Monday, March 19, 2012

Doing > Talking

I had an incredible couple of days at SXSW. The Lean Startup track was successful beyond my wildest imaginations (we'll have video up soon). My personal highlight was watching newly-appointed United States CTO Todd Park receive a standing ovation from a crowd that is decidedly skeptical about government. What inspired the crowd that day was not just his personal charisma or what he said, but rather, what he had done. He told us stories of specific examples of "lean government" in action, ranging from to a new approval process for medical devices at the FDA. And many in the audience took away a simple message: if they can do Lean Startup in government, what's my excuse?

Here are Todd's slides: (You can also sign up to see the video when it's available.)

For the past three years, I have worked to bring the Lean Startup message to SXSW by showcasing our community, presenting real-life case studies, and trying to connect the tactics and advice into a coherent whole. I am proud of all that we have accomplished together. 

And yet, each year, I also try and get beyond talking. My number one goal, after all, is to change real-world entrepreneurial practice. If all we do is talk, pontificate, and speculate together, this will have been a gigantic waste of time. I continue to experiment with ways to get us all into action. And today I want to share another attempt. For last year's experiment, I teamed up with my friends at Appsumo to create a contest with epic prizes, including angel investment, spots in Silicon Valley incubators, and tons of mentorship. Some of last year's winners, such as Tout, continue to impress. But overall, the contest was only a mixed success. Launching it into the maelstrom of SXSW didn't work - there was simply too much noise. And the contest and bundle were far too complex. We had fallen into that classic trap of "more = better." (And how many startups have I advised not to do that over the years?)

This year, we're trying again. But instead of launching at SXSW, we used those few days to experiment and test a few different concepts. And today's post represents the results: The 2012 AppSumo Lean SX Bundle. I hope you'll find a way to use these tools to build something truly awesome:

But wait, there's more! Many of us are able to easily afford tools like these to experiment with. But we all know promising potential entrepreneurs who cannot. So the first 100 people to buy the bundle through this special link will receive two additional copies of the bundle that they can gift to whomever they want.

Want to save an additional $25? I always want to include books in these bundles, but we've had a lot of difficulty in years past delivering all the physical copies. So this year we're trying something new: anyone who buys a copy (during this promotion) of my book The Lean Startup or Ash Maurya's new book Running Lean can submit their receipt and save $25. Details here.

So what are you going to do with all that awesome stuff? Join the Lean Challenge: Kill the Wantrapreneur, aimed at those who are ready to take action and win over $50,000 in prizes. Use the tools from your AppSumo Lean SX Bundle to create a killer idea and put it out on Kickstarter. Then submit your idea here. Winner will be selected by community vote. Did I mention the prizes? Use these tools to build a simple prototype and then win a $50,000 production-ready Minimum Viable Product built by the experts at New Context, one-on-one time with me and other startup mentors, PLUS lifetime personal hosting plan from WPEngine AND up to $1,000 in AppSumo credit.

The AppSumo Lean SX Bundle and the Lean Challenge are open to everyone, so don't worry if you didn't make it to SXSW this year.
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