Tuesday, November 15, 2011

That old-time startup religion

Warning: the video below may be offensive to some readers. It contains irreverent use of religious language. Viewer discretion is advised. 

So there I was, on stage in front of a large crowd, when Jason says "Has anyone seen the movie Apostle?" That's when I knew things were about to get interesting.

I was in Los Angeles on book tour a few weeks ago. The Los Angeles Lean Startup Circle arranged a spectacular event. I was interviewed - live on stage - by Jason Calacanis for This Week in Startups. The video became Episode #199, and you'll get to watch it below.

Jason's a controversial - and always entertaining - character. He's the founder and CEO of Mahalo, as well as the This Week In network. Oh and he also plays the occasional hand of televised high-stakes poker. So I really did not know what to expect when I met him on stage. For just about an hour, we had an in-depth interview, with Jason asking the kind of questions you only get from someone who has lived through the real highs and lows of entrepreneurship. I thought things were going well.

And then things took a pretty hilarious turn. Jason decides, on the spot, that we're going to have our very own revival meeting. In a full-on southern preacher accent, he invites entrepreneurs up on stage for some "hands on healing" as they share their real stories of problems, challenges, and obstacles in their startups. And, to my great surprise, people come forward. To be honest, I thought it was going to be a disaster, but I was wrong. The rest you have to watch for yourself.

Eric Ries of Lean Startup - TWiST #199

(The "Praise Jesus" starts at about 56 minutes in. Don't say I didn't warn you.)

I wanted to share this video with you, and not just because it is extremely entertaining. At the end of the session, I can tell that something is starting to bother Jason. We've been talking all along about pivots, vanity metrics, and validated learning. And I can see it start to dawn on him that, like the founders we've been "healing" all night, he has some questions about Mahalo that he wants answered.

And so we have a conversation, live on stage, about whether and how Mahalo should pivot from their current business (educational web videos) to a place where they're having unexpected success (paid iPad instructional video apps). A few days later, I noticed this in my newsfeed: Mahalo Lays Off 25 Percent for Shift to Apps From Video. And a few days after that, Mahalo got in touch to ask if I'd come into their studio to record a video instructional app based on The Lean Startup. After all that, how could I say no?

So if you'd like to see the next chapter in this story, you're cordially invited to a video shoot, which will take place next Monday, November 21, at Mahalo World HQ in Los Angeles. I'll be lecturing, we'll take questions from the audience, and - if anyone has the courage to come on stage - we'll even do some "hands-on healing" case studies with real entrepreneurs. Want to come? Sign up here.

See you Monday.
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