Leenboek -> Bookerbase

Leenboek has reached a pivotal phase. We can go two ways, and I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t ask you for some guidance. Here’s the dilemma:

Lending out books can be viable. I managed to lend them out for a ridiculous amount of money. The book I lent out costs € 20,00 in the store and I lent it out for €9. Of this, €5 was shipping costs, which is way too much. So there’s a few ways to solve this, either get the shipping costs to go down by for example not making people send the book back but rather forward it to the next reader or making people order more books at once, which makes the shipping costs per book a lot lower. So I could continue with a price pivot and see how it fans out.

On the other hand being the ‘library’ was never the idea and has some serious drawbacks. For one it would make me the librarian, and my house into a storage facility for books, neither of these things are very appealing to me. So there was the idea of people providing their books online. In the 2nd experiment I found out that people were not interested in a platform to lend out their books. However, in many talks I had about this idea, people told me that the platform to organise their books is interesting. So that would be the pivot, customer need pivot. What I did, I took the ‘needs’ people told me in the past weeks and turned it into a new landingspage: BookerBase

So here you come into play; I don’t know whether to continue with bookerbase or price pivot leenboek. So I made an iktwijfel.nu question and added a poll here. Whichever you prefer, should I continue with leenboek or bookerbase. Let me know: 

What should be the next step?

View Results

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 Next Chapter: BookerBase 1st 400 minutes > 

Leenboek: experiment 3 ended º Success

Previous assumptions

People are willing to register for leenboek (a platform for lending and loaning books)  Validated
More people than I expected registered for the website

People are willing to add their own books to leenboek  X Invalidated
No books were added after a week of trying to make people add their books.

This weeks assumption

People are willing to spend money on renting a book.

Why this assumption?

Core of the idea is lending out books, I did not get people to add their books but thats only one half of the idea. The other half is that I believe that there is a market for people lending a book (apart from going to the library), and pay for it like renting a movie.

The experiment

When I ‘pitched’ the idea of renting out books to people I often got back that the difference between lending and owning is not that much money. For this experiment I wanted to ensure that the price was plausible. In other words, if someone rents the book, can I send it without losing money?

The funnel

Funnel Leenboek ∞ The funnel started with a landingpage, I created two: The first one is a very popular book worth € 20,00 Link ∞ The Second book is a less popular book worth € 70,00 Link ∞ After that, a registration page (email adress and password) Link ∞ Shipping page (only accessible after registration) ∞ Payment Page (only accessible after shipping) Screen Shot 2012-12-23 at 00.00.55

Traffic was once again sent through search advertising. I advertised the books. The ads were displayed over 10.000 times.

The Results

Out of 10.000 impressions about 1% clicked on the ads. Most on the cheap book (95%) and some on the more expensive book (5%). From the 102 people that landed on the landingpage, 2 people ordered a book for around 8 euro. They both ordered the cheap (20 euro) book. One of which I actually sent the book and donated it after answering some questions:

1. What were you looking for when you found Leenboek.nl?

I was looking for the book from Andy van der Meyde, but I didn’t want to buy it but lend it.

2. Do you have some special purpose for this book? (for example read it on vacation etc)

To read it during the christmas holiday

3. After finding Leenboek.nl, what was your first impression?

I think its a good site, its good that there is a site where you can lend books

4. Did you miss anything?

Not yet

5. What made you decide to order the book at Leenboek.nl?

It was the book I was looking for and it was for a reasonable price

6. Do you have any tips or recommendations?

Perhaps you need to do more promotion (advertising, commercials). I think your site is rather unknown to the readers of the Netherlands

Lessons Learned

To be honest I would have expected this experiment to invalidate with confidence. However, it didn’t. I wanted to learn if people were actually interested in ‘renting’ a book and, to my own surprise, people did. This doesn’t mean that leenboek in this form is a success. What is evident is that the shipping costs (€ 5,00) make up for a much too large portion of the price. The main reason for this, is that the shipping is both to and from the reader, for leenboek to be a succes; this will have to change.

schets-2In the meanwhile, I also have been working on the other end of the market, getting people to add their book collections to the library. I tried to design (sketch) something that would not tap into the value point (making money from your books) but from a convenience point (simply organize your books).

Next week

It’s christmas season. Next week and the week after there will be no experiments, however a lot of contemplating on how to make this product work. Further more, we are approaching the one year mark of 400 minutes, time to look back on the year and think about how to make it evolve into something solid.

Merry christmas everyone

Next Chapter: Leenboek : BookerBase >

Leenboek Experiment 3 is live – Pivot

First lets recap what I am trying to build here. I think by creating an awesome website I can make the first real social /internet library. I tried to call it “the airbnb of books” and I think that really explains best what it should be. Together, we can be make the worlds biggest library.

Riskiest assumptions

For this to work there are some assumptions I made. The first one was that people actually want some websites to lend books. Basically, the assumption is that there is a need? I got the idea for this by reading a twitter stream with a tweet like this

I am looking for a website to lend books from. Does anyone know any?

Pretty straightforward, but also pretty n=1. So I built the first website where people could register. People did, much more than I expected. There is a need.

The second riskiest assumption I then wanted to tackle is to see if people were willing to lend out their books. So I built a small website to add your books to library database, just to see if people would.

The results

Over a period of a week I did some advertising. The ads I created have been displayed over 11.000 times to people who were searching on relating keywords. Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 15.45.02For instance I targeted “sell books” but also clear out bookshelf. From all impressions, 65 people clicked on the ad, which was also targeted to the keyword. For example the key word “sell books” had the ad “trying to sell your books? – Lending them out will pay better”

Out of the 65 visitors, 4 people registered. These 4 people have added 0 books to the database.

