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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I bought this book because FAKEGRIMLOCK told me to, and I basically do everything he says. He did the art, and it's very good, particularly in service of the theme of the book. The book itself is full color and has a very engaging presentation (though the form factor: wider (9 in.) than it is tall (7 in.), with a short spine, made it less portable, not sure how it would be laid out on a Kindle.) It's clear from the book that the authors (Cooper and Vlaskovits) had a lot of hands on experience, and most of the advice was very low level: very specific advice leading to very specific actions. As a result the strongest part of the book are the exercises, which mostly take the form of end-of-chapter worksheets.

Also I particularly liked chapter 3 "All the Fish in the Sea". The extended fishing metaphor was one of the highlights of the book, particularly the part about accidentally hooking a leopard shark as an example of the damage "landing" a client you're not prepared for can do to your business.

Finally, there were the case studies. I love case studies, I love getting a deep look into what other companies our doing. My absolute favorite part of The Lean Startup was when Ries talks about his experiences with IMVU. Most of the case studies in the book were great, though a few, particularly the ones which were in the format of an interview could have used some editing down (particularly the Sharethrough study pgs. 215-221)

Okay, so on the negative side. There has only been one book, ever, that I consciously put down and decided I'm not going to read another word, and that was fifteen years ago. I came really close with this book. It could just be me, but the writing seemed very jumbled and stream-of-consciousness, as an example from Page 39, in the chapter "Vision, Values and Culture" in the section titled "Lean into It: The Lean Startup Culture":

"Use data to resolve conflicts, measure projects, and inform decisions. An organization drowning in data is little better than one without data. Those who fear the overhead of implementing data systems are missing the point. On the other hand, decisions by data only risk missing the big decisions by automating the small ones."

It took me several passes to understand the last sentence, and I'm still not 100% sure I know what they're saying. Also, they have a chapter on data, but as I mentioned this isn't where this is from. It feels like here, kind of in the middle of another thought, the authors suddenly decided okay let's cover everything we can think of about data, from data systems to where to use data, to having too much data, etc. Each sentence is a completely new, and large topic. The whole thing sounds more like the summary of a chapter than one paragraph.

Additionally, you'll have sections where they have detailed lists of 24 specific things to do for customer development (pages 113-114), but a few pages before (pg. 111) they tried to cover the entirety of the book "The Black Swan" in a few paragraphs. In other words they spend too much time on some things and far too little on others.

The central problem I had with their writing finally coalesced for me near the end of the book. The authors were incredibly poor about letting me know where they were going. As a final example, chapter 9 is titled "Real Visionaries Have Funnel Vision". Based on that title you might expect that the chapter would explain what a real visionary is, or what the term funnel vision means, and how the two go together. It does spend a lot of time talking about funnels, but within the chapter the term "funnel vision" is used just once. And the term visionary (or visionaries) is never mentioned even once outside of the chapter title (the word vision is mentioned on other time, outside "funnel vision"). This may seem nit-picky, but I think it's a concrete way of illustrating an objection that might otherwise be hard to quantify.

I'm sure Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits are killer consultants. They're brimming with experience and ideas, and great, real world, actionable advice. All of this, I can't help but feel, would blow your socks off in a dynamic consultative environment. But as a book, it needed some serious organization help and a lot of editing.

So would I buy it? If you can't afford to just hire Cooper and Vlaskovits and you are totally committed to a lean methodology, and you're in the middle of it and want some practical exercises to help focus your thinking? Then yes. Otherwise, unless you've already read everything else, I would pass.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
...including The Lean Startup, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development, The Four Steps to the Epiphany, The Startup Owner's Manual, and Do More Faster.

First, some brief history. This entire genre was birthed by a book so valuable yet also so poorly written & edited (Steve Blank's "Four Steps") that a book which claimed to merely summarize it became a must-have volume (Brant Cooper's "Entrepreneur's Guide", the prequel to this book). Eric Ries also helped to clarify and popularize the ideas that Steve Blank could not. From this current book, it's clear that the authors have treated their presentation itself as a Lean Startup, iterating it with audiences all over the world over the last few years, until it has reached the clarity and persuasiveness here.

The organization of the book is adequate. The real innovation here is something far more important. Cooper and Vlaskovits boast a deep understanding for how these ideas can be misinterpreted/distorted, and for the wide array counterproductive instincts/reflexes that entrepreneurs fall into (that lead them into failure traps). This book does a better job than all the previous ones for explaining and disarming those misconceptions. You can't understand a set of ideas without understanding why the alternatives fail, and this book sets the new standard for doing so.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Brant & Patrick have gone above and beyond in their new book, The Lean Entrepreneur. What I like best about the authors is that they bring real experience from working on their own startups and with hundreds of entrepreneurs around the world.

What I Enjoyed About This Book:
-Something for everyone- whether you're a developer, designer, entrepreneur, or intrapreneur, this book crystalizes key concepts around the idea of the Lean Startup methodology.
-Amazing illustrations- worth the purchase alone for the great illustrations from Fake Grimlock. I've used these to explain & understand difficult concepts with ease.
-Great Sequel- Brant & Patrick wrote the Entrepreneurs Guide to Customer Development, and this book builds and adds onto this classic text.

