Innovation and enterprise blog

20 December 2013

Learning is Progess: welcome to the world of Lean Startup

When starting a business, you invest large amounts of your personal savings in developing the product and the infrastructure, you mortgage your house to access the finance to launch it on an unsuspecting market…and, regardless of indifferent and negative signals from the market, you battle on regardless…’s dogged determination and blind faith that counts….RIGHT!...

The message from this workshop is that NO, NO, NO that is totally…. WRONG!   Welcome to the world of Lean Startup.

Leanstartupbookcover_smallLean Startup, introduced by Eric Ries in his book 2011The Lean Startup, provides a model for developing a business idea based on exposing your product/service to the market as early and as cheaply as possible. This enables you to start a process of learning and iteration which increases the likelihood of developing a product/service with features that customers actually want, or to identify the lack of demand for such a service before time and money is wasted.



A number of key quotes underpin the approach; one is to prevent you from being in a position in which you wistfully say ‘I wish I’d known that sooner’. The other is to ask yourself, ‘If my business idea is to be a success, what things need to be true’. The latter quote allows you to establish a set of hypotheses which you can then test through talking to potential customers, experimentation and using information resources like those held in the Business & IP Centre.  

The ‘Introduction to Lean Startup Workshop’ was delivered by Jordan Schlipf of Founder-Centric at the Centre in December. Jordan took the delegates on a lively journey introducing the 3 key Lean Startup tools: 

  •  Customer Development
  • Business Model Canvas
  • Minimum Viable Products

Jordan contrasted a perception that developing a business was a linear process with the reality that it was full of twists and turns and was more like a ‘bowl of spaghetti’.

His presentation was peppered with relevant and entertaining case studies such as the case of When the founders looked at the potential for selling shoes online they took photographs of shoes from a local shoe shop and presented these on a simple website. When an order came through they manually bought them from the shop and sent them to the customer. This supplied them with plenty of information on customer behaviours around which to develop their business model. This is a classic example of the application of lean.

The workshop was part of the BL’s contribution to the Open Innovation Project funded by Interreg IVB NWE and Lean will be a major focus for us in 2014.

A final word on Lean StartUp is a quote from Nick Imrie: ‘We used to have lean startup in my day too..we called it common sense’.

Keep an eye on our Workshops and Events calendar for our next Lean Startup workshop in 2014. 

Nigel Spencer on behalf of the Business & IP Centre  


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