Altabel Group's Blog

Archive for July 2010

For years, startups and their founders first built their products, and only then searched for their markets and prayed for the best. But if you want to build a successful business, then it is now the right time to learn about the Lean Startup approach.

The Lean Startup has evolved into a movement that is having a significant impact on how companies are built, funded and scaled. As with any new idea, with popularity come multiple interpretations.

I’d like to clarify this concept for myself and therefore decided to ask LI members about it. Below you may find the answers that I found most interesting and useful.

“We are exploring lean startup approach in my team for our business incubation project. So far this approach sounds very exciting and promising. In my opinion the biggest challenge we have at this point is finding customers to continuously validate our ideas regarding product functionality. But I think different teams will have different challenges. For example, one of the prerequisites of running lean startup is having appropriate “agile” development process in place. Many teams are not prepared to release new version of their product/application weekly or ever daily. I don’t think lean startup approach is about saving money. It applies very well to both funded and bootstrapped organizations. Also lean startup approach doesn’t mean that it will take longer to launch, I think it actually means the opposite. The idea here is to reduce waste, and don’t do things you are not confident you have to do.”
Andrew M.
Lead Engineer at PARC

“All startups are “lean” by their nature. The trick is keeping them lean.”
Darren S.
V.P. of Engineering

“I shall make a slight correction to Darren’s statement – all *successful* startups are lean by nature. You are always looking to maximize the chances of success while minimizing resources at risk; to find a way of delivering what enough customers would find valuable, in a timescale that gives fair return on investment. Using Lean approaches and thinking does two things for you; it increases the chances of success, and it can help you to decide to fail sooner than you might otherwise have done. Andrew’s comments about ‘agile’ are pertinent if your product is software; on the other hand I don’t like putting as much emphasis on reducing waste as he does. The three goals in order of priority are 1/ deliver value; 2/ enable flow; and only then, 3/ reduce waste….As the agile folk say, “try the simplest thing that could possibly work”. Even though sometimes it doesn’t work, it’s good enough often enough to be a winning strategy.”
Paul O.
Capgemini

“Most all start-ups are lean. Fat ones tend to spend money and never get around to starting up.
Staying lean is a great goal – as long as you don’t strangle the company’s growth by focusing on leanness over more important business issues.”
Sigmund F.
CTO at Catalina Payment Systems

“Most “successful” startups start and remain lean (not only in software development terms), at least until they reach the growth phase. There is a lot of debate going on about startup funding vs efficiency. I have experienced both worlds of funded and bootstrapped and unless the management team is very experienced and already had a business failure because of bad management of the “fat”, it is much more efficient to start lean and stay lean until you´ve proven a profitable and scalable business model. Once you need to accelerate it becomes a different story.”
Christophe P.

“The lean startup approach is like any other approach to business management in that it makes sense in some instances but not in others. In this case the lean approach to a startup only works if your innovation will support rapid deployments and subsequent gathering of customer feedback. Really good examples of success using this model are in smart phone apps and casual games. Using existing popular distribution sources (i.e.: app stores and game portals) producers can quickly distribute and collect feedback from a large existing and often knowledgeable customer base. New offerings or updates can be just as quickly launched and the older ones removed.
Now contrast this company with one marketing new embedded chip software for RFID tags. The embedded software company cannot be as reactive as it must deal with the costs of prototype manufacturing, distribution, and customer adoption in trials. The lean startup approach may not be the best strategy for them.”
Curtis S.

“Lean, as in the American add-an-expert equivalent of the Toyota Production System (TPS), doesn’t carry that much for extra features into a startup. A startup should be entrepreneurial (entre) and the entre pattern matches a good agile development pattern. A good entre/agile team is mostly relatively collegial for good information sharing, not so much the refining inject-the-expert that lean follows. TPS gets a million new ideas a year from the factory floor up, and that is a good entre success pattern. ‘Lean’ as a term sells better than TPS or agile. I much prefer to suggest that a good agile/entre startup creates almost accidental design thinking & doing cycle that spirals towards success.”
Vic W.
Growth spurts for People Teams Orgs. Agile Entrepreneur

“Would like to add that being lean should not be your key driver in a start up, it’s far more important to be agile/flexible and responsive as you change your product/service to mesh with emerging and probably changing product design & market needs. This is called “making it up as we go along”, and is very typical of many startups, and there is nothing wrong with this in a startup, actually it’s quite desirable. Shouldn’t your key drivers be market and customer needs?
No point being lean if you are making the wrong thing!
Edward B.

What’s your point of view on this topic?

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
http://www.altabel.com

We’ve all had plenty of time to digest the iPad and all its magical wonders ;) I would like to share a few things I’ve discovered about the iPad and I hope you also have something to add in your comments to this discussion.

So, let’s start with iPad’s good features:

1. Look and Design of iPad: I like the way it looks.

2. The iPad is a great as an e-reader. It’s easy to find books on any of various stores available to you – Kindle, Nook, and iBooks – and the screen is clear, bright, and eminently readable. It’s comfortable to take it on the train or plane – just get a case and hold it in one hand.

