My description of Lean Startup plus related links #leanstartup

by Justin Souter on October 26, 2012


Emma Robinson and I recently had a meeting relating to Lean North East, at which I was asked to put together a summary of Lean Startup. The following text, documents and links are what I compiled, including the following quote.

How you enjoy the content, and please feel free to comment at the bottom!

“For those of you who haven’t read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, the basic concept behind it is that we have been going about the startup process all wrong.

Instead of writing long business plans, raising early funding, and building initial prototypes over the course of a year, we need to foster startups that constantly learn and iterate around a minimal viable product.

By constantly tweaking, or occasionally pivoting the product, service, and business model in response to early customer feedback, startups can improve their likelihood of success or at least fail faster and cheaper.”


Lean Startup draws upon methods originally developed to minimise waste in manufacturing processes and applies a continual-learning mindset to start-ups, growing businesses, and to ‘intrapreneurship’.

Build | Measure | Learn loop

Build | Measure | Learn loop

It is not a prescriptive set of answers, rather a framework for thinking through how to creating “something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, with the primary goal being minimising ‘time to learning’. I.e. get into the marketplace as quickly as possible, and get feedback from potential customers in order to “Build–Measure–Learn” in an iterative loop. It is a way to harness the energy of young businesses into small, practical steps and create immediate feedback and momentum.A ‘minimal viable product‘ is often the most basic product offering that can be put together – in order gain feedback from users and test the market. Ideas are less important than the ability to execute on them.

A ‘pivot‘ is what to consider when market feedback suggests there is not a sustainable business model based on the initial value proposition. In basketball, a player can change direction by keeping one foot on the ground, and moving the other; in Lean Startup parlance, a pivot means keeping in mind the vision for the business, and moving to a new way to realise that vision (“a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth“, according to Eric Ries).

In many ways, using the Lean Startup approach is about building a ‘machine’ which continually tests the educated guesses you have about your business, in order to find a sustainable customer base, market offering, and profitable business model. This is in contrast to the “build it and they will come” model.

Customer Development and Business Model Generation

The Lean Startup is usually considered in conjunction with two other bodies of knowledge – around finding customers, and also creating the profitable business model above. Steve Blank, who invested in a business Eric Ries co-founded, is a successful tech entrepreneur who lectures about how to create successful startup businesses.

Steve’s model, commonly known as ‘Customer Development‘ implores business founders to regularly meet their customers in order to create a product these customers want to buy, rather than that which the founders wish to sell. Direct and regular feedback, in person, gives founders the prompts and genuine learning to create solutions which solve pressing customer needs.

Steve advocates doing this work upfront and starting small, rather than developing expensive full-service offerings, and details several very expensive failures from the dot com bust. Customer development aims to create ‘product/market fit‘ (a term popularised by Marc Andreesen of Netscape fame and now a VC).

Product/market fit means providing something that customers want to buy – which is ‘pulled’ by customer needs, rather than ‘pushed’ by expensive marketing. Steve is the author of two books on customer development, and a major advocate of Business Model Generation, a concept coined by Alexander Osterwalder.

Business model generation is a book and approach which divides any business into nine components, and presents a series of questions and case studies to help readers clarify their own thinking, and review and iterate a way to make money. There is also an additional ‘plug in‘ which helps to clarify the value proposition businesses (and other organisations) have or could offer. I have also come across a canvas for service model generation, and in a similar vein, there is a book called Business Model You to help individuals clarify their own career path. Dave McClure’s “AARRR for Pirates” sets out metrics for entrepreneurs.


Taken together, these elements provide a framework for early stage businesses, those innovating inside established organisations, and those who wish to innovate under conditions of uncertainty. It also provides a vocabulary, a body of knowledge, and a community of innovators to help test new ideas and share the practical lessons.

This is, necessarily, a potted summary of the potential offered by this material. I hope the embedded links and resources below provide a prompt to help minimise waste and speed up time to learning!

Lean Startup docs on Scribd

I’ve uploaded three documents to Scribd:

  1. The text above
  2. A list of questions from the Business Model Canvas
  3. Questions from the #bmgen Value Proposition Designer

Docs with questions are useful to get clearer about what you’re seeking to deliver to customer, and how you can create an effective business model as a result.

Wash up

I hope you’ve found this useful, and please seek out @leannortheast to get involved!

Links I’ve compiled

I’ve used Listly to start a compilaton of Lean Startup links, I hope you enjoy. I think you should also be able to add your own…!
If the widget doesn’t fire for you, please use this link

53 items   24 followers   16 votes   2.91k views

Lean Startup materials

Stuff that folk can investigate, vote on, and add to re Lean Startup.


Oct 24, 2012 - - 360
The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses: Eric Ries: Books

The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses: Eric Ries: Books

Nov 20, 2012 - - 450
Customer Development | Startups | Steve Blank Podcast – Clearshore | presented by Clearshore

Many of Steve's blog posts turned into podcasts. Genus!

Oct 17, 2012 - - 361
The Lean Startup | The Movement That Is Transforming How New Products Are Built And Launched

The official website of all things Lean Startup presented by Eric Ries.

