Startup Lessons Learned

There are no shortage of conferences you can attend in the startup world. Everyone knows the big ones. But I find the little ones are often much better. One that I have my eye on is Startup Lessons Learned from Eric Ries and his Lean Startup gang.

The conference is in SF on May 23rd. It is a one day affair, which I also like. And they are simulcasting the conference in a bunch of cities around the world. This is a very cool concept and I wish more conferences would do this.

I am shocked that NYC does not have a simulcast location for Startup Lessons Learned yet. If our new USV event space was open, I'd fix that but it won't be open for a few more weeks. So if you have a space that can hold a bunch of people (my guess is up to 50??), then please apply to simulcast this event in NYC.

I think it's well understood that I am a big fan of the lean startup methodology and the program looks excellent. No panels!!! Just case studies, short talks, and keynotes. That's the way to do it.

It's on a Monday so I can't make the whole thing (our team meets on Mondays), but if a NYC simulcast location opens up, I'll certainly stop by to take in parts of the show.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    General Assembly?

    1. giffc

      Yes the NYC lean startup meetup is hosting a simulcast at GA. An email with details will be going out to the meetup group shortly.

      1. giffc

        update: due to some logistics issues, we are going to be hosting the simulcast at Meetup HQ  — announcement to the group going out soon

  2. awaldstein

    Some personalities on panels just shine through, regardless.Case in point was Scott Heiferan and Cris Dixon @ Startup2011 this week. They just break the mold and entertain and inform regardless. Happily uncontrollable.

    1. fredwilson

      heif is a unique personi don’t really know anyone else like scott 

      1. awaldstein

        Exuberant certainly. And likable on stage.Talked about having a CFO/COO/HR co-founder as he is just not good at those critical parts of the biz. Self awareness is a good quality in a leader.

  3. Dave W Baldwin

    On the money Fred.  But why not think bigger?Eric Ries is really something else.  This should be simulcast in the big (LA, NY, Chicago, Atlanta) along with the medium (Indianapolis, Cleveland, St. Lou, KC and so on) down to the influence areas of those.We are entering the period where geographical location is not so constrictive.  Maybe see what can happen.  If you watch, tell others about it, looking toward truly networking the next simulcast.

    1. fredwilson

      i agree. but look at the list of places this is being simulcast already.  Baton Rouge, LA and Lexington, KY are on the listthat’s awesome

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        Absolutely… Didn’t mean it as critique. Just something moving forward.

  4. Dave W Baldwin

    Off subject, but due to a question I answered yesterday morning, here is a VERY IMPORTANT link Pete Cashmore placed on Twitter: Why Connected TV Is Poised To Revolutionize Entertainment the one I answered question, remember the word is leverage.To everyone else, if you remember some of my ‘dreamy’ replies regarding the chance to bring about true originality/creativity, doing so in real time moving present/forward….  Things fall into place and explain why some look to innovation serving what is to come.Something to think about when you mow the lawn this weekend.

  5. kareemk

    The NYC Lean Startup Meetup, is organizing one, details should be finalized very soon. And we’d love to have you come and talk to the group, our format is usually “Inside the Lean Founder’s Studio” but we’re happy to make an exception and swap Founder for Investor. It’s laid back but high brow, we serve beer and pizza and don’t record so that the conversation is as candid as it can be.

    1. fredwilson

      let me know when and where the simulcast will behappy to talk to your group. email me 

      1. kareemk

        We just scheduled it for Monday May 23rd at 11:30am at the Meetup HQ (3rd floor space). RSVP here –….

