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The Lean Startup Methodology

I guess I wish I had come up with the term, but the Lean startup idea that is gaining traction is similar enough to the advice I give to start-ups that I am comfortable supporting the concept. It was coined by Eric Ries who writes about the concept and gives examples and debates the consequences on his blog, which I have recommended to start-ups I am working with.

The fact that it has been covered by the Wall Street Journal legitimises it to some degree, but those of us who watch the tech sector and in particular the accelerator programmes in the US (you can’t throw a proverbial stone without hitting a Techstars clone these days, and I am not one to talk seeing as the Ryan Academy Accelerator programme is fundamentally based on the same type of delivery), can see how it works in practice.

In essence this is about making speedier decisions by taking a more disciplined approach to testing products and ideas and using the resulting customer feedback. Get a beta sale in and see what happens, what the next version of the product looks like. This is particularly important for university or academic startups as their timescales tend to be governed by the academic calendar, where projects are planned to last years. Often by the time academic startups are ready, the moment has passed and the window has closed. Academic entrepreneurs need to un-learn these timescales, and not be afraid to experiment with the product. Again the academic mindset often means they want the product perfect before putting it out there in the marketplace. Alas the market moves with speed.

The philosophy does have a strong bootstrapping foundation but this has been confused with the idea it means companies stay small, not so says Ries, it is about good management of money. Something we can all agree with.

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