The Leader's Guide

My friend Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, is writing a new book called The Leader’s Guide. He’s crowdfunding the research, writing, and production of this new book on Kickstarter and the campaign was launched today. I’ve already backed this project and you can too. Here’s the video that explains what it is about.


Comments (Archived):

  1. LIAD

    love the raw, self-deprecating promo vid.

    1. Eric Ries


  2. JimHirshfield

    “…and 2 actual pizzas” hahahahaWondering why he needs a publisher if he’s crowd-funding it and making the book only available to Kickstarter backers. (Or did I get that wrong?)

    1. LE

      For one thing a publisher helps with getting mainstream publicity (you know things like appearing on 60 minutes….)

      1. JimHirshfield

        But did he not say that the book’s only available to Kickstarter backers?

        1. LE

          Good point.Note though that some people defacto use the world “publisher” to also refer to the printing process. Or to infer importance. [1]Back to the point it also paves the way for after kickstarter distribution as well.[1] Saying “I’m meeting with my publisher” sounds better than “I’m meeting with the printer”.

      2. falicon

        Agents do this more than publishers…except for the very top of the list authors, publishers focus mostly on print and distribution (i.e. getting into bookstores and on bookshelves)…promotion of the book (and by extension most of the SALES) actually falls on the author’s shoulders.How all that works was one of the more interesting things I learned throughout the ‘getting published’ process (it’s even more on the author’s shoulders for niche categories like mine [tech/programming]). I think it’s a big reason why you see domain experts only write one or two books total (the time/energy/resources to promoting it are not worth the return [especially after the first one is published]…unless your goal is to get out of the ‘domain’ and into the lecture/talk circuit and more full time writer)

        1. LE

          Good points but I think having been vetted and accepted by a major house does make a difference.Not a major house, but my ex wife’s husband had a book published by O’Reilly and I have to say that I was impressed by that. Seemed more real (at least to me) and better career wise than having a book sell on Kickstarter (which probably results in more money in some cases). I think people often ignore (especially younger people) the intangible benefits of some legacy processes and ticket punching.

          1. falicon

            I’ve been published by O’Reilly and Apress — both are *awesome* for the resume and street cred. for sure…but neither paid very much or did much towards sales beyond getting the books in stores/on shelves (that being said, they both did a TON towards making the books *way* better than I would have produced on my own — the editors for both are killer).A large part of their model is to get domain experts with developed networks to write about their topics…and then push those publications to their networks (and beyond)…their talent really lies in knowing what topics are trending enough to warrant books/attention…and then in helping those domain experts solid enough writers to produce useful books…

          2. PhilipSugar

            Please post links to the books.

          3. LE

            Programmers and engineers seem to not understand that “great artists promote”. That’s why musicians need scummy managers.

          4. falicon

            They are all so out of date, they are basically irrelevant (outside of the pleasure I get from saying “I did that” — since I didn’t get my degree, I look at the published stuff as my ‘or equivalent’) 😉

          5. Vasudev Ram

            Some do.And it can be done without being scummy.

          6. falicon

            These are all old and mostly outdated now (not as old or outdated as me, but old none-the-less)…the two best selling ones were:Pro Active Record:…Web Services with Rails:…I also contributed chapters/content to:The Ruby Cookbook:…The SQL Cookbook:……I had another deal from Apress for a book on SimpleDB and a partial green light on a book about adding Search to your site from O’Reilly (but in both cases I ended up not having the time to commit to fulfilling those deals — the SimpleDB book was actually about 80% done before I threw the towel in on it; the search book was in the queue behind the SimpleDB one)*** this marks the end of my shameless self promotion for today…thanks for the opp. 😉

          7. PhilipSugar

            I do not think this was shameless, and I don’t think anybody here would mind.

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Duly impressed but not surprised. Really liked your recent Tumblr post which you will notice I reblogged. :)…

          9. falicon

            Thanks (I did notice and appreciate that reblog)! We should connect via email (or something else)…would love to hear how things are going for you these days and in your world…

          10. Donna Brewington White

            Would love that. Recovering from an antibiotic fail which was worse than the initial ailment. But toward months end? Plan via email?

          11. falicon

            Sorry about the sickness! Otherwise – awesome – I think I’ve got your email already so I’ll ping you in a few ( if you don’t hear from me, then it means I couldn’t find your email and so please email me at info at when you have time ) 😀

          12. ShanaC

            Ooo, that sql one looks good

          13. LE

            See now in true “falicon” and for that matter “Brandon Burns” style (understated) that is not even something that I knew about you.For example it doesn’t appear anywhere on your “about” on and in fact you don’t have an “about” on Falicon.comLet me put this in perspective for you. This is like a programmer failing to sanitize their fucking input!

          14. falicon

            What can I say…I’m an enigma, wrapped in a riddle, surrounded by mystery… :-)Honestly – around here over the years, I’ve generally tried to build my reputation through my statements (and services/products) and not so much through what I’ve done elsewhere (though all of those experiences strongly influence the opinions I share here)…

          15. LE

            You get more with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone.