  6. William Mougayar

     I’m also shocked that Toronto that didn’t show up on the list of the cities. I’ve already initiated queries to get us listed. Incidentally, we have a news portal just for that- “Customer Development”, which is Eric Ries’ main theme… 

  7. Guest

    Think Big KC is happening on May 24 and the folks behind that are the one’s I believe the most likely to host something like this. However, I am sure they are going to be swamped prepping for their big conference the following day. Kauffman Center could be another place. I just sent out a message to check if something is going on. I might make some calls to see if other venues might be available. There is a smallish bank that was a wonderful auditorium setup that might be good. Any other #KC folks that read this blog please reply if you know of anything. Even someone trying to develop the notion of ‘Pivotophobia’ can lend a hand.Pivotophobia: NOT the fear of course correcting but the fear of those who use ‘pivot’ too much 🙂    It is Friday the 13th, so maybe I got a little devil in me.  ^^

    1. Dave W Baldwin

      Good job.  Hell, between you and me (Cape) some of these folks need to realize computers/tabs/phones don’t take up too much farm land   😉 

    2. Guest

      I received an update from a KC area organization saying that something might be in the works. I will update once I hear more.

  8. Tereza

    Judging by how quickly Eric sold out in his last NYC tour I think 50 may be lowballing it. But then again it’s not live.Separate but related, I’d like to see some thinking happen around marrying Lean methodology to women-led and women-targeted startups (“Ladies Who Lean”?!)I think women instinctively do about half the Lean stuff. They are great at looking at customers/users and what they’re really doing. But defining the metrics and tests — that could be workshopped.Also what would have to be layered in there is lessons/techniques/best practices on doing Lean when you don’t own your team of Dev resources. Anecdotally the vast majority of the time Lady Lean is drawing on a web of part-time people who are helping asa favor….OR an agency. And agencies don’t do Lean — they’re biologically resistant to tests so if you test and fail, tough shit, your meter just ran out. Also flex schedules.Since funding sources are spare and not changing anytime soon, and the world is changing anyway, I’m pretty convinced the scalable answer is developing an army of Ladies Who Lean — that is melded with our strengths and our resource constraints.

  9. RichardF

    I’ve signed up for the London one but the time difference means I’ll probably miss about half of it.For anyone who wants to watch the 2010 conference videos they are here

  10. jameyjeff

    Looking forward to a small sample when Eric visits the DC lean startup meetup this Monday the 16th.Perhaps NYC simulcast on the 23rd isn’t happening due to tech crunch disrupt?

    1. fredwilson

      maybe but there is no reason you can’t do both 

  11. Will Critchlow

    I would *love* to simulcast our conferences but our first attempts at small-scale live-streaming were unsuccessful to say the least. I’d like to hear from anyone who has experience organising and running these…

  12. David Lewis

    Nothing related, other than to the headline, but I had my first start up lesson this week. I paid for a prototype I could have easily done myself. I did in less than 10 hours, and it turned out much better than the paid prototype. I feel stupid. 

    1. Guest

      Well not knowing how much the financial impact of your ‘mistake’ is I cannot say for sure. But one of the loose rules that I use to guide my life: “a learning experience is never stupid, unless you do not absorb its essence”Don’t feel stupid. Learn from it & try to move on and incorporate that wisdom into your next decision. Good luck on your project/startup.{UPDATE: During training at my first gig, which happened to be at one of the bigger firms, the trainer said something along the following: “we deal with numbers, sometimes very large numbers. humans make mistakes. but if we make a mistake, at least no one dies!” Money mistakes hurt & sting but at least no one dies. I always TRY to remember that too.}

      1. David Lewis

        Thanks Geoffrey,The financial impact is small, about 2-3 days of work. I’m just not sure how my only investor will take it, since he has not yet called. The lesson learned is that from now on, I can do my own prototypes, and make them convey exactly what I want them to convey. I’m marking it up as a pricey learned lesson of things I didn’t know, but should have. Expenses I will save next time.  

  13. Scott Carleton

    I’m sure we could setup a union square simulcast in Dogpatch. That’s about 50-100 people

    1. fredwilson


      1. Scott Carleton


  14. Aaron Klein

    I’ll be there at SLL in San Francisco a week from Monday – any other AVCers coming? Would love to meet up and say hello.I’m sure Eric will be amazing, but also can’t wait to hear @sgblank:twitter…I’ve been a fan of both for a long time.

    1. ErikSchwartz

       I’m out in the Bay Area for the next 6 weeks or so. I’m really not paying for conferences these days (because I am a lean start up), but I’d love to grab a coffee and put another AVC name to a face.  