3. It is great for games. The iPad games made specifically for the iPad are great!

4. It is a good alternative to netbook .

5. It is excellent for watching movies.

6. It is a real catch for photographers. A vivid LED-backlit IPS display makes viewing photos on iPad extraordinary.

7. It is good fun for kids – but be careful ;)

8. It is a primary gadget when travelling. If you’re going to a meeting in another city or country and you don’t need to run much of anything except email, a little note-taking, and some movie watching, take the iPad. You can do all of this – and more.

9. The Green Element: iPad is far more environmentally friendly.

Now for some bad news:

1. Keyboard and Writing: Because of its sheer size one cannot use the type pad in the same way as on iPhone. With iPad you would need to have a sort of back support to be able to type at an acceptable speed. Either you put it on your lap or use the dock to hook it up with the keyboard accessory. So the plain fact is that it’s not the best device for writing long documents.

2. No Multitasking.

3. Camera – less iPad: Coming back to the things iPad does not have. Camera tops the list. I cannot think of any reason why Apple didn’t add a front and a back camera to the tablet. This device is primarily for personal entertainment and multimedia use.

That’s all about Apple’s iPad.

Do you have anything to add?

Best Regards,
Kristina Kozlova
http://www.altabel.com

Smartphones have become like clothes or cars: people now select these gadgets as part of their self-expression in order to portray to the world the self-image they want.

Like: [A BlackBerry says that you’re likely a corporate professional. An iPhone says that you’re more of an intellectual. An Android phone says that you’re probably a bit of a technophile. A Nokia device says that you’ve got European sensibilities. A Windows Mobile or Palm phone can mean that you’ve been in tech for a long time and you’re loyal to the more traditional brands.]

Nowadays it’s easy to parallel smartphones with cars. Both categories have a personal connection with their owners, also it’s an interesting comparison as far as both markets have a lot of diversity in terms of brands, style, and functionality.

To state a couple of examples there is TOP5 below:

If these smartphones were cars…then

1. Apple iPhone 4 = Jaguar

2. Apple iPhone 3G/3GS = BMW

3. Google Nexus One = Lexus

4. Motorola Droid X = Cadillac Escalade

5. Motorola Droid = Ford Fusion Hybrid

The rest of the list with cute photos you may see at http://content.techrepublic.com.com/2346-13416_11-443189-1.html?tag=content;leftCol.

I just enjoyed looking through the gallery and the notes. Hope you will have fun too :)

You know I have posted this as a question to LI folks and have already got some comments – http://www.linkedin.com/answers?viewQuestion=&questionID=699551&askerID=44480881. Those guys are mostly Europeans. But also I’ve received an interesting comment from one originally  American guy  – here is a citation:

[also... the comparison to cars... in many markets, the difference is that many times the choice of phones available is determined by the mobile operator and the cost of the phone is subsidized by them, based on the subscribers plan. so, in many cases, the subscriber is choosing the type of plan they want, based upon the type of activities they perform (email, web, apps, etc.). so, this would be like buying your car at a petrol station, and choosing which car to buy based on the type of fuel you'd like to use and the amount of fuel you expect to consume per year... and having the petrol company pay for half your car]

So, this point is true but mostly for American smartphone users.

And what’s your point of view? Welcome to share it here.

Helen
Altabel Group
www.altabel.com

As per the post of Reena Jana in Bloomberg Business Businessweek, a recent survey developed for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy by researchers at New York University’s Stern School of Business and NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development suggests that successful entrepreneurs can be taught and aren’t merely born with a start-up gene, like Harvard dropouts Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

The study of 5,618 respondents finishing or holding business degrees from five Northeast US schools found that there is a correlation between taking classes on entrepreneurship and forming a company with original ideas, as defined by obtaining patents, copyrights, and creating new production techniques.

For instance, 39% of respondents who studied entrepreneurship founded a company, versus only 26% who didn’t formally study the topic. Eighty-six percent of those who said their firms offered new products studied entrepreneurship, but only 18% of those who launched inventive goods said they didn’t study the subject. Among patent or copyright holders, 75% studied entrepreneurship, but only 10% learned on the job. And 62% of those who said their firms use new production techniques said they took a course in entrepreneurship, versus 28% who didn’t.

“With the unemployment rate at nearly 10%, future jobs will have to come from start-ups,” says Chad Moutray, chief economist at the SBA’s Office of Advocacy. “Education could have an impact on creating innovative new businesses.” The study will continue in 2010 with surveys of business students in additional U.S. regions, as well as China, Asia, and the Middle East.

Of course, the question arises: Do those people who are naturally inclined to be start-up owners gravitate to classes on entrepreneurship? It’s hard to tell. And the survey’s authors acknowledge that “those involved in entrepreneurship may have been more likely to complete the survey, as a result of their interest in the subject matter.”

I wonder what your opinion is on the question raised.

Regards,
Natalliya Beliayeva
Altabel Group – professional software development


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