Why Not Every Startup Can or Should be a “Lean Startup”

By: Leah Jones

“Don’t be in a rush to get big, be in a rush to have a great product.” – Eric Ries

Entrepreneurs often adapt startup methodologies down to the last detail without any validation of specifics to determine individual fit. The concept of the “Lean Startup” began with a book of the same title by entrepreneur Eric Ries. The Lean Startup philosophy centres on a scientific methodology for creating startups and quickly getting products in customers’ hands. The approach emphasises continuous testing throughout the development process to determine the validity of a product before too much time and money are invested; thisinforms the entrepreneur’s decision to “persevere or pivot”. Though this philosophy has become widely popular within Silicon Valley, American entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen warns entrepreneurs the approach is not for everyone. Andreessen’s interview with Gigaom reveals three pieces of advice for entrepreneurs ready to launch a startup:

Not All Startups Can be Lean Startups

The Lean Startup involves structuring your product around consumer feedback during product development, however Andreessen warns some ideas will not be understood or accepted without a completed product to demonstrate. Sometimes small scale does not work; “You got to get the rocket into space.”

It’s Not an Excuse to Skimp on Sales or Marketing

Some entrepreneurs focusing on the Lean Startup run with the philosophy that only the product itself matters, but Andreessen warns sales and marketing are still essential to gain investors; “it’s really hard to find a real-world example for someone who gets the money without taking this stuffseriously”

Don’t Become Obsessed With the Pivot

The “Pivot” is a concept within the Lean Startup that encourages entrepreneurs to change direction when necessary. However, Andreessen warns pivoting too often can lead to a “fetish for failure,” and claims it is more admirable for an entrepreneur to persist.

All methodologies like Lean offer much for startups to learn from, but there is no single approach appropriate for all businesses. For advice on which techniques are best for your startup, contact the RIC centre for access to sector-specific mentoring services and entrepreneur workshops.


Leah is completing her final year of the Visual Culture and Communications specialist program at the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College. She is interning at the RIC centre, bringing her experience in digital, print and website design. Leah is eager to begin a career in corporate communications after her graduation in June.

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal & professional experiences. Visit Altitude Accelerator for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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