          16. Donna Brewington White

            Fait accompli

          17. Emily Merkle

            agree. most writers don’t write for the cash.

    2. JLM

      .The publisher is providing editing (developmental, copy, proof), book cover design, interior design, registration (ISBN, Library of Congress), marketing, distribution and fulfillment.Those are the traditional roles of a publisher and someone like Crown is doing just that.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. JimHirshfield

        Right. But if you’re raising $100k+ on Kickstarter, can’t you do all that thru self-publishing channels/services? Anyway, I know the answer. Just saying it’s an odd structure. If you have a publisher, why do you need Kickstarter?

        1. JLM

          .You are absolutely right. Many publishers — even the big ones — subcontract all of that to freelancers. I use three different editors routinely.The book cover design and interior design are graphic arts disciplines and easily attainable all over the world.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  3. andyswan

    Kickstarter is so cool. I have a 2015 goal of getting something on kickstarter. It makes me want to make things.

    1. LE

      I have a 2015 goal of gettingYou and Landon need to have a 2015 goal of getting on Shark Tank.

      1. PhilipSugar

        Is it just me or do others loathe the show as much as I do? I get friends and family tell me I have to watch this or that episode and I try, but I just cannot stand it, I never finish.

        1. LE


        2. falicon

          I’ve watched a few minutes – same reaction. For the bit that I did watch, it just felt like a desperation move for people on the show looking for backing…seems like so many other/better/smarter ways to build a business…

          1. LE

            It’s 15 or 20 minutes of major network publicity. That’s not including the repeats which now show on CNBC and also summer ones on ABC. Although the value of that is obvious on it’s face, I happen to also have personal knowledge of exactly how that benefits an entrepreneur.

          2. falicon

            That’s *really* expensive publicity…I don’t have any facts one way or the other, but my guess is that the experience close to you is more the exception than the rule…the show’s been around long enough now, I wonder if there are stats/results on the ‘success rate’ so far?

          3. Emily Merkle

            No facts either, but – they compete in a small group with non-aligned concepts. Funding/winning has nothing to do with how your gig will fly against like-minded.

          4. LE

            Well why don’t you start first by explaining to me what you think the downside of being on the show is exactly? That someone will rip off your idea? Or?

          5. PhilipSugar

            You give up 5% of your company or 2% of sales forever:…That and your pride. However, as you point out if you have a consumer facing company the publicity is worth it.

          6. LE

            I think they got rid of that 5% thing. I will try to find the link if I can.

          7. falicon

            Time/energy preparing for the show (vs. building/growing your business)…if picked, the equity amounts given up for the cash/help offered just seems like there are much easier/better/smarter ways to get 30k and/or a distribution deal for your business (assuming you have a worthy product).It’s just not a show that connects with me I guess…but outside of sports, I kinda hate all reality TV (I watched the 1st season of survivor way back when and I enjoyed the 1st season of the Apprentice but those are the only two that I’ve been able to sit through)…so I’m not the norm. here for sure.

          8. LE

            just seems like there are much easier/better/smarter ways to get 30k and/or a distribution deal for your business (assuming you have a worthy product).Doors opened by, say, Mark Cuban or Kevin O’Reilly investing $x means a great deal. Having that “branding” (as being on Shark Tank) publicity wise is a big benefit. Creates a halo and makes you stand out. Many times, that’s what it’s all about.Look at it this way. There are many “worthy” products out there. But getting attention and having doors opened for your worthy product is way more important than just having a worthy product.Having doors opened matters. I know in some cases having a better mouse trap helps greatly, and the world will beat a path to your door, but think of the investment as having greater value than the money.

          9. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I think losing on Shark Tank might be more lucrative than winning. Just watch how Lori Cheek converted losing into endless PR for Cheek’d.

          10. falicon

            I didn’t know she was on that show…very interesting. I met her awhile back at a House of Genius event in Brooklyn (she’s been very tenacious about building that business so glad to hear that it’s still going)

          11. ShanaC

            That she is

          12. PhilipSugar

            I am not debating if you have a consumer product, the publicity is not worth it. Professional wrestling gets a large viewership too, I just choose not to watch it.

