“Here’s the thing: there isn’t a shortage of ideas… there’s a shortage of execution.”
These simple words from business guru Seth Godin have been enshrined into the fables of start-up literature across the world; and nowhere are they more applicable than in the modern South Africa.
Wherever you turn, the African spirit of entrepreneurship abounds. From formal incubator programmes, to street-corner coffee shops, to late-night taverns, a constant buzz of great business ideas promises to transform the continent.
But, as Godin notes, the problem lies in our ability to execute. Access to capital, technology and mentorship, and breaking through market-entry barriers, remain our biggest obstacles to success.
However, powerful new technology tools – previously the exclusive domain of large organisations – are now filtering down to cash-strapped innovators. For the first time in history, rapid application development tools enable literally anyone to spin up new business ideas and present them to the world.
From humble beginnings just seven years ago in small pockets of San Francisco, ride-hailing app Uber has spread like wildfire – covering over 300 cities around the world and commanding an astonishing valuation of $62 billion.
Instant messaging app Whatsapp serves almost a billion users around the world, with a staff complement of just 50 engineers.
These examples show how, in today’s digital economy, scale can be achieved at rapid rates, with very little investment, just by using the right blend of technologies.
Low-code, rapid application platforms that can support these levels of growth and scale, are now available to local entrepreneurs at low cost, with zero capex investment.
Gone are the days of footing millions in upfront costs to build a native application from the ground up.
With platforms that incorporate low- code principles and application lifecycle management, developers and entrepreneurs can set themselves up for success. They’re able to build apps and web services with lightning speed, and test their services with early users and beta trialists – continually iterating and re-testing with the market.
This ‘lean startup approach’ is the model used by the most successful digital services – the Ubers and the Whatsapps of the world . It ensures they’re always evolving with users’ ever-changing requirements, technology opportunities, shifts in market landscapes, and regulatory changes.
Lean startup is more than just the latest buzzword reverberating around the developer community – it’s a truly game-changing approach that transforms ideas into reality.
At OutSystems we use an analogy of building a supercar: Instead of following an approach of intricate planning and start-to-finish building, we suggest starting smaller (a ‘minimum viable product’). This could start life as a bare-bones ‘skateboard’.
From the user feedback, the skateboard can be built out into a bicycle, then after another cycle of iterating, it becomes a simple car… then a more powerful car with sleeker bodywork… and so on. The supercar that eventually emerges is a culmination of continual cycles of delivering, measuring, gaining feedback, learning, and changing.
Whatever your digital service may be, having the right platform to take your concept from skateboard to supercar will be the difference between success and failure.