Entrepreneurs know, the first months of launching a startup are a real uphill battle. To quickly test in an iterative way the product/market suitability of a new service, the Lean Startup approach is experiencing a growing success. Its motto: efficiency. Our team has integrated this methodology in the design of Mobapi, we’ll tell you more about it. 

What is Lean Startup?

The Lean Startup method was invented by Eric Ries in 2011. Ash Maurya is one of its main contributors. He put the theory into practice in his book Running Lean, which quickly became the bedside book of our CEO. From his own experiences and from those collected on his blog, he dissects the method step by step and illustrates with practical cases.

Starting from the observation that 9 out of 10 products fail and often their startup along with them, this method reduces the product development cycle by focusing on customer feedback. In this way it decreases the risk of failure and increases the creation of value.  

Lean Startup is a cycle that is built around learning from mistakes.

Build > Measure > Learn


The Lean Startup can be broken down into the following four basic principles:

  • Pitch Elevator: a concise promotional speech selling the product. The challenge: to be in an elevator with a prospect and take 3 minutes to convince him. We used the software mindnode to brainstormer on the ideas that we thought were essential to communicate.
  • Lean Canvas: an intuitive business plan that fits on a single sheet of paper. Details of its development below. 
  • Minimum Viable Product: version of your product/service with the minimum required functionality. It helps to redefine the essential features to assign to the product. By taking a step back from a vision (sometimes utopian) of a product, it allows you to test its features step-by-step and reduce the development costs of the first working model. 
  • Interviews: the customer is at the center of the product. To listen and understand his need is a priority. The interviews are used to obtain qualitative feedback and to be as responsive as possible to customers’ needs.

A Business Plan in 9 questions

The Lean Canvas makes it possible, in 9 questions, to have an overall vision of the product. It can be equated to a Business Plan. Below is the detail checklist for its development: 

Customers are not interested in your solutions, they are interested in their problems
– Dave McClure

1.1 Problem

The 3 main problems to solve that your customers encounter.

1.2 Existing alternatives

How are these problems solved?

2.1 Customer segments

Who are the customers and can they be segmented? What are their main characteristics?

2.2 Early adopters

Who will be the early adopters? The first who will use the product? 

3.1 Unique value proposition

How does the offer respond to the problems identified and how is it differentiated from existing alternatives?

3.2 High-level concept

Develop a short pitch, a slogan.

4. Solution

The 3 main solutions the product/service brings to customers. They must address the 3 problems to be resolved. 

5. Channels

What means of communication and distribution should be used?

6. Revenue streams

Where will the resources needed to develop the product come from?

7. Cost structure

What are the fixed and variable costs related to the launch and operation of the product? 

8. Key metrics

What are the key indicators to measure to check the health of a business? We used pirates metrics : Acquisition / Activation / Retention / Referral / Revenue.

9. Unfair advantage

What allows a product to stay ahead the competition? How do you protect it?

Our experience at Mobapi

We are still in a development phase of the Lean Startup approach, which has become our company’s DNA. Since the beginning of the project, the development and marketing teams were each progressing on their side. It was important to share our ideas to enable each to grasp Mobapi’s technical and economic challenges. The team then isolated themselves for 3 days in weekend team building in the Amazonian forest. Final goal, the achievement of the first Lean Canvas. To establish the link between the idea and the feasibility, to share a common vision, this is the greatest value of the Lean Startup method.

Back in the offices, we had to rework the marketing materials, the pitch and better prepare for the interviews to come. Our developers have been able to refine their roadmap of the beta version features and the Lean Canvas now gives way to an agile method for the implementation of the solution.

Thanks to the Lean Startup method, months of brainstorming have been clarified. This has enabled the team to refocus its objectives by asking the right questions. We minimize the investments and optimize the balance between the functionality to be delivered and the expectations of our users. The objective: to present an MVP at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2016.