Eric Ries

When Odeo first started as a podcasting company, it had so few customers that it offered to return its investors’ money. But it looked at what its customers wanted, changed its model and became the company we know today as Twitter. Author Eric Ries says more startups should use that idea of continuous innovation. In “The Lean Startup,” Ries promotes applying the principles of lean manufacturing, where the focus is on the consumer’s perspective. How can we apply these lean principles elsewhere? And if you’re one of the many startups in Silicon Valley, what has or hasn’t worked for your company?

Eric Ries, author of "The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses" and founder of the Lean Startup Conference

  • Rhet

    I don’t believe Twitter is just another start-up. That’s their story and I don’t buy it.
    Ask yourself, who profits from common people posting details about their personal lives?
    It seems too diabolical to believe but the evidence is clear that the USA is becoming a police state, one that is able to watch every move of every citizen far better than the Stasi and the KGB ever did.
    The NSA is recording all this data, which is considered _evidence_ to be used at any time against citizens, like in Orwell’s 1984.
    Listen to what NSA whistleblowers have said about this surveillance on everybody:

  • Vivek Gulati

    The innovation need not necessarily be in the line of business or product, an innovation in company culture can create wonders too. See, for example,

  • Creating an MVP was vital to starting my company last year. We wanted to test if parents would download apps for their young children based on quality rather than a brand name like Disney Princesses. We were thrilled with the response to our simple bedtime app Goodnight Safari with over 450K downloads and loyal repeat users – and have used the direct feedback and use patterns (gathered from anonymous metrics) to inform the development and features of our upcoming app Spatter & Spark.

  • Eric, how is the groupon pivot a shift in strategy without a shift in vision? Sounds like the vision of consumer coupons is really different from the vision of social impact.

    • CarlosT

      The vision of *both* The Pointe and Groupon is collective action.

  • shantanu Mitra

    The discussion this far has been on businesses selling to individual customers. Real technology start ups working on silicon chips or energy storage technology face a whole different set of issues. What does your guest day about those.

  • sine nomine

    Could you address limitations to Lean Startup? I can’t see this working with something like starting up, say, a distillery where you have costs like specialized equipment, bonded warehouses, prepayment of taxes and so on.

    Thanks from the East Coast

  • Thad Leingang

    what are Eric’s thoughts on the disproportional fees (tax) levied by attorneys. How can the industry push automation and standardization to bring legal cost under $5000?

  • Watty Helms

    Sorry to have to say this but I’m not hearing any new ideas from Eric here. All companies ‘pivot’ and change direction all the time and have done for hundreds of years. Please give us some examples of “radically successful” companies that have followed ‘lean’ principles. Twitter can hardly be considered ‘radically successful’ – it is a net money loser (nor is it lean!)

  • Fred

    A startup visa is a very bad idea. A smarter solution is for other foreign companies to compete with US companies in a free market. No alliances. No neo-colonialism.
    When people come to the US to start companies this ultimately leads to the Wall Street corporate mafia gaining control over those companies, which is _bad_ for other countries and bad for American democracy.
    When Eric Ries says it’s outrageous to let foreign entrepreneurs go home he is showing his allegiance to the corporate mafia.

    • Dana Benedict

      There is this idea being floated that somehow foreigners are smarter and more innovative than Americans. Well, there are many more foreigners than Americans, so the pool is bigger, and statistically there would be more smart people in a larger cohort. But really, would you want run your country run, by being dependent on foreigners? That is merely another form of colonialism. We don’t need that kind of crap. That was what 1776 was all about: the stern rejection of foreign influence!

      • Fred

        That’s right. We shouldn’t colonize them nor them us.
        But foreign powers love to manipulate the USA as their puppet, Israel being the most visible, but also China.

  • We really like the new book Just Start, co-authored by President of Babson College. What does Eric think about it for new entrepreneurs

    • Fred

      Our economic and political systems are run by greedy speculators, who
      never think long-term. Speculators only want quick and easy profits,
      because they are frankly too immature to sit and wait for long-term
      investments to pan out and too stupid to do any real work themselves.

  • Lawrence Dandrea

    I’d like to hear how people deal with the failure of business, and maintain the fortitude to try again, as this is the bulk of start-ups.

  • Isn’t it a mistake to focus on only high growth companies, and making startup just another corporate tool? Seems to me that’s like a baseball coach who tells his team to only try for home runs.

    Also, our representative system of government needs millions of people who have the flexibility of owning a business, creating leisure that is hard to come by in most corporations to fulfill civic responsibilities. For more on this see and

  • jurgispilis

    I have to speak up about the idea of an entrepreneur visa. An entrepreneur, by definition and by your own admission, is going to spend much time in month and years, not generating any income. Essentially, during this start-up period the foreign entrepreneur is financially dependent on funding from someone else. If the foreign entrepreneur fails in his business, and runs up large debts, and leaves an environment mess, and a legal mess, he can simply leave the US and be outside the reach of US law.

    Besides, most venture entrepreneurial enterprises fail, on the order of 90% for software firms!! There is simply too much risk for the people of the US to take. There is so much opportunity for fraud. This idea reminds me of the idea of investing social security funds in the stock market.

    Is the US federal immigration service expected to go into the venture capital business? I say let’s not go there, please!

  • Jason Asbahr

    Eric, we’re applying lean startup principles at — one thing we’ve found is that it can be tricky to ship to MVP development. Particularly shifting perceptions from “big project” scope to truly minimal scope — we’ve had to readjust our POV a few times in the process. Any guidance on spreading the MVP vision among team members? Thanks, Jason

  • wandagb

    So, Mr. Ries is all steamed up about foreign visas? Well, first of all, these folks were provided a visa to learn AND GO HOME TO IMPROVE THEIR HOMELANDS. That is the purpose of these visas, not to provide cheap, taxpayer trained labor for Microsoft, Intel, etc.
    Secondly, the foreigner-as-entrepreneur is a self fulfilling observation; if you admit a boad load of foreigners you will observe many participating in the fields they are being trained.

    The real question is quite simple: do we need to be importing foreign students and STEM workers? The answer is in …
    “STEM labor shortages? Microsoft report distorts reality”
    and “The Fake Skills Shortage”

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