Lean Startup

10.11.2020 | Ideas & Models

A currently popular approach to generating business ideas is the lean- startup method developed by Eric Ries. [1] The term “lean” is borrowed from the principle of lean management, i.e. the approaches and methods to design efficiently the entire value chain of industrial goods. This points to the objective of this method, which is to design a good or service and bring it to the market as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. From the feedback of the first customers, conclusions can then be drawn for further product development. In this way, a product is to be created to satisfy the needs of the customers on the one hand and economically viable for the entrepreneur on the other hand.

Develop – Measure – Learn

The lean startup consists of the following elements: build- measure- learn.

The starting point is the development of an idea based on hypotheses that the entrepreneur assumes will help to solve the problem of the target group. On this basis, a product is developed (build) and made available to potential customers. Their reactions are collected and evaluated (measure). With the data obtained, the assumptions made are checked and lessons are learned from the results (learn).

The determined findings are implemented and the new version of the product is launched on the market. In this way, feedback can be obtained from the users in order to once again uncover potential for improvement. In this way, a cycle is created in which the wishes and needs of a target group can ultimately be identified and satisfied with a suitable offer.

Minimum viable product

An essential component of the lean startup method is the so-called minimum viable product (MVP). This is a prototype which must have the key features of the final product in order to obtain meaningful feedback from the first users. Behind it, the potential must be recognizable to them so that they can actively participate in the product design in the form of criticism and suggestions for improvement.

Convertible data

Another important element of the lean startup method is actionable metrics. These are metrics that indicate which actions should actually be performed. These markers have to be defined and determined individually for each product, which is often not easy, since marketable metrics, such as the number of website visits, are usually not helpful.


Convertible data for a product can be determined with the so-called split test. Two customer groups are formed for this purpose. One group receives the product that has already been changed in order to try it out in advance, the other group continues to use the existing product (or the MVP). By comparing the feedback from both groups, it is possible to determine how the innovation affects user behavior and to what extent it makes sense. If the innovation generates positive feedback, it can be released and finally implemented.

Change of direction

In lean start-up, the willingness to abandon one’s own hypotheses due to the learning effects of customer feedback and to take a new direction in the design of the product (“pivot”) plays a major role. After all, it is crucial for the success of a product not only to check and validate existing assumptions but also to postulate new hypotheses based on the results, which in turn are tested for their potential in the market.

[1] Vgl. Ries (2014).