Building and Marketing a Lean Startup

By / Jun 26, 2012 / Tips

The current tech industry is going through a major boom cycle. We are seeing more startups launched in the past 4 years than ever before in the history of the Internet. Families and friends can quickly share information on many different networks with ease! And it’s such an exciting time to be working on new products for the web & mobile devices.

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg interview for startups

In this post I want to share some ideas for building and managing your own startup. It is my opinion that focusing on lean, steady actions will yield the greatest results. Your goal is to have some product up and running which is good enough to attract an audience. This can only happen over time and requires two important concepts: hard work and perseverance.

Speed Planning

This is an essential trait you should master when launching any startup idea. You can’t jump right into something and start coding the layout without having a solid foundation. But you also don’t want to spend weeks planning out each intricate detail of the user interface.

When planning your startup take just enough time to rummage through all the ideas you need at launch. It’s great to have a list on the side of additional features you’d like to build one day soon. But ultimately your goal is to get something online, and fast!

Silicon Valley hills after sunset

Be sure to draw the lines so that you’re confident moving forward with the launch. Understand how your web app is going to work and how users will most likely respond. I feel that actions speak much louder than words. But moving forward with no plan is how your ideas fall apart 1-2 years down the road.

Work on Open Source

If you have a team of 2 or 3 developers it may be worthwhile to build your product from scratch. Many programs such as Objective-C iPhone apps do not have the luxury of massive open source code databases. Github is a great place to start – but it’s not always your best option.

Open Source coding in Xcode 4 iOS5

However in most cases it’s completely reasonable that you could launch an idea initially on an open source CMS. WordPress, Drupal, Magneto, Pligg, and SMF are just a few names which come to mind. These scripts have been tested thoroughly for bugs and I maintain they are the best solution to just get something online quickly.

Iterate and Reiterate

I cannot think of a single startup which has initially launched and never changed a thing about the website. Updating features and adding new components is just part of the product development cycle. But during the startup phase you need to iterate these changes quickly.

To help with marketing and gaining exposure you want to focus on your own unique ideas first. What makes your website stand out from all the competition? Is there something you could do better than all the other options?

Xcode development on Mac OS X startup

Do not be afraid to run some case studies and pull data from analytics. By studying user actions you can quickly learn which features are important and which have been ultimately ignored. Keep yourself busy in testing new things and your startup will trigger a great deal of attention.

Solid First Impressions

We all understand how important first impressions can be. When initially landing on a website everybody is prone to being critical of all the faults. Your goal is to reduce these so that most of your visitors truly enjoy the browsing experience!

But when you start thinking about making the perfect first impression then you get caught up building dozens of new features and interface changes. Understand that there is a limit where you finally want to launch the product and see how it runs. Getting something up online early is better than waiting 2 or 3 months to finalize smaller bits and pieces.

An alternative to this all-or-nothing launch mentality is setting up a mailing list. You can design a single-page demo feature where visitors can enter their e-mail address for future updates. This gives you plenty of time fine-tuning the product while also gathering a small audience interested in your idea.

Creating Real Purpose

Each and every startup website or application is constructed of ultimately one main goal. To connect with friends, share your location check-ins, offer food reviews, or communicate with business colleagues(as a few examples). Whatever your purpose it should be bold, brash, and easily recognized.

ocean tides outside of San Francisco, California

Create your purpose right from the get-go and don’t lose sight of it! All the future renditions you change on the website should be geared towards keeping visitors interested in your idea. Their purpose is to keep you thriving with active members and new learning points.

Not every founder is a genius in the field of business and user interaction. Sometimes our initial purpose is poorly constructed and it helps jumping back to the drawing board for a fresh start. Accept that this may be the case and keep your mind open to new ideas. Startups are often flexible enough that you can change your entire target market without losing traction in the long run.


I hope these ideas can be helpful to new startups all around the world. Many of the modern day big-name Internet brands have been originally founded in North and South America. But web developers are popping up all over Europe, Asia, and many other parts of the world. It’s more common than ever before to see young people getting involved with business and e-commerce. This opens a whole new sector of IT products which is built on a fast-moving global marketplace.

About the Author

Jake Rocheleau is a creative writer and UI designer. You can follow him on twitter @jakerocheleau or visit his personal website at

  • – Creative Graphic

    Thanks for sharing this article. “hard work and perseverance” for me is the most important rule who I tell myself day by day! Even if sometimes we need a little bit of fortune. Sometimes! The most important thing is believe in itself! Important create a good relationship with social network too. Study all the way for their own brand.

    • Web Design Wolverhampton and Birmingham

      I couldn’t agree more. Well said!

  • kiwus

    the only thing about marketing is creating a newsletter…

  • Web Design Malaysia

    Open source is the way to go!

  • Source Canvas

    I love your points here and they all ring true. Startup’s require a lot of time and dedication, but after a few months or years you begin to learn what works and what doesn’t. Then you change up strategies and this eventually leads to success!

  • Oluwaseun

    Good point you”ve made here. I agree with alot of what you’ve said. But my question is where do you draw the line between getting something online fast and taking your time to make the right first impression? Or to put it better, when do you decide this is good enough…?

    • Jake Rocheleau

      I guess that would be the challenge because it’s different for each idea. I say before even developing pieces of the product get a plan together. Have a small roadmap you can follow along and once you think you’ve got enough done then launch!

  • Freelance Drupal Developer

    Easy to say…but in the beginning it is work 24/7. Fighting challenges. Everything depends on how much money you can put into your startup, from the very beginning. It is important if you work by yourself or not, who is the leader!. Of course nature of your enterprise, is it on-line shop, software house, consultancy, web design, or brick and mortar business. How are you going to reach your customers, what about advers and general marketing ( social networking, SEO ). Opensource solutions are cheap in terms of buyin the things, but you still need to know how to use it or pay somebody who knows. Ask yourself question “what solution do I need for online shop” – is it e-commerce, drupal, joomla or other. I do drupal, answer was easy for me, but if don’t do any e-comerce site?

    Fine articla, but unfortunatelly about nothing, or more politely too general.
    It is NoDoFollow, means pointless to comment in terms of SEO.

  • Morgan & Me Creative

    I agree that using open source is the way to go but it’s good to actually have a solid foundation or vision of your own product in the very near future. This gives you an edge over everybody and you become your very own expert.

  • Lambert

    Awesome article, but I can’t agree more with that the most important rules would be “Hard Work & Perseverance”, this is the ultimate and most important this a web designer or any other business starter should have.

    Great Articles, will sure share!


  • Maneet Puri

    Great post Jake! However, I agree with @ freelance that starting a business may be easy if you have investment but the initial stages are always crucial ones. It is in the initial stages that you create a brand impression in the market whereas good impression will gift you with loyal clients. Open Source is one of the best solutions one can get as a start up but depending on the firm’s diversity of operation some may even go for customized solution.