          13. LE

            I was annoyed the other day because the nightly news was delayed because of some “stupid golf game”. It’s stupid to me because I do not like or watch golf. You would never catch me in front of a TV watching any sport but certainly not golf that’s for sure. (For one thing I don’t golf!) Ditto for tennis matches. But to some people (like with wrestling) it’s an art and they’ve learned to appreciate it like art. (To me, some reality TV is art [1] and if we sat together long enough watching I could explain to you why…)Anyway I was thinking “what makes golf so special” as opposed to flying RC Helicopters w/o gyros something that I would find interesting to watch and I would argue takes as much skill or more than playing golf?Well, golf is a legacy activity that has been built up since way back and it’s backed by major money and has a distribution venue. Nobody cares or knows about RC Helicopters. Or for that matter robotics competitions aren’t exactly making 60 Minutes run late, right?.Look, Fred and Joanne have developed a love for sitting and watching food being prepared for 4 hours at a sushi restaurant in LA. To them, it’s an art. There brain reacts differently than my brain in the same seat at the same restaurant for the same time period.So to some people watching wrestling is entertaining because they know enough (we don’t) to appreciate and know the “characters” and the crap they pull. It’s really that simple.[1] The lighting, the editing, the characters, the music there is much to appreciate that most people probably don’t see. (Just like watching the Godfather for the first time, you miss things that become gems later on…)

          14. Emily Merkle

            golf is significant for the discipline aspect of the game, the margins most tournaments come down to, and the once-in-a-generation or two Tigers. Beautiful tradition.

        3. Emily Merkle

          it’s horrifically fake.

          1. LE

            In what way? Are you saying the deals don’t actually happen? Or that things are exaggerated or?

          2. Emily Merkle

            Not reflective of reality, staged in part, it’s entertainment, not instructive.

          3. LE

            It is not meant to represent “reality” whatever “reality” is. Silicon Valley and VC investing by the way don’t represent “reality” to the 99.9% of businesses that start in this country for that matter.If people appear on the show, get some money, increase their sales, what is not real about that? Specifically? What do you feel is “stage” other than the obvious need to edit and the entertaining comments from the “cast” of investors?(Not to mention that they increase their sales even if they don’t get a Shark to bite. )

          4. Emily Merkle

            I guess it just depends on the lens you view the show through. Some/many not familiar with business think it’s reality. In fact my mother told me to go on Shark Tank the other day. She has no idea about anything I do.

          5. PhilipSugar

            I had a partners Mom once tell me that, and she was adamant.

          6. LE

            Well that is annoying for sure but do you think that is anywhere near as annoying as people focusing in on the outlier successes that occur in the VC world as representative of “something special being in the air”?

          7. Emily Merkle

            agree. the Valley hype machine is so out of step in every way.

          8. PhilipSugar

            Well put. I have to stop posting as I think I hijacked this thread.

          9. LE

            See now that, in a nutshell, is the reason I love so much being what is often derided or slightly deprecated as a “lifestyle” entrepreneur.I can do whatever the fuck I want, and say what I want, without having to worry that I am breaking some rule or not allowed to do so or that someone is going to view me in a non positive light and it will impact me in some way. In fact if I had worried about the preceding I probably wouldn’t have ever been able to make a dollar.Would be interesting to compare notes. We were raised differently most likely and unless Fred stated that he didn’t want thread hijacking (I think he has said the exact opposite from my memory) I wouldn’t ever care about that at all.

          10. Emily Merkle

            IDGAS is a good approach.

          11. Emily Merkle

            mothers’ intuition is the secret sauce in all portfolios.

          12. Sam

            LE, I think you are right about the distinction between Silicon Valley [1] and a broader array of (non-tech) small business ownership. I often see an underlying tension in the comments here at AVC partly because it’s a mixing of those two groups and their sometimes-very-different business models. At the same time, it’s that tension that often drives the most useful insights for me personally.[1] “Silicon Valley” being short hand for tech startups wherever they may occur.

          13. PhilipSugar

            That and it glorifies arrogance.

          14. LE

            I think Cuban can be a dick for sure. But they edit out many things so you don’t have a clear picture of why he gets to that point. All you see is the final reaction, like a man yelling at his kids in the restaurant. Not how they didn’t listen 100 times before and he had a bad day.Anyway we can get into why I think the same thing about sports on TV and how that glorifies various things that I find personally distasteful. Way way more harmful than episodes of Shark Tank. (Or popular culture you know I am the one that hates all that “ghetto” culture and the love of Kardashian..)Guess what? If you operate in the world of some small businesses the “cast” members actually are somewhat loosely representative of the “dicks” that you meet in the business world and how they operate. Doesn’t make it right but it’s not exactly totally madeup either. Exagerated? Sure. But not invented.

          15. JLM

            .Great, insightful comment. Just like a Dad yelling at his kids. I personally would like to smack the snot out of Mr. Wonderful.My lesser angels wrote that and I apologize for them. Still the smack is available.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        4. Matt Zagaja

          I love Shark Tank. Have bought several products that appeared on the show and have been happy with all of them.I think calling things fake is kind of strange. The only true measure of whether a business is real is revenue and profit. The free market gives people huge variety of options to create this whether you write software, brew espresso, or sell out concert halls.I don’t think television is going to be reflective of the average experience. Dating certainly isn’t like the hit show the bachelor for most people, but I hear people on that show actually get married/engaged.

    2. Emily Merkle

      I have a project for you…

    3. Eric Ries

      do it! it’s a lot cooler from the inside even than it seems from the outside (and I say this having backed 30 projects)

      1. andyswan

        fist bump

        1. Eric Ries

          Can I do an emoji on here? No? What’s the old-school text emoticon for fist bump? Who does technical support around here? Fred?

