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Joshua Zloof's Blog

Choosing An Idea: 4 Simple Ways to Evaluate Any Startup Idea

Joshua Zloof

I recently embarked down the startup path for the second time.  I’m currently in the ideation phase - testing out a few different ideas, looking for an opportunity.  I wanted to share my approach for evaluating startup ideas.  This structure ties in well with the Lean Methodology I mentioned in an earlier post by setting up clear checkpoints for any particular idea.  I tried to distill a lot of the learnings from my time as a product manager, founder at my last startup, and various readings/ lectures on founding a company, but if others out there have additions, let me know - always looking for tips.  I’m going through this process right now, so I’ll let you know if it works!

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Defining Lean: A beginner's guide to Lean Management

Joshua Zloof

Lean + (Business Term) = Success

Over the last couple years, I've heard a lot of people refer to their startup as Lean.  Outside of San Francisco, there are many other organizations and industries that have converted or are trying to convert their processes to Lean as well - Lean Retail, Lean Finance, Lean Services, etc.  When I ask people what it means, I sometimes hear a lot of misinformation: cost-cutting, running a tight ship, layoffs, lasting 3 years on seed-round funding, etc.  All of these ideas sound pretty scary, and luckily they are dead wrong.  Despite it's name, Lean does not mean operating with little or fewer resources.  Furthermore, Lean is not a cure-all for all business problems in all industries, rather it has a specific purpose with pro's and con's.  After spending a few years consulting for companies on Lean best practices while at McKinsey and the last couple applying the same principles to the tech world & product development within Breadcrumb, I want to give my take on the subject.

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How Google Shopping Proves Inventory Theory

Joshua Zloof

A couple friends convinced me to try out Google Shopping Express last weekend.  Within 2 days, I was hooked.  Not only did I place 3 additional orders within the first 2 days - Google Shopping has changed my behavior - I found that by the end of the weekend, I was ordering items more frequently without thinking.  It made me remember an equation from my Inventory Theory class in college: Economic Order Quantity.  I first heard about this theory almost 10 years ago.  I've applied it in many large scale inventory situations.  Over the weekend, I learned that it applies even for my individualized behavior.

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Visual Management Tools for Product Management

Joshua Zloof

Since moving back to Silicon Valley circa 2011, I've noticed an extreme reluctance to put things on paper.  In a mobile world with a remote workforce, it's often hard make a case to print out documents.  Furthermore, with a myriad of cloud based collaboration tools (Google docs, Asana, Jira, etc) it feels like there is no need for the physical world.   This could not be more wrong.

What is Visual Management?

Visual Management tools are one component in a Lean Management toolkit that can be used in a large number of industries. You can find examples of this in everything from a factory floor, a regional sales office, supermarkets, call centers, even consumer goods. Some visual management tools are blatantly obvious: large performance boards that list metrics and KPIs.  Others are more subtle: the blue bristles on your toothbrush that turn white with use.

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