The Lean Startup Talk at Stanford E-Corner

Debunking Myths of Entrepreneurship A startup is not a "doll house" version of a larger enterprise.
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  • Lectures 9
  • Length 1.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 1/2010 English

Course Description

Debunking Myths of Entrepreneurship

A startup is not a "doll house" version of a larger enterprise. Its a human institution trying to start something new under extreme conditions of uncertainty, says author Eric Ries. Its not that some founders have better ideas than others, and this is what dictates success. What differentiates a successfully launched enterprise is one who can unearth the best ideas under duress - those who can find "the pivot"- the point of reinvention when they realize that their original ideas need retooling. And, more critically, that they can find their market before they run out of money.

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Curriculum

Section 1: Lectures
04:28
A startup is not a "doll house" version of a larger enterprise. It's a human institution trying to start something new under extreme conditions of uncertainty, says author Eric Ries. It's not that some founders have better ideas than others, and this is what dictates success. What differentiates a successfully launched enterprise is one who can unearth the best ideas under duress - those who can find "the pivot"- the point of reinvention when they realize that their original ideas need retooling. And, more critically, that they can find their market before they run out of money.
03:53
After five years of product build-out and $40 million of capital, author Eric Ries shares his personal story of monumental startup failure. The important distinction that he draws is not that his company failed to execute. To the contrary, all went strictly to plan, hiring the best talent, releasing a well-tested application, and garnering ample media and user attention. But the fledgling enterprise was a monumental disaster because of "shadow beliefs" - a uniformly-held series of ideas the company never discussed or articulated. Among them, they believed that they knew what customers wanted, they erroneously believed they could predict the future, and they took solace in the idea that plan advancement equals measurable progress.
04:13
After a very hi-profile startup failure, author Eric Ries and other co-founders launched a second startup product in just six months - with technically hazardous results. Rather than investing the resources necessary to craft quality software, they decided to switch tactics and release a buggy version quickly to determine if the product could find a market. Ries found that early adopters - often more visionary than the company founders - were a huge asset in streamlining product development. Working with them from the very early stages allowed for a better-engineered product and broader mainstream market success. Ries offers suggestion on how to find these initial users; often through search engine marketing and Google AdWords, StumbleUpon campaigns, and creative Facebook ads.
04:32
Author and entrepreneur Eric Ries unpacks the difference between waterfall and agile product development theories, and outlines when each are best employed. Waterfall - the linear path of product build-out - is best used when the problem and its solutions are well-understood. However, its hazard is that it can also lead to tremendous investment without guarantee of its success. Agile development, on the other hand, is a less-risky model of what can happen when the product changes with frequent user feedback and minimal waste. Without an authoritative solution clearly in sight, which is often the case of the startup, agile programming allows the growing enterprise to build-out quickly and correct itself often.
02:07
The largest source of waste in the startup, says author and entrepreneur Eric Ries, is building a product that no one will find useful. This is not a technical error, but rather a tactical one. Find out early if your product has merit by developing two teams in-house: One that works on problems uncovering who the customer is and what problems they are trying to solve, and one that focuses solely on the solutions for the current product hypothesis.
04:26
Author and entrepreneur Eric Ries stresses continuous deployment - that is, the updating of code and website changes as frequently as every twenty minutes - as a necessary asset to the functioning of a lean startup. He states that all online product development and engineering changes should be implemented slowly and with immediate testing for each small change. Working in small batches allows for the immediate catching of errors, quick team response, reduced implementation of resources, and more control and flexibility over the finished product. And along the way, human intervention also builds up the intelligence and capabilities of the in-house testing and deployment systems. Ries also offers specific applications and engineering functions to make continuous deployment possible.
03:25
In the successful build-out of a lean startup, entrepreneur and author Eric Ries suggests adapting the rules of creating the minimum viable product. Rather than getting the product "right"; or employing the "release early, release often" philosophy of soliciting customer feedback for product development, the road to minimum viable product fuses the two ideas. The challenge for the startup is to figure out the smallest amount of product features and capabilities necessary for release, and then to slowly add more functionality as needed. For most entrepreneurs, says Ries, that means that any product will be about one-eigth as robust as they would like it to be. Ship it skinny, and add more features later - if your early adopter customers even notice what they're doing without.
02:27
Understand and question deeply the root causes - i.e. the "human problems" - behind every technical mishap, else your startup will be hindered in its progress. So advises entrepreneur and author Eric Ries, who suggests a layered analysis of decisions and procedures behind every technical undertaking. Follow up these questions with a proportional investment in human resources to alleviate further technical problems.
58:03
Speaker, author, and entrepreneur Eric Ries shares rapid fire wisdom on building nimble, responsive, and efficient online software-based businesses. He also offers his wisdom on streamlining processes and progressing engineering systems, and puts forth front line insight into why some new ideas succeed where others have failed.

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Instructor Biography

Eric Ries, Author

Eric Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology and the author of the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned. He previously co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of IMVU. In 2007, BusinessWeek named Ries one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech and in 2009 he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership. He serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups, and has worked as a consultant to a number of startups, companies, and venture capital firms. In 2010, he became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School.

He is the co-author of several books including The Black Art of Java Game Programming (Waite Group Press, 1996). While an undergraduate at Yale University, he co-founded Catalyst Recruiting. Although Catalyst folded with the dot-com crash, Ries continued his entrepreneurial career as a Senior Software Engineer at There, leading efforts in agile software development and user-generated content.

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