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9 Lean Startup Mistakes That Prevent You From Succeeding

The tech community started to talk about the concept of the lean startup in 2011, when Eric Ries adopted this method to startups and published it in his famous book with the same name. It is based on validated learning for developing businesses and products. 

Five years later in 2016, this concept is often being queried. Hundreds of startups fail and blame the lean methodology, new articles criticise Eric Ries’ approach almost every day. Entrepreneurs are looking for alternatives to make their business achieve higher results.

Is something wrong with the lean startup methodology?


Startuppers go lean as an excuse to launch an incomplete or low-quality product to start earning money as soon as possible. This is not the idea the most successful startups have followed.

Based on our experience with over 400 mobile applications and startups we’ve already developed in the last 5 years, we at THINKMOBILES gathered the most common mistakes to prevent your business from falling into the trap of the misunderstood lean startup methodology.

Learn what customers really want, not what they say they want or we think they should want. Eric Ries “The Lean Startup”

  1.  Fall in love with your hypothesis

You make assumptions to validate them, it means that some of them will not pass. Your hypothesis is based on your own experience and doesn’t always match the experience of the other users. Don’t let your own preferences cover the facts – if the assumptions didn’t pass the validation – change it.

  1. Interview the wrong people

Every product has a specific target audience. Asking people that don’t belong to it for feedback will distort your interview results and lead you to false conclusions about your product. Don’t chase the number of reviews, chase the quality.

  1. Asking wrong questions

Do not formulate questions that imply the answer you want to hear. On the stage of an interview, you have to collect objective opinions from your customers, even if you don’t like them. If users don’t need your product, you’d better find it out as soon as possible.

The only way to win is to learn faster than anyone else. Eric Ries, “The Lean Startup”

  1. Not being objective

If you like your assumption, it doesn’t automatically mean it’s true. If you don’t like an assumption, it doesn’t have to be false. Don’t be biased and give it a chance to pass the validation – you may be surprised.

  1. Confusing a problem and its solution

You must validate the problem first, not the solution. If you find out what problem your target audience has, you will be able to choose the best solution for that particular problem. If Henry Ford asked what people want, they would say “Faster horses”. This is how they saw the solution, mister Ford developed his own solution to the same problem – this is how the car was invented.

  1. Low-quality MVP

Developing a minimum viable product doesn’t mean developing some item neglecting its quality. Try to make your product as good as it can be spending as little time as possible. It’s better to develop one feature, that works perfect, that 10 features that are just tolerable enough.

  1. Maximum Viable Product

The main idea of the lean startup is to get the product as soon as possible to customers hands for validation. Some startuppers focus on developing the end version and spend too much time creating something isolated from their customers. Here comes the danger of great disappointment – the product might be great but not solving the real problems of the target audience.

Waiting too long to release can lead to ultimate waste: making something that nobody wants.
Eric Ries “The Lean Startup”

  1. Choosing a wrong core feature

If you decided to build an MVP with one core feature, don’t rely on your own preferences. Address your target audience with prototypes of different features and let the users choose which feature will be appreciated most. Getting such a feedback on early stages will prevent you from developing something your potential users don’t really need.

  1. Lean as a one-off action, not a continuous process

It is not enough to interview your target audience once to build a successful product. Interaction with customers is essential during the whole development process to create a product that the users really want.

The lean methodology may have its opponents and supporters, but one fact is clear: this approach helped hundreds of young dreamers to build successful startups and to win their audience. Our partners, for example, YoVivo and Mobstar launched early and developed into successful startups by interacting with their customers and continuously improving their services. 

Want your startup to succeed?

YoVivo was planned as a mobile cloud aggregator to allow you to access and store your  photos wherever they are and to share them via a range of social networks. They recognized the problem of the customers that often run out of memory on their devices and presented a simple solution for this. They then built on this platform with a the next feature, which allowed the users to create impressive music video slideshows by using images from any of these sources in sync with music which you can add from your library. The app started with one feature but did it perfectly. Step by step it became a complex application to store, design and share photos and slideshows with everyone via most popular social networks. Such a great job found its recognition – YoVivo became the best new app in 31 countries all over the world. Try it out, if you haven’t done it so far. 

Think big, start small, learn fast!

Will your startup become the next success story we will be writing about?