A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
Recently I finally finish reading the lean startup book.
The author Eric Ries is writing blog for sharing his startup experience for several years. This book is include his experience of his own startup and tutoring experience. He points out lots of the critical problems that a startup will face. Include finding market fit, testing hypothesis and validate growth.
As an employee of a startup, It is a really interesting book.
The whole book is contentrate on a problem that lots of startup will face:
Imagine your team work on the product really hard, but in the end nobody is using that product. Or, When the team finish up a feature. But you have no idea if it will make any change to your low customer conversion rate. That is the most depressing thing a startup can have.
Those waste of productivity will draining team’s energy, depress the passion and most important, burning money.
Eric Ries, as an entrepreneur and consultant of startup. Knowing this problem and lean startup is the book focusing on how to use scientific management skills and matric to valuate decision to make team be able to learning from those waste.
In the startup, usually the whole business idea is an hypothesis without prove. So we have to use all kinds of test to validate our hypothesis is correct or not. Include talking to customer, film the conceptual film, preview with minimal viable product, etc. After the product is out, we need to know the growth engine of product and collect the data to validate the direction is correct or not.
In the story of great company, usually there is a leader with great vision who will lead the team to create outstanding product. But Eric point out the truth that, most of the team fails on those vision too. For a well-grounded team, we need to validate the data, continous fixing direction and provide features that customer really want. That require not intuitive, but the decision based on data. Continously testing every business assumption to increase the matrix.
Another concept that Eric avoke is Pivot, which is when the testing failed to prove the business hypothesis is correct, or the growth rate is not as expected. The company need to commit the failure and make change of direction.
But when to pivot is a critical problem, in book Eric said they will have a Pivot or preserve meeting everytime they have this issue. Basically I think Pivot is a flexible way to find the market fit. But not nessassary can help company to find market. In my opinion that Pivot should be pulled out from a failed hypothesis, and should follow the passion of whole team.
In engineering side, a team should focus on create product with minimal feature, and continous deployment with small batch and testing continously too. Other than that this book doesn’t focus on technical too much. But follow the best practice, doing testing and continous integration. Code review can increase the maintainability of product. Also, try not to reuse all codes when Pivot, The old code will only drag the productivity but not fit the new requirement.
Another problem in startup is the cross functional team. In a big company, there will be developer, product manager, designer and system operator. But in startup, every person need to work cross functional to improve the development process. A developer need to be able to open new machine and deploy, fixing user interface, adding new features and new tests. Same as designer, operator and product manager. Team need to lower the obstacle stop the cross functional work.
How to build the team for lean startup? In lean startup it focus on educate the team to fit the requirement. Its true that it is hard to hire the ‘Ninja’ or ‘Rockstar’ in startup. Find people smart and get things done. Teach them to fit the team is much easier.
Lean startup doesn’t mention this too much, but I think the culture is an important part of a company. A culture is defined by how the founder and team work, It can be a small work habit or development methology. So a startup need to caucious what culture they want to build, and work toward that way. Like the hacker culture in Facebook, Startup culture in Apple, 20% time culture in Google, etc.
This book is based on author’s experience and is really informative. Although all the method aren’t nessassary fit into all startup. But some of the concept like the data based decision, small batch and all the concept can boarden the entrepreneur’s view The startup isn’t nessassary to be a chaos of intuition and vision. It is a managable and repeatable process of new company.