We’ve moved

Hello, and thanks for stopping by.

In time honoured tradition, please will you update your bookmark to http://leannortheast.com, as we’ve changed platforms to help us give you greater information, give credit to whoever’s writing the posts, and embed tools for events, videos, tweets — the whole kaboodle!

There’s been a top team effort to get everything cut across and we’re now cooking on gas / Wordpress.

We feel this is the best way to step up our mission and help you build your businesses.

This platform will not be updated, and we won’t often by checking for comments.

Join us on http://leannortheast.com, and take part in our events to bring Lean Startup to North East England.




We recently held our third event, after the Rob Fitz talk, and our Lean Tapas social. This is a brief recap of our third event.


On January 14th we were be joined by Lindsey Gibson, IT Services Manager at NCFE and David Grailey, Chief Executive.

They talked about their experience of the Lean Startup Machine and how they are applying Lean Startup to product development, innovation, and company growth. Lindsey also talked about her learnings from the LESS 2012 Lean and Agile Conference held in Tallin, Estonia in November 2012.

Thanks to Newcastle Uni Business School

The evening was kindly hosted by Newcastle University Business School, and particular thanks go to Colin Ashurst for making our event possible.


Both David’s talk — about applying Lean Startup thinking to internal innovation – and Lindsey’s talk (below) were very well received, judging by the Q&A sessions afterwards.

Write up by Chris Gibbons

Chris Gibbons has done a tremendous job at capturing the key points from the evening, so – take it away, Chris! :-)


Chris also very helpfully listed out some useful information sources:



Many thanks for everyone who responded to our post-event survey. It’s very powerful to hear from folk about their differing needs. I know that Emma and I have already used it to guide LNE planning.

Get involved

We are very keen to get as many people involved as possible – in the mould of Brad Feld’s ‘Boulder Thesis’. You can do this via:

Check out the links on the right for more info.

Lean North East January 2013: Lean Startup – It’s not just for Startups

Think Lean Startup is just for startups? Think again.

Join us for our first event of 2013 when NCFE will be talking about their experience of the Lean Startup Machine workshop and how they are applying Lean Startup principles in an organisation with over 150 members of staff that is rapidly growing.

NCFE is a leading national awarding organisation that designs and develops nationally recognised qualifications and awards for learners at all levels. Over 340,000 learners from over 2,000 colleges, schools and training organisations chose NCFE to help them move their careers forward last year.

In October 2012 NCFE attended the Lean Startup Machine weekend in London,an intensive three-day workshop, which teaches Lean Startup methodologies and their applications for product, customer, and business model development.

On January 14th we will be joined by Lindsey Gibson, IT Services Manager at NCFE and David Grailey, Chief Executive. They will talk about their experience of the Lean Startup Machine and how they are applying Lean Startup to product development, innovation, and company growth. They will also talk about their learnings from the LESS 2012 Lean and Agile Conference held in Tallin, Estonia in November 2012. There will be an opportunity to ask questions, munch pizza and have a good natter together, plus an update on the possibility of bringing the Lean Startup Machine to the North East in 2013.

The evening is kindly hosted by Newcastle University Business School and we’d love to see you, so come along… learn, chat, eat pizza… it’ll be fun and a great way to kick off the New Year.

Sign Up http://leannortheast.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

Book Now!

Lean Tapas, and NCFE event on 14th January


A fun night was had by all [I think!] last night at La Tasca in Newcastle’s Grey Street.

It was great to build some more momentum, and find out from folk what their interests are.

Great also to have more of a ‘startup event’, and also discussion of Lean Startup, Customer Development, and Business Model Generation with folks new to the whole thing, and other of us who have much still to learn!


Hope you like these shots giving a ‘flavour’ of the event.

Save the date - Monday 14th January: Lean North East Event with NCFE and Newcastle University Business School

ncfe-logoWe’re excited to announce that we’re working with NCFE, an education-awarding body based in Newcastle, to bring you their experience of attending the Lean Startup Machine weekend in London and how they are now applying Lean Startup principles in an established organisation with more than 100 members of staff.

Presenting in January will be Lindsey Gibson, IT Services Manager at NCFE, and David Grailey, Chief Executive. They will talk about their learnings so far, and how they are applying Lean Startup to product development, innovation, and company growth.

This event will take place at Newcastle University Business School on Monday 14th January. We’ll be opening an Eventbrite page for registration early in the New Year. In the meantime, let us know you’re attending here, save the date, and we’ll email newsletter subscribers when registration is open.

See you there!

My description of Lean Startup plus related links #leanstartup


Emma and I recently had a meeting relating to Lean North East, at which I was asked to put together a summary of Lean Startup. The following text, documents and links are what I compiled, including the following quote. How you enjoy the content, and please feel free to comment at the bottom!

"For those of you who haven’t read the Lean Startup by Eric Ries, the basic concept behind it is that we have been going about the startup process all wrong.

