Ries tells Dixon he jumped into the startup game in the late 90′s and like almost everybody else at the time, “when the bubble crashed we were completely toast.” Leaving the carnage behind Ries headed to Silicon Valley with the mission of learning “professional entrepreneurship.”
In the Valley Ries joined There, which he describes as a “Second Life competitor.” There had tens of millions of dollars in funding and top-tier talent. After five years in stealth development, it also had a high profile, unspectacular rollout which Ries remembers as “embarrassing and humiliating.”
Lesson learned, or so he thought. Ries launched IMVU, where “instead of spending years and millions of dollars in stealth mode we put a product in customers hands in full open public beta in six months.” Unfortunately IMVU also had a less than stellar initial release, but Ries tells Dixon the experience ultimately helped IMVU get the model right and led to him forming what would become the Lean Startup methodology.
In the video below, Ries and Dixon discuss what being lean means. Key concepts include iterating quickly, rapidly putting product in customers hands and getting feedback from customers. Ries agrees that lean “has nothing to do with the amount of money you raise.”
Part II of Dixon’s conversation with Ries is coming up.