If you are a founder or working at a startup, you know starting with a simple effective solution is a good start. You build a team, refine your product, gain new customers and grow steadily. Dation is a startup like that. They found a problem worth solving. This post is about how they keep generating new ideas.
In 2003 Dation discovered driving instructors could greatly benefit from software to help them plan and register lessons quickly. Before Dation a driving instructor used to do a lot of administration involving planning and registering drive lessons and sending invoices. These were seen as hassles by the instructors, time consuming and not cost effective. Dation fixed that problem. Now when a driving instructor closes the door of his car, he has done his administration and invoices are sent, fully automated.
This was Dations ticket into the driving school business. A niche everyone overlooked, but a niche big enough to build a company around. They went on building a better product, adding features for bigger driving schools and steadily adding team members, growing their business.
Then Dation did something every startup should do. They took a step back and looked at the bigger picture. They asked themselves; “are we a driving school startup or a company in the transportation business? And if so, what’s next?”
Never stop starting up the start up
Smart people never stop having ideas, so everyone should keep an eye out for great ideas. Or have a process that captures these ideas. At Dation someone sketched a gas consumption game on a piece of paper and hung it in their scrum room. A few months later Greenstar was born.
A new startup from the same team. Greenstar gamified gas consumption. Think of truck drivers, taxi chauffeurs, drive instructors and municipal employees battling online for the best gas to mileage scores. Now think of the impact Dation and Greenstar can have on global gas consumption. They went from a driving school niche to a global and transport wide gas consumption solution.
Dation recognized they have a very capable team of developers and Greenstar should be the first of many scalable tech projects. To achieve this they founded OVIS Telematics. Now whether you work at one of their startups or just have a need for high-end development you can call OVIS and get the best team of nerds you need to build and scale transport software.
What’s their secret sauce?
Simply put, they have created an environment where discovery, creativity and new ideas are welcomed by a non-competitive team. This is reflected by their office. They built a lot of their own office furniture and like to grow herbs and vegetables between desks. They build their own hardware and even created their own scrum room. They are techies that like to built real things.
The scrum masters have set up physical taskboards in the scrum room, for daily stand-ups. These help them keep tabs on urgent issues and involve the team in what everybody is doing and, if needed, help each other when one is stuck. But there’s more…
Every now and then a new idea like Greenstar finds its way onto the scrum room backlog boards. If it’s a good idea the team will start talking about it and will improve the idea. When it’s becoming less of an idea and more like a project, it gets its own small physical taskboard, where it will be picked up for further refinement. Occasionally the taskboard stays in the scrum room, but more so the boards end up beside someone’s desk or on a wall near a team so that employees get involved in that project as much as possible.
I think this is important because now the idea is real. It’s moved from someone’s mind to paper onto its own board, where it is shared with the team.
People love new ideas and are happy to give feedback. With a room full of smart people walking by, things are going to happen. New ideas grow into projects and projects grow into startups. This is the way Dation keeps starting up and you should too.
Interested in a start-up mentality and a physical taskboard?
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