The Trend Towards Lean Startups

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Marketing podcast with Eric Ries (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

The Lean StartupThere is a bit of a movement afoot in the startup world called the Lean Startup. While the word lean might conjure up notions of cheap, it’s really about taking a scientific approach to innovating, measuring and responding in ways that stop companies from wasting time and money.

The basis of the concept, as applied to startups, comes from the Lean manufacturing world popularized by Toyota. Lean manufacturing is a production practice that considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customer to be wasteful, and thus a target for elimination.

My guest for this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is Eric Ries, entrepreneur in residence at Harvard and author of The Lean Startup.

In The Lean Startup, Ries attempts to show entrepreneurs how to bring the principles of Lean manufacturing and agile development to innovation.

According to Ries, startups that apply the lean method will achieve dramatically lower development costs, faster time to market, and higher quality products in the years to come.

While the application in the real world can get very complex the concept is rather simple – using a cycle of build, measure and learn, startups can determine what works and what doesn’t and make the necessary changes and fixes or determine to end the ideas altogether.

One of my favorite case studies in the book involves a tool I use everyday – Dropbox. Drew Houston, CEO and Founder of Dropbox applied Eric Ries’s Lean Startup concepts and started iterating their product much faster in order to test what customers really wanted, early and often. Using Lean Startup principles, in just 15 months, Dropbox went form 100,000 registered users to over 4,000,000.

Anyone can participate in the movement and learn about the principles by joining or starting a Lean Startup Meetup Group – find one here.

You can listen to the show by subscribing the feed in iTunes or a variety of other free services such as Google Listen (Use this RSS feed) or you can buy the Duct Tape Marketing iPhone app. (iTunes link – Cost is $2.99) or


Eric Ries, Lean Manufacturing, The Lean Startup, Toyota

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  1. John, for my business I work with a lot of start-ups.  Albany where I live and NYC have a ton of incubators and both city bread innovation… From that experience I see a major problem for Entrepreneurs get stuck in running their business after one cycle of “build, measure and learn”.  They never repeat the cycle and continue to grow… Running the business gets in the way of taking their new business to the next level… Thoughts?

  2. Hi John,

    Great article. I just discovered you and subscribed to the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast on iTunes. It wasn’t until recently that I came to appreciate the lean start-up method. I live at the very tip of Cape Cod and launched an Apple Computers business (independent) but used the business plan of Avon cosmetics. I come into people’s homes and we have a casual conversation about their needs. I transfer their data, set it up, and save a TON by not having a storefront. I started the business three months ago and it has completely taken off. All my marketing techniques totaled to less than $1k. Looking forward to reading your blog and hearing the podcast. 

    David A. Cox
    [email protected]

  3. “A human institution designed to create something new, under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, best definition of a startup I’ve ever heard. Really resonates with me. Thanks for this interview, John.

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