Rethink Lean Startup

Kasper René Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


Background This thesis strives to add new empirical research to the reasoning and critique of The Lean Startup. John Mullins & Randy Komisar (2009) and Eric Ries (2011) are the figures best known for having explicated the today well-known entrepreneurial tool, in testing business ideas as quickly and efficiently as possible, with the notion that plan A never holds. Scott Shane (Shane, 2009), Daniel McGinn (2012) and Peter Thiel (2014) must also be mentioned as key critics of the Lean Startup, in their reasoning that too many people are let into entrepreneurship whose work is not of benefit to society, and that real innovative value must come from those entrepreneurs who do not need to rely on a too-well-formulated tool as the Lean Startup, further stressing that ever new technologies and opportunities are (supposed to be) unique. This thesis’ overall purpose is to build upon previous research, and to tentatively investigate the field of Lean Startup applicability and startup success. Technological and innovative progress, “unknown unknowns”, real product-passion, and necessity entrepreneurship are central themes of this paper. Research Strategy In the research setting, bearing in mind the time constraints of the writing process, this thesis strives to function as a cross-sectional study, providing an interpreted ‘snap-shot’ of empirical evidence. Answers from 25 novice entrepreneurs from Copenhagen School of Entrepreneurship were collected through a rather extended survey-analysis in order to cope with the need to extend both the academic articles and general literature on startup success that until now mostly have been built on well-established companies having moved away from the core sense of being a nascent startup. This thesis is intended as a precursor to future, more extensive research. I believe that such extended research would need more longitudinal research-follow-ups in order to demonstrate more significant evidence. The research methodology used in this study, that takes form through an inductive grounded research, does in the meantime still find very interesting suggestions toward Lean Startup applicability. Results & Discussion The findings suggest – despite the general Lean consensus – that economic viability is not dependent on the Lean Startup methodology in startup formation and early development. Cases of economic viability are present in cases of both Lean startups and what is being recognised as gut-feeling-startups, not inclined toward continuous testing. A causal positive relationship is in the meantime suggested in startup cases of low product passion, low company relation, low innovative willingness and Lean Startup usage giving credit to Lean Startup advocates. A causal positive relationship is in the meantime also suggested in startup cases of high product passion, high innovative willingness and Lean Startup toolset de-selection, rejecting the Lean Startup methodology. Conclusion and Perspectives The findings make it inappropriate to regard the Lean Startup methodology as a stand-alone-tool and to further suggest pros and cons because of the different entrepreneurial contexts. The findings may in the mean- time indicate that the Lean Startup methodology has received rather too much attention relative its applicability and abilities. As this thesis functions only as a cross-sectional study, and thereby as a precursor to future research providing only a ‘snap-shot’ of reality, it is dependent on – and I would encourage – the production of further research within the field. The results extend the literature on necessity and opportunity entrepreneurship, challenging the normal perception that necessity and opportunity entrepreneurs are two direct continuum opposites.

EducationsMSc in Management of Innovation and Business Development, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages203
SupervisorsJing Chen