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on September 21, 2014
I had two primary issues with the book. First, the books is written by a software guy for software guys and start-ups. I can only recall one reference in all the pages to a hardware product. So this books in not for anyone that is looking to create physical and tangible products. In fact, hardware is hard and my research hasn't found anything remotely useful in applying lean start-up principles to hardware.

Second, the focus of the book is on "what" a lean start-up is and doesn't provide actionable information. Diarrhea of the word processor resulted in a 365 page definition of a lean start-up, where it could have been boiled down to less than 100 pages (minus 1-star for waste...Distill it down to an A3 using Lean Thinking). So let me save you some time.

1. An entrepreneur is a person who creates a business around a product or service under conditions of "extreme uncertainty", and should ascend the vision-strategy-product pyramid. (Google: Start with Why TEDx - Ries redefines that concept)
2. A start-up is a phase of the entrepreneur's organization, tasked with the goal of reducing the condition of "extreme uncertainty", and finding a sustainable business model (Google: Lean Business Model Canvas).
3. Use customer discovery (class) and validated learning (method) to find a sustainable business model around your product or service idea. The validated learning method of Build-Measure-Learn is synonymous with Plan-Do (Build), Check (Measure), and Act (Learn) cycle, which as most people know is derived from the scientific method.
a. Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
b. Measure using Actionable Metrics instead of Vanity Metrics.
c. Learn from your MVP and Actionable metrics and Pivot to improve problem/solution and product/market fit or Persevere.
4. Finally, use lean principles (i.e. small batch sizes, 5 whys root cause analysis, chief engineer, blah, blah, blah) to stream-line your operation once you've found a viable business model and are ready to leave the start-up phase and enter the growth phase. (Minus 1-star: As a hardware guy and having extensive experience in lean it's blatantly obvious Ries is just starting his lean journey and his last section (Accelerate) is superficial, survey, regurgitation of some of the lean tools and ideas).

Reference More Actionable Books:
Running Lean - Ash Maurya
Art of the Start (Ch.1) - Guy Kawasaki

Reference Free Material:
Steve Blank's Website & Blog
Simon Sinek - Start with Why
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on July 13, 2017
Update: Gave this book a one star after reading it for the first few days. Honestly I was very disappointed because this book came highly recommended and I was deflated to see the book filled with Jargon words and repetitions that didn't make sense. But since the recommendation came from multiple sources, I forced myself to keep reading and it got better after page 50 or so. So yes, you will be disappointed when you start reading the book but eventually you will get why the book is so highly rated. It is still filled with a lot of repetitions (hence the 3 stars) but you will learn some valuable lessons from this book.

Old review: Quite disappointed. There is nothing lean about the way this book is written.
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on September 23, 2017
Some tired advice and some same-ish stories of business ideas and execution that appear in a lot of these business books. That said, there are some real, applicable "how tos" that give a blue print for altering your processes and understand where you can be more efficient and effective with fewer resources.
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on April 3, 2015
This book introduces a new and more effective approach to developing a startup business. It includes examples showing how the theoretical principles can (and should) be applied to real-life situations and what are the consequences of not applying them. The theory contained in the book provides the means of steering a small company towards success by properly acquiring and utilizing relevant knowledge. I personally would prefer a more concise version, with less repetition of the concepts, but I am sure many will find the multiple examples and reiterations helpful for better understanding of the concepts presented.
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on February 5, 2016
Ries has developed a cult following from this book, and for a reason.

If you're considering becoming an entrepreneur or have any position of management within a company. This is the book you need. This will teach you how to skyrocket your businesses growth quickly and very efficiently.

