What is a Lean Startup?

The Lean Startup is a set of principles on how to launch a business quickly using the least amount of resources possible. Its methodologies center around measuring your customers' needs and responses to your business, and then incorporating their feedback into your growth.
Launched and guided by Eric Ries, the Lean Startup movement began as a reaction to the classic business practice of spending lots of time and money developing a product, only to find out after launch that customers didn't want, need or like it. As a senior software engineer at There, Inc., Ries witnessed the company spend five years and much of $40 Million in funding to launch There.com. The product didn't take off, and the company of almost 200 employees was eventually forced to close its doors. According to Ries, the most important mistake was that the vision of the founders was not in line with the needs of the consumers.

The idea has multiple benefits, including:

  • Minimizing funding requirements
  • Opportunities to acquire feedback from customers and incorporate it into your growth
  • Maintaining a nimble structure while adapting to rapidly changing markets

As Fast Company wrote, "lean" is "less about how to make startups more successful and entrepreneurs richer than it is a fundamental reexamination of how to work in our complicated, faster-moving world."