The Lean Startup - Well Worth It!
(this is a cross-post from my Skudoink! blog)
So...today I attended The Lean Startup seminar in Boulder, Colorado with Eric Ries. If you're in a startup, or thinking about one, and you haven't read his blog, you are certainly missing out. And if you ever get the chance to go to one of his gigs, I highly recommend it!
For starters, we visit the Boulder area about once a year. We have a few angel contacts here and we try to keep in touch with them at least annually, and get feedback on ideas. During that time we usually make a family vacation out of it and bring the kids along. This year, we were going to give the trip a miss, not because we didn't want to come, but because we are taking great pains to break free of our day jobs, with really, really interfere with our startup dreams! However, when I heard Eric was coming to Boulder, I couldn't resist the temptation. I'd been trying to figure out how to get to one of his seminars for several months, and when this opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer - even though it was really short notice (about a month). The good news/coincidence was that we were already taking this week off due to child care "issues" - meaning we had none, and it was an excuse to get away from the cube.
So, here we are in Boulder. I'm not big on conferences unless I can use them to network and meet people. Most are a waste of my time (except for the networking!), or end up being something I'm not as interested in as I first thought. However, this was completely different.
I've been reading Eric's blog for at least a year, and his thoughts and insights interest me a lot. I'm a coder by nature, and I suck at marketing (by my own admission). I'm good at telling people about something I'm excited about, but I'm not good at asking for money - or worse, customer acquisition. Like many people, I have this stupid idea that if I build it, customers will come. I hate to tell you, but no matter what your idea is, that will not happen for you. :) I've finally gotten past that and am now trying to figure out what I should be doing to get my customers' attention! That was my main goal of attending the Lean Startup and lucky for me, that's what most of the discussion was about today.
I won't go into all the details of what Eric covers, because I can't summarize it in a short post and it would be much more beneficial for you to visit his blog. But I will say this: it was well worth the cost.
I don't even remember what the cost was, to be honest, and it doesn't matter. Keep in mind that both my husband and I attended, so we paid for two seats at the seminar, four airline tickets (we brought the kids), a week in a hotel, and a rental car. Plus we had to get a babysitter for our children while we attended the event (for a total of 7 hours once all was said and done). The only thing I wish were different was that Eric didn't have to leave so soon after the scheduled end of the event; I would have gladly picked his brain for at least a few minutes afterward - I certainly was not the only one - and I would have paid extra to do that.
Most of Eric's content is posted on the web on his blog, as are slides and videos from other events. But it's not the same as being there. The attendees all have different experiences, and ask different questions, and give different insights as to what's working for them - or what hasn't. You can get the gist of the idea(s) from his blog posts, but trust me when I say if you get the chance to attend this event, it is well worth the expense - even if you have to travel halfway around the country to get there.
Oh, and if you think he might be one of those "unapproachable" types, think again. Eric is friendly, insightful (duh), easygoing, and humble. Had it not been for scheduling issues I believe he would have stayed at the site until everyone else left.