LLV Inaugural Demo Day - 5 exciting companies

On June 26th, five CT-based startups presented to a who's who of the CT entrepreneurial community at our inaugural demo day.  They were Sobrio, Carebooker, TestMyPitch, GraviKey, and High School Talent Battles. You can watch their presentations here: http://vimeo.com/llventures/videos. For more info, check out our portfolio page for background and links to each company: http:llventures.co/portfolio. 


Lean Launch Ventures has a new home...

We are very excited to announce we're co-locating at the Westport, CT offices of Canaan Partners.  We look forward to sharing deal flow, industry information, and tech community building activities with Canaan.  Co-locating will also enable new opportunities for our accelerator companies as well as the Canaan portfolio.


Long Live Lean...

Ongoing and frequent validation of ideas to ensure what you want to build is what people want just makes sense.

When Bob Dorf introduced me to Eric Ries at a conference in Boston a few years ago, the language of Lean resonated and brought into focus what I had been doing for years.  In reading early drafts of the Startup Owners manual, I quickly grasped the power of what they were teaching and I'd learned during my career.  I had in fact been practicing much of what is currently being advocated by Steve Blank, Bob Dorf, Eric Reis and many others. What was missing, is the common terminology to communicate the objectives.

When I was at Microsoft, the industry joke was Microsoft didn't get products right till the 3rd version.  In effect, what Microsoft was doing was Lean. V1 had enough functionality to be useful.  Planning for V1 products were bound by the understanding V2 would be better and V3 would improve on V2.  In the early days of shrink wrapped software, the iteration cycles were more expensive and substantially longer than the rapid pace of today's internet development.  Today, with very little cost and limited amounts of time, startups as well as large enterprises can produce a minimal viable product (MVP) to get early and frequent feedback from all audience segments. 

The Lean movement has been building for a long time. The language of Lean has now gained sufficient critial mass for a broad array of people, projects, organizations and businesses to benefit from a more efficient use of resources. The common terminology enhances comunication to produce innovation and important results more quickly than achieved previously.


The Meaning of Lean...

Its been said, Lean is just a fad suggesting people do not have to learn what it means to be ‘lean’. Granted over the years methodologies have come on gone (see post Lean is Easy, After it's Not), the notion of Lean has staying power. Lean thinking is quite simply applying the scientific method to life.

What is Lean? It’s the process of obtaining ongoing frequent incremental verification of ideas combined with efficient resource allocation applied in a specific context. In other words, it can help with just about any problem you want to solve. You could be building a startup and looking for the business model your customers will embrace or facing one of life’s great challenges and not sure how to proceed. Being lean is a way of breaking down larger complex problems into smaller chunks that can each be tested to determine how best to deal it before committing enormous resources to the big problem.

Being lean is a state of mind. Recognize the limitations of your own insights and the need to seek external feedback.


On Being Lean...

Lean Is Easy, After It’s Not…

Once you have the answer to a difficult problem, you often wonder why you didn’t see the solution so much sooner. After learning to be "lean,” you are likely to wonder the same thing. The lean methodology, which facilitates early market experimentation, has its roots in manufacturing, process efficiency and earlier times in the digital world. 

In the era of room-filling mainframes, expensive cycle times and long compilations forced programmers to think through every permutation of what the user or businesses might possibly ever need before submitting the program. Programs had to be right the first time, or at least have minimal iterations.

The rise of the PC changed how systems were conceived and constructed by making computing time effectively free. Iterative incremental development became the favored development approach. Waterfall methodologies gave way to rapid application development. The introduction of the graphical user interface made programmers focus on quickly developing the screens, panels and windows users interacted with to get feedback frequently, before the system was completed. In this era, distribution was the bottleneck: shipping shrink-wrapped software was expensive and time consuming.

Now is the time to be lean. Planning methodologies provide a vocabulary for communications. Synchronizing business planning with technical implementation is critical. Much has been written about “Internet time” and the blink of an eye in which new ideas, concepts and even whole businesses can be created. The lean method captures the power of today’s computing capabilities and combines it with the drive for new innovation – business, technical and social. The lean approach to innovation became popular among startups, but it has just as much applicability across a range of company sizes, types and industries. To paraphrase Beth Comstock, CMO at GE, “Lean applies to jet engines as much as any other part of the business.” Today, it’s easy, cheap and quick to make minimum viable products (MVPs) available to customers to get their direct feedback as often as needed.

Lean methodologies facilitate communications and provide a means for validating, measuring and tracking market acceptability of new ideas. More and more people are pursuing innovative endeavors, creating a hypercompetitive marketplace. At the heart of being lean is the ability to rapidly test new hypotheses (guesses) about what your customer might want and be willing to pay for. 

At Lean Launch Ventures, we help startups, growth companies and large enterprises learn to think and act lean. Being lean is as much a culture as a methodology. We bring the collective experience of our founders and mentors to help find unobvious ways to innovation and clear business results. We are actively seeking applications from dynamic startups for the spring class. Interested companies can apply here: http://www.f6s.com/leanlaunchventuresspring2013. Growth and larger enterprises interested in outside input to innovation efforts can send inquires to info@LLVentures.co.