Special thanks to Hype App for setting me up with a free pass to The Lean Startup Conference! 


I recently attended the Lean Startup Week hosted by Eric Ries, the author of “The Lean Startup Methodology.”

Here are the key takeaways to a lean startup that have the biggest impact based on my experience with lean manufacturing:

  1. Learning is the essential unit of progress for startups. It’s easy to kid ourselves into what customers want or what the market may be.
  2. People are the most expensive thing for a company.
    1. Keep the headcount low.
    2. Hire slow, fire fast.
    3. Hire for passion first, experience second, credentials third.
  3. Know when to hire your first sales hire and what type. (Sales Learning Curve)
    1. Renaissance Rep: Initiation Phase – The product is functional, and we have have a few customers and a pipeline of potentials. Stays focused on learning.
    2. Enlightened Rep: Transition Phase – You’ve acquired a critical mass of customers and sales are accelerating. Lower analytical and communication skills than those required in Initiation Phase.
    3. Coin-Op Rep: Execution Phase – You’ve developed the formula for success and put your sales force’s support requirements in place. Now bring in traditional salespeople and arm them with a territory, sales plan, price book, and marketing materials to take order.
  4. In regards to MVP’s, don’t build products that customers won’t use. They need to still have functional value.
  5. Customer Development is just as important as Product Development and should be done in parallel.
  6. Maximize runway since you can’t rush the learning curve.
  7. The goal of the lean startup is to gain clarity and insight each step along the way.
  8. You need to treat the company as the product as well, not a dumping ground for waste.
  9. Get good at making money not spending money. Don’t raise, bootstrap instead.
  10. Culture is huge! Everyone needs to be bought in. Put “Not here for 2nd place” on the wall.
  11. Focus on the cost of attention. What takes people’s time away? Reduce and remove the waste. (notifications, emails, meetings, virtual stuff, have library rules, have remote working to allow for the best people)
  12. Information flow – Switch it up. Bring info to people when they are ready to receive it. Not when the person is ready to present it.
  13. Create a culture of continuous learning, iteration and improvement. The idea of “set it and forget it” is dead and gone.
  14. Be quick on identifying idea viability. If you have a great idea can you get someone to give you 5 hours a week for free to work on it?
  15. Prototype relentlessly
  16. Must have customer success team to improve retention and improve LTV.
  17. Hire less, build less, focus more.
  18. Market first, product second.
  19. People first
  20. Every new road/path is merely an experiment.
  21. Give first and you shall receive
  22. Design sprints are super efficient. Meaning everyone stops and focuses on the sprint.
  23. Stay flat and transparent
  24. Before scaling, you must have metrics and processes all in place that communicate to each-other and work. Build small till everything is operating smooth, then scale.
  25. Absolutely have values defined before hiring.
  26. Give experts and engineers on team autonomy to own what they do.
  27. Value = volume x diversity of acquisition channels
  28. The best way to capture “early adopters” is to extend customer discovery process.
  29. Think about the company as a platform and create a network around it to give it a solid footing.
  30. Partnering with larger companies can catapult you.