Three Lean Startup Principles to Live By

For the last few weeks I've been organizing a lean startup bootcamp for the TechBA program called "Build or Die!" It's been pretty much occupying all my time (that and StartupWeekend San Jose) and that's the reason I haven't been blogging.

It's been a great opportunity to pull together many of my favorite thinkers and hear points where they differ, but it's also been enlightening to hear where they agree. Here are three things that everyone said at one point or another including Patrick Vlaskovits, Brant Cooper, Tim McCoy, Stefan Klocek, Victor Reyes, Wee Yen, and Hiten Shah.

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Starting a StartupWeekend in 9 Days of Chaos

(IMPORTANT: Before you read this post, please click this and help spread the word about StartupWeekend San Jose April 15th-17th.)

For the past 7 days I've been working round the clock to organize and promote a StartupWeekend in San Jose. It start in two days. A ridiculous and ill advised timeline.

To be honest, I didn't think we were going to do it. I started getting in touch with the good folks at StartupWeekend late in the game with only a month and change to go and only managed to get someone on the phone with two weeks to go.

The suggested timeline for organizing a StartupWeekend is 3 months...but like they say...

If You're Going to Do Something, Go All the Way...

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I am not an Expert at Jumping the Lean Shark with a Pivot

In the past few weeks I've become increasingly concerned that lean startup is swiftly heading towards a point of self-referential self-promotion that is perhaps unavoidable, but is certainly undesirable.

While there has been no swarm of locusts as of yet and the current authors, consultants, and experts that I'm familiar with are in fact unbelievably talented individuals, there are some signs that alarm me.

I'll start with the worst offender ... me.

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How do you validate your startup idea with customers?

My favorite question to ask is usually the simplest one to verify. Ask a simple pain point question such as, "Do your feet hurt?"

If the customer doesn't start complaining for the next fifteen minutes, they don't have a pain point. The length of time a person will complain uninterrupted is a pretty good proxy for the amount of pain they're feeling.

Aside from that, I don't think there are any great one size fits all questions, but I would also tend to:

Ask how they solve the problem now Ask how much they'd pay you to manually solve the problem (concierge style) Ask if they can recommend someone else who has the problem

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Four Startups in Four Weeks Roundup – Startup Three

TooManyNinjas.com is admittedly a pet project. I really enjoyed startupSQUARE.com and I wanted to make a simpler, easier to maintain site so that I could keep up those connections and provide a valuable service.

Instead of just trying to replicate the parts of startupSQUARE that were successful, I decided to target one specific behavior which seems prevalent both on and off-line:

People need advice

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Four Startups in Four Weeks Roundup – Startups One and Two

It's a new year and it's time for a new plan. In December, I created four MVPs in order to practice thinking lean.

A number of people have since asked me, was it worth it? What did you learn? Wouldn't it have been better to just focus on one startup? What mistakes did you make?

Well...yes...lots...no...never schedule something as crazy as this during the holidays and definitely don't schedule a week of scuba diving during that.

Here's my analysis of the first two startups. I'll make separate posts for the others as there is a lot to go into:

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