Back in 1994, Lean wasn’t actually a thing. In fact, the Internet was barely a thing. But that’s when Paul Stannard founded SmartDraw—and without even realizing it at the time, he had launched a Lean Startup.
Was SmartDraw the first example of lean startup success? That is probably a stretch. But there’s no question the company is both lean and successful.
Today more than half of the Fortune 500 use SmartDraw. So do more than a quarter of a million organizations and enterprises around the world. (Click this link to read Paul’s blog post celebrating the 20th anniversary of SmartDraw.)
The Lean Startup philosophy was first proposed by entrepreneur Eric Reis in 2011. It follows three basic principles: be innovative, create something useful, and don’t waste time and resources doing it. It runs on the build/measure/learn feedback loop.
Interestingly enough, these principles were at the very core of SmartDraw from the beginning—and still are.
Today, things have come full circle. The Lean tools in SmartDraw are now used by entrepreneurs, managers, and organizational leaders as they set out to achieve their own lean startup success.
Leadership author Rodger Dean Duncan recently interviewed the SmartDraw founder and CEO to get his thoughts as to how entrepreneurs in today’s world can achieve lean startup success. Much of his advice is taken from real-life lessons—and not all of them were victories.
“My first startup ultimately failed. The Lean Startup idea encapsulates many of the lessons I learned from this.” – Paul Stannard