What is a lean startup and why should I go this route?


I'm considering a startup that starts with a minimum viable product. Despite what I've read, the lean startup feels contra-effective.

My question to the community is, what exactly defines a 'lean startup' and why should I consider it?


asked May 7 '13 at 17:54
136 points

5 Answers


Many will tell you that Lean is the next big thing and that it's great, because that's what everybody's saying at the moment: build an MVP and figure "it" out as you go.

But before you decide how you're going to run your business, you should also consider the methodology's limits and when NOT to use it. Apple is the classic anti-lean company, and it works pretty well too. So go read all you can about Lean thinking because it does offer some valuable perspective about discovering market-fit, and then ask yourself if your business is "leanable". For instance, if I were a corporation looking to spend 500K to buy some technology solution, I wouldn't want to be a lean startup's guinea pig.

answered May 8 '13 at 04:26
4,166 points


Well, basically its a methodology and a set of principals for building a startup the right way. The most important theme throughout the book is how not to do what you don't have to do. and how to only do what contributes to the success of your business. Its a must for every entrepreneur.

here's some more info: http://theleanstartup.com/

answered May 7 '13 at 23:22
Uri Abramson
199 points


I see lean startup as a method of identifying risks then taking actions to reduce those risks. How much risk are you comfortable with? Are your assumptions blue sky or are they based on a deep knowledge of your customer and your competitors?

answered May 8 '13 at 05:03
Komra Moriko
136 points


Lean is about maximizing customer value while minimizing waste. The term "Customer" changes based on where it is being applied - manufacturing, operations - or startups.

A "lean startup" is a entity that uses lean methods to validate its product and customer base. The goal of such an effort is to create a sustainable business model. Defining and validating who will pay for this product as early as possible is a big part of the effort.

Focusing on the MVP without validating customer demand (customer development) is simply applying the latest three letter acronym to existing processes - and isn't lean.

As others mention - reading Steve Blanks "The startup owners manual " or Ash Mauryas "running lean " would help clarify the lean methodologies used with startups.

answered May 9 '13 at 00:33
Jim Galley
9,952 points


If you are worried of building another "product that no-one wants", you might want to try Lean Startup.

Spending time and money building something no-one wants is the worst fear of all startups. Lean Startup tries to solve that problem by initiating the contact with customers even before you start building the MVP. Then you'll iterate using build-measure-learn cycles towards filling the customer needs.

Lean Startup is just one approach to that problem. There are other customer-first approaches too.

After failing couple of times, I've picked Amy Hoy's brick-by-brick bootstrapping approach myself. I feel it's more optimized for online software products, whereas Lean Startup is more general and can be used for other type of startups as well.

answered May 23 '13 at 04:07
Jaana Kulmala
31 points

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