The Lean Startup
The Lean Startup: How today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses by Eric Ries is a game-changer in business. Not only in start-ups, but also for big corporations. The book offers a framework for a new way of innovation. The main focus of the book is on building a product that customers want and need. Through ‘validated learning’ and constant experimentation, this will be achieved in the most efficient way possible.
Starting with a minimum viable product is one of the premises of the book. Ries states that when you have a product that has the core functions, but that needs a lot more work to look good, and function optimally, you have to release it. He states that in this stage you will learn the most from customers, people that actually use the product. In the book, one example is about a feature his company wanted to design. It would take an awfully long time to make, but they thought it would improve customer ratings and sales. But when testing a basic version of the feature, customers showed no interest in it. A large, and costly, development was prevented.
After the initial product launch, there are even more differences with normal product development. It involves continuous development (to speed up cycle times), split testing (giving out different versions at the same time), actionable metrics (versus vanity metrics), and pivot (a structured course correction). Through all these techniques, the cycle of ideas (you build), code (you measure), and data (from which you learn), back to ideas, will be shortened. This technique is not only beneficial for small startups but can also help big corporations develop new products and improve existing ones.
Eric Ries has every right to speak about the lean startup process. After two failed companies he co-founded (and became Chief Technology Officer) of IMVU (a 3D social network). With the company, he would update the product every day, up to 50 times. In 2011 the company has 40 million users and the same amount in revenue. Ries has moved on the work full-time on the lean startup movement and advises many global corporations.
The Lean Startup has a very catchy feel to it. When you read it, you want to go and start a new venture, do some experiments, and tell your friends about the book. It offers a framework for doing business in a new way without boring people with endless jargon. A large bank of examples also helps explain the more technical parts and give you an example to compare to.
More on The Lean Startup:
http://theleanstartup.com/ – Official Lean Startup website
http://leanstartupmachine.com/ – Lean Startup Machine website
http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/ – Blog on continued learning by Eric Ries
http://hbr.org/2013/05/why-the-lean-start-up-changes-everything – HBR on the Lean Startup
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lean_Startup – Wiki on Lean Startup