“Experiment, Expedite, Iterate.” That’s Google’s mantra of new product development, and it closely aligns with one of the hottest trends in entrepreneurship today: the lean startup.
As an entrepreneurship educator, you’re likely familiar with the lean startup movement, promoted by author Eric Reis. In a nutshell, the lean startup approach emphasizes speed: launch a product or service fast; see how customers use it; revise. It’s a hot topic—and often, not always a useful approach to entrepreneurship.
What do your students need to know about lean startup? First, they need to know the key tenets and terms:
Minimal Viable Product (MVP). Build a product (or service) only to the quality and specifics that enable you to go to market.
Test and measure. Continually learn from customers. Analyze EXACTLY how they deal with your product or service.
Pivot. Be able to swivel away from your original vision to adapt to new realities.
As their entrepreneurship educator, you also need to help them understand:
When to adopt the lean startup and when to be cautious
Good fit to product and customers: The lean startup approach has been particularly popular in the technology world, especially for mobile apps and cloud-based software. It’s especially well suited to an industry with lots of competition, quickly-changing technology, and users have relatively high tolerance for glitches.
When customers won’t tolerate a “version 1.0” approach: Creating expensive products? Running a high-end restaurant? Customers expect quality.
Safety concerns: There are the obvious such as medical equipment, pharmaceuticals, aeronautical equipment. But less obvious, too, such as child care centers.
When they are targeting just a few, large, customers: You won’t get many chances to get things right
Limited or no resources or infrastructure for testing and revision.
Ries does have a point: entrepreneurs—including your students—need to get moving. But they still need to plan and lean startup isn’t right for every business.