Imagine working on a project for years, investing huge sums of money, and not knowing for sure that you will have customers when you finish your product. What if you finish it later than stakeholders expected? Even if you do finish it, Imagine that you build it and your customers hate it! If you have ever participated on an effort like that, or been close enough to watch the havoc it wreaks on the individuals that pour themselves into it, it is not a pretty sight. Efforts like this become cautionary tales that you tell your coworkers at your next employer.
Lean Startup is an approach to discovering what your customers want in a highly uncertain world. Lean Startup is a mindset that looks for ways to validate hypotheses about what your customer wants. They’re not big, dangerous experiments. It’s relentlessly testing small theories.
There are many different ways of testing your hypothesis. Some of the common ones include:
- Conduct problem interviews
- Conduct solution interviews
- Use a survey
- Provide the solution manually before automating it
- Make a paper prototype
- Run a Google ad to test for interest
- Ask somebody for a token amount of money to hold their spot when the solutions is available
Notice that none of these approaches involve building a scalable, redundant, transactional, anything.
If you want to learn more about Lean Startup, consider reading books about Lean Startup and Customer Development. But, in the spirit of limiting your initial investment, the best way I have found to learn about Lean Startup is to be around practitioners. If you are interested in learning from those who have “been there, done that,” find a Lean Startup Circle in your area , and attend their meetup.
If you are in South Bend, join us at The Branch for a live streaming of the Chicago Lean Startup Circle on Thursday, July 18th, where GrubHub co-founder Mike Evans will share his experience as a Lean Startup practitioner.