Lean Is the New Black

What does it really mean to take a "lean" approach?

Written by Andrew Brown & Robert Gold

Lean is the new black. Lots of companies will say they’re in a “lean stage” or call themselves a “lean startup.” In this week’s episode of the PROFIT BusinessCast, Robert Gold asks Derek Szeto, who founded and sold ten years ago, what it really means to be lean.

“It’s being close to the customer,” says Szeto, whose latest endevaour,, is currently in beta mode. The site replaces the Google research most people do before meeting with a contact they don’t know, pulling from social media to create a dossier on anyone.

“Rather than going out and pitching an [existing] product you think is great, you first go to the customer, talk to them about a concept that you’re exploring,” says Szeto. He’s onboarding new users to the beta version on a daily basis and studying their usage patterns to help discover what markets are worth targeting. “First and foremost, you’re tyring to learn and you’re trying to iterate,” says Szeto. “The faster you can iterate, the faster you’re going to be able to win your particular market—you’re delivering what the customer wants versus what you think they want.”

That customer interaction early on is one of the three crucial lessons for any entrepreneur, says Szeto. His three tips:

1. Be close to the customer so that you can learn from them and iterate
2. Get a great advisory board that can provide practical, real world advice
3. Be passionate about the problem you’re solving: if you would use your product, that helps

BusinessCast listeners can try the beta version of for free with access code “businesscast.” Download this week’s episode by clicking the iTunes icon below.

Available on iTunes

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