Side Effects of Lean Startup

As an investor on the hunt for startups that can someday be huge, I often feel overwhelmed by small ideas. Doing a startup has never been lower risk and lower cost but so many startups seem to pitch us ideas that are just small thinking.

SAAS for dry cleaners. (How much can you charge them? "Uh, I think $49 a month but they won't pay a nickel more!" How many dry cleaners are there in your city? "Uh.")

The "Find great beer deals tonight!" app. (For whom is this a big problem?)

These ideas that won't ever be big markets, aren't necessarily important to anyone or some combination thereof.

This feels all a side effect of the Lean Startup methodology. It tells founders to go interview customers and find out their problems. Then, propose solutions and validate those with interviews.

Then build and ship.

Voila! You have a business.

You can see the problem here? Customers knows their problems but they plain suck at imagining the future.

“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” -- attributed to Henry Ford (but he didn't really say it.)

Thinking bigger requires imagination. Yes, you have to build something that will be very important to many people now or in the future.

But, if you want to change the world with a startup (and I think you should especially if you're going to invest the next 3-5 years of your life on it), then imagine a bigger future and try to build it.

Michael Girdley