What is the Lean Launchpad?
The Lean Launchpad was developed by Steve Blank (serial entrepreneurs and adjunct professor at Stanford) and colleagues as a repeatable process to create a startup. It is probably the most popular methodology today, featuring in a great number of entrepreneurship programs for students and mature students. It is also the method used at Y-Combinator and other top incubator programs. Despite its popularity, there is little empirical research examining the method.
Assumptions behind the Lean Launchpad
The theory behind the Lean Launchpad can be described as a discovery theory. The entrepreneurship literature is divided about the nature of entrepreneurial opportunities. At one end of the spectrum is the creationist school that views entrepreneurship as a process of opportunity creation led by teams and individuals (McMullen and Dimov, 2013). At the opposite end of the spectrum, the discovery school defends an objective view of entrepreneurship where opportunities exist independently from the entrepreneurs who race to discover and exploit them (Baron, 2006). Creationist theories tend to dismiss incumbents because they believe entrepreneurs’ visions already take into account what incumbents will do. The discovery perspective tends to view incumbents as competitors in sensing and seizing opportunities.
The Lean Launchpad can be described as a discovery theory because potential entrepreneurs start with a customer segment and then search to identify problems worth solving by talking to (interviewing) early adopters in the customer segment. Potential entrepreneurs develop product and service ideas with respect to validated problems only. Both of these tenets of the Lean Launchpad method are grounded in a belief about reality where problems are real and can be objectively (or inter-subjectively) identified and verified, and solutions to validated problems can be iterated through to come to a profitable product or service via a process of elimination.