Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Why "Lean Startup" model is already dead

Many people embraces the book "Lean Startup".  It is a book that formalizes an approach to entrepreneurship and innovation.  Basically the four steps outlined are:
1. Identify a problem, think of a solution;
2. Make an MVP to address the problem;
3. Test the MVP to the audience;
4. Improve it.

The author is clearly trying to make a movement out of this book.  It is an "agile" innovation model suitable for solopreneurs and perhaps small organizations.   It is very appealing to young people, who are most likely without jobs, without experience, without management maturity, and without too much detailed skills outside of coding websites and APPs.  Now, this is good for letting a lot of young people get involved.  But it is also missing on many important points.

Point One: Solving a problem and offer the solution model is dead

If a customer has three problems, and you solve his/her number two problem, the customer would not care.  If you go around offering things like charity to complete strangers through social network - I know it will not work.  There are ALWAYS exceptions.  Amazon is started by one person.  ExciteHackers is started by one person, and so on.  This "get rich quick" scheme is very fulfilling good news in bad times, I understand.

Point Two: The "Make it and they will come" model is dead

The world really has everything.  If it does not have something, you need to make it in a heart beat through a factory, not in your "garage".  The only way to startup a business in the future is to have experience in the market and understand the problem completely, and offer a solution that will both disrupt and benefit the entire ecosystem.  This way you can be accepted by the customer and the network.

Point Three: All ideas are good, only a few can penetrate to the market.  Startup success is based on two important factors - whether sales will fall and whether the network allows you to access the audience.  This is what kills the majority of startup ideas

The "lean startup" book will bring a lot of people out of the woodwork and start to tinker and trying to "ask for opinions".  These group of people will be very disappointed in the end.  Although experience is priceless and it is always to have some experience, many young people would be missing the important timing to learn through jobs and excel at "boring work" first.  In the end they will not be able to recover.

So be careful.  "Lean startups" is a good book, but it emphasize a "guess and projecting" scheme and a "get rich quick" fantasy.  The worst, is that this has a lot of following - the serious voice in the silicon valley is drowned. 

If you like Lean Startup, treat it as a very very good appetizer.  Read other more serious books that do not go into the "chicken soup" category.  I recommend "Traction" and "Zero to one".  They are written by much more experienced veterans who suffered from the setup of the market acceptance. 


The idea that you can do a customer survey and get opinions is wrong - people will tell you all kinds of feedback and suggestions, and in the end whether they buy it or not, whether they give you the price you want or not, is the unknown left for the very long end of the startup journey.

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