The Lean Startup movement isn’t terribly new, but the level of hype is reaching pretty significant levels. The contrarian in me is always a little wary when anything gets overly hyped. To be clear, I really really like the concepts of the lean startup and customer development. I’d recommend any…
My response to Rob’s thoughtful post:
Agreed on the lack of magic formula, and certainly official-looking charts are deceptive. On the other hand, the charts are a useful too to communicate differences against other startup / development approaches.
re: big opportunities vs lean; this a point a lot of smart, lean-wary startup friends bring up, and I think it’s a good one. My thoughts: in the spirit of “there is no one size fits all”, if we do away w/ all the CD/Lean ‘stuff’ except the core principle, learn fast, then I think that logic applies to any organization pursuing any particular vision, no matter the scope.
Make sure your team is learning fast & furious, and if you aren’t capable of articulating what you learned last week, recognize that it’s unclear if you’ve made forward progress. If it wasn’t possible to learn, fine, but if it was, you’re at risk of ‘straying’. If that persists week over week, where’s the forcing function to keep you in check? Months & months of ‘work’ without external validation is clearly a company killer.
I enjoyed this post by Tom Loverro, nice contrast to the ‘no place for an MBA in a startup’ rhetoric that I’ve heard so much about. No doubt engineers are the critical lifeblood of an early stage company, but as a non-technical founder (w/ an MBA), I like to think that our roles are important too.
I agree that non-technical founders are important, which is to say: all founders, no matter their type, are critically important. They craft vision, work hard to understand customers, and provide the right solution.
Tom’s real point appears earlier in his post: “the single greatest cause of startup failure is not understanding the customer’s needs, EVEN THOUGH THE FOUNDERS THINK THEY DO”. If you are thinking about hiring in a marketing person (non-founder) to help close that customer understanding gap… I worry it’s a little late for the startup.
The App Store removes a ton of muck. Most importantly (from this survey at least), dealing with credit cards and payments is one of the biggest pains for developers, and the App Store completely shields developers from it.
The iPhone platform succeeds because the App Store “removes the muck.”
Handling payments is one of the gnarlier pieces website infrastructure from a technical perspective, but also from the perspective of conversion: it’s really, really hard to grease the wheels of payment online. How do you accept credit cards? What about gift certificates? What about building trust? What about re-using a customers billing data instead of losing some % of them by asking for it?
The App Store is the ultimate conduit to $$ across tons of interesting demographics. Amazon is right up there with it. Turns out there is another 800lb gorilla gearing to shake things up: Facebook; and Facebook is equipped to do it web-wide.
(PS: Where the f**k are the credit card companies during all this? Why aren’t they playing in this space? Why didn’t they invent PayPal for website payment processing?)
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