          1. Emily Merkle


          2. fredwilson

            nobody, sadly

          3. Vasudev Ram

            opp for a startup

          4. laurie kalmanson

            can’t add a photo on disqus / edit comment?

          5. Guest

            here you go, closest i could find…

          6. laurie kalmanson

            here you go; closest i could find…

  4. William Mougayar

    Why would someone like Eric Ries who has already made hundreds of thousands of dollars from speaking engagements, his first book, and his conference ask for $135K to support this project, especially after stating he’s already finished it mostly, and he has a publisher already (who most probably paid him an advance which he’s not disclosing). And why make it “exclusive” to Kickstarter backers, when it will be widely available 2-3 months later? Unless there’s something I’m missing, I can’t morally support this project’s approach.

    1. LE

      Well at least one reason, it’s a venue to get distribution and to get cash up front.

    2. Anne Libby

      Oh, and I saw it as a brilliant potential triple-win experiment.Limited, defined print run for Crown, and If there’s not sufficient interest, Crown doesn’t have the potential of unsold books landing back in their warehouses.Eric gets engagement and input with his audience. If this doesn’t get backed, he can explore other avenues for distributing his content.And the community gets the info, as well as engagement with one another and exclusive content.And if the project doesn’t get backed, nobody loses.Edited to also add: how much money should Eric be “allowed” to make? As a one woman-business selling my expertise/time/ideas, I watch people like Eric with great interest. It’s a real challenge to figure out a sustainable model!

      1. JLM

        .With Print on Demand technology these days, the publisher has almost no real printing risk and even when he does, he charges back to the author for unsold copies.The only sticky point is when there’s a big advance that doesn’t work out based on sales — Hillary Clinton’s book, as an example.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. Anne Libby

          To your first point, #schooled, thanks. Lower risk for Eric, then.To your second point:

          1. JLM

            .I am offended that you are depicting HRC as a troll — pink haired is so attractive, I must admit. But a troll?She was the only example I could think of as a huge failed advance. Sorry.I’ll send her an email apologizing.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Ha! You’re back. I’m still sick btw. Bad reaction to antibiotic.

          3. JLM

            .Bad deal. Sorry to hear it. I will ping you later this week. Take care of yourself. Arnold Palmers with whiskey.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          4. ShanaC

            Same, recently…

          5. Donna Brewington White

            Reaction to antibiotics or in general. Better now? And BTW just included you in an #AVC femmes #grouphug on Twitter.

          6. Anne Libby

            I apologize for offending you.

          7. JLM

            .It is actually not possible to offend me. I am too much of a simpleton.I do, however, love Hillary. Such entertainment value.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          8. Donna Brewington White

            Anne, I think that if you ever offend someone, it’s probably their problem. Really.

          9. Anne Libby

            Thank you for having such a gracious view, Donna.

        2. LE

          Not to mention that the actual printing (manufacturing cost) even in the traditional “non” on demand world is such that publishers were able to put books out essentially on consignment. Same with magazines. Lest anyone think that everything you see at B&N they layout cash for.Back in the 70’s at UofP a Penn Student started a company called Encore books which was one of the pioneers of actually buying bestsellers from publishers in order to offer them at deeply discounted prices.In 1973, David Schlessinger, then an 18-year-old sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania, started Encore Books with $10,000 that included his bar mitzvah money and loans from his brother and sister. His business was considered the beginning of the discount-book business.

      2. Emily Merkle

        It’s crowdfunding. He can make as much as the community invests in him.

        1. Anne Libby


          1. Guest

            To your first point, #schooled, thanks. So, it de-risks Eric’s investment, his time.To your second point:

      3. Vasudev Ram

        >And if the project doesn’t get backed, nobody loses.But if the project doesn’t get backed enough, i.e. up to the goal, all the backers lose – not money, maybe, but dashed expectations, coz they wanted the book. So does Eric (lose)? – maybe – not sure – depends on what he does with his time until the goal is reached or not. If he doesn’t spend any of his time on the book until and unless the goal is reached, he doesn’t lose – while backers do, mind.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          It is always a little heartbreaking (for me) when a Kickstarter campaign fails. But I keep coming back.I doubt we have to worry about Eric.

        2. Anne Libby

          I agree with @charliecrystle on this, I’m sure this content will be find its way to backers.

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Maybe time to scale? Imagine Anne Libby multiplied…But then there is the question of whether it is worth it to “run a business” vs. doing the work you love. Unless you love running a business.

        1. Anne Libby

          It’s a business either way, “Love” doesn’t make it any less so.Some things about running this kind of business are uniquely challenging.Which goes back to my original comment today, it takes a lot of experimenting to find a workable, sustainable model.(edited to remove a phrase I can’t believe that I used.)

