It has become quite fashionable to talk about the Lean Startup. In fact a whole cottage industry has cropped up around Lean Startup ideology, which is viewed as some sort of a magical potion — two drops and open sesame for startups. On a personal level, I am amused by all this noise around the so called lean-startups. Why? Because I literally wrote the blueprint of this low-cost startup model in a story for Business 2.0 (now defunct). It was called: The New Road to Riches.
Oddpost is part of an emerging breed of here-today, bought-tomorrow startups that are sprouting with minimal funding, flowering briefly, and being gobbled up by far bigger companies. In many instances, these built-to-flip outfits forgo—or sometimes can’t get—money from venture capitalists. They instead create shoestring operations focused on the rapid development of narrow technologies to plug gaps in existing product lines or add useful features to existing products. Then they look to a deep-pocketed patron to scoop them up.
Sound familiar? Well, you hear that story dozens time a day on some blog or the other. As a follow up to that story (and about 2 years later) my then editor, Josh Quittner arm-twisted me and my long time editorial cohort, Michael Copeland (now at Fortune) into writing a piece called How to Build a BulletProof Start-Up. It was a torturous piece to write because we wanted to do this as a graphical story. Anyway after many months of researching and writing, this turned into one of the more fun projects I was involved in.
You see this was long before Lean Startup became a marketing phenomenon, so we used the phrase bulletproof startup. Anyway, for some odd reason I ended up finding a PDF of that story on the web and now I am sharing it with you. The general story line still holds and hopefully you enjoy Michael and my efforts from so long ago.