Using Lean StartUp As A Stepping-stone

By Peter Gjersoe, Lean StartUp Mentor


I believe you just know when you have a killer idea that lots of clients will love and happily pay for – if only they knew it existed.


This article will make life easier for early stage product developers and startups.

Why? Because I have been involved with seven product developments, and it almost killed me. I would like you to avoid the pitfalls and benefit from what I have learned.


You are probably aware that nine in ten new products fail to meet expectations. I am going to show you how to make ‘The Solution Canvas’ your new best friend to maximise your chance of success while protecting your downside.


Let’s start with what type of product, or solution, you could work on.

In his excellent book “From Zero to One” Peter Thiel introduces two very different kinds of product developments:

“From Zero to One”: Developing solutions where none exist today. An example is ‘delivering electricity without wires’

The second option represents 99% of all developments: “From One to N’. This means creating solutions that are enhancements or improvements on already known solutions, i.e. developing a faster, easier and cheaper solution to delivering products from manufacturer to the consumer’s door.


If you are working on your first product, I strongly recommend you consider “From One to N” developments, which The Solution Canvas is ideally suited to help you with.


While our world needs many more “From Zero to One” breakthroughs, unless you have a number of successful developments behind you, you are unlikely to raise the finance, attract the co-creators and goodwill required to successfully undertake the massive change in consumer behaviour required to make your solution a success.


If you feel concerned that by taking a ‘One to N’ development path, you will not benefit from ‘First mover advantage’ please consider the following:

‘What do Apple, Toyota and Google have in common?’ Apart from being massive global brands, they are all Fast Followers.

They have worked out that being a pioneer, bringing new concepts to market hoping to grasp a first mover advantage, is seldom a good idea. Pioneers risk the traditional definition; they are easily recognised by the arrows in their back.

It is much safer and provides a longer-term viable option to find something proven you can further improve and enhance and thereby make it yours.


One of the most common recommendations for people starting out is: “You must know your Ideal Client, and what their buying habits are.”

That is not entirely correct.

Reality is when you start out with your new idea; your Ideal Client is anybody who is willing to pay for it.

The answer to ‘Who is your Ideal Client?’ can never be known in advance. That knowledge you will only gain once clients have purchased your solution, and you can ask them why they bought it.


So, how do you minimise the risks of wasting your resources chasing dreams instead of real opportunities?


Let me introduce you to the Solution Canvas: The Canvas is a single piece of paper with nine blocks that will give you Structure.

Structure to:

– Make it easier to explain your vision and concept

– Maximise the probability of you developing a winning solution

– Protect you against making obvious mistakes

– Attract co-creators

– Attract finance

– Attract Joint Ventures

– Keep your project on track, and

– Provide ongoing updates to stakeholders


Quick background to ‘The Canvas”: In 2011 Eric Reis ( released his revolutionary book “The Lean StartUp” ( The book is based on Eric’s personal experience building successful businesses in Silicon Valley and includes teachings from Toyota’s Lean program. Many people have subsequently joined and enriched the movement, of specific note: Steve Blank (, Alex Osterwalder ( and Ash Maurya ( Especially the last two, Alex Osterwalder and Ash Maurya, have spent a lot of time developing business models using the Canvas concept.

Since 2011 Lean StartUp has become an integrated part for StartUps, Universities as well as the largest organisations, GE and Intuit are two major businesses using Lean StartUp saving them millions while helping to create better solutions.


While getting your first successful product to market will take time, may even take years, you should never lose sight of your final objective. Once you have followed the steps outlined and delivered a successful product: “What could you do next?”

You are unique. You have achieved something very few achieve, you are one amongst many that has started, and you have successfully finished.


You now have a choice: If you have done something once, you can do it again, and again. This is a very good way to generate income and reputation. You now have a ‘secret source’ for developing solutions and bringing people with you. You may want to step up and take on the real big challenges.


As mentioned earlier, our world needs many more ‘Zero to One’ breakthroughs if we are going to meet even the near-term demands for many items starting with electricity, clean water and food. You may have the answers, and you know you can overcome incredible odds.


When you are ready to take advantage of Lean StartUp Mentoring’s Canvas, you can download your free copy at

and an easy to following instructions on how-to fill in canvas: “Working The Canvas”.


This may look overwhelming to start with, so I would like to make you the following offer: A free webinar where I will go through the structure and background as well as give you the opportunity to ask questions which hopefully will make this easier for you. If you are interested, please send your details including where you live so I can set a best suitable time to


I hope the article has been of use to you, and I wish you the very best success.


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