The most common feedback I've heard from readers has been that I should provide details on my background. I didn't include much on the blog at first, because I want you to judge what I write based on what I say, rather than who I am. So if you're new, consider not paying any attention to the rest of this post, and just diving into the archives, if you haven't already. (Maybe you'd like to start with The lean startup, How to listen to customers, or What does a startup CTO actually do?)
For everyone else, here's the standard bio paragraph I use for conferences and other formal occasions:
Eric Ries is the creator of the Lean Startup methodology and the author of the popular entrepreneurship blog Startup Lessons Learned. He previously co-founded and served as Chief Technology Officer of IMVU. In 2007, BusinessWeek named Ries one of the Best Young Entrepreneurs of Tech and in 2009 he was honored with a TechFellow award in the category of Engineering Leadership. He serves on the advisory board of a number of technology startups, and has worked as a consultant to a number of startups, companies, and venture capital firms. In 2010, he became an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Harvard Business School.I'm one of those people who's been programming since they can remember. I got my start programming on an old IBM XT; it was thanks to MUDs that I first discovered the internet. Those early text-based games were programmed by their own users, and it was by far the best tutorial I could ever have received in the power of software. In a MUD, you could literally conjure new objects that never existed before, just by programming them. I know many people who think that software works like magic, but to me it actually was magic.
He is the co-author of several books including The Black Art of Java Game Programming (Waite Group Press, 1996). While an undergraduate at Yale Unviersity, he co-founded Catalyst Recruiting. Although Catalyst folded with the dot-com crash, Ries continued his entrepreneurial career as a Senior Software Engineer at There.com, leading efforts in agile software development and user-generated content.
Later, I discovered you could get paid to program computers, and really never looked back. While I was still in high school, I became a Java "expert" during a time when there was no such thing. Thanks to Sun's amazing PR blitz, there was tremendous demand for experts on Java, and I did my best to convince people that I was one of that mythical breed. Thanks to the anonymity of the internet, I landed a few jobs, and did quite a bit of writing.
By the time the entrepreneurial bug hit me, the dot-com boom was in its waning days. So much for timing. But I managed a few "good learning experiences" before throwing myself full-bore into IMVU. For almost five years I had the opportunity to build and serve with one of the most talented team I have ever seen. It was by far the most intense and most rewarding experience of my professional life. Because of IMVU's reputation, I've also had the opportunity to serve as an advisor or board member for more than a dozen startups. Rolling up my sleeves and serving with them has enriched my understanding and provided many of the lessons I write about here.
In retrospect, there are some clear themes that stand out from across my career. I have always tried to be a consistent advocate for rapid iterations, fact-based decision making, free software, and values-centric organizations. Every startup has a chance to change the world, by bringing not just a new product, but an entirely new institution into existence. That institution will touch many people in its life: customers, investors, employees, and everyone they touch as well. I believe we have an obligation to ensure the resulting impact is worthy of the energies we invest in bringing it to life.
Eventually, I came to summarize these themes with the phrase "the lean startup." Lean is one of the major trends shaping our world, and its impact goes beyond just optimizing our supply chains. Lean startups can be the most capital efficient companies in the world, because they strive to prevent energy from being expended uselessly. Human talent, passion, and wisdom is too precious a commodity to allow it to be wasted.
So that's me, your author. I hope you take something of value from this blog. If you do, please share your story here in a comment.
Thanks for stopping by.