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Taking the lean approach to market

This is the 12th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

It’s fitting that we follow up last week’s post on the strategic value of marketing in its purest sense as a process for enabling customer validation and iterative product development with a definition of this thing called lean startup.

Strategic marketing is a fundamental aspect of the lean startup methodology, a methodology first defined by Eric Ries almost three years ago. And lean startup itself as a process for bringing technology to market warrants careful consideration by any entrepreneur in the socially enabled age of Web 2.0.

It’s fitting because just this month, Ries updated his definition of lean startup based on how the concept has evolved since it was first coined.

Ries defines lean “in the sense of low burn. Of course, many startups are capital efficient and generally frugal. But by taking advantage of open source, agile software, and iterative development, lean startups can operate with much less waste.”

He also defines lean startup as an application of lean thinking, which at its most basic is about maximizing the value you provide to your customers while minimizing waste in your organization. If it ain’t focused on delivering value to the customer, get rid of it.

Ries further defines a lean startup as one that is powered by these drivers:

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For the last time, they won’t come just because you’ve built it

This is the 11th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

“Companies that can’t clearly articulate their customer and market are not real serious companies, they are research projects … Engineering and marketing need to work together from the get go.”

We began this series a couple of months ago with this timeless quote from Band of Angels’ Ronald Weissman. It strikes to the heart of what all of us here take as gospel.

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Words of wisdom: Another look in the mirror

This is the 10th article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

As we have said before, entrepreneurs must have a vision that will stretch the boundaries of what they know and challenge what they believe is attainable. They must be willing to seek the outside counsel and feedback that will reveal the weaknesses in themselves, their teams, their technology and their paths to market. It’s difficult to overcome a weakness if you haven’t recognized and acknowledged it.

We conclude our Words of Wisdom string today by looking once again at the human factor and the right stuff that individual entrepreneurs and management teams need to succeed. There is no denying that the greatness of an organization is defined by its people. But how do you ensure that you are making the right hires?

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Words of wisdom: Some things change with time, others don’t

This is the ninth article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

There is a German proverb that states, “An old error is always more popular than a new truth.”

This is often evident in the business of getting technology to market, particularly among nascent entrepreneurs and startup management teams who are coming into the process of commercialization well-versed in the engineering of a product but not so much in the fundamentals of business planning, customer engagement and market development.

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Words of wisdom: What can you learn from a thunder lizard?

This is the eighth article in a continuing series that examines the state of the ecosystem necessary to successfully bring technology to market. Based on dozens of interviews with entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors, business leaders, academics, tech-transfer experts and policy makers, this series looks at what is working and what can be improved in the go-to-market ecosystem in the United States, Canada and Britain. We invite your feedback.

By Francis Moran and Leo Valiquette

“A startup is ultimately … not just about whether an idea or a product works, it is about whether or not you can create a business around it. Whether or not the ecosystem will support it, the customers will buy it, if the channels will support it, and if the manufacturers will actually create it. And because of that, we need to be able to test all these different facets of our business model, and do so quickly.”

This comes from someone Forbes calls “the most powerful woman in startups,” Ann Miura-Ko, co-founding partner with FLOODGATE. In October, she gave a lecture at Stanford University titled “Funding Thunder Lizard Entrepreneurs,” which is filled with so much insight we were tempted to just transcribe the whole damned thing and offer it up as a blog post of its own. However, her talk is available as a conveniently indexed webcast.

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