Application of Lean to a Hardware Startup

Today the majority (±70%) of startups are pure software plays or commonly referred to as “technology” startups. Of these startups maybe 30% are successful.

Many different perspectives have been developed on the keys to a successful startup. One of the more popular ones is the application of “lean” to the process of creating a viable business. Eric Ries does a great job of describing this in his book The Lean Startup. Ries principally focused on technology startups in his book.

While at the 2012 Bend Venture Conference in Bend, Oregon, Janice Fraser, of Luxr, and I talked about the difference in how a technology startup and a hardware startup applies lean.

This year at the Bend Venture Conference we talked again and she shared somewhat of an epiphany about our conversation last year.

Paraphrasing, she said successful hardware/manufacturing startups have been practicing lean well before technology startups. My spin on this is without being lean it is a given that a hardware startup will fail. Successful hardware startups require building a supply chain of materials. If the supply chain is not lean enough it will absorb too much cash and starve other critical dimensions of a startup. Technology startups do not need materials.

Moral of the story: GENERALLY SPEAKING, technology startups can get by with “less lean” than a hardware startup and still survive as a result

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