The NYC Lean Startup Meetup sponsored their first Ignite event last night at Pivotal Labs in Union Square. Fourteen speakers were given five minutes to share their thoughts and lessons learned relating to the lean startup methodology. The catch with Ignite: the slides are fixed in number (20) and auto-advance every 15 seconds. Combine that with a packed house and open bar and the results are fast-paced, high-energy and fun.

A few impressions:

Eris Reis demonstrated how Ghostbusters is about a lean startup at its core… guys start something on the side, try to turn it into a business from nothing, get their first customer just when the money is about to run out, interesting things start to happen as the business grows. Perhaps the GBs were lucky that Zul arrived when he did, but real startups don’t have that luxury… instead of “waiting for Zul”, lean startups need to be more flexible and proactive…

Farrah Bostic quit her job at an ad agency after trying to apply lean methodology to a business model that wasn’t set up to interact with customers that way…

When startups try to do much, it’s hard to do much well. It may be better to pick one idea to focus on, or as Brittany Laughlin explained about her experiences with here social travel app, “It’s better to be young and simple, than young and stupid.”

It was inspiring to hear that Yipit took off after a pivot that took days to turnaround. Their first attempt took 9 months to implement, the next, 3 months, but the idea that stuck was built in 3 days at first. They proved their idea with an initially low-tech solution–including an late night “crawler” that involved crawling out of bed at 3 am nightly to copy and paste data–that they were able to build into something more robust later with more confidence. Founder Vin Vacanti challenged the audience, “If we can prove a business idea in 3 days, why aren’t you doing it too?”

Giff Constable provided a retrospective on one of his failed ideas: not enough resources, picking a difficult problem… His talk reinforced the lean notion that it’s okay to fail; the knowledge gained from our failures is invaluable to our future efforts.

Shout outs to NYC Lean Startup for running a successful event and to Pivotal Labs for hosting.

Discuss it on Twitter · Published on Jun 23, 2011

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