Book Review: The Lean Startup

Eric Ries: “The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses”

Initially, I picked up this book because I am enthusiastic about Lean Management and had long been thinking about starting my own business. So naturally, I was curious about how Lean methodologies could be applied when founding a new company.

Eric Ries co-founded the social network company IMVU in 2004. He begins this book by summarizing several mistakes he and his founding team made when starting this company: Development cycles were too long, the company designed features that customers didn’t want and they were too slow to implement those features customers did want.

Based on this experience, he explains how they slowly discovered the Lean Startup method described in this book: demanding constant customer feedback, making sure a prototype or minimum viable product is available as soon as possible and implementing extremely short product development cycles.

The book was published in 2008, which is more than ten years ago by now.
In the meantime, concepts like Agile product development have become almost mainstream. As a consequence, the ideas introduced in “The Lean Startup” seem a little outdated today. They may have been novel at the time, but seem rather obvious when viewed from today’s perspective.

All in all, some ideas were intriguing, and I liked the author’s summary of his difficulties when founding a business. However, I admit that I didn’t finish the book. In the second half, it seems somewhat repetitive, and I felt like the author ran out of new ideas somewhere in the middle of the book. So summarizing, I would only give two out of five possible stars to “The Lean Startup” – while admitting it would probably have been a far more compelling read had I stumbled upon the book a little earlier.

Overall rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2/5)

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