      1. Aaron Klein

        Erik, looking forward to it! E-mail me at aklein AT and we’ll set it up…

  15. Dan Epstein

    @GetOpenSpace:twitter how about trying to host a simulcast in Charlottesville? I think you could get 25+, and you’ve easily got the best space for this in town.

    1. droplabs

      Dan,I am in Richmond. There is hardly any support frameworks around here for Startups and other entrepreneurs. Care to get in touch? 

      1. Dan Epstein

        @twitter-15028307:disqus Long weekend out of town. Would love to get in touch. Ping me on Twitter (DanEpstein140).

  16. Ankit Shah

    could you tweet the location that actually ends up hosting the simulcast?

  17. Ankit Shah

    could you tweet the location that actually ends up hosting the simulcast?

  18. Madhu P

     I’ll be applying to host – let’s see if we can get a space here @ the goog. My twitter handle is @nytechgirl:twitter  

  19. Madhu P

    What date are you looking at ? 

  20. David Noël

     Nice, thanks for the plug. Just applied to host the Berlin streaming at the SoundCloud office.

    1. fredwilson

      This simulcast thing has legsImagine if MIT or Stanford did this with their classesHacking education baby!!!

      1. ShanaC

        I still found the most valuable part of the education I got is the people I met- really hard to replicate via streaming education (that needs to be worked on) 

        1. Guest

          extremely good point; i have taught a few online courses at the MBA level. it was OK but many students shared they missed interaction. this is a problem that might be solved eventually – in a variety of creative ways

          1. ShanaC

             Only realized this after taking an online course- it was a totally miserable experience from an interacting standpoint (they don’t train the teachers really how to facilitate discussions) and I was also bored with the material…

          2. Guest

            You are spot on with the training comment. The last online course I taught was over 5 years ago; I think (hope) things have changed since then. Most of us who were doing the online instruction were kind of guinea pigs. We had some tools and methodologies – some worked & some didn’t. In addition to the frustration comments, I also received a really nice compliment when I taught an MBA Corp Finance course, which was a complete surprise given my thoughts of facilitating learning and instruction of corporate finance online was going to be completely impossible.

      2. David Noël

        Oh that’d be sweet. We should all tweet at @Joi to get MediaLab join theeduhackingz

      3. ErikSchwartz

        MIT does. You can take 6.013 on the internet now (if you’re a masochist). 

        1. fredwilson

          I might do that. I love that MIT is leading on this stuff. Hack yourbusiness or be hacked

          1. Christopher Martinez

            Amen.  Can I hack an industry, or is that too ambitious? 

      4. Dave Pinsen

        There isn’t much downside in it for them, since it’s not as if students who could get into Stanford will eschew applying and learn online — Stanford’s tuition is still worth it for the signaling value (not to mention the connections with students, faculty, and alumni in RL).Simulcasting would be a good idea for less-prestigious, though still high-quality schools (e.g., University of Rochester). Those schools have faculty with degrees from MIT, Stanford, etc., and their classes are probably taught as well as the ones at Stanford, etc.

        1. Mark Essel

          I’ve gotten plenty of mileage out of free online lectures. That’s how I picked up the fundamentals of Dijkstra’s alg for my brushing up on comp sci series.Erik Demaines (of MIT) has plenty of lectures available, and he’s not alone. Hacking Ed is here

