Lean Startups

Indianapolis Lean Startup Circle

James Paden, VP at Compendium and Mentor at Indianapolis Startup Weekend, spoke at last night’s Indy Lean Meetup about the difference between bootstrapping and lean startups. While both conserve cash whenever possible, their goals are different. Lean startups aren’t opposed to accepting funding, they just shouldn’t take it until after some customer validation has occurred.

From Iteration to Execution

As you can see from this chart, in lean startups, the process starts with customer discovery, then goes to customer validation. The arrow back to customer discovery indicates revisions until a product/market fit is established and the process can move over to customer creation and eventually company building. While the goal of bootstrapping is to build without incurring debt, the goal of lean is to learn from short, iterative processes (the discover and validation phases) AND to build the company as fast as possible.

The Lean Startup

As Matthew pointed out on my book recommendations page, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is a great book to help your startup get started right. But what I didn’t realize until attending last night’s Indy Lean Meetup was that lean was a part of the agile method.

The premise of The Lean Startup is to, “Apply lean thinking to the process of innovation.” After reading this book, the next time you go to make a new product or start a new company, you’ll be asking yourself, “Can we build a sustainable business around this set of products and services?” and you’ll start to look at customer requests/desires differently than you may view them today. Using innovation experiments explained in the book, you’ll be able to determine whether a new product or service is required or simply a tweak to any existing product, but Ries warns, “Stated customer feedback is not always an accurate reflection of actual need/desire.”