Friday, April 09, 2021

The Leanstack Way

The Oceans of Data Lab is honored to be a part of PropelICT's startup accelerator. We had our kickoff meeting a few days ago and the current focus is on learning the Leanstack methodology and using lean canvas to tease out ALL the important details for success. The inline supporting learning modules that are available through leanstack are very helpful. 

The Lean Canvas - numbers indicate the order of completion

I feel fortunate that I have been familiar with Agile and Lean approaches for over 20 years. I've got two favorite sayings I use when running software teams, and I like to think I run many aspects of my life with an Agile / Lean mindset.

  1. Ship and ship often (deliver new releases as often and frequently as possible)
  2. Fail and fail often (take risks, innovate, don't apologize, keep moving), success comes from failure.

For me the use of Lean in startups all began with Eric Ries when I watched a YouTube interview of Eric conducted a decade ago. This interview became a part of a 2011 blog post where I describe lean approaches within the Director of Technology role. Since this time I have revisited the works of Eric Ries every few years, he has a lot of useful insights to lean startups. One of my all time favorites in the talk he gave at Google 10 years back.

Google Talk: Eric Ries and the Lean Startup

Thursday, April 08, 2021

ODL Newsletter - March 2021

The Oceans of Data Lab (ODL) monthly newsletter is also finding its footing. It is still going to include monthly updates to the progress we make AND it will start with a few articles of interest within the data labs technology world. I am discovering so many interesting technologies and approaches within the data realm. I'm going to fold my 30 years of data experience into why I believe these are of interest to those working with large amounts of data.

Apache Data Lab

The Apache data lab that comes from the same organization that has brought us so many of the important technologies over the years. And specifically, to think of all the big data technologies they have delivered in recent years... there are just to many to list. What I like most about the data lab is its ability to be deployed to the big three cloud hosting environments. Super smart given the storage and compute requirements for data projects shouldn't be the responsibility of Apache.

DataOps and the DataKitchen

DataOps is a fairly recent concept / term that is about seven years old... and it makes sense that it becomes a discipline in itself as it is not DevOps for Data, it is so much more. The DataKitchen looks to be doing some amazing work in this capacity and have published a good read to help get your head into this important and emerging technology space.

I'm another 3 people into working towards my 100 conversations. It is said that you need to have 100 conversations as you solidify your business / startup idea. So I managed to get another three conversations in. I know this isn't that many, but that's ok as this month was more about setting up technology and thinking about risk, revenue, and the escalator pitch for the startup. I still need to talk with people, and I need peoples help, always. If you know anyone who works with analyzing data or works for a business that has a growing interest in their data, I'd love to talk with them.

What has changed this month?

Over this month my thinking has broadened and become more focused on the needs of organizations and their data. No real pivot, but clarifying what the business will be. The changes fell into three main themes;

  • A broader interest in helping people with their data. The backstory to my career has always been the information technology around the data. For 30 years I have focused on managing, moving, and building software for the data. This will continue with the data lab. We are still interested in ocean data and a reference architecture for the digitization of oceans, these subjects will become part of the bigger data lab.
  • It's a Data Lab. It became very clear this month that what I was wanting to do is stand up and run a data lab. I had a great conversation with Graham Truax at Innovation Island and this identified the alignment with my accelerator pitch and the data lab concept. After I re-read my proposal (and subsequent acceptance) to the PropelICT accelerator I confirmed... the startup is focused on creating a data lab with related products and services.
  • Start with a services focus, rather than product. We need revenue and the data lab is not a small product with a near MVP that can generate revenue. There are a number of MVP's that could bring business value for our customers, but nothing with significant revenue possibility. So our focus needs to be on services where we can leverage the skills and knowledge of the founder and identify projects that align well with the overall vision for Oceans of Data Lab.

It's been a business and technology focused month

This really was a more technology focused month. It was getting all the infrastructure in place to have the lab, fetch some data, and display a basic analytics dashboard. So while setting things up, we weren't that focused on reaching out to potential customers.

What are the risks and assumptions?

We also thought about what are the business risks and what assumptions are we making that could work against our success. We are not going to get into these in detail, writing them down and publishing them helps attract attention and hopefully getting the feedback we need to reduce the risk and prove or disprove the assumptions. We are also focused on what can be a product rather than what is a service.


  1. Companies / Organizations will participate in a publish - subscribe business model for data sets
  2. The data lab concept for preparing data sets for publishing will become accepted by SMB 


  1. MVP doesn't generate enough revenue or provide business value
  2. Primary founder having knowledge, energy, or bandwidth to keep up the pace
  3. Finding skilled employees with deep understanding of data engineering
  4. High cost of cloud based infrastructure 

Where is the revenue?

  • The transactional costs in the publish and subscribe (every data set transaction earns money)
    • this is definitely my riskiest assumption
  • SMB pay for services in preparing the data sets for themselves and the marketplace.
    • does the rise of the data engineer role show a willingness to pay for data preparation

What do we consider our Escalator Pitch?

These are early times and we don't yet have a story to tell. Gak! The escalator pitch is hard, and we really don't know what we are doing when it comes to an escalator pitch.

  • We help SMB realize new revenue possibilities from their existing data.
  • We reduce the cost of data preparation for their internal analysis and business intelligence.
  • We provide the services and technology to help you make sense of all your data. 
  • We make it easy for you to see the value and opportunities based upon your unique business data.

Next Steps:

  • We need to focus on the customer. We need to find the customers and talk to them.
  • We need to reduce our risk and prove, or disprove, our assumptions.
  • We need a technical platform to host an Minimum Viable Product (MVP). I need to identify and prioritize a few MVP's.

If you find the Data Lab an interesting idea or have the need to bring greater value to your existing data, please feel free to contact me. We are building a business and we want to help you bring greater value from your data.