          1. Donna Brewington White

            It’s definitely a business even as a one woman show. But with even a tiny bit of expansion and thinking about more, I am struck with how much of my time is focused on things other than the work of helping companies hire the right people even if this is still front and center. But I am also faced with the limitations of what I can personally do and knowing that I have something valuable to offer that should not start and stop with my personal output. But the jury is still out. Maybe the sustainable model is what I have already been doing. Yet I’d like to at least try another way (or other ways). But only so much time so need to be strategic. So it probably goes back to what you already said. 🙂

          2. Anne Libby

            I thought that you worked on your own, too– or had done so.Your statement, “I am also faced with the limitations of what I can personally do and knowing that I have something valuable to offer that should not stop and start with my personal output,” is AWESOME.This is an elegant description of one new inefficiency that enters the market when people are uncoupled from institutions.

      5. laurie kalmanson

        nicely done

    3. Ciaran

      Quite. It strikes me that Kickstarter is essentially now a store with weird add-ons that people include to ensure it passes Kickstarter’s “We’re not for ecommerce” thing.One of Ries’ packages seems to include access to products from 3rd parties. Does this mean that people are now selling access to a Kickstarter audience? It seems to be coming through another product of Ries’ (Mobilestartepack) but whilst I’m sure it is all entirely above board, it certainly makes it even more confusing.To LE’s comment, I totally understand why he does it; it just doesn’t feel right.

    4. gorbachev

      Viral advertising. Personally this sort of stuff makes me avoid the Kickstarter campaign entirely.

      1. Alexander Close

        It’s not too hard to discover how engaged Eric is in the Kickstarter community. He’s been backing projects (30) since 2011.… Hard to say he’s chosen a Kickstarter campaign purely for “viral advertising”. He’s using #meerkat for that. 😀

    5. Matt A. Myers

      Posted this as separate comment first.. but..I think Fred’s description is a bit confusing.Eric’s offering “The Leader’s Guide” as part of the crowdfunding, only available on Kickstarter, to fundraise the new book he wants to research for and write called “The Startup Way [working title].”Someone correct me if I’m wrong?

      1. andyswan

        u right

    6. fredwilson

      william, pls see Eric’s comment on this post, which I have elevated to the top. he explains what is going on

      1. William Mougayar

        Thanks Fred. Still, I think it would have been big of Eric to do this as straight pre-sales, without a campaign target. Given his profile, he can have research access to *any* startup or company he wants, and that’s more valuable than anything. I’m interpreting this as an over the top greedy approach.I wish him luck, but it’s not my style of doing things.

        1. fredwilson

          this comment suggests you don’t understand the kickstarter model vs the indiegogo modelputting a number out there, which if you don’t hit, you don’t get any of the money, is the genius of the kickstarter model and the secret to why it raises more money for creative projects than any other platform by a factor of 3x or morei wrote about this a while back

          1. Emily Merkle

            But isn’t it more important to get Eric’s book out there – than be foiled by missing a mark that he’s set – how? On what data? On what gauge of interest? How did he arrive at 135k as 1) necessary, and 2) doable?

          2. JamesHRH

            I agree with Fred – it is more important to do the project properly (fully funded).

          3. Emily Merkle

            It’s always best to do a project at your goal. But much of the time there is no way to accurately estimate what the public is willing to give. His book idea is important. If he “fails” – then what? He’s back to ground zero and has lost the faith of all of his contributors. What do you do then? Donate blood? I don’t understand the disconnect between the Crowdrise model – which is keep what you raise – and Kickstarter. Anyone with a project is motivated to raise as much as possible. But you’re dealing with a public that cannot be accurately gauged all the time. If they invest, they believe in you, they want to see it happen. So you “fail”. Maybe you miscalculated. I can see not hitting the mark but as long as you can still deliver, you keep the funds.

          4. LE

            genius of the kickstarter modelYep and part of genius is also doing something that others simply don’t understand, even when it is explained to them and is no secret.

          5. William Mougayar

            Ok. I’ve changed my mind slightly, and decided to support it, just so I can follow this book campaign scheme.

        2. Donna Brewington White

          Did you guys plan this? 😉

          1. William Mougayar

            No way! Although I haven’t disagreed with Fred here for a while.

          2. Rohan

            It was admittedly nice to see the disagreement. :-)I was actually a bit unclear as to what the promotion was far. Much clearer now..

    7. JLM

      .I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.Seems misguided.I am going to steal the book, put it on a pirate site digitally and turn out an audio version. Want some of the action?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    8. Sean Hull

      Sounds like he’s a business genius to me.

  5. pointsnfigures

    hope he is successful, but I agree with William. Although, publishers used to give author’s advances-and so this is sort of like that.

    1. Eric Ries

      don’t feel bad for me – I still have a traditional publisher (Crown in the US, Penguin in the UK) and a traditional advance. That’s not true for a lot of authors, though, so I hope sites like Kickstarter do make this kind of creative work available to more people.

      1. pointsnfigures

        Yes, I think that Kickstarter could become an “advance” network for certain authors. This will be interesting to watch as you go forward.