Oct 24, 2012 - - 420
Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works Lean

Running Lean: Iterate from Plan A to a Plan That Works Lean O'Reilly: Ash Maurya: Books

Oct 24, 2012 - - 481
The Lean Startup - 01 - 2012 - Events - Public events - Home

Eric Ries gives a talk at the LSE in London - podcast

Oct 24, 2012 - - 380
Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers

Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers: Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur: Books

Oct 24, 2012 - - 495
The Lean LaunchPad Online « Steve Blank

You may have read my previous posts about the Lean LaunchPad class taught at Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Caltech and for the National Science Foundation. Now you too can take this course. I’ve wo...

Oct 13, 2014 by Maulik Shah - - 371
Are you looking for quality technology solutions?

Creative technology freaks, with passion and commitment to service our worldwide clients with our wide range of IT solutions. Know why and how we're different! We offer customized and result-oriented business IT solutions to enterprises and enhance their business performance.

Sep 30, 2019 by Anthony Randall - - 0
2019 How to Make a Website Guide - Free Easy Guide to Building a Website

This site teaches you how to make a website in just 3 easy to follow steps. There's also lots of really useful resources to help you build traffic in 2019

Oct 24, 2012 - - 481
The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company

The Startup Owner's Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company: Steve Blank, Bob Dorf: Books

Oct 24, 2012 - - 435
Build. Measure. Learn. Lean Startup SXSW 2012 by Eric Ries

Become a Lean Startup Guru. Learn from Lean experts like Eric Ries, Steve Blank, and more.

Watch the video of a whole day from SXSW.

Oct 24, 2012 - - 396
World's leading workshop on Lean Startup methodologies » Lean Startup Machine

World's leading workshop on Lean Startup methodologies » Lean Startup Machine

Oct 24, 2012 - - 490
Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner: Eric Ries, Author - Evangelizing for the Lean Startup (Entire Talk)

Speaker, author, and entrepreneur Eric Ries shares rapid fire wisdom on building nimble, responsive, and efficient online software-based businesses. He also offers his wisdom on streamlining processes and progressing engineering systems, and puts forth front line insight into why some new ideas succeed where others have failed.

Oct 24, 2012 - - 425
Podcast #115 – Eric Ries (@ericries), The #LeanStartup — Lean Blog

Blog post at Lean Blog

Oct 24, 2012 - - 490
#153-Show #107: Ash Maurya, Author of Running Lean | The Startup Success Podcast

This week, Bob and Pat re-interview Ash Maurya about his new ebook Running Lean (promo code: RL47HATS for 30% off). Running Lean is exactly the book you

Oct 24, 2012 - - 375
Stanford's Entrepreneurship Corner: Steve Blank, Serial Entrepreneur - Fall 2009 Quarter Roundup: What Did We Learn?

Stanford instructor and seasoned serial entrepreneur Steve Blank looks back at the commonalities and quirks of the quarter's previous speakers. Blank outlines a thorough checklist of questions and analysis helpful to any new enterprise leader, and offers insight and case studies from industry giants and new technology plays alike.

Oct 29, 2012 by Alessandro Quintarelli - - 460
75 Startup Secrets |

75 Startup Secrets -

Oct 30, 2012 - - 350
Stanford's eCorner: Alex Osterwalder, Author - Steve Blank, Serial Entrepreneur - Tools for Business Model Generation

Entrepreneur and business model innovator Alexander Osterwalder discusses dynamic, yet simple-to-use tools for visualizing, challenging and re-inventing business models. Osterwalder articulates how to use the visual language of his business model canvas framework, and shares stories of how this approach helps organizations of all sizes to better create, deliver and capture value.

Oct 30, 2012 - - 390
About Sean Ellis | Startup Marketing

Unlocking Startup Growth - I’ve found that traditional marketing books are not very helpful in the startup world. So a few years ago, I decided to publish the Startup Marketing Blog to share the insights I gained while running marketing at LogMeIn and Uproar from launch to NASDAQ IPO filings. I refined my recommendations as I helped bring Dropbox, Lookout, Xobni and Grockit to market and helped accelerate growth at Eventbrite, Webs, World Golf Tour and Songkick.

Oct 30, 2012 - - 470
The Lean Stack Playbook

Capture your vision, strategy, and product experiments all in one place.

The Lean Stack Playbook transforms your favorite presentation application into a
powerful innovation accounting framework that allows you to define, measure, and communicate progress with internal and external stakeholders.

Oct 30, 2012 - - 492
Validation Board - FREE tool for testing your startup idea, stop wasting time and money

Test your startup idea
without wasting time or money

  • Make faster decisions
  • Improve team accountability
  • Build better products
Dec 03, 2012 - - 456
Business Model Innovation Hub - ... where visionaries, game changers, and challengers discuss business models

In this space we share knowledge and experience on how to create great (new) business models

Dec 03, 2012 - - 373
Business Model Canvas examples

Posted by Steve Blank

The Business Model Canvas Target Product – Recombinant hemagglutinin (HA) for pandemic and seas

Dec 03, 2012 - - 446
Business Model Canvas Examples « Understanding Business Models

Posts about Business Model Canvas Examples written by businessmodelinnovationmatters

Dec 04, 2012 - - 356
Lean Startup Conf 2012/Home

The Lean Startup Conference—Dec 3 & 4, 2012 at the InterContinental SF—brings together innovators from startups and established companies alike to share lessons for building profitable lean organizations. We’re announcing new speakers every week, and registration is open, with new blocks of discounted early-bird tickets available regularly.

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