Diana Kander’s book ‘All In Startup’ is brilliant. It uses a super clever format to help us understand the value of the lean startup approach by embedding it within a memorable story with real characters and a very believable scenario.
Storyline of All In Startup by Diana Kander
The inside cover of the hardback cover (see image above) introduces this fictitious story
If Owen Chase can’t find a way to turn his company around in the next nine days, he’ll be forced to shut down and lay off all of his employees. He has incurred substantial debt and his marraige is on shaky groundAll in Startup by Diana Kander
Without spoiling the plotline, Owen meets Sam a mentor who over several days works with him on his business. Their interactions allow Owen to learn about and work through lean startup principles.
The ‘All In’ title of the book comes from the storyline revolving around a high stakes poker tournament which is where the main characters meet.
You will likely get only one opportunity in your life to go ‘all in’ on an idea, to quit your job, talk your spouse into letting you drain the savings acccount and follow your dream. All in Startup will prepare you for that ‘all in’ moment and make sure that you push your chips into the middle only when the odds are in your favour. This book holds the keys to significantly de-risking your idea so that your success appears almost lucky.book cover of All in Startup by Diana Kander
I don’t play poker and I don’t pretend to understand it but I loved the poker game parts of the book – brings out a key theme of the book regarding the importance of observing people and gathering and interpreting information.
Lean Startup Concepts not explained but lived
The book subtitled ‘Launching a New Idea When Everything is on the Line’ tells the tale of Owen, an individual that started his business on flawed assumptions. The book covers four basic ideas: (1) Startups are about finding customers, not building products, (2) People don’t buy products or services; they buy solutions to their problems, (3) Entrepreneurs are detectives, not fortunetellers, and (4) Successful entrepreneurs are luck makers, not risk-takers.
Just presenting these ideas to you in this blog post doesn’t give true credit to my experience of reading this book – I found it very compelling and highly entertaining. I highly recommend anyone launching a new product or business to read the story and live the experiences of Sam as he started a business based on his own assumptions that he had a product that people would automatically buy online. BUT they didn’t. One of his key assumptions was that people would automatically value a lower price above all else, but he learned from his sales figure that was not the case.
This book tells a story being a great medium for learning. Books have to have a happy ending – don’t worry Diana rounds off the story fabulously (0n many levels).
Contribution to Entrepreneurship Teaching
The Foreword is written by Steve Blank a former Silicon Valley serial entrepreneur turned entrepreneurship educator (Berkeley, Stanford, and Columbia) who developed the Customer Development methodology credited with launching the Lean Startup movement.
While other books in the evidence-based entrepreneurship field, such as The Startup Owners Manual, The Lean Startup, and Business Model Generation, explain the “how to” of the lean startup methodology, All In Startup explains the “why”. Go behind the scenes of a startup and understand why the protagonist, Owen Chase, struggles to get his concept off the ground by following a traditional approach to starting a business. Then see the value that a lean startup methodology can bring to his enterprise as he learns a faster, more efficient way to launch companies.
This is a must read for anyone interested in launching a new product or BusinessExtract from Foreword by Steve Blank
The featured image for this post depicts 3 books – All in Startup, 24 Steps to Entrepreneurship, and The Lean Entrepreneur which have all been published by WILEY. I couldn’t find my copy of The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank also published by WILEY but that definitely also deserves to be included. You will find my reviews of those excellent books here.
More from the author Diana Kander
I must thank Peter Harrington for recommending this book on his superb Startup Survival podcast. He talks to Diana Kander in episode 2.3 How Research turns ideas into Great Products and Services. You can listen to that episode right here – thanks, Peter! I am really looking forward to Series 3 after the excellent first two series on a range of startup topics.
I also found a 5-page pdf on Diana Kander’s website entitled ‘Customer Interview Rules‘ which complements page 70 of the book. Many of the themes of the book are reminiscent of Talking to Humans and The Mom Test which I also reviewed.
As always I hope you liked this blog post. Comments and social shares are welcome.