On a recent visit to Boulder, entrepreneur and thought leader Eric Ries was kind enough to stop by the TechStars Bunker to lead a discussion for a room full of folks interested in the Lean Startup methodology. In reflecting on that night, I can’t help but wonder, will Lean Startups be the standard in the Boulder startup ecosystem someday soon?
Here’s the methodology in a nutshell: “Stop wasting people’s time.” Ries implores entrepreneurs to stop building products and services that customers don’t want by replacing guesswork with validated learning. At a high level, this requires three actions:
- Build. For the first iteration, build the minimum viable product, as basic as is possible for customers to understand and use. For subsequent cycles, release small batches of code through continuous deployment.
- Measure. Ries recommends measuring the high level stuff, the stuff that matters. Unless it tells you something important about whether what you have built is more or less likely to make customers pay for it, don’t bother measuring it.
- Learn. Talk to customers, look at the data, and face reality. Apply that validated learning to the next cycle before building anything else.
Many of the principles are derived from lean manufacturing, made famous by Toyota, applied in the startup environment. Speed is key here, and progress is measured in how much you learn, not how much code you write.
There’s no need to recount the entire presentation line by line because you can view a recent webinar of Ries’ and hear him directly instead. If you’re curious as to whether the Lean Startup methodology has applications beyond writing code, the answer is yes. Erica O’Grady, who was also there that night, has even applied the Lean Startup methodology to dating.
The Lean Startup methodology seems to be gaining momentum, especially as of late with bloggers and the press. In April Ries held the first Startup Lessons Learned Conference in San Francisco, which was streamed into locations around the world, including Boulder’s own Rally Software.
With that said, coupled with the fact that entrepreneurs, present and future, filled The Bunker that night, it seems that the future for Lean Startups is bright in Boulder. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.