Teach Me How to Startup
Sometime around hearing the umpteenth pitch for a location-aware, mobile, social events recommendation tool, one starts to wonder if the founders ever really questioned their basic assumption: that anyone would download yet another one of those apps when none of their friends are on it.
Lean Startup Machine CEO Trevor Owens wants to help with that. Today, he’s launching a free product development tool called the Validation Board that help startups crystallize things like their “Riskiest Assumption,” which ideas have been “Invalidated,” and what constitutes a “Minimum Success Criterion.”
Real TechStars of New York City
This is a guest post by Jacek Grebski, COO of Badger, and a board member at the Bowery Arts & Sciences. You can find more of his musings at http://jacekgrebski.com.
The Lean Startup model seems to be present everywhere you turn these days–any methodology that seeks to improve the success rate of young companies is welcome, and this is especially true when new enterprise is needed more than ever to add kindling to the economic fire. However, there is an undeniable problem with this proposed methodology: Eric Ries is largely selling 336 pages of obvious, while simultaneously making assumptions that would be effective in only a handful of startups, and surely not in an across-the-board situation as advertised.
As with any management ideology, there is of course both the good and the bad, so how’s about we take a quick looksee.
Lean Mean Start-up Machine
This is a guest post from “Hurricane Melanie” Moore, co-founder of Elizabeth & Clarke, a stealth fashion/tech startup in New York. This is a post-mortem on Ms. Moore’s first startup, the high fashion deal site ToVieFor, which was part of the first TechStars class in New York.
As you all know by now, the grim reaper has paid ToVieFor a visit. Sad face. I want to talk a little about the root cause of the closure, in the hopes that others who might be starting a new business do not make the same mistake. Also, some broader industry thoughts below–as I’m sure no one wants to hear me keep yapping about my failed startup for weeks on end.
The reason ToVieFor failed is the same reason almost all businesses fail: we did not build something that people wanted. I know it sounds like a *facepalm* moment, but following the steps of the Lean Startup method in order to discover what people want is so easily said, but so hard to actually do.
Always Be Hustlin'
With all the co-living spaces, one-day insta-education conferences, and blogs-to-replace-boardrooms out there espousing the mantra of growing lean, one could be forgiven for thinking that entrepreneurs jumped on the concept as soon as someone thought of it. As it turns out, not so much. In a long profile on Xconomy, Eric Ries, the face of the movement, who helped crystallize the concept along with Steve Blank, goes back to a time before lean and the genesis of what now seems like conventional wisdom.
First, of course, came the failure. Well, actually, in Mr. Ries case, it seems like two failures before an eventual success were the charm. All three also all happened to be social networks, of a kind.
If Betabeat just closed a $350,000 round of funding from folks like Dave McClure, Eric Ries and Esther Dyson, we’re pretty sure we’d spend the next day hungover trying to form our piles of cash into a Scrooge McDuck-like money pool.
Not so Tout founder Tawheed “TK” Kader, whose app attempts to solve the problem of repetitive email. “Its that magical moment right? Its what you’d been waiting for right? The press starts writing about you, the congratulations come flying in. You’ve made it. Right? Wrong.”
The current wave of IPOs that investors hope will extend from LinkedIn through Groupon and onto Facebook is making some venture capitalists very, very wealthy. But the bonkers bubble money isn’t exactly getting spread around. Bloomberg reports that the success of firms like Sequoia, Greylock, Accel, and Andreessen Horowitz, all of whom have equity in the most valuable start-ups, is driving a massive wedge between “the venture-capital industry’s haves and have-nots.”