Instead of writing long business plans, raising early funding, and building initial prototypes over the course of a year, we need to foster startups that constantly learn and iterate around a minimal viable product.

By constantly tweaking, or occasionally pivoting the product, service, and business model in response to early customer feedback, startups can improve their likelihood of success or at least fail faster and cheaper.” http://www.fastcoexist.com/1680269/smart-cities-should-be-more-like-lean-startups


Lean Startup draws upon methods originally developed to minimise waste in manufacturing processes and applies a continual-learning mindset to start-ups, growing businesses, and to ‘intrapreneurship’.

Build Measure Learn

It is not a prescriptive set of answers, rather a framework for thinking through how to creating “something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty”, with the primary goal being minimising ‘time to learning’. I.e. get into the marketplace as quickly as possible, and get feedback from potential customers in order to “Build—Measure—Learn" in an iterative loop. It is a way to harness the energy of young businesses into small, practical steps and create immediate feedback and momentum.

A ‘minimal viable product' is often the most basic product offering that can be put together - in order gain feedback from users and test the market. Ideas are less important than the ability to execute on them.

A ‘pivot' is what to consider when market feedback suggests there is not a sustainable business model based on the initial value proposition. In basketball, a player can change direction by keeping one foot on the ground, and moving the other; in Lean Startup parlance, a pivot means keeping in mind the vision for the business, and moving to a new way to realise that vision (“a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth”, according to Eric Ries).

In many ways, using the Lean Startup approach is about building a ‘machine’ which continually tests the educated guesses you have about your business, in order to find a sustainable customer base, market offering, and profitable business model. This is in contrast to the “build it and they will come” model.

Customer Development and Business Model Generation

The Lean Startup is usually considered in conjunction with two other bodies of knowledge - around finding customers, and also creating the profitable business model above. Steve Blank, who invested in a business Eric Ries co-founded, is a successful tech entrepreneur who lectures about how to create successful startup businesses.

Steve’s model, commonly known as ‘Customer Development' implores business founders to regularly meet their customers in order to create a product these customers want to buy, rather than that which the founders wish to sell. Direct and regular feedback, in person, gives founders the prompts and genuine learning to create solutions which solve pressing customer needs.

Steve advocates doing this work upfront and starting small, rather than developing expensive full-service offerings, and details several very expensive failures from the dot com bust. Customer development aims to create ‘product/market fit' (a term popularised by Marc Andreesen of Netscape fame and now a VC).

Product/market fit means providing something that customers want to buy - which is ‘pulled’ by customer needs, rather than ‘pushed’ by expensive marketing. Steve is the author of two books on customer development, and a major advocate of Business Model Generation, a concept coined by Alexander Osterwalder.

Business model generation is a book and approach which divides any business into nine components, and presents a series of questions and case studies to help readers clarify their own thinking, and review and iterate a way to make money. There is also an additional ‘plug in' which helps to clarify the value proposition businesses (and other organisations) have or could offer. I have also come across a canvas for service model generation, and in a similar vein, there is a book called Business Model You to help individuals clarify their own career path. Dave McClure’s “AARRR for Pirates” sets out metrics for entrepreneurs.


Taken together, these elements provide a framework for early stage businesses, those innovating inside established organisations, and those who wish to innovate under conditions of uncertainty. It also provides a vocabulary, a body of knowledge, and a community of innovators to help test new ideas and share the practical lessons. This is, necessarily, a potted summary of the potential offered by this material. I hope the embedded links and resources below provide a prompt to help minimise waste and speed up time to learning!

Lean Startup docs on Scribd

I’ve uploaded three documents to Scribd:

  1. The text above
  2. A list of questions from the Business Model Canvas
  3. Questions from the #bmgen Value Proposition Designer

Docs with questions are useful to get clearer about what you’re seeking to deliver to customer, and how you can create an effective business model as a result.

Wash up

I hope you’ve found this useful, and please seek out @leannortheast to get involved! Please also sign up for our newsletter.

Links I’ve compiled

I’ve used Listly to start a compilaton of Lean Startup links, I hope you enjoy. I think you should also be able to add your own…!

- Justin

@leancamp’s @robfitz at @leannortheast - a triumph!


I’m so glad and grateful to be able to blog about the initial meeting of Lean North East – and also be able to say that Leancamp’s Rob Fitzpatrick presented to the group at the old Post Office in Newcastle’s Pink Lane.

This post gives some description of the recent event, along with video of Rob’s talk (in three parts); photos of the


Big props and thanks go to a number of people:

  • Our own Emma Robinson, who ‘produced’ the event and created the impetus
  • Paul Smith, wearing his Ignite100 hat, who brokered the introduction to Rob
  • Paul Lancaster, supporter of entrepreneurs and enterprise, and who helped us with the venue.

One reflection is that we used the old Post Office immediately after PHPNE, and perhaps there is further scope for an event where many of the user groups in the North East inter-operate?


