Startups 101

"Lean Startup" is all about making sure there's a market for your product before you start writing code.

Last month, we started up a new online-only feature about startups. You can find it here. The author is Microsoft ISV Architect Evangelist Patrick Foley. The key point about this new column is that it's not a generic "how to start a new business" type of feature; it's written specifically for software developers, and the special challenges faced by that crowd.

Foley's initial column also discusses an aspect of startups I'd never heard about before: lean startup. The basic idea behind it is that instead of building a new product from scratch, then hoping there's a market for it and trying to sell to that market, find out beforehand if the market exists by doing the minimal necessary work -- say, building a simple Web site for the product and gauging the response -- then, if it proves popular, investing more time and energy into development and production. It's a lot easier and more cost-effective to spend a couple of weeks developing and publishing a Web site than spending six months or a year designing and building a product that few folks want.

For me, it was one of those "flat forehead" moments. You know 'em: You strike your forehead with your palm, flattening it out, and exclaim some version of "Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Why didn't I think of that?!"

What I hope the new column does is get those creative juices flowing in 2012. As a developer, you're creative by nature. Startup 101, as the new column's called, will help channel that creativity into new areas. Who knows? Your next brilliant idea could be the launch of your own company.

Are you thinking of striking out on your own? Or have you done it recently? If so, tell me about it. E-mail me at

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization & Cloud Review. Follow him on Twitter @VirtReviewKeith.

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