The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets
You are not a Visionary… yet.
The Lean Entrepreneur shows you how to become one.
Most of us believe entrepreneurial visionaries are born, not made. Our media glorify business outliers like Bezos, Branson, Gates, and Jobs as heroes with X-ray vision who can look to the future, see clearly what will be, imagine a fully formed product or experience and then, simply make the vision real.
Many in our entrepreneur community still believe that to be
visionary, we must merely execute on a seemingly good idea and
ignore all doubt. With this mindset, companies build doomed
products in a vacuum; enterprises make ill-fated innovation
investment decisions; and employees and shareholders come along for
an uncomfortable ride.
Falling prey to the Myth of the Visionary confuses talented entrepreneurs, product managers, innovators and investors. It leads us to heartbreaking, costly and preventable failures in new product and venture development.
The Lean Entrepreneur moves us beyond this myth. It combines powerful customer insight, rapid experimentation and easily actionable data from the Lean Startup methodology to empower individuals, companies, and entire teams to evolve their vision, solve problems, and create value at the speed of the Internet.
Anyone can be visionary. The Lean Entrepreneur shows you how to:
- Apply actionable tips, tricks and hacks from successful lean entrepreneurs.
- Leverage the Innovation Spectrum to disrupt existing markets and create new ones.
- Drive strategies for efficient market testing with Minimal Viable Products.
- Engage customers with Viability Testing and radically reduce time and budget for product development.
- Rapidly create cross-functional innovation teams that devour roadblocks and set new benchmarks.
- Bring your organization critical focus on the power of loyal customers and valuable products you can build to serve them.
Special Thanks ix
Chapter 1: Startup Revolution 1
The Myth of the Visionary (Take 1) 1
The Myth of the Visionary (Take 2) 4
Case Study: Disrupting Venture Capital 6
Which Is to Say, Disruption Hurts 12
Case Study: Customized Value Creation 21
And Cue the Lean Startup 23
Lean Startup, Please Meet the Lean Entrepreneur 25
Chapter 2: Vision, Values, and Culture 31
Vision and Values 31
Case Study: Is the Problem Really Solvable? 36
Lean into It: The Lean Startup Culture 38
Case Study: Experience-Driven Jumpstart 41
Case Study: KISSmetrics 45
Case Study: Root-Cause Analysis on Sales 50
Over the Horizon: A Framework 56
Case Study: Lean Startup Horizons 57
Chapter 3: All the Fish in the Sea 61
Case Study: The Ethology of the Fish 64
Know Your Audience: Why Segmentation Matters 66
Market Segment 70
Personas: Create a Fake Customer 71
Case Study: Salim’s Fish Inventory 72
Choosing a Market Segment 74
Case Study: Carla’s Dream Jobs 75
Case Study: It’s in the Name 78
Chapter 4: Wading in the Value Stream 83
Articulating the Value Stream 83
Case Study: Seeing from Customer’s View 85
Value-Stream Discovery 91
Case Study: AppFog’s High Hurdle 102
Chapter 5: Diving In 109
Listen to Your Customers—or Not 110
Customer Interaction 113
Case Study: Don’t Just Get Out of the Building, Get Out of the Country 115
Case Study: What’s the Worst That Can Happen? 121
Case Study: A Nonprofi t Lean Startup 123
Chapter 6: Viability Experiments 131
The Infamous Landing Page 132
Concierge Test 134
Case Study: Curating User Experience 135
Wizard of Oz Test 139
Case Study: Idea to Wizard of Oz in under 90 Days 140
Crowd-Funding Test 141
Case Study: Two-Sided Market Lean Startup 143
Case Study: MVP: Motor Vehicle Prototype 148
Chapter 7: Data’s Double-Edged Sword 151
Case Study: Disrupting the Undisruptable 155
New Products 158
Existing Products 163
Case Study: Instrumenting Growth 165
Chapter 8: The Valley of Death 169
Minimum Viable Product 171
Case Study: The Minimum Viable Audience 176
Case Study: Social Impact Lean Startup 180
Case Study: But My Marinara Is to Die For! 183
Case Study: O2, Telecom at the Speed of the Internet 189
Chapter 9: Real Visionaries Have Funnel Vision 193
Innovate the Funnel 195
Growth Waves 209
Case Study: Ten Lean Startup Buzzword Questions with Rob Fan 215
Chapter 10: The Final Word 225
Case Study: Drinking Kool-Aid and Eating Dog Food 229
About the Authors 244
Brant Cooper helps organizations big and small move the needle. His startup career includes Tumbleweed, Timestamp, WildPackets, inCode, and many others. He has experienced IPO, acquisition, rapid growth, and miserable failure. Brant previously authored The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development, the first purpose-written book to discuss lean startup and customer development concepts, earning a distribution of over 50,000 copies. Brant has worked with hundreds of entrepreneurs across the globe and is a sought-after speaker, having presented at leading companies such as Qualcomm, Intuit, Capital One, and Hewlett-Packard. Brant is reachable @brantcooper. He lives with (and continuously learns from) his two daughters, Riva and Eliza, near Swami's in Encinitas, California.
