The Lean Startup

Here’s another book I have know the main arguments relatively well, but just now read from back-to-back. The Lean Startup(Eric Ries, 336 pages). And this is definitely a classic worth reading.

The book builds on personal experiences Eric Ries has had in the startup world. According to his own description, he was first part of a startup that “had it all”, and failed. Later on, he succeeded, using methods that were controversial.

For what the book defends is that building a sustainable business involves managing a series of experiments, that all the time “tune” the company actions in the directions pointed by the results of these experiments. In other words, “learning” is the main goal of a startup organization.

Learning involves first proving the “value hypothesis”, meaning to question if the product or service actually delivers value for someone willing to pay for it. And also, the “growth hypothesis”, which shows how new customers can be achieved, “paid for” if need be, so that the company can actually grow.

This book was not the first time these topics were discussed or introduced, but it seems to have been the catalyzer of making these ideas becoming mainstream in the startup world. And that’s probably why it became a classic.

The idea that a company can test and learn what it should build, as well as the notion of an “innovation accounting”, with metrics that can prove (or not) the progress of the startup. All that is quite powerful, even it may sound a bit extreme.

Of course, the lean methodology has been popular and well known for quite some time. The difference here, when applying it to startups, is the uncertainty levels in which a startup organization operates. And therefore, the need to be much more conscious over how to actually measure if there is any merit in the main hypothesis behind the business idea.

So that the lean startup method described in the book aims high at raising the bar over how to go about creating a startup business. It makes it in a very compeling way, and the concepts presented seem to have gained practical importance when talking about startups. It remains to see if the discipline it entails will actually become a common practice worldwide.

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