What is a Lean Startup?

Ruben Buijs
August 10, 2023


  • Dropbox: The founder of Dropbox, Drew Houston, started with a simple video explaining the product concept instead of investing in developing the entire product. This allowed him to test the market demand before spending valuable resources.
  • Airbnb: The founders of Airbnb started by renting out air mattresses in their apartment to test the idea of providing accommodations to travelers. This lean approach helped them validate the market and gather feedback before building a full-fledged platform.

Lean Startup is a methodology that aims to reduce waste and increase the chances of building a successful product by validating assumptions early in the product development process. It emphasizes a scientific approach to entrepreneurship, where hypotheses are tested and validated or invalidated through continuous experimentation.

How to use it:

  1. Build-Measure-Learn: The core principle of Lean Startup is to iterate quickly by following the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. Start by building the minimum viable product (MVP) that allows you to test your assumptions and gather feedback from real users. Measure the results and learn from them to inform the next iteration.
  2. Validated Learning: Focus on learning from the feedback received during the experimentation process. This helps you gain insights into customer needs, preferences, and behaviors, enabling you to make data-driven decisions and iterate your product accordingly.
  3. Pivot or Persevere: Based on the insights gained from the feedback loop, be open to making changes to your product, business model, or target audience. If the assumptions are invalidated, pivot and make necessary adjustments. If the feedback confirms your hypotheses, persevere and continue to refine and expand your product.

Useful Tips:

  • Start with a problem: Identify a significant pain point or problem faced by your target audience. This ensures you are building something that solves a real need.
  • Rapid experimentation: Conduct small-scale experiments to validate or invalidate your assumptions quickly. This helps you avoid wasting time and resources on ideas that may not work.
  • Continuous customer feedback: Actively seek feedback from your target customers throughout the product development process. This helps you understand their needs and preferences better.
  • Embrace failure: Failure is an inevitable part of the startup journey. Learn from failures and use them as opportunities to iterate and improve your product.

Related Terms:


What is Lean Startup?

Lean Startup is a methodology for developing businesses and products that aims to shorten product development cycles and rapidly test and iterate on ideas.

What are the key principles of Lean Startup?

The key principles of Lean Startup include validated learning, experimentation, minimum viable product (MVP), and the build-measure-learn feedback loop.

What is validated learning?

Validated learning is the process of gaining insights and knowledge through experiments and testing assumptions to validate or invalidate business ideas.

What is an MVP?

MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product. It is a basic version of a product that allows for testing assumptions and collecting feedback from early adopters.

What is the build-measure-learn feedback loop?

The build-measure-learn feedback loop is a continuous process of building a product, measuring its performance, and learning from the data to make informed decisions and iterate on the product.

How does Lean Startup help in reducing waste?

Lean Startup helps in reducing waste by focusing on validated learning and experimentation, which allows businesses to avoid spending time and resources on ideas that may not work.

What is the role of pivoting in Lean Startup?

Pivoting refers to the act of making a significant change in the product or business strategy based on the insights gained through experimentation and customer feedback.

How does Lean Startup encourage customer-centricity?

Lean Startup encourages customer-centricity by emphasizing the importance of understanding and meeting customer needs through continuous feedback and iteration.

What are some common challenges in implementing Lean Startup?

Common challenges in implementing Lean Startup include overcoming resistance to change, managing uncertainty, and effectively prioritizing experiments and learning.

Is Lean Startup only applicable to startups?

No, Lean Startup principles and methodologies can be applied to both startups and established companies looking to innovate and develop new products.