This book provides an incredible rate of return and is an absolutely essential part of an entrepreneur/manager's library.
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on August 4, 2017
Was recommended to me by one of my mentors. Fantastic book. Gives both practical and meaningful advice on testing your methods and tracking your practice. I also enjoyed the tips on how to be an 'intrapenaur' meaning working within a corporation to do new initiatives well. Top of my list of business books.
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on July 11, 2014
If you work for a startup in any sense, or have entrepreneurial visions of grandeur, The Lean Startup by Eric Ries will make an excellent addition to your bookshelf. Eric Ries, a seasoned entrepreneur and co-founder of IMVU (an 3D avatar based chat room), has crafted an excellent introduction to startup best practices. From inception to maturity, any startup, whether a seedling or an The Lean Startupoffshoot from a well established business sequoia, can gain valuable information on how to use lean startup methodologies to help eliminate wasteful activities and instead focus on the projects and techniques to help break through the bonds of linear growth and achieve the exponential.

What I found most interesting about these best practices was the initial focus on a minimal viable product to test customer interaction and appreciation of a particular business idea. By building a rough draft of a product or feature, and unleashing it into the wild (even in perhaps an imperfect state), a company can gain valuable insights into whether or not the feature will gain traction with customers. Through the use of real life startup stories, Ries demonstrates how spending many months of careful planning, only to release a product that is ‘not quite’ what the customer is looking for, can cost a great deal of unnecessary time and energy. If instead, products and features are built to be ‘just good enough’, valuable customer data can be gathered, and utilized to either enhance the minimal viable product to make it more production worthy, or pivot onto something else that may be more valuable to the customer.

This customer-centric approach permeated the entirety of the book, which, coming from a developer’s standpoint, is not something I feel we generally think about enough. Developers are often extremely code-centric in their thinking. This is certainly important (don’t want to build complete junk, even if it is only the minimal viable product), but we also should not be oblivious to the business needs of our customers. Ries emphasizes that in a startup, all employees and stake-holders, regardless of roles, should be in constant communication with each other to ensure the system being built is indeed for the customer. And while participating in business thought and discussion, developers can gain deeper insight into customer needs, helping them avoid rabbit trails and design the most appropriate system for any particular feature. At Within3, the startup I currently work for, company and product managers, business development, and customer support weekly share goals and practices which I definitely appreciate. It helps me feel more integrated into the company as a whole, and offers the engineering team the opportunity to better understand both the in-house and customer needs for our business.

While reading The Lean Startup, I did feel some of the points were hammered home a little to hard, and I found myself zoning out in a few places where the information seemed overly redundant or was presented like a college lecture. But thankfully, Ries would toss a real life startup story my way and re-engage me. I found the stories by far the most interesting and helpful aspect of the book and the most effective tool in validating Ries’ suggestions.

All in all, a good read and a valuable looking glass into the moving parts of the startup engine and how to make them churn along as efficiently, and powerfully, as possible.
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on June 12, 2014
Bloomberg reports that 8 out of 10 new businesses fail within the first 18 months — and most big, established companies have trouble generating truly innovative new products. So, the process of introducing innovation to the market is pretty much hit or miss, whether the engine is a startup or a Fortune 100 company.

Eric Ries wants to take the guesswork out of innovation. His method, featured in his seminal 2011 book, The Lean Startup, and in his website and consulting practice, is built around a technique well known to direct marketers: the A/B split test. In marketing, a mailer will test two variations of a mailing package, an offer or suggested gift, or two market segments, keeping all other variables constant. If the rules of statistics are carefully observed, the result, favoring either A or B, will in theory be replicable when mailing in larger quantities. Ries applies this approach, which he calls “experimenting,” in what appears to be a loosey-goosey fashion. (At one point in his book, he clearly implies that the tests he runs, comparing product features, market segments, positioning, or other testable elements, are less than statistically rigorous. Somehow, though, the companies he’s helped to start or advised seem to have made a lot of money with this approach, so he must be doing something right.)

