit overhead costs and to deliver product to the market as quickly as possible, such that business models are evaluated in real time and the option to change strategy is relatively a simple transition. This case study evaluates the strategic blueprint of the Innovation and Technology (Invotech) Incubation Centre in Durban in relation to lean startup practices. A semi structured interview was conducted with management of Invotech followed by a structured questionnaire administered to all incubatees assigned to Invotech which evaluated the implementation of lean startup techniques. A constant comparative method of analysis was used to identify categories and themes within the data. The results of the study show that both management and clients at Invotech have a limited knowledge base of lean startup methodology, the study however identified that startups practice certain techniques associated with lean startup methodology, at Invotech, which has consequences for practioners in the field of lean startup methodology, prompting the need for further research.
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