What Could Be Improved:
-Better table of contents/organization- I found myself flipping around rather than reading it all the way through. This wasn't an issue for me but it depends on your reading style. I also just use the search feature on my Kindle to fix this.
-More illustrations- the illustrations were really amazing in this book and would have loved even more of them.

Overall, it's one of the best startup/entrepreneurship books on the market now and I'd highly recommend it for anyone interested in Lean Startup and Innovation.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Based on this book's own marketing (the cover's inside flap, for instance), I had expected to find something of a field manual for making the ideas of The Lean Startup (Eric Ries) operational. The book was too ethereal and unsystematic to live up to that. The quote from Seth Godin on the book's cover describes the book more accurately: "A sprawling overview of some of the biggest ideas in the start-up world."

The book would probably have more utility for consultants and corporate players who need an idea of what's going on in the startup world than it would for entrepreneurs. Either way, read The Lean Startup first.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover
the title says it all. they mention clay christenson's disruptive vs sustaining innovation theory, how you're not a visionary (you just need to test with customers and incorporate their feedback), which has already been said best by eric ries and steve blank... i didn't even finish because I lost momentum. if you know the theories i'm talking about, i wouldn't bother buying this book. if you don't know what i'm talking about, then read these books:

innovator's dilemma, clay christensen
the lean startup, eric ries
the start-up-owners manual, steve blank
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The Lean Startup movement is new and there aren't a ton of books published. It's been a oligopoly of Ries and Blank (and Dorf)! Cooper and Vlaskovits make an original contribution to the ongoing discussion.

The paradox of the lean startup movement is that it's customer-driven in its ideology, but tech-driven in practice. In fact, the "customer discovery" ideology is a geek antidote (developed by geeks for geeks). In their discussion of entrepreneurial vision, Cooper and Vlaskovits provide a broader perspective through a sort of taxonomy of visions which shows,in my opinion--I'm about to commit the ultimate heresy--that the importance of the customer varies depending on the nature of the entrepreneur's vision. Gasp!

The rest of the book is all about the customer which is certainly what I need to hear.

The chapter on customer segmentation is thought-provoking and their plain manner of speaking on the subject is effective. Highlights here are abuse of demographics, effectiveness of personas, and the concept of anti-segments--people who are like your customer, but aren't! What a useful thought!

The chapter on experimentation is solid. Good coverage of experiment types and interesting points. For example, they present a case study where a landing page with an excruciatingly long survey effectively weeds out non-customers.

Great illustrations by Fake Grimlock.

My only criticism: the first chapter on the startup revolution is too buzzword-compliant and hyperbolic. I've heard it all before. And I don't like these rectangular book layouts that require you to reserve two passenger seats on a plane so you can open the book up without knocking the passenger into the aisle.

Great job!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I have dozens and dozens of business books in my office, and I keep buying them in hopes of being enlightened again, as I was when I first read some of my favorites: Geoffrey Moore's Crossing the Chasm, Marc Benioff's Behind the Cloud, and Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness. The Lean Entrepreneur not only hit the mark for me, but has become one of my all time favorites. Maybe it's because I'm in the process of starting a company after 15 years of a corporate job heading up marketing... if you're looking for a guide to starting a business, start with The Lean Entrepreneur.

The concept of iterative design is powerful. The truth is that most visionaries don't know what consumers want, and consumers certainly don't know what they want either until they've seen it, touched it, and used it. So when you start out as an entrepreneur, how do you know you're really cracking the code? It's an iterative process, and this book helps you figure out the steps you need to take along the way. It will help you understand the value you're creating for others... and for whom exactly.

As a marketer, I'm a big believer in being segment-centric. You have to know your audience, but this is extremely difficult. We're all unique in our own way. The advice provided in The Lean Entrepreneur is extremely helpful. I won't get into the details, because I don't want to give away the key messages the book offers.

The Lean Entrepreneur covers all the topics I was looking for: venture capital, crowd funding, software-as-a-service, freemiums, but what was truly exciting for me was learning about Innovating the Funnel, selling as an entrepreneur, and riding the Growth Waves. After finishing the book, I feel like I know what to do. This is key. It's not just a book of concepts, case studies (which it does include, and plenty of them), instead this book is a guide for starting a business the right way. And, it could have helped me with my corporate job and to think about solving problems differently for established companies.

To top it off, The Lean Entrepreneur was a fun and easy read. I appreciate the style and tone, and felt like I was learning from an old friend. I'm recommending The Lean Entrepreneur to my friends every day.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I'm not sure how so many people can rate this book high. I think it has something to do with the cult-like following that these guys seem to have. It's really painful to read. With all the rambling, it's almost like they were stoned when they wrote it. They've done good by self-promoting it with praise from their friends who will in turn want them to praise their efforts..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
You need this book. Late career, skilled, engineer or not, companies not hiring? Make your own job. This book will get your engine started. Read it. Then, if you are still unclear where to start (unlikely), find local groups through meetup.com, meet and join people who are starting ventures. You will be on a new journey very soon. As Captain Picard said, "Engage."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I've read this book after reading "The lean startup" by Eric Ries. I've found nothing new and engaging in this book. The only metaphor I can remember is of professional fishing whose aim is to say that you must do one thing good but not many things mediocre.
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