        1. fredwilson

          it should become an “advance network” for all creatorsin fact, it is already that, but not enough creators understand why they should move to it

          1. pointsnfigures

            Agree. I love the idea of it being an advance network. Creators need to balance the sharing of an idea publicly, with the need for the money to execute it. For example, Eric has put his idea out there. The Samwer brothers of book writing could rush one to market and copy him!

          2. Vasudev Ram

            >in fact, it is already that, but not enough creators understand why they should move to itThen why not publicize that some more. I for one would be interested (as a creator), and I’m sure others too. And do it on multiple sites to let more people know.I had checked out Kickstarter some time ago (probably due to a blog post by you), but then found that it either did not work for some kinds of creations (I forget which, right now), or was not supported in India.Side rant: I think more startups should try to work out models that allow for international participation, whether it is as customers or as suppliers of products or services.In fact, maybe there is a startup opportunity in that – I18NaaS 🙂 – Internationalization as a Service – not the language translation kind (alone), but the commercial / payments / legal aspects too, which is what most startups say the hurdles are about.

  6. Matt A. Myers

    I think Fred’s description is a bit confusing.Eric’s offering “The Leader’s Guide” as part of the crowdfunding, only available on Kickstarter, to fundraise the new book he wants to research for and write called “The Startup Way [working title].”Someone correct me if I’m wrong?

    1. Emily Merkle

      I did not hear it that way. I heard The Leader’s guide is largely unwritten and he’s asking for help from backers.

      1. pointsnfigures

        I heard it Emily’s way too, glad there is a clarifying post.

    2. Eric Ries

      Matt, you’ve got it right. The Leader’s Guide will be written and will ship in 2015. The Startup Way will come out in 2016 or 2017, depending on how the writing goes.

  7. Emily Merkle

    vast majority of lean guides just get all academic on the model, which is so fucking elegant there is nothing to say. devil is in the application. I love this. I wish he wasn’t gating participation to backers, that is kind of counterintuitive. Here let me pay you to give you content?

    1. Eric Ries

      I thought about this quite a bit, and went back and forth. My biggest issue with a large, public site is that I get a lot of snark (i mean, just spend 2mins on certain other sites to know what I mean). I don’t mind getting punched in the face, myself, but I didn’t think that would be conducive to people sharing honestly about their startup. This way, I know that every person in the community really wants to be there, and they’ve committed to be party of the journey in a serious way.

      1. Emily Merkle

        You can have a gated, qualified community without charging for the contributed content. Wouldn’t quality contribution trump pay-to-play?

        1. Eric Ries

          But how do you choose the initial population to let in? The trolls (at least the ones I deal with) are pretty sophisticated, but (again in my experience) also pretty stingy.

          1. Emily Merkle

            well, you can corrall the lean community on Twitter. I used to run with them. I don’t really see your topic as a troll-magnet. whatever a troll is.

          2. Emily Merkle

            or you hire/work with someone who knows lean + startups + leadership. to manage the content community and help you vet it.

  8. Eric Ries

    Hey everybody, Eric Ries here. Am doing launch-day interviews and speaking at SXSW all day today, but will try and drop by from time to time and answer questions. Huge, huge thanks to Fred for sharing this with all of you.To clarify a couple things that have come up in the comments:1. The Leader’s Guide is Kickstarter exclusive and won’t be traditionally published or sold in stores. 2. I do have a traditional publisher who will publish my next book, but not for several years (I still have to write it).3. I hope this campaign will help me test ideas and generate new research for the new book4. I’m not making any profit off this campaign. As the Kickstarter page says: 100% of the money will be used for campaign, backer community, printing, and research.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Hi Eric, love this – very fresh take on lean. Can you explain your thinking on my comment below?

    2. JLM

      .It is very nice to have a subject of one of Fred’s blog posts show up to fade the heat. Welcome to ATX, where I have arranged the best possible weather for SXSW. I live here. I give here. I write here.I am a little lost as to why you would not allow your wisdom to be shared far and wide, seems to be completely inconsistent with the Internet and the digital world and SXSW. [Thank you and the other 300K people who are walking the streets in Austin. Tell everyone about tanning parlors. I have never seen so many fish belly white faces and bodies in my life.]Why the artificial exclusivity?Aren’t you a citizen of the world making the entire world a better place?Isn’t leadership and its discussion a world wide need? [I will buy ten copies and send them to the White House but it may be too late, no?]Rethink this campaign and make damn sure to go to Matt’s El Rancho and have a large Bob. Hell, if you distribute your book as an eBook, I’ll even buy your dinner at Matt’s. This is a bribe and this is the way we do stuff in Texas.BTW, I will be illegally copying your book and making an audio version and distributing it for free on the web. Would you like a piece of the action?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      1. Emily Merkle

        wow JLM, great take. that pitch angle is much more compelling. the book sounds very viable – this really needs to be out there.

