Resources

I often end up talking to entrepreneurs about the same topics and by now I have a list of resources and tools I trust and keep recommending so I've collected them here for easier consumption.

Consider it a work in progress as I'll be adding new stuff as I go.

Lean Startup

Books

You'll notice some of these books are somewhat dated and for a few the same authors have written new books, but in those cases I still feel the older one was more useful.

These are the three fundamental books you need to read if you want to understand and apply Lean Startup methodologies:

  1. Four steps to the epiphany, by Steve Blank - I think this is still the best explanation of customer development in its original form and a fundamental building block of any Lean Startup practitioner
  2. Running Lean, by Ash Maurya - still one of the most practical and actionable books on Lean Startup, one that after years I still reference.
  3. Lean Startup, by Eric Reis - good to get a better sense of what the movement is about, how it started, some whys and hows.

There are then five more, very important, building blocks for a successful application of the methodologies:

  1. Business Model Generation, by Alexander Osterwalder - great to understand how to build a business model that helps you figure the other pieces to build a business besides your product and your customers
  2. The Entrepreneur's guide to customer development by Brant Cooper and Patrick Vlaskovits - a great complement to Four steps to the epiphany.
  3. Lean Analytics, by Ben Yoskovits - a must have to understand metrics and how to go about measuring progress for your startup and find that one metric to focus on
  4. Interviewing Users, by Steve Portigal - a classic on user interviews goes both deep and wide laying down everything you need to know about this topic.
  5. The mom test, by Rob Fitzpatrick - this is a very practical take on it interviewing users and the perfect complement to Portigal's book

Online resources

In no particular order a list of blogs and other resources that have been particularly useful to me and keep pointing people to:

  • Lean Startup Circle wiki - this is my goto place for more resources once you've exhausted these ones :)
  • Lean Startup Circle meetups - there's many startup related meetups, but the ones organized by the LSC tend to be awesome and there's a chapter pretty much anywhere in the world (disclaimer, I am work with the LSC)
  • StartupIt UP - this is a rather comprehensive mix and match of a lot of things, but it gives a good overview of the phases of a startup. I do feel it mixes things too much at time so handle with care.
  • Google venture product design sprint - a good application of Design Thinking principles all packed up in a 5 days recipe for you to run with your team
  • From Idea to Business - Animated Series by Business Model Canvas people - playlist of 6 short videos explaining very well and in a simple way how to use the BMC and, through that, the basic concepts of validation core to Lean
  • Conducting Customer Discovery Interviews by Steve Blank, from one of the Next sessions, is probably the best hands on video I've seen to give you a feel of what customer interviews should look like and what kind of benefits you can get from them
  • 12 Tips for Early Customer Development Interviews (Revision 3)

Online courses

There's a bunch of really good courses out there, some paid some not (paid ones are marked with $$):

  • Stanford, Technology Entrepreneurship - this is a one of its kind online class on entrepreneurship. The material on the course is not strictly Lean Startup related, but close enough and definitely useful, not to mention that you'll be working in a team which makes it for something different.
  • How to Build a Startup by Steve Blank - very good complement to 4 steps to the Epiphany and other material on Customer development, it's basically one example from beginning to end so you can see the principles applied.
  • $$ Startup How-To: 7 Steps to Creating a Successful Product by Janice Fraser - last time I checked it was $179, but Udacity is giving out coupons all the time and the course is really good material, worth every penny if you're starting out
  • Entrepreneurship 101: Who is your customer? - You have an idea for a product, but do you know who will want to buy it? You will learn, through the stories of MIT entrepreneurs, how to go from idea or technology to the necessary understanding of who and why will want to buy your product.

Tools

Mix set of tools I use all the time:

  • A wall, sticky notes and sharpies - as trivial as it may sound it's still the best tool I have and the only thing I constantly use every single day
  • I do all my writing in markdown and have started using Mou, it's a great app to write without distractions
  • Xmind is what I use if I need to make a mind map, which is often. Free version is plenty for me
  • Trello is where I organize all my work and I've built a pretty slim and yet robust process around it. For me it's a good mix of simplicity and features and the mobile app works really well for me.
  • Lean Canvas by Ash Maurya, I actually prefer it to Osterwalder's Business Model Canvas even tho ultimately nothing beats a wall, sharpies and sticky notes for me.
  • Mailchimp for mailing lists etc, the service is dead easy and so far my experience with their support lines are of the highest quality even tho their documentation seems to be too much noob oriented leaving out more details than it'd be useful at times.
  • Mailinator, a disposable email, is also something I use pretty frequently and it has removed a lot of hassle in my email management. If you are like me you often register for something to try it out and then get stuck with their stuff that you can never fully unsubscribe from. Some domains have started blocking it, but you can generally get through with one of the alternative domains.
  • Google Analytics, especially given the free price point, remains the go to solution for analytics. It's not really great for any user behavior/session analysis, but it's good for looking at incoming traffic and can still do the job to model interactions.

Jobs to be done (JTBD)

I've been incorporating the jobs to be done methodology in my interviews with great results. Here's a few resources to get started.

  • Strategyn's official whitepaper on Outcome-Driven Innovation. You'll find a lot of familiar concepts if you are versed in Lean Startup so feel free to skim over, but it's a good paper to put in context the jobs to be done methodology.
  • A more practical article to put the JTBD into practice. Useful to see how you could start using it today in your interviews.
  • Another script to kickstart your jtdb interviews.
  • This is the template for a JTBD style interview

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