Sunday, February 28, 2010
Every tourist will tell you that New Zealand is a beautiful country, and they are not kidding.
I would add that the people I met were extraordinarily welcoming, friendly, and humble. In fact, you have to learn to adjust to the humility. Quite a few Kiwis told me that they "didn't count" as entrepreneurs, even though they own their own business. Their supposed lack of ambition was belied by the many cool demos and startups I got to meet. If you're in Europe, for example, keep an eye out for the innovative YikeBike, a new kind of personal transport device. It was described to me as "what the Segway should have been." Overall, I came away from the experience optimistic about the potential of New Zealand to cultivate a significant startup hub. I look forward to seeing it happen. If anyone is interested, the Wellington Lean Startup Meetup is a good place to start.
Up next is an extremely brief stop in Australia. I'm particularly looking forward to inaugurating the Sydney Lean Startup meetup. We'll be kicking it off with an event featuring yours truly Monday March 1 at 6pm. If you're a Sydney entrepreneur, I hope you'll stop by. Last time I checked, there were still a few half-price tickets left. You can register here.
Most of the events I did here were private, so there aren't as many videos and slides available. For now, you'll have to make do with the slides from my keynote at Webstock:
Hopefully, video of that talk will be available soon. For a preview, you can check out this "backstage pass" interview, which was recorded at Kiwi Foo a few days before.
I also did a radio interview on Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon program. You can hear me attempt to explain the ideas behind the lean startup to the general public in MP3 or Ogg.
Webstock generated a lot of follow-on commentary, including a number of reviews. For a good synopsis of my talk (and the other keynotes), check out Idealog's blog. I also recorded an interview with them, which should be in the next issue of their extremely cool-looking print magazine. Other write-ups: NZ Herald, gianouts, Te Ara, Public Address, Bibliophile, BIB. Also, if you're an event organizer, check out some of the innovative ways the Webstock team encouraged attendees to interact with each other and with the speakers. Highlights for me were the Webstock Game and Webstock Bingo.
Last, if you didn't get a chance to see it, be sure to check out this video of the closing performance for Webstock (which was also an award show called the ONYAs). It was mind-expanding:
Monday, February 22, 2010
After all, we're in the meritocracy business.
Update: Some of the commenters both here and over at Hacker News seem to be struggling with the math part of the argument, which is that even if there are biological differences in ability, they are not large enough to explain the observed outcome. I'm not much of a statistician, so I am indebted to @hypatiadotca who shared this excellent and brief presentation byTerri Oda. It is so much better than my own attempts to argue the point that I am including it here. Enjoy:
Monday, February 8, 2010
Entrepreneurs: Beware of Vanity Metrics - The Conversation - Harvard Business Review:
The idea is simple. Establish baseline metrics by building the minimum viable product — the minimum required to measure the response of early adopters. Then, in each development cycle, use the insights gained by studying customers to make improvements. This is the source of validated learning — proof that the customer insights translate into tangible metrics improvements.
But this leaves a very difficult problem still to be solved: How do we know that these changes are what actually effect change in the metrics that we're observing?
This is the curse of vanity metrics, numbers which look good on paper but aren't action oriented: website hits, message volume, or 'billions and billions served.' They look great in a press release, but what do they accomplish?
Consider a scenario where a team makes a product change, and the very next month page views go up. As humans, we're hard-wired to infer causality from correlation: when the numbers go up, we tend to take credit. But when the numbers go down, we tend to blame someone or something else. Worse yet, different team members tend to attribute positive changes to whatever project they were working on at the time (but not negative changes, of course). As a result, different parts of the team are constantly "learning" in their own private reality. When those teams face difficult choices, it's incredibly hard for them to come together and make an informed, fact-based decision.Read the rest of Entrepreneurs: Beware of Vanity Metrics at The Conversation on Harvard Business Review. Don't forget to leave a comment.
To avoid falling into this trap, I recommend you follow the three A's of metrics. All metrics should be actionable, accessible, and auditable...
