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The Lean Startup by Eric Reis: Book Review

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis Book Review in a sentence: Create a Minimum Viable Product with the most important functionality in the shortest time possible, and then keep surveying and developing the product based on prospect/customer feedback and requests.

Core Idea conveyed in the Book:

You may have grand ideas for your business; you may have a lot of Time and Angel money to invest; you may have the best team to develop a quality and feature-rich product. BUT if the customer doesn’t want what you make, your venture will fail.

That’s why, the author says, it’s better to make a quick, inexpensive and an imperfect prototype and let customers experience the product/service. If they don’t use it, you drop the idea or pivot – change the core idea/concept. If they use it and ask you for changes and new features, you work further on it and improve your product.

In short, the customer feedback and usage of the MVP drives the development of your product. Not your or your team’s imagination, hypothesis, and assumptions.

My Thoughts:

I think every startup owner and prospective entrepreneur should read this book. The idea that customers and prospects should drive product development and not the founder or employees is a powerful one. It can save a lot of time and money, especially in startups where it takes a lot of money to develop a product.

However, I am not a big fan of launching a low-quality product for customer feedback/testing purposes. That’s what beta testers are for. But whether beta testers can help predict demand is another question. Probably we need beta customers!

The author addresses this concern too by saying that we could launch the low-quality prototype under another, perhaps temporary, brand name. And once the customers validate the product, we could launch under our own brand. Of course, you may not want to charge the full price for these early adopters. Better, don’t charge anything at all.

The author also says that we should frequently test every new idea via A/B testing. If your business is online-based, there are tools that enable you to do this. Even if you are in a traditional manufacturing or product-based business, there are still ways to do A/B testing. In fact, this book was inspired by Toyota’s lean manufacturing principles.

The author says that even if you are working for a large company, it’s important to develop a startup culture with small teams whose purpose is to innovate.

Actually I didn’t read this book, I listened to the Audible audiobook version. I found the first 5-hours or so very useful. In the second half of the book, the author focuses more on fostering startup culture in large organizations – which is not applicable to me.

Although the author repeats the core concept multiple times (with his own and others’ examples) it’s very much required as it helps cement the concept in our brain. Otherwise, you can guess how easy it is to come across a new concept and forget it – especially if you are listening to an audiobook!

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