Eric Ries, the Face of the Lean Startup Movement, on How a Once-Insane Idea Went Mainstream

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you were just wrong about the whole strategy, and you can’t get there by car, you have to go by boat. Changing your strategy is a pivot. Still, the vision hasn’t changed. The vision is we are still going to get to New York City. We are just going to go by a different mode of transport. It’s okay to discard strategies occasionally. That is a normal, natural thing.

Here is what I love about entrepreneurship. It is actually a process of self-discovery. Because when you write your vision down for the first time, you think you know everything about it. But when push comes to shove, when life makes you choose between different elements of the vision, you actually discover something you didn’t know before, which is that actually not all the parts are equally important. It’s hard to know where in the pyramid your ideas are until you test it.

On the dangers of giving birth to a new orthodoxy:

There was a phase where entrepreneurs would show up with these same old crappy pitches, but now they’d say “lean,” “pivot,” “MVP,” and all the jargon and they’d think they should get credit for that. I’ve been saying for the last six months, nine months, “Please stop doing this.” That’s stupid. The results are what matter, not the jargon. Any entrepreneur that’s pitching anything but results is totally confused. And any VC that is looking for anything other than results is totally confused.

Now, when VCs are asked for advice, do I hope that they’ll give this advice instead of the old advice? I sure do. If I was raising money for an idea today, would I be willing to raise money from a strictly traditional VC who didn’t understand this? Hell no. But the framework is not the thing. The map is not the territory. You are not an explorer because you can draw lines on a map. You are an explorer because you go somewhere new.

There is no shame in using a map. If somebody has a natural talent and gets there without the map, Amen. I have no complaints. But when they have to scale up and teach their organization how to get there, are they going to want a map? They sure are. So I feel both good about what we are offering and very cognizant of the fact that there is way more work to be done.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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  • Concerned Reader

    Sick of this guy those who can’t do….teach.

  • @Concerned Reader — Ries may be overexposed, but I don’t think you can write him off as a practicing entrepreneur so easily. IMVU is a pretty successful company, with $22 million in revenues last I checked. Ries has constructed a *very* successful one-man business around his speaking, writing, and consulting work. And he surely will be able to raise as much venture funding as he wants, once he decides to get back in the game. I’d say it’s important for those who *can* to stop *doing* occasionally and share what they’ve learned.

  • Wait…now that we built it leveraging Lean Start-up principles…”THEY WILL COME?”

    I understand the “Customer Development” component of Lean Start-up…but am still missing ideal strategies to generate new customers and users, especially for B2B startups providing a “disruptive technology/solution”

    It sounds like all you now need to do next is implement a sales/marketing 2.0 tool, add a “PRICING AND PLANS” section on your website and hire some internal telemarketers?

    Possibly a single point of potential failure to rely only on this strategy?…Should these start-up’s also target big company “C-Suites” and communicate their value prop towards “C-Suite” sponsored initiatives? Should a “top down” sales approach be ignored? “Bottoms up” / viral approach only?

  • Sam J

    Arm yourself with decades of business wisdom within 2 daysChk out