Super big shout out to both Ignite100 and Sunderland Software City for sponsoring the evening. Many thanks to them for making the evening possible, and keeping everyone alert and attentive through the supply of pizza nom nom!


I’ve edited the footage of the evening into three slots – before and the pizza, and the Q&A. I hope you find it useful!

Any problems with the video showing, these are our videos on Vimeo.


Rob’s deck from this talk should appear below (tech willing) or on Slideshare here if the tech is weak!

Getting startups started, with Lean Northeast in Newcastle from Rob Fitzpatrick


Some snapshots to give a flavour of the evening - including this:



John Hill interviewed Rob after the event – you can listen to it below on audioBoo.


Feedback from Twitter via the #leannortheast hashtag.

What’s next

What would you like?

Please also check out our presence on UserVoice – which I’ve set up to find out what you’re interested in, and what you’d like to get more of.

Next event

Props to Philip Poots for suggesting our next event is a discussion session for everyone’s side-projects. Philip has posted his idea to UserVoice so others can comment and vote on the idea :-)

Bring Leancamp to Newcastle

Emma has signed up to bring Leancamp to Newcastle. Please check out the ‘Want Workshop’ page – we’ll tweet when the Newcastle appears on the city page.


I hope you found this useful, and that you follow us on Twitter, and also sign up to our mailing list.

Thanks for reading this – please comment and / or feel free to e-mail us or get in touch through the blog.

Thanks very much for your support - Justin


  • embedded a Flickr photo, as the slideshow wasn’t consistently showing. 
  • Also, to recognise our generous sponsors :-) 
  • Now with Rob’s slides
  • Changed ‘Next Event’ section now that Philip has posted his idea :-)
Lean North East / Ignite100 Talk – Lean Startup and Customer Development

The first Lean North East talk will take place on Tuesday 16th October at The Post Office, Pink Lane, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Run in conjunction with Ignite100 we are very pleased to welcome Rob Fitzpatrick, who will be talking about Lean Startup and Customer Development. Rob is a tech entrepreneur based in London and is involved in both Founder Centric, startup advice for founders by founders, and Leancamp, an open interactive, multi-track event which brings together lean, agile and design-led business leaders and practitioners.

Sign Up -  http://leannortheast.eventbrite.com

Please arrive at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, after Rob’s talk we’re sure a few folks will be heading to The Town Wall to continue the chat over a few drinks, all are welcome so please come and join us!

We’re running this talk straight after PHPNE but please sign up separately if you are interested in attending both.

About Rob…

Rob Fitzpatrick

Rob is a tech entrepreneur based in London. He has successfully bankrupted 3 companies, is a YCombinator alum (summer 07), and has built products used globally by brands like MTV & Sony and has raised funding in the US & UK. He writes about early stage startup strategy at http://thestartuptoolkit.com and is starting up his next company at http://dex.io.

North East Goes Lean - Lean eCommerce

Ryan Foster @itsryan from RyanFosterDesign recently gave a presentation about Lean eCommerce at SuperMondays. Ryan spoke about how it’s possible to use tools such as Shopify to get your products on sale with minimum time and effort, so that you can start testing assumptions and learning what your customers really want.

North East Goes Lean: Eric Ries Interview

You’ve got 25,000 users interested pre-launch of your new product… that’s fantastic, right? Not according to Eric Ries…
Paul Lancaster (Shell LiveWIRE Web Development Executive) interviews Eric Ries, entrepreneur and author of ‘The Lean Startup’ book and ‘Startup Lessons Learned’ blog. With questions sourced from the Shell Livewire community this interview gives some fascinating insights into Lean Startup methodology and how it can be applied to everything from hi-tech startups to the restaurant industry.
Updated: Bring Lean Startup Machine to Newcastle

Lean Startup Machine is the world’s leading bootcamp on Lean Startup methodology.

Contrary to popular perception, the phrase “lean startup” implies much more than capital efficiency. It encompasses a paradigm-shifting way of thinking about how to build new companies and products, and how to bring those products to market faster.

As valuable for existing entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and teams from larger companies, during the three-day workshop attendees use Customer Development and Lean Startup principles to validate an idea for a new product or service.

Over the course of the weekend you will do the following….

  • Ideate a startup or work on the one you have now

  • Practice Customer Discovery

  • Research your Target Market

  • Practice Customer Development

  • Test your Assumptions in Iterations

  • Understand your Business Model

  • Iterate and Pivot (when necessary)

  • Build something you can Launch

  • Present your Validated Learnings

…and more

(This is not a hackathon and you do not need to know how to code)

How do we get Lean Startup Machine to Newcastle?

To get Lean Startup Machine confirmed for a future workshop event we need to “Unlock” Newcastle at http://leanstartupmachine.com/unlock/.

Sign up, pass on and promote the link!


Unfortunately we were not able to get the numbers required in time for Lean Startup Machine to commit to an October workshop. However, they are back in the UK in January, so sign up above and let’s see if we can unlock Newcastle for 2013.