Patrick Vlaskovits is an entrepreneur, author, and consultant, and more than anything wishes he were a polymath. His writing has been featured on the Harvard Business Review blog, the Wall Street Journal blog, and The Browser. Patrick routinely speaks at technology conferences nationally and internationally, including SXSW, GROW Conference, the Turing Festival, and the Lean Startup Conference. He co-founded two startups, currently advises multiple technology startups, and serves as a mentor for 500 Startups, a seed fund and startup accelerator. As a principal at Moves the Needle, he counts Fortune 100 companies in his client list. The Lean Entrepreneur is his second book. The first, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Customer Development, is a required course text for MBA and undergrad at universities such as the University of Chicago Booth School and Berkeley. He has also guest-lectured at Stanford and UCLA. For some unknown reason, Patrick holds a master's in economics from UC Santa Barbara. When he has spare time, he can be found on Orange County beaches with his family. Tweet at him @Pv and read his blog at vlaskovits.com.
The Lean Entrepreneur:
How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets
By Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits
With foreword by Eric Ries and illustrations by Fake Grimlock
For far too long, the entrepreneurial community has been operating on a fallacy. Aspiring entrepreneurs, blinded by the belief that creating and putting out a good product is enough to find success, soon realize that an outstanding vision is not enough to create a sustained business. While companies continue to develop doomed products, this “Myth of the Visionary” stands strong: people will continue to believe that having a vision and acting upon it is enough to build a successful business. But this path that worked for the few notable visionaries, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, is the exception rather than the rule. Entrepreneurial visionaries are not born—they are made. Anyone can be a visionary. All they need is to know how.
In The Lean Entrepreneur: How Visionaries Create Products, Innovate with New Ventures, and Disrupt Markets (Wiley; $37.95; February 2013, 978-1-118-29534-2) authors Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits move beyond the myth, using their own entrepreneurial experiences to provide a four-step framework for building a business based on a product people actually want. Cooper contributes his experience as a startup thought leader and speaker, while Vlaskovits’ talent as an entrepreneur and startup advisor brings an additional source of expertise to this illuminating book. Eric Ries began the “lean” movement with his book The Lean Startup, butCooper and Vlaskovits use their entrepreneurial expertise to expand on these proven concepts, adapting them to suit the needs of the entrepreneur.
The Lean Entrepreneur serves as a universally applicable roadmap to success. Rather than simply explain the concepts, Cooper and Vlaskovits offer a wealth of supplementary materials to ensure that readers can understand how these concepts will improve their business. Enriched with case studies, illustrative graphics, worksheets, and skill-building exercises, the book is a comprehensive guide to evolving a vision and improving a company step by step.
Throughout the book, the authors cover a wide range of best practices for business success, teaching entrepreneurs how to:
- Approach risk head-on
- Test market ideas immediately
- Foster stronger customer relations
- Test different business model risks
- Use powerful, low-cost analytics
- Create a customer funnel based on buyers’ processes
- Eliminate unnecessary time and effort
- And more!
The entrepreneurial world is known for being unpredictable, but Cooper and Vlaskovits show that it doesn’t have to be. If armed with the tools necessary to create sustained business, visionaries can and will go far. As a must-read guide for any entrepreneur who wants to know exactly how to create innovative business, The Lean Entrepreneur is the perfect step-by-step guide to taking action and facilitating long-lasting change.
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