      5. ShanaC

         Speaking of which:…

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Shana, that’s an ENGLISH class!  Uh, that’s mostly just a ‘girl thing.’!  Indeed, the picture has nearly all girls.  And the one boy there is failing to ‘get it’ since he’s not looking at the blond on the far right!All REAL boys have a 360 degree, full-time, high-speed, high-priority, parallel, autonomous target detection processor able to detect a blond, 115 pounds, coed, in less than one microsecond, 300 yards away, at night, through the fog.  So the guy in the class needs to get checked out!As we know, computing is mostly a ‘boy thing’!And the NYT?  Nearly all ‘girl thing’!I know; I know:  Facebook started out mostly just about girls.  And social, mobile, and locational are mostly girl things.  And Twitter is mostly about gossip, mostly a girl thing.  So, there’s a role for girl things.  Besides, there’re a lot of girls, and some of them are blonds!But “hacking education” and classes at MIT and Stanford?  Mostly boy things!  I know; I know:  Stanford is not all just for boys.  Indeed, Reese Witherspoon, definitely a girl, was an English major there before she started making movies where in some of the scenes she proved beyond a doubt that she was 100% girl.Still, when I gave a talk at Stanford, the audience was nearly all boys.  One of my grad school profs came from Stanford and was a boy.  Stanford profs I respect include P. Diaconis, H. Royden, and D. Luenberger, all boys!  To me, Stanford is mostly a boy thing!Since you are a girl playing a prominent role over here with us boys, you are especially welcome but are bound to get teased — that’s what boys do, especially us nerds!  You’ve now been teased!

          1. ShanaC

            ???It was more about social media uses in classrooms because @fredwilson:disqus is very into hacking education, and happened to have mentioned it in the post I replied to…And I am a super nerdy girl, I can take you all.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            Yes.I’m also in favor of ‘hacking education’.Sorry, but I don’t see computer-based ‘social media’ as playing much of a role in hacking education if only because I believe that hacking education should be easier than that.For hacking education, my theme would be largely independent work starting with high quality sources.Once over at Hacker News I described some of how to get a Ph.D., and one comment called my description “Ph.D. hacking”.  That’s not far from what I did:  High end academics and a Ph.D. are supposed to be about three things, research, research, and research.  So I did some research, in my first summer, independently, on a problem I brought to grad school.How do we know it’s ‘research’?  PUBLISH it in a good peer-reviewed journal of original research.Have trouble doing research, and tough to get a good Ph.D.  Do some good research, and tough not to get a Ph.D.Generally my theme of how to hack education would be to emphasize independent work from the best materials and then rush to some research.  The research is supposed to be independent, and essentially has to be, and the rest can be heavily independent.  Whatever, the learning is not a spectator sport and, thus, heavily from independent study.  Indeed, at the math department at Princeton, the statement has been that the courses are introductions to research by experts in their fields, and students are expected to learn the basic material for the qualifying exams on their own.  Good approach.A famous recipe for rabbit stew starts out, “First catch a rabbit”.  Well, for research in applied fields, first get an application, and that can be from off campus.  These days, for entrepreneurs, that’s a good approach.Possibly a surprise for people wanting to hack education, for the high end, what is emphasized is highly independent work for the basic material and then also for the research.  For the grad courses that are introductions to research, recording those with some decent production values — something at the sitcom level would be more than enough — would be fine.  Then do some research, publish it, get a Ph.D., f’get about school, have spent little time on campus, have paid little or nothing for tuition, and then get on with life.In particular, school doesn’t have to be mostly about going into debt for a few hundred thousand dollars, horrible stress in getting ‘accepted’, courses, credits, grades, dorm fees, cafeteria fees, getting drunk, etc.For calculus, work the exercises in one of the editions of Thomas.  For linear algebra, Halmos, ‘Finite Dimensional Vector Spaces’.  To make it easier for MIT students, start with Strang, and then do Halmos!  For advanced calculus, Rudin’s ‘Principles’.  For a little more, now in English, the real source of what all the exterior algebra stuff has been about,Henri Cartan, ‘Differential Forms’, ISBN 0-486-45010-4, Dover, Mineola, NY, 2006.For differential equations, Coddington.  For probability, Neveu.  For freshman physics, Sears and/or Feynman.  For some nice applied math, Luenberger, ‘Optimization by Vector Space Methods’.  Good way to appreciate the Hahn-Banach theorem!  Some students could start on this stuff at age 10 or so and be done by age 16.  Then do and publish some research, get a Ph.D., and f’get about school.  Education thusly hacked.For an introduction to research via Diaconis and using the Internet, try…done also with David Freedman as inDavid Freedman, ‘Brownian Motion and Diffusion’, ISBN 0-387-90805-6, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1983.which is nicely done.Diaconis talks a lot about group theory, exchangeability, and ranking data!  Good!  Glad he did that!  As Charlie Crystal knows, I called it measure preserving transformations instead of exchangeability, and easily all such transformations form a group.  Then can sum over the group and get some probabilities exactly.  Nice.  Can get some multidimensional, distribution-free hypothesis tests that way and use them, say, for some high quality, ASAP detection of problems never seen before in server farms and networks!  Amazon, listen up!  Wall Street?  Maybe listen up!  HP OpsWare and OpenView?  Definitely listen up!  People interested in big data, machine learning, data science, data mining, here’s some of how it should be done so that serious people don’t laugh!Computing and computer science?  Given the math, like plumbing or grass mowing, not worth serious academic effort.English literature?  Watch some movies, maybe with Reese Witherspoon!Classes in English literature with social computing?  GREAT!  Use the computer to get a date with the blond on the right!Still the boys will want to tease the girls!Yes, Shana, you do well handling the boys!Yesterday I got one of my most difficult ASP.NET Web pages working!  The page is ‘dynamic’, that is, from executing code with very little ‘static’ HTML!  Finally I’m beginning actually to understand how ASP.NET works!  It’s simple enough, makes sense, and is okay.Now I want to move the pieces around on the page to make room for ads with 720 x 90 pixels at the top and 300 x 250 pixels down the right side!  Since the ads will come from some unique, hopefully especially effective, ad targeting math, will want the dynamic ASP.NET to display the ads!Let’s see:  Put about four ads per page and serve 100 pages a second, buy a Corvette, take a course in English literature, use Twitter to get a date with the blond, and use the Corvette to take her to something ‘exciting’?  I’d go for ‘Tosca’ or even ‘La Traviata’!But, first have a few more Web pages to write! 

