Opinion: Lean Startup Machine vs Startup Weekend

Photo: Steven Royster Photo Credit: Courtesy Steven Royster

Steven Royster | Courtesy Steven Royster

[As JuiceTank (Somerset) gears up to host Startup Weekend New Jersey in March, we asked Steven Royster if we could repost an expanded version of his blog post outlining the differences between Lean Startup Machine and Startup Weekend. The original post is here.]

As the founding organizer of Lean Startup Machine Newark, I’m a huge fan of Startup Weekend. It’s the granddaddy of all weekend sprints to work on new ideas. In fact, I’m volunteering at the next Startup Weekend New Jersey at JuiceTank Labs in Somerset

However, I’m often asked – what’s the difference between the LSM and Startup Weekend experience?  The answer is intent.

Lean Startup Machine (LSM) teaches budding entrepreneurs how to validate an idea – before building the product. During LSM, at minimum you’re searching for problem/customer fit (i.e. email signups based on a value proposition). If you’re really good, you’ll reach product/market fit (i.e. customers pay cash for a product or service offering).

The intent of Startup Weekend (SW) is to help entrepreneurs build products based on their own ideas. SW is an awesome opportunity to extend beyond untested ideas. Why not start by coding a validated product and testing other parts of the business model (product functionality, channels, customer messaging, identifying key partners, etc)?

Positioned together, both LSM & SW are condensed versions of the startup lifecycle:

Lean Startup Machine – 3 days

  • Start with an idea
  • Build experiments to test the idea with customers
  • Measure market response
  • Learn what to do next — i.e. Persevere or Pivot

Startup Weekend – 3 days

  • Build a team to develop version 1
  • Sketch a business model
  • Ship product
  • Measure performance of the business model
  • Optimize the model (product, channels, customer messaging)
  • Repeat the build-measure-learn loop until the business is performing as predicted

My advice to anyone with a burning passion to work on a startup idea is to attend an LSM Workshop to learn if the idea is what customers actually want. Once you’ve validated the idea, then go to SW to form a team and build the product.

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