Screen Shot 2012-12-15 at 15.04.40





There’s little to no need for renting out your books. You can still see the experiment here: http://www.leenboek.nl/sprint3/uitlenen2.html


If people don’t want to lend books to each other, why shouldn’t I be the one lending out the books. That initially was the question I tried to answer anyway.

I am quite sure people are interesting in lending a book from someone, and that someone could be me. However I am not so sure if people are willing to pay money for it. So this is experiment 3.

Experiment 3

Are people willing to spend money to basically rent a book. I created this flow, with one book, if traffic is too little (which I do expect I will add another flow with another book)

If you wonder why I am adding the ‘designs’ of the pages and not the experiment itself. It’s because I wouldn’t want you to mess up with the numbers. I am sure if I promoted last weeks experiment on here, I would have had books added to the database, and not come to the (just) conclusion that the social library path wasn’t going anywhere.

Next week the results!

 Next Chapter: Leenboek 3 – Success >

Leenboek.nl: Experiment 2 – it’s live

In our new proces, we take the riskiest assumptions to an idea and really validate (or invalidate) them. Which seems to be the absolute bridge between the ultimate timeboxing in 400 minutes and creating a big long-term idea (vs. creating a fluke)

So the previous riskiest assumption was to test whether people would actually sign up for a some sort of online library. You can still find the experiment here: http://www.leenboek.nl/sprint2/ This experiment validated, in fact it validated much better than I expected. So I persevered [<I will write about this]

However, apart from finding the perfect product – market fit I believe that in 400 minutes I try to do more. I am also trying to find a customer – design and product – technology fit. Such fancy words for something you build in 6.6 hours! I agree very much so, what I try to say is that I try to build it as quick and decent as possible and try to make it look as appealing as I can.

For the first experiment Leenboek worked really well but the framework and design wasn’t really on the level you would want it to be when actually trying to get people to register and add books. So I threw out the old design and quickly made a new one. I also chucked out the 1140 responsive layout, not because it was not good, in fact the layout is fantastic but I felt it took me too much time to get it right. Instead I started using the good old 960 grid again. So this 400 minute sprint was not just about creating a new MVP, it was als about sorting the design and tech out.

I am very happy that this week a new experiment has gone live, I will test whether people will actually add their books to leenboek.nl. For this I redesigned it, created 2 landingspages, 1 FAQ page, a registration page and a book adding module (using google books). After one day the results seem to point to having to pivot at this point (huray! I wish I could have failed faster!)

Next Chapter: Leenboek 3 >

Leenboek.nl – Persevere

In the new approach to getting idea’s out there, I added the pivot & persevere experiments. In this post I would like to explain how this works.

400 minutes to an experiment

Every 400 minutes I build something that I can experiment with. In the case of leenboek, I designed and developed 2 landingpages, something that would email a form to me and 2 adwords ads.

Minimum Success Criteria

Before I started the experiment I defined some metrics that would tell me whether this went well or not. I decided I wanted to use about € 20,- on adwords and for that money I wanted at least 4 subscriptions (which would make it € 5,- per subscription)

The experiment

I decided to target traffic on both lending out books as well as lending books, so basically you want to give out a book or you are looking for a book. I created two landingspages and two ads so the variation could not be in the design of either. The landingspages had two buttons; “I want to lend a book”  and “I want to lend out a book”, leading both to a registration page where people had to choose a password and give their email address.


The result

This images is overcomplex, but that’s just the way I like it. What it means is that 10 people registered. Much more than I expected and I actually had to stop the experiment because I was getting too much registrations. All people that registered received an email saying that they registered for something that wasn’t there yet.

Pivot or persevere

After the experiment I have two choices, pivot or persevere. If the minimum succes criteria weren’t met, I need to pivot. In other words; I wanted 4 people to sign up, then apparently this platform is viable and simply a good idea. If I wasn’t able to have 4 people sign up, I would have to pivot, because the idea wasn’t good enough. In this case, as the experiment was a succes, I need to persevere. By which I basically mean, continue with the idea in it’s form and find out what other assumptions in the idea need to be tested/perfected.


So the next assumption I made is that people actually want to open up their book collection to other people. I think this is very important to test, so right now I am building the simplest way to add books to the library and this will be my next experiment, trying to get at least 4 people to add their books to the library for € 20,-.

Whats with the 4’s?

I have no idea, I just like the number 4. To be honest I have no clue what I base these statistics on, I dont think it matters really, if I can get members for € 5,- to open up their book collection, that is fine, if I can make it work for € 2,- too, thats even better.

Next chapter: Leenboek 2 >

Building the worlds biggest library

Who says a 400 minutes project should be small? Like I mentioned in the previous post: Pivot (http://www.400minutes.com/pivot/) The 400 minutes process is changed slightly. What changes is that I take 400 minutes to create a true MVP, rather than a finished service or product. With the MVP I will test out the idea, and either pivot, persevere or terminate. I used leancanvas, to sketch out the business model (haha!) and found that people are interested in lending books from each other. However, nobody is going to lend his or her book to a stranger, just like you wouldn’t rent out your apartment to a stranger. So this week my MVP is testing out ‘the airbnb for books’ but really the bigger picture is that it would be simply freaking awesome if we could make the worlds largest social library.

After day 1 I already got the first sketch, registered the domain (leenboek.nl) and started to build it. It is in dutch, simply because it is easier, and easier to test!



Next chapter: Leenboek >