Please…. Go Lean!

After a long time I’m back to writing. The last few months have been hectic with 2 deals getting finalized, 2-second rounds being worked on and the near closing of the fund. Hope to have good News soon.

Over this period I finally got to read in detail Eric Ries’ The Lean Startup. For those of you that haven’t, I DEEPLY recommends.

The text feels like that it would be synthesized in a 20 page long document rather than a book but the examples are good to get us thinking about the concept and how to apply to our companies.


All the popular buzzwords we hear derived from it are based on that principle:

FAIL FAST: Find a way of testing your hypothesis with minimal effort. Don’t put extra effort into something until you know it is not going to fail

MVP: The minimal product you have to build in order to test your hypothesis

PIVOT: If the base assumption didn’t hold true, change the strategy and test another model

All of these deal with something that Brazilian entrepreneurs struggle with: Failure and Uncertainty.

We as a Catholic country do not deal well with failures. Yet, these can be fundamental in proving us that we were wrong in our assumptions.

Putting the efforts as tests are a good way of dealing with the Failure Fobia we have as, even if the hypothesis didn’t prove to be true, we will be able to claim that the test succeeded in teaching us that.

We have to be able to say “we don’t know  that” and put every statement that starts with “I think”, “assume” and so on, to simple tests to tell us if we are right or wrong on that assumption.

Uncertainty, in turn, is completely opposite to our romanticized image of a successful entrepreneur. We imagine the visionary that in day one was sure how he would build the new Apple, Google or Microsoft. That is normally how the story is told after the fact.

The ugly truth is that most entrepreneurs have hypothesis/vision and when they take it to Market, that vision evolves, changes and even is proven wrong. Embracing this fact will help you set up your company in order to find out what Works and what doesn’t and this, in turn, will accelerate its path to success.

My 15-minute summary of the ideas probably doesn’t do the book justice and you should read it. I just wanted to get the ball rolling and get entrepreneurs thinking more about how to discover/test business models rather than rely on sheer inspiration.

Here is a video on the topic 


Author: Rodrigo

A VC trying to help build up the industry Principal @ Redpoint eventures doing Seed and Series A investments in Brazil

7 thoughts on “Please…. Go Lean!”

  1. Agreed. Really good book. It is all about figuring out the product and market fit first in most cases. The market is full of great companies that hardly resemble their initial product (paypal, flickr, fab etc all started as very different products before the pivot and then explosion). This is not to say that those mentioned companies followed the lean concept, but they do support the case that you need to stay alive long enough to adjust and then be ready to scale once you do find your mojo. And that really is the one of the fundamental premises of the book.

  2. Good to have you back – writing.
    Regarding the the statement about Brazilians having difficulty with failure because of the religious (Catholic) background, could you elaborate? Thanks. I have a friend who is married to a Japanese lady, lived in the country for while. He maintains that the fact that Japanese people dodging to answer “NO” is a cultural thing. Non confrontational character. Are Brazilians different?
    Always optimistic?

    1. Claudio, Thanks for the comment.
      My take is that Brazilians have one very catholic trait, not being Greedy. After all, greed is a sin. Not being greedy, people are far less likely to take risks.
      When you couple that with a history of intense instability (anyone over 30 has seen at least 6 currencies), you have a population that is very risk averse.
      Additionally, the general view is that you are only successful through “gods blessings” or “jeitinho”. It is not popular the idea that success comes from hard work (as in protest cultures), preparation and trial and errors.
      Brazilians, in general, see failure not as a learning that the individual went through, but rather a judgement on him, therefore failure is not acceptable.
      That is my take…. might be wrong though.

  3. Eric Ries definitely makes part of the new VC holy trinity (the others in my opinion are Blank and McClure). Ries nicely puts the lean theory in a very understandable way – he is a good compromise between the two others. What he lacks for me is more actionable hints (maybe that wasn’t his intention anyway).

    If you really wanna have a manual that you can refer to when you are lost (in any startup stage), definitely go for Blank (4 steps to the epiphany – and there’s a new book coming up next couple of months). If you just wanna know how to implement some of the Ries’ ideas, check out any Pirates AARRR slide deck from McClure.

    Rodrigo, estarei com o Pedro hoje na WH. Seria um prazer se vc pudesse stop by. Abs!

    1. felipe, obrigado pela dica. Estou com 4 steps to epiphany na mala. Vou comecar a ler ainda hoje.
      Infelizmente, estou em Austin para o SxSW. Volto dia 14. Me manda uym email e vamos marcar algo na sua proxima ida a sp.

      1. pega alguns autografos do McClure e do Ries pra colocar na WH. btw, mto legal o ambiente de vcs lah. almocei com o Pedro; todos foram mto gentis.


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