What is the lean Startup? | INCAE

What is the lean Startup?

December 11 2017
INCAE Masters

The first fear that arises when undertaking is failure. It is valid to feel it, especially in a country like ours, where access to financing is limited and the market is uncertain.

It has always been said that "he who risks does not win", but risking is not synonymous with making unfounded decisions. In recent years, read Startup It has become fashionable, it must be clear that it does not guarantee success, but it can help make failure cheaper.


This methodology aims to find a business model that works, while avoiding unnecessary expenses of time, money and work. It was born from the need to avoid investing too much money in a product or service that is not in demand.

Starting point:  You start by answering this question, "Am I solving a real problem for someone?" Well, many times we think we have a great idea, but there may not be a real need behind it.

Second step: the next question is, "would people pay for the solution I'm going to create?"

Logic of the methodology: our idea is a hypothesis and on it we design an investigation on the product or service to offer. A process known as "agile" is followed:

1. The idea: which is born from the entrepreneur himself.

2. Product: from there a product or service is designed, which is an initial version.

3. Measurement: potential customers are spoken to and whether the response is acceptance or rejection is measured.

4. Learning: after feedback, it is defined if we are on the right track or if we are wrong, so we can rethink the idea and change the course of the strategy if necessary.


It is a business model visualization tool that emerged after the "Business Model Canvas" and it is specially designed for companies that are just beginning to take their first steps. It is useful because:

1. Define the problem that solves our product or service and what is our reason for being. It is advisable to detect the three main problems of our target audience.

2 Establishes the solutions that our product or service provides to the detected problems.

3. Determine the customer segments suffering from the problems that we define and identify those to whom our product or service can provide a solution.

4. Clarifies the unique value proposition; It is a clear phrase that explains how our product is going to offer solutions to the customer.

5. Explain our unique advantage, what distinguishes us above our competitors. It could be an exclusive design, a specific technology, etc.  

6 Establishes the channels for which we will reach our client.

7. Describe thecost structure (the expenses that we will have) and the income stream (how our company is going to generate money).

8. Define the key metrics, those relevant indicators that can guide us on whether we are doing well in the business. An example could be the number of clients per month.


Once the lean canvas is ready, the PMV comes. It consists of a prototype or model that we can create for the user, without costing us a fortune and that allows us to validate our business idea.

It is not the same to ask the customer if he would like a certain product, than to be able to show him something specific that he can try. Then a prototype is presented to you in order to receive feedback to make gradual adjustments and improvements.

For a simple example, think about what you want to get into the wedding cake business. Instead of spending more money making a whole cake, you can make a cupcake so that your potential customers can taste and comment on it. The cupcake would be the PMV of the wedding cake, as it allows you to see the decoration, the luster and the filling in a smaller and simpler version.

Traditional education has taught us that when we have an entrepreneurial idea, we must first think of a name and a logo, and then invest in creating an image that perhaps does not yet have a strategy or clients. Nevertheless, what really matters is to determine if our client values ​​the proposal of what we are doing.

So don't fall unreasonably in love with your initial idea; instead, give it a try and make the necessary changes to make it a successful and sustainable business.

This article was originally published on the blog of "Renew or die" from the newspaper La República (Costa Rica). 

Photo by Stefan Stefančík on Unsplash

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