Saturday, August 8, 2009

Introducing the Lean Startup Cohort subscription program

Over the past few months, I have been engaged in another customer discovery exercise with passionate early adopters of the lean startup methodology. I am now ready to move into the customer validation phase. This idea is the brainchild of several venture-backed startups that participated in the lean startup workshops. I like it because it will allow companies that want to engage with me directly to also get support from their peers. Although it is expensive, it is significantly cheaper than my very limited consulting practice. So if you're a lean startup earlyvangelist, read on.

Here's the pitch: a group of 10 companies would meet once a month for six months to develop their capacity to run lean. Each company would enroll two leaders in the series, one on the technology side, one on the business side. These companies would be carefully screened for fit, readiness, and to ensure that competitors are not in the same group.

At each half-day meeting, we'd work as a group on a specific lean startup technique. In particular, we would cover customer development, continuous deployment, minimum viable product, and actionable metrics. In between sessions, this cohort of companies would have the opportunity to act as a learning community, sharing what they've learned and supporting one another as they try to put the techniques into practice. Each month, we'd hold each other accountable for making changes to our product, process, and team. I would also be available to the participants to answer questions one-on-one and act as an advisor to each company. This program would be by subscription only; each company would pay $3000/month. Each half-day session would be held in downtown San Francisco in the late afternoon; dinner is included.

Because of the cost and intensity of this program, it is designed for startups with significant venture backing or who have reached profitability. I continue to work on additional programs and products for bootstrapped and angel-backed startups, as well as for enterprise and future entrepreneurs. If you have thoughts about a product you'd like to see created, please feel free to drop me a line.

If you're interested in participating in the inaugural Lean Startup Cohort, please click Here to fill out an application.


  1. We went to Eric's second workshop and have since spent a ton of time implementing lean startup practices within our company. We are really looking forward to day wasn't enough!

  2. Genius! I love the business model.

  3. Great idea. Thanks for all that you have done to help the startup community!

  4. I wonder if I'm in one of Eric's experiments that is testing different subscription price-points? Does everyone see a price of $3,000/mo? :)

  5. $3,000 / month doesn't sound very, um, lean...

  6. "Lean Startups" just jumped the shark and became consultingware, like "agile" did.

  7. 10 (companies)
    x 6 (months)
    x $3000 (per company, per month)
    $180,000 (for 3 days work)


  8. One of our senior developers and I attended Eric's first Lean Startup workshop and the learnings were invaluable. What we took back from that day and implemented have totally changed how we approach building out our product, team, and company.

    Eric is truly passionate about helping others and his events are well thought out and very professional. I would encourage those who are skeptical to talk to folks who have attended his workshops and understand first hand the value and impact before passing judgment.

  9. I have actually been to one of Eric's workshops, and while it was great, myself (and others) wanted more and I'm glad to see that Eric is listening to his customers' (Lean Startup participants) feedback. While $18,000 is a lot of money - for a venture backed company that's basically the choice between having a half-time programmer for 6 months or being involved in this. What do you think will make the bigger difference for your company? Don't forget it's not just six mini-workshops - it's also the interaction outside of the workshops and the relationships built between the companies. What excites me about this program is that it has a real chance at making an actual difference for a company. How many workshops, books, webinars, blog posts, etc have you read, said "that's awesome", and then never did anything beyond that. One-time events don't work to affect change, but by having a long-term cohort model I think the people who are involved are going to really get a chance to implement the Lean Startup principles successfully. I just can't really think of another kind of experience like this (beyond Y-combinator - which is targeting a totally different audience with different needs) and I personally hope I get to be involved.

  10. Sounds like an amazing workshop. Would love to participate personally. Not sure if I can get my higher-ups to foot the bill. The cost is equivalent to an entry-level FTE. Tough to justify (but certainly cheaper than some of our previous marketing experiments!).

    I think the workshop would be invaluable to the participants. It's only a matter of getting a corporate sign off for the bill.

  11. While I would personally never pay this kind of money for the proposed plan, I don't get the snark.

    Look, no one is being forced to subscribe to this. If people see value in the plan, they'll pay. It is their money to do with as they please. There are real businesses that spend more than 18,000$ for 3 days of work in a variety of ways.

    It is perfectly alright that you don't want to pay this amount of money (I wouldn't either), but that doesn't excuse maligning Eric.

  12. It does sounds like a great program, and I'm a big fan of Eric's and the Lean Start Up Circle, but 3K a month just seems to be out of our price range.

    A company at our stage would actually seem to benefit immensely from the program/workshops. We launched Legal River this past summer, and took part in Launch Box Digital and are at the right point to start implementing all the lean start up practices.

    Instead of charging the startups cash, how about trying the Y-combinator/TechStars/LBD model and taking a small stake in the companies instead of charging? Or try to bring a few sponsors to help off-set part of the cash requirements?

    All that being said, we would love to get involved - ben at legalriver dot com