As of the writing of this review (August 2011), the US economy is still in pretty bad shape, banks aren't lending and companies are sitting on piles of cash. It's a perfect time to launch a startup, but capital is scarce. Fortunately, there are options for aspiring entrepreneurs. The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (co-founder of internet company IMVU) is a great place to begin.
When I first received the book I was a little concerned that it would be more focused on brick and mortar businesses to the exclusion of internet and content type startups. However, Ries focuses on a variety of entrepreneurial situations from traditional, physical businesses to those only existent on the web. If you are operating a business or thinking about starting one, chances are Ries has addressed your situation in some capacity within the book's 290+ pages.
The Lean Startup is filled with technical information, but also interesting stories that back up the author's assertions. I like this model because it allowed me to see what he was talking about in a real world setting. I also appreciate his inclusive vision of entrepreneurship. For example, he thinks entrepreneur should be a job category in larger companies and goes on to address the needs of people who are in charge of starting new projects within big corporations.
In short, the lean startup model focuses on getting a minimum viable product to the market, then receiving customer feedback along the way to improve the product and pivot (take a new approach) if necessary. This, of course, is in contrast to the old way of doing business where a product is launched fully functional backed by extensive market research.Read more ›
His work and mentoring apparently inspired Eric Ries to write this book, which is fine but he does a really bad job of representing the original concepts. Makes me wonder how much of them he really understood.
Apart from being overly verbal and having a lot of repetitive waste in the narrative he's also constantly promoting himself and/or his fantastic consultancy efforts for others. Up to the point of nausea for me. Entire book could probably be condensed in less than a 100 pages if his ego was removed.
Read the original work, leave this alone.
However the concepts Eric Ries tries to describe in this book are very valid and real! It is mostly Steve Blank that applied them to startups and the Toyota lean authors that originally created them. If you managed to finish this book and found the content interesting please, please, please read up on it. There is lots of material out there and this book is definitely not a sparkling gem of wisdom on this subject.
The title may seem over the top, but actually the implications of Eric's new book are huge. I can't remember a text in recent years that predicted such significant conclusions for society, education, and world business.
**Concepts in the book that will make your head spin:
1) Ries's Law (I'm coining this right now) - Moore's Law that states the cost of new technology will rapidly decrease thereby reducing technological risk of innovation. It's not until The Lean Startup that we realize the cost of reaching customers and thereby market risk will also rapidly decrease.
2) Entrepreneur mythology as we know it is wrong (aka Steve Jobs is not what he seems). Iconic innovators ala the founders of Apple are believed by the public to be successful because of their creative vision of the future. The Lean Startup shows that in order for founders to be successful, they must test each element of there vision against reality.
3) Demystifying startup metrics. Even in a startup mecca like NYC, few entrepreneurs understand the metrics that drive their business. Eric's Innovation Accounting paradigm will change the early-stage VC industry as we know it.
**What I like about the book:
1) Comprehensive and a pleasure to read.
2) Real world examples (case studies) from tech startups to the non-profit industry. You will not find anything like these in other books.
3) Case studies in chapters 6 & 7 alone are worth the price of the whole book.
**What I don't like:
1) The chapter titles are a bit confusing and non-descriptive.
2) I could see some savvy entrepreneurs getting bored with the beginning when there's really great content in the later chapters.Read more ›
In the tech boom of the '90s, so-called "startups" would burn through millions of dollars of investor cash before seeing any revenue. They'd hire PR firms and launch national ad campaigns; they'd bring on big-name C-level executives; and they'd train an army of support staff--all before they had any customers. Webvan, Pets.com, eToys, and countless others whose names are now forgotten went down this path, only to find that the massive demand they'd anticipated for their services never materialized.
Investors have wised up since. Validation is the name of the game: Your concept may look good on paper, your demo may look great, but you're never going to raise more than six figures without traction--enthusiastic beta testers, active users, or best of all, revenue. Today, the word "startup" suggests a handful of people working on a small product, collecting feedback, and iterating on that feedback. Rather than launching when everything is perfect, they launch when they have a "minimal viable product" (MVP). It's an approach that's been advocated for years by startup accelerator programs like Y Combinator and TechStars. And now Eric Ries has a name for it: "The Lean Startup." He's built a whole brand around the name--including a video series, a conference, and now this book--and attracted press coverage that's described it as a "radical new theory" (Wired).
So is it new? That depends on who you are. If you're already in the startup world, most of this book will sound familiar. That's not to say that Ries' writings are useless--the book contains some solid anecdotes (though not as many as I would've liked), and many entrepreneurs are aware that they're not iterating on feedback as quickly as they could be--but it does make the repetition of the theme tedious.Read more ›