In fairness, Ries’ Lean Startup method involves a great deal more than testing. He advocates a complete rethinking of the way business is organized and managed and the ways it collects and interprets data. Small, cross-functional teams formed to build and sell innovative products use testing on “small batches” of prospective customers to determine which tweaks on the product or its marketing will optimize sales — or whether the product itself or its use must be entirely re-thought. Systematic testing produces “validated learning” that enables each team to avoid waste such as the hundreds of work-hours that might be involved in producing a finished product by instead testing a “Minimum Viable Product” that will only be finished on the basis of repeated testing. In other words, Ries maps out his own route to the “learning organization” described by Peter Senge in his own seminal book, The Fifth Discipline, more than two decades ago.

Ries’ cross-functional teams are not modeled on the “skunk works” familiar to students of business history. Unlike the original unit of Lockheed that was sequestered in a secret location to design aircraft such as the U-2 spy plane and the F-22 Raptor, the cross-functional teams in a startup company — or themselves constituted as “startups” within a big business — are neither secretive nor elitist. What they have in common with Lockheed’s Skunk Works is independence, as they’re empowered to make all decisions on their own without consulting management.

The core concept behind the Lean Startup approach is that a newly launched enterprise exists only “to learn how to build a sustainable business. This learning can be validated scientifically by running frequent experiments [i.e., tests] that allow entrepreneurs to test each element of their vision. . . The fundamental activity of a startup is to turn ideas into products, measure how customers respond, and then learn whether to pivot or persevere.” A pivot, in Ries’ lexicon, is a shift of course away from the entrepreneur’s original vision — for example, deciding that a company’s core strengths can be more productively and profitably employed in a business-to-business enterprise rather than marketing directly to consumers.

The Lean Startup (the book) is, in a fundamental sense, an introductory guide to Ries’ thinking. However, his prescriptions are often vague — for instance, he writes about the importance of testing in “small batches” but never specifies how small, which is a significant question in statistics — so a real-world entrepreneur would be hard-pressed to apply this method without help. That, it appears, is the function of the many meetups, blogs, online communities, and a wiki that have sprung up around the world for entrepreneurs to share their experiences with the Lean Startup approach. Of course, if you can afford him, you may be able to hire Eric Ries himself.

Ries draws much of his inspiration from the Japanese Lean Manufacturing method pioneered at Toyota — if anything, the “secret” of Toyota’s successful rise from a small company to the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. He has also read widely in the management literature, delving into the work of Frederick Winslow Taylor (The Principles of Scientific Management), W. Edwards Deming (quality control), Alfred Sloan (My Years with General Motors), and Peter Drucker (The Practice of Management) as well as contemporary writers such as Steve Blank (customer development) and Clayton Christensen (The Innovator’s Dilemma).

The Lean Startup is strong on content but weak on presentation. The author appears to be too much in love with his own jargon — there seem to be dozens of proprietary words and phrases he repeats over and over — and his writing style is less than compelling. He even makes occasional grammatical errors. Nonetheless, I recommend this book to anyone who is starting, or even thinking of starting, a new business. The Lean Startup contains a great deal of wisdom.
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on September 22, 2015
This book takes Steve Blank's startup lessons and fuses them with lean methods used in manufacturing. Eric did a great job of providing real world case studies to illustrate his points and providing a good overview of how lean and agile methods apply to the startup world.

Where I felt the book fell short was in detailing actionable processes and summarizing those steps for the reader. This summarization is particularly crucial for e-readers as kindle and e-reader apps don't lend well to flipping through dog eared pages. Steve Blank does a phenomenal job of summarizing actionable steps for the reader in his book, "the four steps to the epiphany".

Fortunately, Eric does mention a lot of physical resources available to help you learn from others about the lean startup process. Worth reading, but not necessarily as easily applicable as Steve Blank's book.
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on May 8, 2017
The book is an excellent introduction to the lean startup concepts and movement. Made me feel excited about implementing the ideas as soon as possible in my just born startup and about learning much more from Ries and other authors on the subject.
Ries' enthusiasm with Toyota's lean manufacturing system in contagious. Also made me want to learn more about the company's take on management that made it so efficient.
Great book. Not to be missed by an entrepreneur or by a student of management science.
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