The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (Book Review)

the cover of lean startup book

Are you tired of your startup moving slowly? Are you tired of failing to figure out what causes the unnecessary weight on your startup? Do you feel like it is time to get it lean? Then this book is just for you.

In this book, Ries provided the perfect diet plan to help your startup fit as a supermodel.

First, let's look at Ries’s version of the startup definition.

“A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.”

I had always been a fan of so-called fancy ideas and thought that I could just build the next Facebook just by the idea alone. I used to think that startup success was less to do with the hardship and more to do with the idea and this book did the perfect job of proving me wrong. As an entrepreneur, you are not going into the wonderland but the battlefield.

I learned many things from this book, and to mention a few, I get to know the right questions to ask before implementing the idea. For example, do people actually get value out of my product? If so, would they buy it? The next thing is pivoting which is also my favorite.

When Netflix started, it was the DVD rental service which was surprising, at least for me.

The home page of the first Netflix website (Source: Quora)

Over the past two decades, the team had made countless experiments, series of forecasts, continuous measurements which all led to creating two huge pivots, first providing the streaming service and second producing their own contents. But they did not jump right into the new business by abandoning their former one. They kept clinging onto it during the time they were planning to build new services. In fact, it is their original business which got them that far by providing huge revenue which they later used as budget to implement new ideas. As the saying from Ries goes: ” They (successful startups) keep one foot in the past and place one foot in a new possible future. Over time, this pivoting may lead them far afield from their original vision, but if you look carefully, you’ll be able to detect common threads that link each iteration.”

As counterintuitive as it may sound, the lean startup method does apply to our personal lives as well. To give you an example, I am taking a unique role in my new job and I am not quite certain about what I will be doing. I am diving into the uncertainty pool. However, I can test myself out and do necessary experiments in the workplace by using the probation period as my sandbox. Along the way, I will find out if I am really adding value to the employers who in this case, I assume my customers. If my skills do not contribute much to the company, it is time to go with zoom-out pivot and work on the skills I am lacking. In contrast, I might be really good at something which the employers regard as a high value, then it is time to zoom-in pivot which means I will focus on bettering that skill.

As much as I like the lean-startup method, there are things I am confused about. I am not sure if the filmmaking business could use the lean method to full advantage and if so, how? For instance, we all know that there is no beta tester or early adopter when it comes to testing the film so how could the filmmakers know if their hypotheses are correct?

Overall, the lean startup manages to give great insights about how the startup should be running by providing relevant real-life examples and comes up with methods that are different from ordinary versions. Yet, would work in many ways. If you are an entrepreneur or wantrepreneur, you could gain so much from this.

A minimalist