          3. Todd_Andelin


  21. ShanaC

     Err- congrats on the events space?

    1. fredwilson

      I am super excited about our new events space. More on this soon

      1. ShanaC

        Looking forward to hearing about it (out of curiosity, do you know how many it is projected to hold? there are always listings on Next NY/NewTech for people looking for events spaces and what the costs are)

        1. daryn

           a USV event space sounds super cool, can’t wait to hear more.

  22. paramendra

     USV is about to have an events space? Cool. 

  23. Geoff McQueen

    Fred, they’ll probably want to have room for more than 50. I’m from a small college town in Australia (pop 300K) and we got 40 with only a week’s notice last year. 😉

  24. Bill Ferretti

     Fred, agreed and wish I had time to attend. Please consider this idea: “A Day with Fred and Friends.” The agenda: lessons learned the hard way, imponderable questions, government policy issues that affect the Internet and the VC sector, and panels with people you know well and can vouch for. The company I founded, ran, and sold remains in the TV programming business, and that industry’s major conferences use a technique I rarely have seen used elsewhere: it uses people in the industry to “produce” the panels. If interested, I can offer more details. Also after you’ve done two of these conferences, you can write a valuable book bound to be a bestseller. Who knows, it might lead to a second career. All the best, Bill

    1. leigh

      Fred and friends.  sounds like a sat morning kids show…hey wait, i’ve got an idea ….. 

  25. Boris Fowler

     My biggest hang-up with a lot of conferences I attend is that they all say the same thing and the value for me just isn’t quite there. I agree with you, case studies and short talks are the most interesting and valuable to me.

  26. pocketmints

    We are going to apply to host over at Mint Digital down at Canal and Broadway.  We have a good space where we could hold up to about 75.We have the folks from Bug Labs coming over Tuesday if anyone wants to stop by and check out the talk/space. 

  27. Garrick Infanger

     “But I find the little ones are often much better” So what other ‘little ones’ would you recommend?

  28. steve liu

    Lean Startup Machine is the weekend leading up to SLL. Rolling applications are open with $100 off of the SLL Conference tickets.

