Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Join the Conversation at The Lean Startup Conference – Three Ways To Participate

Guest post by Lisa Regan, writer for The Lean Startup Conference.

With five days remaining before The Lean Startup Conference, we wanted to lay out what we’re offering that’s unlike any other entrepreneurship conference and explain the different levels of participation available to you. From livestream simulcast to a six-day, high-intensity immersion experience, it’s possible to join the conference to whatever degree suits your interest and your schedule. And we hope that when you join, you'll come ready to share your experiences and advice with other participants.

What you’ll see at all of our events—whether on the stage, in the workshops, at a mentoring session, or in the site visits—is something other than conference regulars pitching presentations on the usual themes. Instead, we’ve assembled a diverse, energetic roster of experts prepared to talk about advanced entrepreneurship topics like maintaining a culture of experimentation at a growing company, bringing an analytical and iterative model to non-profits (including mission-driven and educational organizations), or converting enterprise teams to a cross-functional structure. And that’s not to mention the advice for very early-stage companies on topics like getting your first users, or choosing metrics. If you already know the topics that interest you, you can browse all the talks and events on that theme—whether it’s MVPs, Analytics, or Education—on our “sessions by theme” page.

We chose our speakers for the expertise they have to share, not their familiarity on the conference circuit, and as a result, we offer an exceptionally diverse group. We’re committed to opening up not just the stage, but participation in the conference itself, too. For anyone not able to attend in person, we offer free a livestream to any community group in the world that has at least 10 people gathered together at a single location. There are already over 100 confirmed livestream hosts worldwide; join one near you, or apply to add a new group. The livestream site will include a chat area for all of the livestream hosts, an opportunity to connect and network around the world.

The livestream will let you see all of the events in the Masonic Theater in San Francisco on Monday and Tues. That includes Monday talks like Eric Ries on the state of the startup; Kimberly Bryant of Black Girls Code on accomplishing a lot with limited resources; Dan Milstein on balancing risk, information, time and money; Kent Beck on Jazz Engineering; plus meaty interviews with Mutt Mullenweg and Reid Hoffman. You’ll also see the afternoon breakout sessions in the Masonic Theater, including Laura Klein on testing ideas. Tuesday’s Masonic Theater talks include Kathryn Minshew on acquiring early users; the Intuit team talking about lessons of Lean Startup leadership; and Steve Blank on evidence-based entrepreneurship. You’ll also see afternoon breakouts on advanced A/B testing from Wyatt Jenkins and Microsoft’s Cindy Alvarez and Ethan Gur-esh on transitioning teams to Lean. And you'll get Tuesday's closing session with entrepreneurship experts Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon.

Of course, there are some major perks to attending in person. Anyone with a conference pass (including scholarship recipients) can join us on Sunday, December 8 for Ignite, a high-energy, rapid-fire event, in which our brave presenters get five minutes and 20 slides, with each slide advancing on an automatic 15-second timer. Anything can and will happen. On December 9 and 10, you’ll have in-person access not only to everything in the Masonic Theater, but also to breakout sessions held next door at the Fairmont Hotel, such as, on Monday, Summit Public Schools’ Diane Tavenner on institutionalizing innovation, or, on Tuesday, Optum’s Maureen Allen discussing Lean Startup at regulated companies, and Beth Kolko on working closely with global customers.

On both days, in-person attendees can sign up for office hours, in which you sit down face-to-face, individually, with a mentor or conference presenters and talk about what’s on your mind. For example, you can ask Diana Kander of the Kauffman Foundation about pitfalls to avoid when launching a new product, or Joe Dunn of Cloudbreak about how to get buy-in for Lean Startup within your organization. All conference attendees are also invited to two workshops on December 11: one, sponsored by Modus Create, teaches you five Lean Startup planning exercises you can immediately use to add mobile to your enterprise app portfolio; the other, sponsored by Rackspace, focuses on using cloud infrastructure to experiment and innovate rapidly.

In response to feedback from last year requesting more ways to meet and learn from fellow attendees, we’ve created an online attendee network, among other things, so that you can connect with others who share your professional interests. Of course, you’re also invited to our December 9 evening reception, an event sponsored by Pivotal Labs and designed to foster productive networking in a professional, alcohol-limited environment. During lunch, you can sample some of San Francisco’s famous food truck culture from trucks we’ve invited especially for the conference. And in the evenings, we’ve organized small-group dinners around San Francisco that attendees can join. Conference registrants will also get some very nice freebies via access to the sponsor tables and giveaways. Our sponsors include companies like Intuit, O’Reilly Media and Amazon Web Services.

For those who want a deeper Lean Startup experience, we offer the Gold pass, which includes access to our exclusive workshops and site visits on December 11. These workshops include hands-on, intense instruction in techniques like continuous delivery; innovation accounting; Lean Analytics; and Lean Startup for HR, IT, and finance teams. These aren’t just talks, they’re interactive entrepreneurship training sessions. You can also join site visits to Square, Kiva, Pivotal Labs, and WeWork Soma, where you’ll learn what each of these successful companies is doing to build and keep its edge.

Our VIP pass is for folks who are serious about building a deep understanding of entrepreneurship, and a corresponding professional network, in one intense week. You can begin the conference early with a one-day Leancamp on December 8, an unconference to help you meet other people, get feedback on your current challenges and actionable advice on applying Lean Startup in your work. On December 12 and 13, after the conclusion of the main conference, the workshops, and the site visits, VIP pass holders can our partner program with UPGlobal (formerly Startup Weekend): a Lean Startup immersion program. You’ll launch a startup in 54 hours, creating mobile, web and software innovations with a team of fellow participants. This includes developing and pitching a concept, customer development, idea validation, and creation of an MVP under guidance from an experienced mentor. You’ll put Lean Startup ideas into practice, getting expert feedback the entire time, and end the week with the sense that Lean Startup has left the realm of theory and become a true practice. 

At whatever level you can join us, we are proud to welcome you to an event that we’ve organized to be a different kind of tech conference—certainly because of our speakers’ diversity and range of experience, but also thanks to the commitment, interest, and variety of our attendees. Please join us at whatever level you can, and be prepared to participate in the conversation. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.