Sunday, February 7, 2010
- If you are an immigrant founder who has helped build a company that has created jobs in the US, we need you to tell your story. If we receive your story by February 27th, it will become part of our Geeks on a Plane DC delegation (including me) talking to lawmakers. We've created a place where you can tell your Startup Visa story anonymously if you'd like. Or, if you'd prefer to do it by video, you can upload to YouTube - just use the "startup visa" tag.
- If you're a startup investor, and you support the goals of the Startup Visa proposal, we'd like you lend your name to our efforts. You can read about the latest iteration of the proposal at StartupVisa.com. If you're willing to publicly sign on to a letter of support, please get in touch. If you'd be willing to talk to the press about your support, please leave a comment here as well.
- If you are a US citizen that is employed at a company with at least one immigrant founder, we'd love to hear your stories, too. Part of our belief in advancing this legislation is that more startup founders means more jobs and economic growth for everyone. The fact of Americans standing up for our values - of openness, meritocracy, and entrepreneurship - is especially powerful.
- If you're registered to vote in the United States, and you'd like your elected representatives to know that you support the Startup Visa, you can register your support in just two minutes at http://2gov.org/visa. Although signing up is about as much work as a tweet, the impact is much larger. 2gov does the work to produce hard-copy reports of constituent sentiment and delivers them to the appropriate officials. So by signing up, you're sending a message directly to the decision-makers who depend on your votes for their jobs.
I know that sometimes campaigns like this can seem overwhelming. But your support has already had tremendous impact. The good news I hope we'll get to announce in a few days is the direct result of the twitter campaign you helped launch last year. At some point, I hope I'll be able to tell you more. For now, take my word for it. You are making this happen. Thank you.
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Next week, I'll be in New Zealand for Webstock 2010. I'll be giving a day-long workshop as well as a keynote address.They've got a great programme; my workshop will be on Monday, February 15 and my keynote will be Friday, February 19. I'll also be stopping by Kiwi Foo. If you're at either event, please do come say hello.
In March, I'll be speaking at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Since we'll have a game-oriented crowd, I'll be talking more about my "virtual worlds" background than I normally do. I often get asked how lean startup ideas can work for the video game industry - which is, of course, where I originally started working on them. The talk itself will be Tuesday, March 9 at 11:15am.
In April, stay tuned for word on the Startup Lessons Learned Conference, which will also be held in San Francisco. Rather than make a premature announcement, I'll invite you to take the survey and help us make the event better.
In May, I'll be giving a keynote address at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco. I'm especially excited about this, because last year's Expo was the very first time I'd given the lean startup presentation to a large audience. The enthusiastic reception that day was part of what gave me the confidence to leap into this job full-time. I'm quite grateful to everyone who attended, and to the organizers who made it possible.
This year, lean startups will be a big part of the Web 2.0 Expo. In addition to my keynote, Steve Blank will be speaking. There's also a one-day Lean Startup Intensive on the first day of the conference (May 3). This will be a kind of "lean startup all-stars" event featuring a number of speakers and panels. Watch this blog for details. You can register for the intensive here. Thanks to the support of TechWeb, we'll be organizing a scholarship program for this event (stay tuned). Last, there are five large-scale sponsorship spots open for the event. If you've ever wanted to be a sponsor of a big event like the Web 2.0 Expo, but don't want to have your logo lost in the sea of sponsors, perhaps this would be a good choice. To get more info about sponsorship, you can contact Susan Young.
And, if you can't make it to any events this year, you can still catch the video. For example, here's the video of my talk last month at Twiistup in Los Angeles (slides are posted here):
I try to post event-related updates to Twitter, but if you want to subscribe to my event-specific plans directly, I'm trying Plancast (a new startup founded by a friend). You can subscribe to my plans here. Last, for those who are following the Startup Visa movement, we're planning a trip to DC in early March. If you'd like to participate, you can subscribe for updates on our Plancast page.