I introduced Eric Ries’ Lean Start-up ideas to my undergraduate entrepreneurship students on Monday night. (Clearly Ries is not in any entrepreneurship texts at this point).
We completed an exercise taking their ‘big’ ideas for their class business plans and come up with 3 Minimum Viable Products in less than 3 weeks and for less than $5,000. Moreover, they had to have metrics they planned to measure and assumptions they were to test. It was a productive exercise, opening their eyes to the assumptions they were making and potential crude products/services they could create to test those assumptions. (I have received positive reviews on both the topic and the exercise and will bring more of it into class this semester)
Kauffman Foundation’s Carl Schramm recently wrote on the importance of innovation and ideas to sustainable economic growth and he references Ries directly. From Schramm at Forbes.com:
Yet, at the same as we have all been pursuing learning for entrepreneurs, it isn’t clear that we have reaped much learning as to what exactly constitutes good or effective entrepreneurship education. Part of the reason for the continued proliferation of different methods is that no one really knows what works or doesn’t.
Now, in some ways this stems from the nature of entrepreneurship itself—it is a slippery phenomenon and each entrepreneurial story differs one to the next. One would expect, however, that there are some common elements or practices that might be generalizable.
This, in fact, is precisely what entrepreneur Eric Ries argues in his outstanding new book, The Lean Startup. Ries, who is now an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School and authors the blog, “Startup Lessons Learned,” makes the case that everything we thought we knew about teaching entrepreneurship and advising start-ups is mostly incorrect because the management models we use are inadequate.
I am in the midst of finishing Ries, but am very impressed so far as it speaks to my experiences at multiple start-ups; Tunes.com (RollingStone.com), Machineweb.com, and FamilyFantasySports.com.
As mentioned above, I have begun to ‘experiment’ quickly with sharing Lean Start-Up with my students in order to find its value. I am now spreading the idea (having sent an email yesterday to entrepreneurship leaders at George Mason University).
What do you think of Ries and his Lean Start-Up ideas? Is your university or college working with them?