Lately, I've adopted a strange habit from my two eleven-year-old boys.

After a long day at work, rather than sit back on the couch and veg in front of the television, I lay back and open...YouTube. Yes, it's happened-my boys have convinced me it's more relaxing to watch 5-inch video screens than 50-inch ones.

That's how I came upon the guilty pleasure of the viral YouTube hit "Carpool Karaoke" starring the pudgy comedic late night host James Corden.

Apparently I'm one of millions who've become obsessed with the segment because now it's become a full-blown television show. Corden, who said recently he'd love to have Beyonc sit in his car, sings maniacally alongside his famous companions while he drives, belting out their tunes while needling them on sometimes awkward topics.

Corden's smash hit is a great example of how a tiny experiment can turn into a huge success. It's also a perfect illustration of The Lean Startup method pioneered by Silicon Valley guru Eric Ries.

Ries, who was at Bloomberg the other day talking about his methodology, has long held that entrepreneurs ought to throw out the old way of doing things which usually started off with a business plan, months or even years of research and development and then launch. The problem is companies often built things nobody wanted because they hadn't talked to one single customer beforehand.

Instead, companies should start small and lean, Ries says. They should build a minimally viable product-an MVP-and gather as much customer feedback on that product before adjusting it to better fit demand. Sometimes you'll find that your grand idea just doesn't work-nobody wants it. In which case you've got two choices: abandon your idea because it just wasn't good or "pivot" to another one. While this method doesn't guarantee success, Ries and his growing number of disciples swear this methodology guarantees fewer failures.

Which is exactly how you could view Corden's viral success. Take an online segment and test the market. In fact, as the story goes, the whole idea for the segment originated in his homeland-the U.K.-with singer George Michael. Nobody in America wanted to repeat the segment until Mariah Carey stepped up. The burgeoning popularity continued with other singers until Justin Bieber came along and well...let's just say Corden almost made me a Belieber. Almost.

Joking aside, Corden masterfully took an idea, tested it, got viewer feedback, tested it some more, got more feedback and has now turned this funny little segment into a YouTube staple. And I can tell you judging from the video production, cost was not the hardest part of building this franchise. The "Series A" level is now seeing if any network or channel will buy the segment as a fully-blown television show.

So next time if someone asks how you got your entrepreneurial inspiration, you can say with some gleeful certainty: "I saw it on TV."

Published on: Apr 5, 2016