Entrepreneurs see things before others do. They recognize patterns, form hypotheses and act long before all the data is in. Von Clausewitz described this as seeing through the “fog of war.” When their hypotheses are wrong we say they were hallucinating. When they are right we call them visionaries. (The best entrepreneurs pivot on each hallucination until they get it right – then we call them practitioners of the Lean Startup.)
Woodstock for Entrepreneurs
Last Friday’s Startup Lessons Learned Conference may go down as the Woodstock of entrepreneurship. It was an all day event devoted to the theory and practice of Lean Startups and Customer Development.
There’s a growing realization that startups with market and customer risk can be built in a radically different way than have been done before – not just cheaper, or faster – but potentially with something more profound – a greater probability of success.
The 400 people who filled the conference room in San Francisco and thousands who watched it across the world shared this belief.
But what was more remarkable were the list of speakers who have embraced (all or part of ) this methodology; Kent Beck (creator of Extreme Programming and Test Driven Development), Brett Durrett of IMVU (the first Lean Implementation), Randy Komisar partner at Kleiner Perkins, Hiten Shah of KISSmetrics, Drew Houston of Dropbox, Farbood Nivi of Grockit, David Weekly of PBworks and on and on. The full list of great speakers is here and links to their presentations are here and videos of all the presentations can be found here.
Two tests for any successful conference are: a) to see how many seats are empty by the end of the day. After 8 full hours at this one there seemed to be more people in the hall at the end then when we started and b) if everyone thought they got their money’s worth. It wasn’t my show, but I think they’ll be renting a much bigger hall next year.
This was one of those events that if you weren’t there you will say you were.
Eric Ries’s Show
This conference and the Lean Startup was the work of one amazing individual – Eric Ries. It was both satisfying and a bit surrealistic to sit in the back of the hall looking at the sea of heads and listening to speakers extend, embellish and expand on a topic that a scant five years ago was just my theory in my U.C. Berkeley classroom.
It wasn’t until Eric Ries sat in my class and had the insight – that to actually implement Customer Development engineers needed to couple it with an agile methodology – that the theory turned into practice. It was then that Customer Development became one of the building blocks of the Lean Startup. Eric left my classroom, and with his partner Will Harvey implemented the Lean Startup at IMVU. He since traveled the world becoming the Johnny Appleseed of the Lean Startup principles.
Why Accountants Don’t Run Startups
If you wanted to know what I’ve been thinking about after Customer Development, you can see and hear it in the talk I gave at the conference. Watch the expanded version of “Why Accountants Don’t Run Startups below.
- The first story, Shifts in Entrepreneurship starts at 4:20
- Not All Startups Are Equal starts at 7:30
- What VC’s Don’t Tell You starts at 12:00
- Business Plans Versus Business Models at 14:08
- Startups Search Companies Execute at 17:05
- Leadership Versus Management at 24:50
- Durant Versus Sloan at 30:13
- E-School Versus B-School at 33:41
All The News That’s Fit to Print
The New York Times also thought the Lean Startup was a good idea. Their story in the Sunday Times Business Section is here. NY Times columnist Steve Lohr expands on the article in his Bits blog here.