12 Hour Startup

July 20th, 2008

What is a 12 hour startup?

From idea to prototype within 12 hours.



Relates to simple ideas that can be executed quickly.

Downside/risk virtually zero.

Potential upside > 0. Profitable.

Commit to a 3 month trial.

Close if crap.  Expand if good.

Underlying theme? give it a go, 1000 12 hour ideas are probably going to yield at least 10 (1 in 100) good ideas that will last.

I’m happy to give up 12 hours every week for something like this.  Even 12 hours/month cool.

Idea: Take this concept and apply it to your business.  Can your team come up with some new product ideas / extensions and go from idea to concept within 12 hours.

Background: the 12 hours business I have been throwing around for some time, and it’s been thrown around enough to be blog proof.  Have some case studies in the works.

Update: Follow up post on the 12 hour startup here.

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11 Responses to “12 Hour Startup”

  1. scollings Says:

    Sounds similar to what I do on a daily basis.

    One key thing is setup what will define success for the prototype e.g. learnings for customer experience, decision on what tech choice to make, working demo that needs polishing etc.

    Let me know if you want some help in a few of your 12 hour blocks.

  2. Robbie MacKay Says:

    Sound good 🙂
    Now I just need some ideas that haven’t been done before and a job to pay the bills in the mean time… hehe

  3. Matt Says:

    Another great post.
    I must give this a try.

  4. Ben Young Says:

    @Scollings Might be in touch soon.

    @Robbie Not all good ideas are original ideas… however give it a shot a few times. Will get better at it.

    @Matt Thanks, why not give it a shot! It’s fun.

  5. Sam Farrow Says:

    This approach appeals, however, I wonder whether you could limit complexity of produced systems with only 12 hours for prototyping.

    Perhaps for larger projects a framework could be built to define relationships between functional units prototyped in parrallel and selected on success criteria of fitness for purpose. This covers Scrollings point too.

  6. Ben Young Says:

    @Sam Interesting, could definitely look at it from that angle. The initial idea is to stimulate creativity / innovation from an agile rapid deployment point of view. Thanks for your feedback.

  7. Tristan Says:

    saw the meetup talk… was going to say, A japanese firm got their employees to do a similar thing, submitting ideas etc, they got thousands a month. Probably only 1% of them got used, however, it raised the innovation and greatly increased company profitability. several large orgs do it including google. a good idea… never gets tired and hope it works out for you…

  8. Mike Cochrane Says:

    These guys did a similar thing but gave themselves a bit more time and money.


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  11. millionleaves Says:

    I have something related that I call the 15 minute brainstorm:

    Sit down with a piece of paper (I use a new post in a WordPress blog because I can type faster than I can write).

    Think of a problem to solve or an idea to develop.
    Start the clock.
    Start writing/typing – anything that comes to mind which is related to that idea.
    Stop at 15 minutes.

    Don’t edit.
    Don’t re-read during the 15 minutes.
    Don’t read the finished document until the next day (I bend this one sometimes).
    Do it daily for at least one problem or idea.
    Don’t trash it. Keep it filed.

    Great way to generate new ideas and/or break out of a block.

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