Interviewing Ash Maurya, entrepreneur and author of Running Lean

Yes, Ash Maurya was holding a talk at itnig! He spoke about his second workshop, “The Art of the Scientist”, and we took the chance to make him some questions about him and the Lean Startup Movement. For Ash, “the principles behind Lean Startup are very simple and seem common sense and obvious. But practising it, is where the hard part comes.” Here you have the whole interview. Enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZoE11YZbyo

How did you get into Lean Startup movement?

I have been an entrepreneur for many years. And one of the things that I consciously kept running into was that the cycle time for going from “idea” to “successful product” was just too long. That’s why I have always been in search for finding better and faster ways to build successful products. And when I run into Lean Startup, a lot of the ideas resonated with me, and that’s how I got started. In many ways I decided to start testing a lot of its ideas, because putting them to practice was not as obvious… so I started a blog and that blog eventually turned into a book. That’s kind of the quick way how I got into the whole process.

What’s is your best definition of Lean Startup for someone who is just starting with it?

There is a lot of confusion about Lean Startup. For me, the most concise definition is that it is an organization that maximizes learning about what is riskiest in your business model per targeted time… so, speed is very important, learning is very important, and focusing on the right things is very important.

Does Lean Startup scale? How can we keep using its methodologies as we grow our team, and the company in general?

Sure, Lean Startup does scale. And there is lots of case studies that you can find about big companies, companies into it, using it… You can also study a lot of their models. Definitely, there are challenges. Fundamentally Lean is about breaking away the specialisation trap, so trying to build more cross-functional teams, trying to build an experimentation culture. I find that that’s sometimes harder to inject into a big company, which has lots of existing processes. So, I find bigger companies experimenting more with smaller innovation teams. For a small company, one of the challenges when you start practising Lean, as you grow, is try to maintain that level of culture experimentation and building smaller teams. And there you can look at models like Facebook: it is probably a good model of how do they build small innovation teams versus large vertical teams.

Do you have any killer strategy for prioritizing? How can we know we are prioritizing well?

That’s part of what I’ve been researching a lot lately and what I’ve starting to talk and blog about: I find that the principles behind Lean Startup are sometimes very simple and seem common sense and obvious. But practising it, is where the hard part comes. And it starts by prioritizing the right kinds of risks. So if you incorrectly prioritise risks, you start running experiments which have mediocre results. I would say that there’s just new work that’s being done. I don’t have all the answers yet, but part of it is, working with advisors, working with people, looking at key metrics in your product, and trying to focus on a few things at a time instead of trying to tackle everything about your business.

Welcome to itnig’s blog!

Hopefully, this will start a series of interesting posts about startups and any information that can be valuable to them.

What is itnig?

itnig is an accelerator, labeled like this mainly because of the powerful network effect of the term, now broadly used in the startup scene. However, here at itnig we do not care much about the standard way an accelerator is supposed to work.

itnig is a startup that strives to master business development in the most rational and scientific way. We select entrepreneurs who share the same spirit and harbour crazy and ambitious business visions, we participate in their projects and help them make their plans come true no matter what stands in our way. Accepting risk is something that turns us on. Seriously.

itnig doesn’t give away cash, but it provides the startups with more that they can buy with it. We offer the teams a place to work and live together. We help them find the most suitable mentors among our network, we get them inside our learning and experimantation program, we roll up our sleeves to write really awesome code, we participate creating alpha and beta versions of the products and interpret user data from the market, we come up with killer online marketing strategies, we jointly develop financing plans to sustain the projects and we share our network of partners offering the best services to them: legal, accounting, delivery and anything necessary. We are very good at assembling “A-Teams” that get the job done. We hold workshops and events about almost everything related to our world, every day.

We share expenses with entrepreneurs in the starting phase in order to sustain the projects and be able to grow.

We are proud of being in Europe

We never really understood why entrepreneurs are abandoning our continent to go to Silicon Valley, all the more so as getting a US visa is among the most difficult achievements for mankind. Proportionally, very few European born and grown startups make it to the global markets, the best teams fly away to other places and most European accelerators offer, as great value propositions, direct bridges to the US in order to move their startups to the Disneyland of entrepreneurship.

We are quite fed up with economic and political pessimism, and we believe we can do better by creating growing organizations in spite of crisis and social meltdowns. We know for a fact that Europe is filled with skilled entrepreneurs and talented professionals that can really make a difference and conquer the world with their products and services. So be it!

We are hackers

We are a bunch of individuals filled with curiosity, energy, passion and perseverance. We identify ourselves as hackers, and those who apply for our process as well. And we bring hacker’s culture directly into our everyday business strategies. The following are some examples:

  • Sharing tools and information
  • Openness and transparency
  • Decentralization and horizontality
  • Hands-on imperative
  • Technology is central, it can be art and beauty
  • Disregard for the status quo
  • Commitment to find the most elegant and efficient solution to any problem
  • Learning the how and why a system works in order to hack it and do it better

We are independent from government, universities and coorporations and plan to keep it that way in the future. We didn’t call ourselves “The hacker accelerator” as we started, but we’ve been called like this continuously by others so we finally decided to use it as our tagline. Yes, we are very conscious of the controversy we cause by doing so.

I hope you enjoy your stay at itnig!