        1. JLM

          .Emily, I am saving a couple of points for you on the pirated copy deal. Want in? No investment required.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Emily Merkle

            you had me at “pirated” and “no investment”

          2. JLM

            .You will have to do some promotion but that doesn’t cost any money. So far, I have 5 partners.I will put it up in Antigua so we don’t have to go to jail. I like Antigua.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          3. Emily Merkle

            I don’t promote my own shit; much more credible from 3rd parties. I thought the Caymans were the “in” sheleter?

          4. JLM

            .Antigua is where the real crooks go. They might make me a Knight if I employ enough people.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          5. Emily Merkle

            in that case let’s you and I work out a consultancy – I am averse to being employed.

          6. JLM

            .Employee?You are a co-founder. If you misbehave, you’re going to be CEO.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          7. Emily Merkle

            ick. I’m a good girl. Promise.

          8. pointsnfigures

            Panama is replacing them too. No one is going to do anything militarily there with the canal, and they have Swiss like banking laws.

      2. Eric Ries

        This made me LOL. If you’ll release your pirated edition as CC-BY-NC-SA, you have my blessing. In fact, it’d be great if you could do that now and send it to me, so I don’t have to do all the hard work of writing it.No need to send to the White House. There were a half dozen people from there at the private dinner we hosted last night (true story). I’m very confident they’ve already ordered more than 10 copies.

        1. JLM

          .Big problem being can they actually READ? Who picked up the tab?Having been a CEO for 33 years and an Army officer before that, I will get right on the ghost writing. Why don’t I just run it by you when I finish?Enjoy Austin this week. And, do go to Matt’s.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Eric Ries

            Roger that

          2. JLM

            .Good radio procedure will always result in more efficient communication and fewer SNAFUS. Well done, over.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        2. JLM

          .Look for the Creative Commons release to appear as a new Kickstarter project in the next few days. I’m a little busy this week with dodging SXSW folks and going to a lot of parties.I guess we have to cut Fred in for a piece, it’s his joint, no?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

          1. Emily Merkle

            have a Trudy’s Mexican Martini for me.

    3. ShanaC

      What’s the research goal

  9. FitAura

    I think it’s smart. So often people focus on the funding portion of crowdfunding when the real value lies in the crowd portion. Getting a crowd involved in the dev of finding your product market fit and MVP creation through engagement is brilliant!

  10. Joe Cardillo

    Will leave the appropriateness (or not) of Eric’s crowdfunding to others – but worth noting a deeper / interesting thing happened in crowdfunding today w/the merger between Patreon and Subbable (John & Hank Green’s thing) –

  11. Vasudev Ram

    Just had a thought: A book by the key “Lean startup” guy ought to be published on Leanpub :-)

    1. Eric Ries

      Yup, big fan of leanpub

  12. Matt Zagaja

    So I think that people that did not watch the Fred video from the other day are missing some important context, to the extent that Fred seems to feel that Kickstarter is a great platform for creatives to get backing for their new works from existing fan bases. I think that is awesome and that having those people on Kickstarter is totally in its spirit.That being said I am unfamiliar with the Lean Startup other than some peripheral reading about it. I found the copy and video to be lacking in clarity. It was very busy. The consequence of this is that my presumption is that this is for people more familiar with this system and not for people like me.

    1. Eric Ries

      Thanks for the feedback.PS. I hope you’ll check out the “complete lean startup” package which includes a copy of The Lean Startup.

  13. Donna Brewington White

    Okay so maybe it’s because I read several comments first but the video seems very clear. And a great project. I’m in. Besides, it’s Eric Ries.

    1. Eric Ries


  14. Philip Smith

    Fred, this is a no brainer

  15. Kirsten Lambertsen

    I certainly learned a ton from Eric’s Lean book. A pretty important read in my life.I also think there’s a Kickstarter in my future, like a year or so away 🙂 It’s gonna be epic.

  16. jmcaddell

    Late to the conversation here, but the Kickstarter model is really necessary for smaller projects with high fixed costs. My project (thankfully successful) was to raise $2500 to edit/lay out/print my book. The vast majority of that was fixed costs. If I had raised, say $1500, then I would be on the hook for $1000 out of my pocket to cover costs. People would have gotten the book, but at a personal cost. And many Kickstarter projects could not have absorbed a shortfall like that.Obviously scaling up to $135K for a campaign has different issues, but at the heart of Kickstarter is support for smaller projects. And for many of those, “keep what you raise” is not workable.

  17. William Mougayar

    Then why not call it pre-sales and I would have bought 3 books, just like Seth Godin did with his last book.

  18. William Mougayar

    If I refuse to be duped, then I can do that based on my own moral standards. Just calling a spade a spade.

