When Eric Ries first started preaching the Lean Startup gospel, people thought he was bonkers. Less than a decade, a New York Times bestseller, and a band of converts later, the Lean Startup Movement is thriving like never before. Yesterday marked the end of The Lean Startup Conference—a conference that featured dozens of speakers from the likes of GE, Toyota, and Facebook. But after all of the big-enterprise folks returned to their cube farms, Sharethrough hosted an intimate conversation with some of the pioneers (OGs) of the Lean Startup movement. Compared to the formal, enterprise-oriented conference, the roundtable chat gave an opportunity for some of the original lean entrepreneurs to frankly answer questions and provide best practices. Here are three memorable lessons from Thursday’s chat: Bringing the Lean Back to Startups.
1. “Companies can’t stop innovating” Rob Fan, CTO/Founder of Sharethrough
Rob Fan didn’t sugar coat his words. “When companies stop innovating, they stop existing.” Many of the speakers from Thursday’s talk underscored the importance of creating an environment of innovation, experimentation, and learning. Rob noted that one of the best ways big companies can embrace a lean mentality is by fostering a culture of innovation. By continually innovating, companies can fail fast and learn aggressively.
2. “Stop coding and understand your customers deeply” Brant Cooper, Startup Advisor and Author
Another constant theme of the night revolved around getting to know your customers. Brant Cooper, co-author of The Lean Entrepreneur, highlighted their importance at any startup’s inception. “Talk to your costomer, understand the problem you think they have. The answers are with the customers, you just have to get it out of them.” Microsoft’s Cindy Alvarez expanded on this notion by encouraging entrepreneurs to embrace their customers’ grievance. “Don’t be afraid of complaints—it shows that people care.”’
3. “Get comfortable with pain” Patrick Vlaskovits, Startup Advisor and Author
Building a startup from the ground up is no easy task. The quote of the night came from Tristan Kromer who proclaimed “Lean Startup is like breaking up with a girl every single night.” The growth of any company is full of peaks and valley, but in a Lean Startup everything is happening more quickly. The failures are inevitable, but the question is how quickly you can learn from them. That’s what The Lean Startup is all about—learning quickly from what works and discarding what doesn’t.
Thanks everyone for a great night!