Bootstrapping, the Lean Startup, and the Customer Development process

Recently I’ve had discussions with a variety of people about Startups. These discussions varied naturally with our relationship: potential client, potential partner, friend, etc.

Nonetheless, part of the discussion was very much the same. I find myself always referring books and blogs related to several key topics:

* Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup
* Steven Blank’s Customer Development process
* Founders

So, this is post is really because I’m lazy…..and trying to be DRY

the Lean Startup

The Lean Startup is a term coined by Eric Ries. His very popular blog LessonsLearned, is a must read! The key characteristics of the Lean Startup are: use of open source platforms and free software; use of agile methodologies; and, use of the Customer Development process.

Since the first two things here should be familiar to the reader (if not, they are very well documented elsewhere), I’m going to focus on the third item.

Customer Development process

This is Steven Blank’s contribution which is described on his blog, and his book, “The Four Steps to the Epiphany.”

Some of the key concepts for me include: you should have a vision for your customer, problem and solution, however, you must treat these as hypotheses. This can be tough for some people who, in the beginning, really “own” an idea. But, you must be willing to change your vision – to pivot – in blank’s lingo. How do you know when to pivot or what to pivot to? Well, by engaging with your customer, early and often. Blank has a post that really captures this perfectly with nice anecdote.

For software developers this is approach should feel very familiar — it’s just like getting feedback in Agile methodologies.

Others

Excellent introduction to Customer Discovery, the first step in the Customer Development process: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development

I also highly recommend Ash Maurya’s blog focused on web startups.

Founders

VentureHacks is blog with fanatastic advise for startups in general. Great book list.

As for Founders: I highly recommend one of their products (I think it only costs $9) which is an interview about “How to pick a Co-Founder”.

And lastly, I recommend the book, “The Partnership Charter“.