  19. fredwilson

    +1probably some people woke up grumpy

  20. JLM

    .Charlie, Charlie, Charlie — anyone who doesn’t agree with you has made a “negative” comment? Bit too judgmental for me, old boy.The discussion hasn’t said a single bad thing about the book, the author, the subject — it is a very unusual distribution technique (which you have analyzed correctly, in my view, it is pre-sales) and it has raised some questions which Eric Ries has graciously answered.The conversation has been perfectly charming and interesting. It is an interesting topic.You and Fred need to go get a couples massage and release the tension.This has been a very interesting discussion. An excellent topic. The involvement of the author has been extraordinary. Have some fun.BTW, the weather in ATX is extraordinary. Come on down.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  21. fredwilson

    or maybe you need to take a chill pill JLM

  22. JLM

    .Haha, good one, Fred. A chill pill?I’ll take the chill pill if you and Charlie get that couples massage.Wouldn’t want a real conversation to break out, would we?Bit Left Coast, dude.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  23. Emily Merkle

    How about, full transparency, and let each potential donor decide for themselves?

  24. JLM

    .What qualifies a comment to be “negative”? I just don’t get that.I personally like a discussion where the most varied viewpoints are represented — when ideas wrestle better ideas are always the result.Hell, I even like a bit of spice as long as folks fight fair. Why not? It’s like basketball — we all get a few fouls, no?You saw the deal for exactly what it was and your explanation was very insightful.I will gladly pay for the massage. I think a damn good massage — weekly, no less — is essential and a reflexology foot massage is a right enshrined in the Constitution right next to Internet access speed.Be well, friend. Spring is coming and the planting time is upon you. The azaleas, the redbuds and the pear trees are all blooming their hearts out for SXSW.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  25. JLM

    .Publishing is totally broken. Talk about an industry that has been disrupted.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  26. fredwilson

    or telling us to get a couples massagei find that insulting personally

  27. JLM

    .OK, so maybe I’m hung up on the word “negative” — sounds judgmental.I like people throwing out their honest reactions — that’s called dialogue, conversation.I always learn way more from folks who call bullshit on me or who disagree with me. I can get agreement from my Labrador.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  28. LE

    Otoh saying “I don’t get all this negative commentary” doesn’t perhaps acknowledge that someone has the right to be negative and further may be taken to state confusion and non acceptance that it should even be offered. There are words that can be added to writing the same way tone can be added to speech. [1] Writing can be modified to indicate tone.You said “I don’t understand the negative comments here–really off the mark. “The modifiers were “really off the mark” as well as “I don’t understand”.Note: I don’t have any issue that you said that and I think you made a good valid comment. I wish you commented more.[1] “Otoh” was put in front of “Saying” to tone it down and to say, in essence, “here is my perspective. Or “perhaps” another example. If I had left out “otoh” the statement would have seemed much to harsh and would have implied more judgement as in “you are definitely wrong here” which is not what I wanted to convey.

  29. JLM

    .C’mon, Fred, that was funny and you know it. Don’t be so sensitive.I take no offense that you told me to take a chill pill. When you said that, I booked a massage for this afternoon. So it did some good.If someone like me doesn’t needle you from time to time, who is?JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  30. ShanaC

    Bad days?

  31. Vasudev Ram

    Maybe not, but then why the binary cutoff (go / no go)? That’s what is confusing people here.See Emily Merkle’s comment above:”But isn’t it more important to get Eric’s book out there – than be foiled by missing a mark that he’s set – how? On what data? On what gauge of interest? How did he arrive at 135k as 1) necessary, and 2) doable?”For example, why not plan to do it as long as he gets anywhere from 50 to 100% of his 135K goal? or could set the goal higher (even 270K) and apply the same (50 to 100)? If Kickstarter doesn’t support that, on another site?I’m partly thinking aloud here, since I don’t know the Kickstarter model well, but interested in this discussion.

  32. Donna Brewington White

    And you thought your work was done here. I think not. ;)Killing me with the Justin Bieber reference.

  33. Vasudev Ram

    Good explanation, thanks. I’m more clear about it now.

  34. William Mougayar

    Me neither.

  35. William Mougayar

    Not sure yet, but not with that scheme, or I’d be begging for money already.

  36. Donna Brewington White

    Where’s the fun in that. After going to Eric’s Kickstarter page I felt like I’d been shopping! So many choices! Like an Etsy/Kickstarter merger.

  37. William Mougayar

    If you still believe this is pre-sales, it is not. Pre-sales for a book is pre-selling the book. This is funding his research, and it is what it is.

  38. fredwilson

    I’m not sure what question you are asking. But I enjoy debate as long as it doesn’tget into the insulting territory. I felt like that did.

  39. William Mougayar

    There are so many parts to this campaign that you can hardly see the parts that don’t make sense and a stretch beyond pre-sales, from the pre-sales ones. That was my main concern with it. A credible author (like Eric is) shouldn’t have to resort to such carefully planned and orchestrated scheme to fund his research and pay his people. The only thing that a supporter gets is a book. Any monies over that pay for his overhead. Sure, call anything an experiment and give it the intrigue and doubt of success, and you’ll get sympathy from supporters. We’re not seeing the same thing here, and that’s fine. We’re both thick (and bald) headed, anyways.