BOOK REVIEW: THE LEAN STARTUP by ERIC RIES

Why do I choose this book?

I have attended the first online class of Law, Entrepreneur and Finance course under my Master’s in International Business Law program. My teacher introduced the book “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries to the class. To be honest, I did not know about this book before, so I googled this book. I found out that “The Lean Startup” was in the list of New York Times Bestsellers with good feedback and recommendation. I am curious about what makes it interesting, so I decided to read it.

What is this book about?

The author of the book is Eric Ries, an American entrepreneur and blogger. He once failed in starting his business back in the early 2000s, then he started to change his approach in order to be successful in the startup world. The new approach was Lean Startup. In the book, Eric shared what the Lean Startup is, which method he used, how to be successful with this new approach, giving examples of successful companies to evident his points. The main target he aimed was “to improve the success rate of new innovative products worldwide”.

What is my First Impression?

Going through the Introduction part of the book gave me the impression that this is not a motivational book where the author shared his success. It is a scientific book, where the author delivered a new concept of startup and explained what it is, how it works and why startups need this concept. He will use both his failure and success to prove the efficiency of the new concept, which I believe will be more impressive to readers.

What do I think about this book?

Overall, Eric is a fantastic storyteller. The whole book is well structured to look like a story. Inspired by the lean manufacturing process of Toyota Production System in Japan, Eric applied ideas, with specific changes, to solve his difficulties and challenges he faced when he formed his startup. The book brought a variety of examples that help readers to understand the theory better. The examples include both failure and success stories; each of them has a critical role in proving each part of the Lean Startup model. Eric focused, of course, majorly on which mistakes he and his team at IMVU made, how he dealt with struggles when he operated IMVU, and how he applied lean thinking to build a sustainable business of IMVU.

The Lean Startup model is indeed an effective way startup companies may think and apply for their operation, with several useful techniques that were described and explained adequately by Eric. Eric discussed five main principles throughout the entire book, which are: (i) Everyone is entrepreneurs; (ii) Entrepreneur is a kind of management; (iii) Validated learning; (iv) Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop; and (v) Innovation Accounting. Having said that, I will not discuss the methods of the Lean Startup approach that he mentioned in the book; just because I think it is better for those who have not read the book can read it without being spoiled (I don’t like spoilers and don’t want to be a spoiler). Each reader will read the book and understand the method with their mindset, which I think will be a more enjoyable experience. However, one point I take out from the book is that the Lean Startup is the orientation for startups to begin their lifetime, but how to apply it depends on each circumstance of each company. That’s why each people who reads it may have a different view, different understanding, and different ways to digest the theory.

If I have to choose which example is the most impressive, I will go for Food on the Table example. The pattern represented what Eric would like to deliver throughout the book, the MVP. This example showed the way entrepreneurs did to test their initial strategy, get feedback from customers, and develop the next steps based on what they learn from the customers. It is true that the MVP does not need to be perfect; the more important thing is that the entrepreneurs understand what their customers want and have knowledge of their customers’ behavior. This example also showed the difference between the approach of traditional strategy and the Lean Startup.

There is one minus point in this book. Although practical examples brought efficiency for the author to deliver his ideas, too many instances in one chapter may create negative impact. Because of having too many examples, I found a few parts in the middle of the book is not entirely engaging.

The book was indeed not a motivational story from the author. Instead, he presented the new approach to the success of a startup by explaining the concept clearly, together with giving convincing examples. Besides, the author also provided lessons that are not only helpful to startups but also to everyone, no matter who they are and what they do. The experience of failure and learning or the lesson of bypassing unnecessary and time-consuming work, for example, is one of many lessons we can find in the book and apply to most of the areas in our lives and our careers.

What is my Favorite quote(s)?

“Failure is a prerequisite to learning”

Do I recommend this book?

Based on what I read and what I think about the contents and the whole book, this book is Highly Recommended for everyone.

Let’s talk: Any review in this blog is entirely based on what I personally feels about the book in the first time I read the book. If you would like to discuss or give comments about the book and my review, which I would be highly appreciated, feel free to leave comments.

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