Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Austin: the Lean Startup tour continues

Next week I head to Austin, TX for my first visit ever. I'm going to be speaking on June 3rd at an event sponsored by the Technology Entrepreneurs Exchange (TeXchange), "the premier networking organization in Texas for business executives and entrepreneurs to meet, exchange ideas and share experiences." (Also see below for details of another event the day before)

Normally, these events are for members only, but they are making an exception for the lean startup, and the dinner will be open to the public. You can register here. There is also a special discounted rate available for entrepreneurs and bootstrappers, about which you can learn more here. I really like their event format, which includes dinner, moderated table discussions - and then a Q&A session. I expect that will lead to much deeper (and tougher) questions. Bring it on!

Here's their description of the event:

The current macroeconomic climate presents unparalleled opportunities for those that can thrive with constrained resources. The Lean Startup is a practical approach for creating and managing a new breed of company that excels in low-cost experimentation, rapid iteration, and true customer insight. It uses principles of agile software development, open source and web 2.0, and lean manufacturing to guide the creation of technology businesses that create disruptive innovation.

This presentation will empower entrepreneurs and managers to:

-Identify a profitable business model faster and cheaper than your competitors.

-Continuously discover what customers want to buy before building or making follow-on investments in new features.

-Ship new software at a dizzying pace: multiple times a day while improving quality and lowering costs.

-Build a company-wide culture of decision-making based on real facts, not opinions.

In this presentation, serial entrepreneur Eric Ries will share practical solutions based in his work building IMVU to more than 25 million members worldwide and his experiences consulting to more than a dozen technology startups.

Learn more here.
On the day before the TeXchange event (June 2nd), I'll be at a much smaller invite-only gathering sponsored by Austin Ventures. This will be an in-depth discussion with a handful of entrepreneurs and founders that have been pre-selected. This event is being organized by Manuel Rosso, an EIR at Austin Ventures, and my former collaborator back when he was VP of Marketing at IMVU. I asked him to reserve a seat or two for blog readers; if you're interested in coming to the event, you need to email him directly and explain why you want to be there.

Once again, thanks to everyone who can come out to join the discussion in Austin. As usual, if you're a reader, please come say hello - and bring your questions.


  1. Sorry about this being out of context but I wonder if you've read "What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and Services". The author was the source of inspiration for Clayton Christensen "Jobs to be done" concept. I really would like to see your creativity exploring and integrating the "desired outcomes concept" with the Lean Startup main ideas. Thanks,
    Alexandre Gomes

  2. Now that you've been to Austin (and I sat in the audience), I can comment on the high quality of the presentation. I was surprised, though, by the number of people at my discussion table who latched onto the notion that "in my industry you can't release new software every 20 minutes like Eric says IMVU does." Frankly, I didn't see the amount of time as being the underlying point. It struck me as far more telling that the back end system that was there for version control was robust enough that you *could* do that if you wanted to. And really, to my mind, that's critical for *any* business. What also struck me as good about the presentation was the emphasis put on the notion that the code isn't worth anything compared to the education somebody got in the process of writing it. Too many places I've worked have resisted throwing away 10,000 lines of bad code because "we put so much effort in that we can't just throw it away." My argument has always been, "If there's a way to write the same thing in ten lines and the ten lines work better, it's time to throw the 10,000 in the bit bucket." And invariably when I've been shouted down at those companies, somebody else at a competitor has said, "Hey we could do this in ten lines of code" and ultimately cleaned my employer's clock. Herein lies the reason my partner and I started Dillotronics - as well as the reason your take on the matter resonated so well here.

    Thanks for an enjoyable evening.

  3. Eric - thanks for making it to Austin to share your insights on the lean startup. The presentation was informative, insightful, and humorous - as you pointed out the many ridiculous assumptions we make as entrepreneurs!

    "We're making progress on the plan we laid out on the whiteboard...surely we're headed towards success!" Good stuff.

    I look forward to following the Startup Lessons Learned blog for more gold.

    Now, the final question - did anyone point you in the direction for some good Texas barbeque?!