Exclusive Interview with Ash Maurya, Author of Running Lean
Q. Why is your book "Running Lean" especially important now?
We live at a time where we have so much power at our fingertips, where we are building more products than ever before. But the odds of building successful products haven't gone up. We're simply building more stuff nobody wants. What we need is a systematic process for quickly vetting and building successful products. That is the promise of "Running Lean."
Q. What is the top reason startups fail?
Most startups fail, not because they fail to build the product they want to build, but they fail to find a market for their product before running out of resources.
Q. What reason do you attribute for this failure?
Entrepreneurs are typically most passionate about their solution and often spend a disproportionate amount of time perfecting their solution only to find they were optimizing something nobody wanted.
Q. What do founders need to start doing now in order to achieve success?
The first step is shifting their mindset. The "true product" of a startup is not the solution, but the business model. Once founders start thinking of the business model as "the product," they start prioritizing risks differently. The key to building a successful product is maximizing learning about what's riskiest per unit time. Sometimes that's the underlying solution, but often times it's not.
Q. Describe the top tactical technique for systematically building a startup in today's economy?
A core part of the process is identifying what's riskiest and then doing the smallest thing possible to test that risk. From this principle you can derive specific tactics to fit your particular product. For instance, in the book I argue that you can initially test a lot of what's risky without building the product first using proxies like customer interviews, mockups, and videos.