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Book Recap: The Lean Startup Chapter 4 – Experiment

If you cannot fail, you cannot learn.

Eric Ries
The Learn Startup

Experiment

Startups are often struggling to answer these questions:
What should we…?
How should we…?
Which should we…?
Should we…?

And if they answer the questions with “let’s just do it, and see what happens”, they will be guaranteed to succeed with the result of “seeing what happens”. They will be sure to not gain any long term value to their business, which would be the result of validated learning, named by Ries.

Ries concretizes validated learning as doing experiment scientifically – develop a hypothesis, and then test it. More importantly, in a smaller scale. Ries shows five stories of variate size and type of businesses that conduct small scale experiments to start something new. Among all the stories, I like Zappos’ story the most. Here’s what happened.

Nick Swinmurn visioned a online store with a great selection of shoes. He started the experiment with the hypothesis that customers were willing and ready to shop shoes online. He then tested the hypothesis by going around the local shoe stores, and asking to take photos of their shoes to put on to the website, in exchange of buying the shoes at full price once a customer orders online. Till this day, Zappos’ shoe empire makes billions in revenue.

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