In a ‘Lean Startup’, Learning from Mistakes is Crucial
Friday, June 15th, 2012
by Jillian Walker, HR Manager
On June 11th, Lean Startup Vancouver (in conjunction with Vancouver Tech Co-Founders and Internet Masterminds) hosted Lean Crossroad – an event that focused on startups, the internet, and entrepreneurship.
The event began with a welcome from Eric Ries. Eric is the man behind the Lean Startup methodology, and spoke with us via live video. (From an undisclosed location!) Eric had intended to be off the grid this week, but wanted to support the event in Vancouver. Eric wrote the book Lean Startup, and runs a popular blog called Startup Lessons Learned. Eric took questions from the audience and discussed the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. He placed importance on the fact that entrepreneurs need to evaluate their work — and product — to determine if they are adding value to the world.
Dan Martell, co-Founder of Clarity.fm (he explains it as ‘Quora for Voice’), set out to challenge our thoughts on learning and customer engagement. He quickly brought up that the question we need to ask ourselves is not ‘Can you build it?’ but instead ‘Should you build it?’ He echoed Eric, mentioning contribution to society and creating technology that benefits others. He provided a case study on Martell Home Builders (his brother’s business), explaining what worked and what went wrong.
Dr. Boris Wertz took the stage next. Looking quite sharp, he confirmed that he was sporting Indochino (a very cool fashion-forward Vancouver startup)! Boris is one of the leading technology angel investors in North America and is the CEO at w media ventures. Boris discussed the lean financing model, lean marketing tactics and recruitment. The picture below explains the most commonly used lean financing strategies. Examples of companies that have adapted the model include Unbounce, Metrolyrics, and Github. In regards to marketing, Boris reinforced the idea that marketing ‘dollars’ should only be spent on trackable marketing channels, and that tech founders need to place value on customer acquisition cost. Boris will be writing a series of blog posts on hiring for startups, and he has a great post from late May on how to fill the recruitment funnel.
David Ulevitch was very casual, quite funny, and gave brutally honest suggestions to the audience. He explained a lot of his startup failures and encouraged everyone to learn from them. He discussed recruitment, placing emphasis on hiring good people when you find them and how to deal with a candidate who turns down your offer. He encouraged us to find the ‘Inspirers’ in the market — the people who raise the bar at organizations. At the end of the day, startups need ‘good’ people to survive. Recruitment, recognition and open communication are all part of the startup success package. At his company, OpenDNS, they also have a weekly town hall where they bring in lunch and connect their teams (they even broadcast to all remote offices).
As the HR Manager at UrtheCast, I found a lot of what Boris and David had to say extremely relevant to our current position. We are in the midst of building teams in Vancouver and San Francisco — hiring everyone from web developers, to operational staff, to senior management. When I explain UrtheCast to candidates, they say ‘Cameras in SPACE? … NO WAY’. The goals of our company are lofty and I understand how candidates can be both impressed and overwhelmed by the idea.
Well, you know what? UrtheCast is happening. And to be honest, we’re pretty over-the-moon about it. We’re on the search for ‘Inspirers’ to join our team — people who will add technical expertise to our day-to-day and those who fit with our need, want, and motivation to build a platform that will truly change the world.
With that in mind, to learn more about our career opportunities, please visit urthecast.com/careers.