Q&A with Alistair Croll, coauthor of "Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster"
Q. Why is your book timely-- what makes it important right now?
A. There's been a flurry of startup activity made possible by the lowered barriers to entry of cloud computing, social media, and app platforms. But there's less accountability. If you look at the numbers, it's a bloodbath: you're almost certain to fail. One reason for this is that founders are delusional. But data doesn't lie, and the right data in the right place at the right time can change your business (to steal from Steward Brand.) That's what this book is about-- using data to build a better business faster.
Q. What information do you hope that readers of your book will walk away with?
A. We have a ton of concrete data-- ideas of what's normal; what metric to watch at what time; and so on. But more than any of this, we hope they'll come away with an experimental eye, realizing that they're not building a product. Instead, they're building a tool to figure out what product to build.
Q. What's the most exciting and/ or important thing happening in your space?
A. That nearly every mature industry is ripe for disruption. An entrepreneur, working within a host organization, can absolutely revitalize the business (as Procter & Gamble did when it introduced Swiffer, for example.) And a small business can tackle giants or entrenched competitors by being more agile (as Uber did to taxis, or Airbnb did to hotels.) Mops, taxis, and rentals aren't new. But they're hugely susceptible to change if it's applied in a measured, careful way.
"A vital part of the founder's toolkit. If you're starting a company you need to read this." - Mark Peter Davis, Venture Capitalist & Incubator
"Stop thinking and just buy this book. It's the secret sauce. If you're an entrepreneur, it's required reading." - Greg Isenberg, CEO, fiveby.tv and venture partner, Good People Ventures
"Lean Analytics is the missing piece of Lean Startup, with practical and detailed research, advice and guidance that can help you succeed faster in a startup or large organization." -- Dan Martell, CEO & Founder of Clarity
"Lean Analytics is packed with practical, actionable advice, and engaging case studies. You need to read this book to understand how to use data to build a better business." - Paul Joyce, Co-founder & CEO Geckoboard
"Lean Analytics shows you how to move insanely fast by getting your metrics to tell you when you're failing and how to do something about it. Tons of honest, meaningful advice -- a must read for founders that want to win." - Sean Kane, Co-Founder F6S and Springboard Accelerator
"Your competition will use this book to outgrow you." -- Mike Volpe, Hubspot.
"Alistair and Ben have written a much-needed dose of reality." -- Brad Feld, Foundry Group & Techstars
"This is applicable to organizations of all shapes and sizes, from small business to big government." -- Jennifer Pahlka, Code For America
"No innovator should be without this book." -- Eric Ries, The Lean Startup
"This book is a huge gift to our industry." -- Zach Nies, Rally Software
"As useful for today's multi-billion dollar companies as it is for entrepreneurs." -- John Stormer, Salesforce.com
About the Author
Alistair Croll has been an entrepreneur, author, and public speaker for nearly 20 years. He's worked on a variety of topics, from web performance, to big data, to cloud computing, to startups, in that time. In 2001, he co-founded web performance startup Coradiant (acquired by BMC in 2011), and since that time has also launched Rednod, CloudOps, Bitcurrent, Year One Labs, the Bitnorth conference, the International Startup Festival and several other early-stage companies.
Alistair is the chair of O'Reilly's Strata conference, Cloud Connect, and Interop's Enterprise Cloud Summit. This is his fourth book on analytics, technology, and entrepreneurship. Alistair lives in Montreal, Canada and tries to mitigate chronic ADD by writing about far too many things at Solve For Interesting.
Benjamin Yoskovitz is a serial entrepreneur with 15+ years experience in web businesses. He started his first company in 1996 while completing university. In 2007 he co-founded Standout Jobs, a B2B software company in the recruitment space. The company raised $1.8M from venture and angel investors. In 2010 after exiting Standout Jobs, Ben co-founded Year One Labs.
Ben has been blogging since 2006. His "Instigator Blog" is recognized as one of the top blogs on startups and entrepreneurship. Ben is also an active mentor to numerous startups and other accelerator programs, including FounderFuel (a TechStars-like program in Montreal.) He regularly speaks at startup conferences and events, including the Michigan Lean Startup Conference, Internet Marketing Conference, etc.
Ben is currently the VP of Product at GoInstant, a venture-backed startup developing co-browsing technology for shared web experiences that was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2012.
Marc Andreesen once said that "markets that don't exist don't care how smart you are." Whether you're a startup founder trying to disrupt an industry, or an intrapreneur trying to provoke change from within, your biggest risk is building something nobody wants.
Lean Analytics can help. By measuring and analyzing as you grow, you can validate whether a problem is real, find the right customers, and decide what to build, how to monetize it, and how to spread the word. Focusing on the One Metric That Matters to your business right now gives you the focus you need to move ahead--and the discipline to know when to change course.
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