Brant Cooper, author of The Lean Entrepreneur was a speaker at the Fireside Chat event on the last day of Tampa Bay Startup Week Friday, February 6. His talk was full of great insight for people ready to build a startup. We took 4 key points from his speech to share with you.


“Don’t confuse the size of the vision with the size of the first step… The first step is a lot smaller than the change you want to make in the world.”

-Brant Cooper


Figure out what problem it is you’d like to solve

If you cannot articulate the solution for the problem you are trying to solve, you will fail. Figure out the solution, then what has to be true for your solution to work. Then figure out if your market segment would want to use that solution.You are looking for a narrow segment you can build your company around; find someone with the problem or passion you’re trying to address. You don’t need 1,000 customers, you only need one to start. Brant Cooper brought up the quote said to come from Henry Ford;  “If I had asked people that they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse.” Cooper feels the misconception that people don’t know what they want is absurd. You can’t ignore the customers problems/needs/wants and be successful. The closer you get to a new product, the less you can believe what they say about what they want. But you’re still solving the customer’s problem, without doing exactly what they say.  

Design thinking

In design thinking you develop customer empathy. It is very important to maintain a one-on-one connection with your customer or when researching your market. Group surveys can be useful, but most of the time do a bad job of showing you the individual customer’s needs. It places a big group into one market segment, which makes it harder to get to the core of a problem. Surveys also don’t give much of an option for independent thought. In most cases it gives you answers you can choose from, instead of letting you create your own. If you do choose the survey route, use it to find people you can later have a conversation with. Get to know your customer well enough to where you can see what a day in their life is like without your product. business deal

Optimize your company by providing a service or product around a known market

There should be more thought into launching your business than just throwing it out there and hoping for good-failing-and doing the same thing. Instead of just believing your product is going to work, you actually need to get out there and get your product to people and do your research. Startups need to search for what’s right before executing. You need to use data as evidence, not your opinion; work from the bottom up. Going out and getting this information in person is also extremely important. Forget social media! Get on the phone, call people and meet up. If you can’t do it in person, you can’t do it on a website. A Lean point of view means eliminating waste. It’s not about perpetual experimentation, at some point you take what you’ve learned and apply it.

Minimum viable product

These are the minimum features required to create value for your market segment. Ask yourself, what can I validate as far as customer behavior, without building the product. Always remember that viable is just as important as minimum. You can’t put up a terrible website as part of your “minimum” and expect to gain success; you want quality in everything you do. Figure out the minimum features required to fulfill the promise you make to your market segment about what you are going to solve.
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