For as long as there have been businesses, there have been startups. Over time we’ve become better at creating, nurturing and scaling companies, in large part because we’ve learned lessons from the past. In recent years it has become clear that the startup methodology with the greatest chance for success involves being hyper-focused on the needs of customers.
The Lean Startup
The guidebook for many in the startup world is the “The Startup Owner’s Manual” written by Stamford resident Bob Dorf and Silicon Valley’s Steve Blank. This 2012 book crystalized an entirely new way of looking at Startups, with different areas of focus and a philosophy that is nothing less than a complete paradigm shift. You can hear Bob speak about the Lean Startup theory on Wednesday, 11/18/2015.
The New Paradigm
What used to be all about the idea and the brilliance of the founder has increasingly become about the market and the needs of the customer. We don’t look to tell people what we’ve made, we look to ask them what they want. Products and services created with customer needs first are more likely to generate sales, and investors have discovered they really like investing in the business created by good ideas people who are also good listeners, often by leveraging the Lean startup methodology.
What it means to be Lean
As the name implies, Lean Startups don’t throw money at problems, they don’t build huge products then throw them into the market. Rather, the core of this methodology is early and constant marketplace feedback. Everything you build is a research instrument, a test, an experiment. Sales are important but data is critical.
Starting with the “Minimum Viable Product” – the most pared down version of your product you can get into customer’s hands, startups must build in short, intense bursts and test everything.
As Bob says, startups don’t know anything. Their first job isn’t sales, it’s listening. And surrounding this philosophy is a simple set of principles that flatten the playing field, lower barriers to entry and give every startup a much higher likelihood of success. The Innovation Center team has put together some great events can classes on what’s going on in the world of Lean startups. We hope you’ll join us.
This coming Weds, 11/4/15, we have a the first session of a two part class called “Intro to Product Management — Planning your MVP” taught by industry expert Ivy Eisenberg. This class will introduce you to some of Bob and Steve’s ideas, with a tight focus on how to create, test and refine great products, at very low cost.
And on Nov. 18th 2015, Bob will come back to the Stamford Innovation Center for a presentation of the fuller Lean Startup toolkit in a talk titled “A Startup Heavyweight presents the skinny on LEAN.” We’ve been fortunate enough to have Bob come and speak before, and each time there are new perspectives, insights and valuable takeaways for entrepreneurs, corporate innovation specialists, and startup founders.
We look forward to seeing you at both!