Eric Reis is a celebrity in Silicon Valley and one of the driving forces behind the Lean Startup method. The method makes new businesses and their products successful very quickly. The thinking behind the ‘Lean Method’ is worth looking at because there are many misconceptions about it, and because it is becoming more and more popular.

In brief

The Lean method actually makes testing and speed an important point in the first phase of a new product or a new business. It means that you start out with a company or product that isn’t quite perfect, but by putting it on the market anyway you will quickly find out if there is a need for your product and how you can improve it.

After you put the innovation on the market , it is important that you test and adapt , listen to feedback and quickly modify your product again. This stage is called the " Build -Measure - Learn" method. On the basis of feedback and learning you adjust your product quickly and keep a close eye on what propels the engine.


There are plenty of misconceptions about the method by Eric Ries . It is often interpreted as an excuse to launch. However, the biggest problem with this is releasing a poor product much too early. The name certainly contributes to this problem. The ‘lean’in ‘Lean Startup’ refers to the widely accepted method to boost productivity and reduce failure. It certainly does not mean " just try something ."

The word ‘startup’ causes the same problem .It provides an insight into how a company should develop or how the product should evolve on the market, instead of specifying the product or company in too much detail. ‘Choose your method of brand awareness and think about whether it fits well with your company . Make sure you don’t choose a keyword, choose a brand name instead’

Is the lean method an option for larger companies ?

Innovation does not start in the mailroom of a company - instead it starts at the top . The problem is that many top managers are set in their ways and don’t have the vision and the guts to really innovate because there is too much to lose and the gains are not visible immediately. However, there are companies that embrace the Lean Startup method. Take General Electric and Toyota . These are companies where the management have innovated and used this method over the years.

What is it?

The lean method provides a structure and guidance for testing hypotheses. You make an assumption that you think works, and then you test it . You deconstruct a problem and see if it is worth the time and energy to solve so that before you make an investment you can see what is actually going on.

You should:

* Make sure there is innovation OR find out where the demand is, so you solve an existing problem

* Do this for a detailed group

* Find out if it would pay to solve the problem

* Find out whether there is a market for it. Is it a healthy product or company to put on the market

Success ?

The degree of success will depend on whether you are able to do the right things and give priority to the speed with which solutions are proposed, and the adaptability of these enterprises. Reducing waste and the extent to which stakeholders are aware of the method of working will ensure that it is a success.

Important instruments are ( i) data experiments which give insight into the intent of the group, the pricing of the group and the effectiveness of marketing channels. ( II ) Interviews and feedback with potential customers or audience. This provides insight into the major problems of the target group, the severity and what the solutions are.

In practice

With we try to work with this principle ourselves. We are now active in 21 countries and we understand each country's cultural differences. For example we know how to approach the different feedback and purchase behaviour in different countries. Spain and Belgium are very interesting markets for because between the two there are already huge differences. For example, where Spain attracts more visitors, the Belgian site has much faster conversion.

Belgian consumers are more focused on what they are looking for and they know what they want while our Spanish visitors come to our site to look around. In every country we start lean and from there we will try to analyse how we want to capture this market and what our next steps are based on data and feedback from visitors

If we are growing rapidly in a country then there is more manpower and more in-depth research. If it is slower then we try to adapt and find out what the problem is, because apparently then we are not good enough and we do not offer what the customer is looking for.

Want to learn more about the Lean Start Up ? Then you can order the book here . You will also find more information about the Lean Startup on

Jan Willem van Tilburg , Project Manager at Imbull and writes including for Belgian Cowboys and