Frameworks vs. Experience

The lean startup movement – the way we think of it today, at least – began in 2008 when Eric Ries identified a set of trends he believed encapsulated the startup landscape as it had evolved. In very broad and simple terms, the lean startup methodology can be summarized as:

  • Agile software development methodology
  • Free and open source solutions whenever possible
  • Customer-centric rapid iteration to create a minimum viable product

(you can read Eric Ries’ first blog post here)

Since then, lean has become a mantra for many entrepreneurs – and the lean startup movement has been picked up and iterated by many in the form of books, blog posts and conferences. As a young tech entrepreneur in Vancouver I was invited to attend the Lean Startup Conference last weekend and share my thoughts. The conclusion? Not all speakers are created equal, and there is an unfortunate bias for presenters within the lean startup community to focus on frameworks over real world examples. The speaker who stood out the most was Rob Walling, who spoke brilliantly about “what worked for him” as oppose to “here is the way it is.”

Why “here is what worked for me” works
Rob Walling of softwarebyrob.com is a serial web entrepreneur who runs a number of niche web and SaaS companies. Although his room presence was arguably less than that of other speakers he more than made up for it by delivering relevant and valuable information for those of us sitting in the audience. Rob’s lecture was powerful because instead of providing step-by-step instructions to success or a “this is how things are now” speech he simply described what worked for him.

Taking us through a series of slides which outlined how he had acquired various web properties over the years and repurposed them gave me a deeper understanding of a process most often described only at a higher level. Most importantly, I learned about Rob’s specific failures, and why they happened. Most speakers tell you that they failed at some point during their delivery (it seems to be a rite of passage to be allowed to speak at these things) – but few tell you tangibly how, or what they learned. Patrick Vlaskovits, for instance, introduced himself as an entrepreneurs who had burned through two startups, but never told us what they were or why they failed. Lessons are best learned through tangible examples, not high level frameworks.

Frameworks versus experiences
Frameworks can ultimately operate to an entrepreneurs detriment because they simplify  the learning process and detach us from having to think about the why. Although we all must learn from the mistakes others have made, when we simply apply frameworks other’s have given us we skip the part where we are allowed to draw our own conclusions from other people’s experiences. Some speakers at #leanstvan trended towards simply providing models for understanding (or worse – models for success). With the exception of strictly informational talks, I would greatly prefer to hear more tangible experiences and less conceptual, extrapolated frameworks. The speaker who says “trust me, here is the lesson I’ve learned” is far less valuable than the one who says “here is what happened to me, draw what conclusions you will.”

The lean startup movement provides many frameworks for entrepreneurs, however those speakers who teach us more about the tangible experiences which led to those frameworks have arguably much more to offer

Andrei Pop is a tech entrepreneur in Vancouver – he runs the web development and strategy company IDEAhack and is involved with a number of other startups in town.

This Week in Tech Events, Feb. 28 – March 5, 2011

Bootup will be hosting a startup workshop with Danny Robinson:

Co-Founder’s & Captables

Here are some other local startup events worth checking out this week:

The Lean Startup with Eric Ries hosted by BCTIA

Introduction to Samsung Bada Platform hosted by WaveFront

  • Thursday, March 3 8:30-11am
  • WaveFront – 1055 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • Free

6th Annual Women In Film Festival – Digital Media Forum

  • Friday, March 4 9:ooam
  • Vancity Theatre – 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
  • Tickets $75, WIFTV members and $90, non-members

If we missed  your event, feel free to let us know by leaving a comment below.

For more tech events and news, you can also check out our media partner, Techvibes.

Eric Ries coming back to Vancouver on March 3

Eric Ries, creator of the Lean Startup Methodology is no stranger to Vancouver. He dropped by Bootup Labs in April ’09, met with the startups and showed off his lean mug.

Last year, Eric’s Startup Lessons Learned Conference was happening in San Francisco on April 23rd, 2010.  Troy Angrignon and Bootup teamed up to host the simulcast conference live in our Gastown digs.  More than 5o entrepreneurs and developers signed up to attend the simulcast.

And now, BCTIA is bringing Eric to back BC with stopovers in Kelowna, Victoria and ending his tour in Vancouver on March 3rd.  Using examples drawn from his own experiences in Silicon Valley, Eric will guide you through key areas proven to increase the success and creativity of your innovation and tech company from business strategy, product, engineering, QA, marketing and delivery.

All registrants will also receive a free copy of Eric’s new book “The Lean Startup”.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear him speak. Register here.

UX & Design for Startups with Mike Macadaan, Dec. 1st

For most startups, user experience is considered a luxury rather than a necessity. Many of us are just trying to get our product/site out there fast and plan to focus on design and user experience when we have more resources. But everyone from startup superheroes Eric Ries and Paul Graham to Dave McClure will tell you that UX is incredibly important and startups should be thinking about it from day 1:

“It’s very important in the first phase [of Y Combinator], perhaps more important than anything else. We encourage startups to build the smallest thing they can as fast as they can and then get it in front of users immediately to test whether they like it.” – Paul Graham on UX .

“Design and marketing aren’t just as important as engineering: They are way more important.” – Dave McClure on the Value of Design.

We have hosted talks and workshops on everything from lean startup methodology to term sheet negotiations but we have yet to cover the importance of UX from the get go. So, I approached one of the best people in the biz, Mike Macadaan-  the current VP of UX & Design at MySpace and asked him to come speak in Vancouver.

Mike Macadaan with team and new MySpace logo

Knowing that Mike has spent the last year Redesigning MySpace, I thought it would be a perfect time for him to come to Vancouver to share his recent UX challenges and experiences, as well as what he has learned over the past 10 years.  On top of his experience, Mike is an all around good guy, who is very plugged in to the tech and startup communities in SF & LA.  Some of you may remember that Mike visited us once before when we co-hosted our second Launch Party event together, Launch Party with a Twiist in December 2007.

Few Tickets Left
Whether you are an Internet entrepreneur, investor, designer, product marketer, or a web developer- you should not miss what is sure to be a very informative and fun talk on December 1, 2010 at 9am-12pm at Bootup HQ, 163 West Hastings – Suite 200.  There are still some spots left, so scoop one up now.