Lean Startup Method Question for Web app startups


So, I'm slightly confused which I should be following.

I'm currently a solopreneur. I'm trying to follow lean startup, but I just read on the book Startup Owners Manual and Lean Startup that:

"Most users want finished products, but earlyvangelists are the perfect target for MVP"

I was taking a course offered by Steve Blank on Udacity, where he was all about the lean "Customer Development" process which more or less states - talk to a bunch of customers before developing much, if any, of an application.

So, as a pretty early on startup, which should I be following - just develop an MVP of my product (I've done a survey and got 25 responses)? Or should I stop development and instead focus my attention solely on customer development?

The market I'm in is already an established market of SaaS, web applications.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Getting Started Development Lean Customer Feedback

asked Nov 16 '13 at 11:15
229 points

2 Answers


I am in the same boat. Steve Blank's book is great but, unfortunately, does not always present things in simple clear way. I find the above quoted statement somewhat misleading:

  • What is here "finished product"?
  • Is MPV not finished?
  • If not, why would earlyvangelists like it?
  • If yes, why would other user not like it?

If "finished" means working, then you need it even for earlyvangelists.

I like the idea of abstracting my product and building pieces of general purpose code, so I can easily adapt it to any changes.

It is worth talking to few people about it to get some picture but this by no means guarantees that the same people will like the product once it is built.

Then it is worth to develop the cheapest and simplest version that people can use. This is what MVP should be. It may have few features, but those have to work! So in this sense, it has to be "finished".

Too often people send me their new apps to look at, where I can't even get simplest functions to work like registration, and feel my time is wasted.

BTW, the best and most useful advices I came across are by Guy Kawasaki.

EDIT. In regard of the sector, SaaS and Web Applications are not the same. The first is directed to developers and is of no interest for general public, the second can be for developers, or public, or both. Obviously, developers make up more narrow sector, where it may be harder to earn money.

answered Nov 20 '13 at 01:00
Dmitri Zaitsev
181 points


Customer development is more than "talking to a bunch of customers".

It core purpose is to validate your assumptions about your product / feature set / pricing / market acceptance before going out and developing something. To reach out to a potential customer base, you need to understand what their actual needs are before engaging with them. Depending on your approach, that may require some development / mockups / information gathering to get their attention.

answered Nov 20 '13 at 01:24
Jim Galley
9,952 points

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