  29. BuyGiftsItems

    I agree with you, case studies and short talks are the most interesting and valuable to me. Salvage Vehicles

  30. Morgan Linton

    Very cool – thanks for sharing Fred! I’ve been looking for an event just like this! Buying my ticket today and I’ll be attending and live blogging on and live-streaming on to help bring those who can’t make it one step closer to the event!Seems like all these events are in NYC or SF, what about LA? I’m always surprised at how few cool conferences we get here!

  31. Eric Ries

    Fred, thank you so much for sharing this with your community. You’ve really catalyzed interest in new simulcast locations; we’re still sorting through all the applications, and will have new ones posted soon. At least one will be in NYC, but it’s almost entirely sold out already!… Hopefully we’ll have more up soon.Such is the power of AVC. Thanks again,Eric

  32. Eunice Apia

    I would love to attend a stimulcast. I go to a lot of panels and am not great at networking yet. Maybe switching it up will help. There’s a meetup called Founders Fail or Founders @ Fail, that I think is great. I’m registering to two of their meetups in June. They take place at a new space called General Assembly.Side note: Disqus is not mobile friendly. I can no longer post from any of my four browsers. They need to create a tool which allows you to post from your disqus account. 

  33. wellone


  34. Project Management Certificati

    I subscribe to two of its meetings in June amounts to a new space called the General Assembly.PMP Exam

  35. primefurniture

    I find the little ones are often much better” So what other ‘little ones’ would you recommendOffice Furniture

  36. leigh

    this is kinda funny – i just posted up a presentation on slideshare talking about what big brands can learn from start-ups  (had some quotes from the AVC community up there too).love to add some more to it if people had more thoughts……

  37. groupon script

    I agree with you. because it’s very easy and helpful for me.. thanks for the sharing with us….

  38. offirgutelzon

    We are applying to make a simulcast in Hertzelyia will send info later via the lean startup meetup group…thank you fred for pointing to this 

  39. Red Russak

    I hope it’s okay if I quote you: “I think it’s well understood that I am a big fan of the lean startup methodology” (Quoted here…. Trying to help organize the Lean movement in Seattle, one meetup at a time. Our simulcast will serve as a nice catalyst.Are you  planning on coming to Seattle any time soon? After a recent adrenaline rush from Mark Suster’s keynote at Seattle2.0 and tech-crunch article, it’d be a great follow up to have you out and motivate Seattle to continue our attempts to connect the neurons between Corporate and Startup. Oh, and I promise, NO PANELS.

    1. fredwilson

      i might try to get up there this summersummer in seattle is so nice!

      1. Red Russak

        Amen to that! After spending 6 years in NYC, I truly appreciated coming back to Seattle Summers.If you’re coming out here, I’d very much like to set up an opportunity for you to speak if you’re not planning on speaking already. Let me know your thoughts on this as I’m fully committed to organizing events that benefit the Seattle tech community.

  40. Aaron Klein

    Ah, shoot. Just put this comment in on the wrong post. Deleting it.

  41. AndrewKnot

     Hi. Although I will not be able to be there on the 23rd of May, I would like to share with other entrepreneurs willing to start-up a company one of the most relevant informations I have related to international investors. There are plenty of lists of investors that can be found on the Internet.  But the one I am using and that I am now recommending to others is this one here:… because it provides lots of information and it is really easy to use! Enjoy and I hope that the conference will be at least half as good as this list of international investors I am suggesting.

    1. munteanuramiro78

       Hi. Although I will not be able to be there on the 23rd of May, I would like to share with other entrepreneurs willing to start-up a company one of the most relevant informations I have related to international investors. There are plenty of lists of investors that can be found on the Internet.  But the one I am using and that I am now recommending to others is this one here: because it provides lots of information and it is really easy to use! Enjoy and I hope that the conference will be at least half as good as this list of international investors I am suggesting.

  42. Will Franco

     I am on the wrong coast!

  43. Matthew Shampine

    just got the confirmation today. for those interested, we’ll be simulcasting it in soho at WeWork Labs. will have the registration page to rsvp up tomorrow.

  44. Tereza

    I LOVE THAT!!!