The concept behind the lean startup is to start small: Begin with customers, develop a product that they like, and continually redevelop that product in order to work out the bugs and improve it, releasing it to a (hopefully) ever-widening audience over time. It was developed initially for Silicon Valley startups, and it is especially well suited to software companies, which, consciously or not, often use that model, releasing version after version until a product is done.
Customers are the most important part of this model. The lean startup relies upon a small group of customers who buy into the initial product and stick with it, spreading the word about it and fueling its future development. One of the benefits of starting small is that a company doesn’t have to spend as much money bringing a product to market, and if they can hook those initial customers and keep them coming back, they can rely upon a solid income with which to continue developing.
A recent guest article in Forbes states that even large companies can benefit from using the lean startup model.
Take the example of data giant Experian’s DataLabs division. This group, which regularly meets with its customers and spends its time determining what is causing them to be dissatisfied with its service. Once they find a product that seems like it would solve that problem, it builds a minimum viable solution, usually within 90 days of the initial complaint.
DataLabs Global Head Eric Haller says, “We regularly sit down with our clients and try to figure out what’s causing them agita, because we know that solving problems is what opens up enormous business opportunities for us.”
Lean startup techniques have served to deepen Experian’s relationships with its customers.
The core idea of lean startup is to start small and improve a product or service though successive iterations. The trick to using the lean startup model, whether your company is a startup or not, is to figure out how to do that. What ways can your business incrementally improve your product or service in order to capture a larger portion of the market and improve customer satisfaction?
How can the lean startup model work for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.