The Lean Entrepreneur

April 2013

I just finished re-reading The Lean Entrepreneur.

It’s a great guide to lean product development and a useful read for entrepreneurs, startups, designers, product managers or anyone involved in the product development life cycle.


I started paying attention to lean principles when I was working with Sharethrough. Rob Fan and Dan Greenberg backed the thinking, and Eric Ries was an advisor to the company.

When I moved to Orange County I had the pleasure of meeting and talking product with Patrick Vlaskovits, who co-authored The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Customer Development, and is an active member of the Lean Startup scene.

The Lean Entrepreneur is Patrick’s latest book, co-authored with Brant Cooper.

The book

The Lean Entrepreneur is useful whether you’re seasoned in lean thinking or you’ve never heard of it.

There are great examples from real startups including Kissmetrics, Sharethrough, Hubspot, 500 Startups, TaskRabbit, and the book explains all the key terms, techniques and strategies you should know: life cycle adoption curve, pivot, vanity metric, product-market fit, MVP etc.

Anyone who runs a business, one day wants to run a business, is entrepreneurial, runs a team, is involved in product development, maker, starter, builder, someone that ships; you’ll find this book useful.

Minimum viable product

Being a big believer in MVPs, I’ve selected a few choice excerpts from a section on the topic.

You should be building out product features only if the following applies to you: You know. If you are still learning, you should not be building features; you should be building experiments (which may contain features). It’s an important distinction. … Think of your product as having an intrinsic feature threshold. This threshold maps to the pain or passion of your market segment; once that threshold is met and the pain is resolved, adding more features will not resolve more pain. Increasing stuff that doesn’t add value dilutes existing value. Period. … Your minimum viable product is comprised of the least amount of functionality necessary to solve a problem sufficiently such that your customer will engage with your product and even pay you for it, if that’s your revenue model. It will take more than one try. You’re not going to nail it the first time out. In fact, you’re never done. In today’s value-creation economy, there’s no such thing as done, which is why you might as well get your product in the hands of a few customers as soon as possible. You won’t learn what you’re missing or getting wrong until you let someone try and use it. Hence the minimum in MVP. … Releasing early to early adopters is the most efficient way to learn what’s required. Too much product hides the specific functionality that provides viability. The core functionality that provides value such that customers are satisfied because the product fulfils its promise forms the foundation of your future business.

Buy The Lean Entrepreneur on Amazon.

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