Friday, August 24, 2012

Lean Startup

The following are my initial thoughts on "The Lean Startup" by Eric Ries - before I had read the book. I have read the book since then, and will post a detailed review later.

I'm the founder of Agile Entrepreneurs. I started Agile Entrepreneurs in 2006 to share my lessons -failures more than successes, but also successes built upon those failures - with my fellow bootstrapping entrepreneurs. We had a few initial hiccups, we really got going in 2007, and over the next several years, nearly every Friday evening I sat in a room with a variety of entrepreneurs with only one thing in common - they were all bootstrapping founders of hi-tech startups building products. None of them had anything more than a polite interest in each others' companies, but they were all bound by empathy for each other - they were bound by our motto: "Make Your Own Mistakes, Learn From Mine". I had - and have - plenty of lessons to share, the two most fundamental of them being: (a) Go talk to your customer before you build anything (a.k.a. don't waste time raising and spending money); and (b) apply Agile principles for Product Management, Engineering & Project Management.

A few years later when people started talking about the "Lean Startup" movement, "Minimum Viable Product", "Customer Development", and "Demo Day", and "Bootstrapping" became sexy again, I sensed that entrepreneurship had gone mainstream. In fact, it has proven to be worse (or better, depending on how you view it), it has become a fad, it has itself become the "product" of this new "dotcom" era ... where money is cheap and engineers are expensive and launching a startup is easier than getting a job.

So, I can't agree more with this review of "The Lean Startup" on Amazon. Because "Lean Startup" offers nothing new to those of us who have learned all this by experience and experienced this through common sense; yet it is great packaging and a useful vocabulary - if you want to sell these self-evident lessons to the enterprise which has lost touch with the ground realities of customers and users.

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Is the world upside down?

Is the world upside down?
It's a topsy-turvy world out there!