Tokyo Startonomics: Eric Ries on Lean Startups

Eric’s blog:

Twitter: @ericries (tag with #leanstartup)

Presentation Notes:

  • Most startups fail catastrophically
  • How many startups have lived up to their employees, founders and investors?
  • Most startups that succeed turn out to be something totally different from the initial vision of the company
  • Difference between a successful startup and a failure is the number of iterations the company could afford before death / success
  • Eric’s new company – IMVU – bring avatars and digital goods to the USA


  • shipped in 6 months – a horribly buggy beta product
  • charged from day 1
  • Visionary Customers can be just as or more valuable to the business as the founders
    – must be in constant dialog with those visionary customers
    – those visionary customers live with the same pain that the founders did when they came up with the business idea
  • Iterate constantly.  IMVU pushes to production 50x per day
  • No PR, no launch
    – this way you only focus on what your customers think
  • 2007 revenues of $10mm, still growing nicely

Lean Startups Go Faster

  • Full-scale refactoring of how software is developed.
  • Commodity technology stack – easy, cheap: EC2, grid, cloud, etc etc
  • Customer Development (find out what customers want before you build it)
  • Agile (lean) product development (fast iterations)
    – Principles drawn from Lean Manufacturing and Toyota Production System
    – Where problem is known but solution is not
    – Meetings are waste, revising code is progress
  • Product development at a lean startup:
    – problem and solution both unknown
  • get rid of departments.  2 teams:  problem team, solution team
  • Problem team constantly asks what the problem is and is there a business here if we can solve it?
  • Solution team constantly asks what the problem is and if the product is sufficiently solving it (constantly iterate)
  • The biggest source of waste in any startup is building something nobody wants.


Disclaimer (AJ):  My notes don’t do Eric’s presentation or concepts justice.  Please watch Eric’s recorded presentations and look at his actual slides.

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