Meet us in London for the Lean Analytics Workshop hosted by Geckoboard

geckboard lean analytics workshop

The folks at Geckoboard are awesome. They’ve contributed to our sweepstakes, where you can win awesome prizes (including a free trip). I did an extensive interview with Geckoboard’s CEO, Paul Joyce, which you can watch on Vimeo. And now, they’re hosting a 1-day workshop event for Alistair and I in London.

The event is on Friday, June 7, 2013.

They put together an awesome site (better than anything we could do ourselves!), which you can see here:

Tickets are £120 and space is limited.

Alistair and I are very excited about going to London and sharing Lean Analytics with the community. It’s going to be a great, interactive format where we work with local startups and help them out with their analytics. If you’re in the area or nearby and want to hang out, we hope you’ll attend!

The 7 Myths of Lean and How Analytics Can Help

I recently did a presentation on the 7 myths of Lean Startup and how analytics can help. You’ll find it embedded below, since I’ve shared it on Slideshare.

It was a fun presentation, the first time I’ve given it (since I often redo my presentations each time!) and I got some great feedback. Briefly, here are the 7 myths:

  1. Lean = Cheap. Sure it’s cheaper to start companies but it still costs money to scale them. The lesson is simply this: know when to hack (do something quick, cut corners, cheaply) and know when to scale.
  2. Lean = Small. You need a big vision to win. I’ve said that before. And you use Lean Startup best practices and analytics to zig zag your way towards that vision.
  3. Lean = Crappy. An MVP is meant to be a minimalistic version of your product, but it also has to be viable. The key is that an MVP has to provide you with meaningful learning and insights, and it also has to provide the value you’ve promised customers. There’s no “shitty” in MVP and I use Sincerely, Inc. as a great example of building smart MVPs.
  4. Pivot is a bad word. I did an entire presentation just on pivots and brought some of that into this presentation. The key to a pivot is that it’s a shift in one aspect of your startup’s focus based on validated learning.
  5. Lean is only for consumer startups. Lean Startup has gained most of its adoption amongst consumer startups, but it applies across the board. I shared some quick examples from consumer products companies, a church, a restaurant and more. Many of these examples are in the book.
  6. Lean = Easy. We all know startups are hard. Lean Startup helps mitigate risk and clear the path a bit more, but it’s not easy. And that flows into the final myth…
  7. Lean = Auto win. Simply by following the Lean Startup steps (or Lean Analytics methodologies) doesn’t guarantee success. You can’t walk through the process and expect to win. It takes guts, luck, brains and much, more more.

I hope you find the presentation helpful. I also shared some thoughts about how I believe metrics can be the common language used by entrepreneurs and investors to bring them together more often than not and keep them on the same side of the table. It’s clear that entrepreneurs are concerned about reporting numbers to investors, and it’s clear investors want more numbers.

Metrics –used properly– can cut through a lot of bullshit on both sides, which I think is a good thing if everyone is willing to participate. If you have any questions about the presentation or what I rambled on about during my talk, please let me know!

Analytics Lessons Learned: Free e-book with 13 case studies

The book is coming soon! It will be available in March from a variety of places.

You can pre-order it on Amazon so you get it as soon as it’s ready. We hope you’ll do that!

Analytics Lessons LearnedIn the meantime, we wanted to share some great stories from the book (and some that aren’t in the book), so we’ve put together an e-book called Analytics Lessons Learned.

The e-book is free! Just sign-up to get it below.

The e-book includes case studies from a variety of companies including Airbnb, SEOmoz, Backupify, Sincerely, Swiffer and EMI. The companies are at various stages — some are still building an MVP, others are large, multi-billion dollar corporations. And we even have a church in there! Yup, Kingsway Church, thanks to the amazing work of Dr. Ernie Prabhakar, is converting and applying Lean principles and Lean Analytics to how they operate. We were first connected to Ernie through his blog where he talks about how churches need to get more practical and analytical to succeed.

The book, Lean Analytics, has over 30 case studies, so this is just a taste of what we’ve been working on. But we’re confident you’ll find a lot of value in these stories, and look forward to your feedback.

So with that, please check out Analytics Lessons Learned by signing up below. Thank you!

* Signing up adds you to our email newsletter list. We’ll send you the e-book immediately, and only send occasional emails after that.

An Introduction to Lean Analytics Webinar

Recently, I did a webinar through O’Reilly on Lean Analytics. It was an introductory guide, covering a lot of what we’ll be including in the book. I got some great questions as well, which validated some of what Alistair and I have been thinking about content-wise for the book; where we need to include more information and address specific concerns people have. For example, I got asked a few times about how Lean Startup and Lean Analytics applies to enterprise startups and companies. I also got asked how to know if you’ve hit product-market fit.

The presentation is now on Slideshare and embedded below:

As well, you can get a recording of the event here: (requires registration) The webinar follows the basic structure of the book (although at a much higher level.)

Incidentally, you can get the Early Release here:

The Early Release does get updated as we write more content and submit it to O’Reilly. Right now it’s quite short, but you can expect an update that has ~60% of the book (unedited) soon. So if you get the Early Release, you will get updates and more content and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what the final version will look like. Having said that, Alistair and I are still writing tons, editing and iterating.

Get an Early Release of Lean Analytics Book!

lean analytics early release book coverLast week we released a sneak peek of Lean Analytics, sharing a few chapters.

