The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

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The lean startup by Eric Ries

The Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups and get a desired product to customers’ hands faster. The Lean Startup method teaches you how to drive a startup-how to steer, when to turn, and when to persevere-and grow a business with maximum acceleration. It is a principled approach to new product development.

Too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want. They then spend months, sometimes years, perfecting that product without ever showing the product, even in a very rudimentary form, to the prospective customer. When they fail to reach broad uptake from customers, it is often because they never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. When customers ultimately communicate, through their indifference, that they don’t care about the idea, the startup fails.

Ries developed the idea for the lean startup from his experiences as a startup advisor, employee, and founder. Ries attributes the failure of his first startup, Catalyst Recruiting, to not understanding the wants of their target customers and focusing too much time and energy on the initial product launch.

After Catalyst, Ries was a senior software engineer with There, Inc., which had a failed expensive product launch. Ries sees the error in both cases as “working forward from the technology instead of working backward from the business results you’re trying to achieve.”

Instead, Ries argues that in order to build a great company, one must begin with the customers in the form of interviews and research discovery. Building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) and then testing and iterating quickly results in less waste and a better product market fit. Ries also recommends using a process called the Five Whys, a technique designed to reach the core of an issue.

Table of Contents

Book Review by D.Damato

I had two primary issues with the book. First, the books is written by a software guy for software guys and start-ups. I can only recall one reference in all the pages to a hardware product. So this books in not for anyone that is looking to create physical and tangible products. In fact, hardware is hard and my research hasn’t found anything remotely useful in applying lean start-up principles to hardware.

Second, the focus of the book is on “what” a lean start-up is and doesn’t provide actionable information. Diarrhea of the word processor resulted in a 365 page definition of a lean start-up, where it could have been boiled down to less than 100 pages (minus 1-star for waste…Distill it down to an A3 using Lean Thinking). So let me save you some time.

1. An entrepreneur is a person who creates a business around a product or service under conditions of “extreme uncertainty”, and should ascend the vision-strategy-product pyramid. (Google: Start with Why TEDx – Ries redefines that concept)
2. A start-up is a phase of the entrepreneur’s organization, tasked with the goal of reducing the condition of “extreme uncertainty”, and finding a sustainable business model (Google: Lean Business Model Canvas).
3. Use customer discovery (class) and validated learning (method) to find a sustainable business model around your product or service idea. The validated learning method of Build-Measure-Learn is synonymous with Plan-Do (Build), Check (Measure), and Act (Learn) cycle, which as most people know is derived from the scientific method.
a. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
b. Measure using Actionable Metrics instead of Vanity Metrics.
c. Learn from your MVP and Actionable metrics and Pivot to improve problem/solution and product/market fit or Persevere.
4. Finally, use lean principles (i.e. small batch sizes, 5 whys root cause analysis, chief engineer, blah, blah, blah) to stream-line your operation once you’ve found a viable business model and are ready to leave the start-up phase and enter the growth phase. (Minus 1-star: As a hardware guy and having extensive experience in lean it’s blatantly obvious Ries is just starting his lean journey and his last section (Accelerate) is superficial, survey, regurgitation of some of the lean tools and ideas).

Reference More Actionable Books:
Running Lean – Ash Maurya
Art of the Start (Ch.1) – Guy Kawasaki

Reference Free Material:
Steve Blank’s Website & Blog
Simon Sinek – Start with Why

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Originally published: 2011
Author: Eric Ries
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (USA)
ISBN: 0307887898
Country: United States of America
Genres: Business, Non-fiction, Entrepreneurship

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