Today you can buy an Early Release copy of the book!

Buy it now >>>

The Early Release copy in digital format means you’ll get updated versions as we write the book. The content will be fairly raw and unedited, but you’ll get access to it way before the final release. As we write content and post it into the Early Release, you get it.

Ebooks from are DRM-free. You get free lifetime access, multiple file formats, free updates. And now you get Dropbox syncing too.

You can also pre-order the final copy in paper format.

This is a big step for us as authors–we can now see if the early interest from people translates into early purchases. And we can push the digital copy on a constant basis to people and get ongoing feedback.

Take a look at the Early Release and … feel free to buy *smile*

1,000 (How we’re validating the opportunity for Lean Analytics book)

When Alistair and I first started promoting Lean Analytics, we set ourselves a target of adding 1,000 subscribers to our mailing list by the end of August. At this stage of promoting the book, the “Number of subscribers” is our One Metric That Matters, and one thousand is our line in the sand.

Some might consider this a vanity metric, but it’s not—for us, it’s a measurement of interest in the book and its subject matter. It’s also an indication of our ability to contact a number of people with survey questions, additional content, and more so that the book meets the expectations of our intended audience.

Sure, the number goes up continuously (unless we fail miserably and more people unsubscribe than sign-up), and it’s not a ratio or rate (which we’ve said is important for a good metric.) But ultimately it was a good measure for testing our initial MVP (which is basically the website + the content we’ve produced on the site and through the mailing list.)

So why 1,000?

Like any line in the sand, it’s a combination of guesswork, aspirations, and judgement around what is challenging to reach, but attainable at the same time. We also spoke with other authors about how well they did building up their mailing lists, and we have our own experience doing this for other businesses, so we had some rough benchmarks to compare against. It’s also an indicator of things like survey completion and pre-orders that could help us break even.

Drawing a line in the sand is really important. Without that line, you can’t tell if you’re making adequate progress at a fast enough pace to meet your goals. The line also tells you how much effort to invest in your current course and direction, whether to double down, or whether to try something else.

If we had hit 100,000 subscribers in a couple of months, we would have known we were onto something. We’d be able to convince our families that we really needed to skip important vacations in order to write; or start scheduling book tours in advance; or charging more for speaking engagements. Similarly, if we had hit only 100 subscribers, we would have known it was a failure.

Most startups fall into the murky middle—the metrics they’re tracking are neither home runs nor dismal failures. Picking a target helps define success and failure, and gives you the opportunity to be honest with yourself. Are things going well or not? Should I continue or not?

This is a big part of succeeding with Lean Analytics. Draw a line in the sand (and remember, it’s in the sand, so it’s moveable), run some experiments, measure your results, and learn from them. Focus on actionable goals that derive from the metrics that you are tracking.

So how did we do?

Unfortunately, we missed our target. By the end of August we had 906 subscribers. We were off by about 10%. Not bad, but disappointing nonetheless. In evaluating the result versus our target, Alistair and I asked a pretty important question, “Do we think there’s enough interest in Lean Analytics to make the book a success?” And if there is enough interest, why didn’t we hit our target or surpass it? The number alone isn’t enough to give us the answers; but it’s a good starting point for the discussion.

Alistair and I concluded the following:

  • The qualitative feedback we’ve received since announcing the book has been very strong. A lot of it has come from our peers (which you have to discount a bit), but a lot of it has come from strangers too. That means (a) we’re reaching into new audiences we haven’t tapped into yet; and (b) there’s unbiased interest there that’s meaningful.
  • Some of the attention has involved speaking engagements we’ve been invited to, which suggests that we’ll be able to spread the world through those organizations as well.
  • Our survey response rate was amazing. People who signed up really cared, and took the time to give us their thoughts. Response rates of 75% are an excellent sign of engagement.
  • We reviewed the 750+ survey responses we got (the survey pops up after you sign up for updates) and did a bit of lightweight quantitative analysis on people’s interest in Lean Analytics. This gave us good insight into what people care about (validating a number of our hypotheses.) It also helped us trim some things we didn’t want to do.
  • We could have done more to juice our subscription numbers, but we didn’t have the time. For example, we had plans for experimenting with paid advertising, which we didn’t get to (but probably will at some point.) And we also had to spend a lot of time writing the book (which takes away from marketing the book.)
  • Both of us were fairly confident we could have hit our target 1,000 subscribers had we put more effort in. At the same time, that effort was better spent on other things: writing the book (and in many ways changing what we had written and planned to write based on good qualitative feedback from existing subscribers), debating ideas, planning future marketing campaigns, etc.
  • The number we did hit is pretty close to the target we set out. Had we only hit a few hundred, panic would have sunk in. But we were close enough, considering the effort we put in, to justify continuing with the project.

As you can see, we’ve got a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis going on. There’s a bit of guesswork, gut and intellectual honesty thrown into the mix and that’s common when evaluating almost any metric, particularly at an early stage. You’re not dealing solely in fact, but without any facts at all, you’re not giving yourself the right framework for learning and adapting quickly enough.

Side note: As of this moment, we’re at 945 subscribers. We’ve added 39 subscribers in September so far, which is ~3.25 subscribers per day. In August we had 142 subscribers, which is ~4.6 subscribers per day. Our rate of subscribers is dropping. That’s not surprising, but it’s a number that we’re keeping an eye on. September will provide a decent benchmark that we can then use to compare for future months.