Chicago Lean Startup Circle

When discussing my personal year in review, I briefly mentioned the Chicago Lean Startup Circle. I wanted to take a moment and discuss the group and what we plan on trying to accomplish with it.

I got introduced to the concept of a Lean Startup by the Eric Ries blog Startup Lessons Learned. Reading Erics blog has helped crystalize and formalize things that I’ve already been preaching and practicing for years. I gained valuable insights into A/B testing, small batch SEM and The Five Whys, among others. Having bought into Agile Development almost a decade ago, his writing could almost be described as Agile Product Development. That is, a small level above the nuts & bolts of development. However, embracing the theory of something and putting it to practical use are two very different things.

As things have progressed with 1530, I’ve found myself structuring product & customer development with the desire to become very lean and efficient. This has led me to my first road block. Namely, how do you run a lean software shop given the constraints of a bootstrapped startup? While there have been many excellent books written on the subject, they all seemed targeted at seemingly larger organizations and teams. I’ve found myself struggling to adopt some of the practices ( Set Based Development, Queues, Value Stream Mapping, etc.. ) when it’s just 1-3 people working on a set of software products.

On a whim, and perhaps coming off the high of organizing my other two meetups, I began to look for a lean startup meetup here in Chicago. Luckily, one already existed. I set my sights on attending and hoping find out how other startups are running and how their operations are performing. After attending my first meetup, I suggested that we see about securing some more formal meeting space at the ITA, which is where I host my other meetup. All went well and we had our first meetup in that space on Tuesday. We had an interesting mix of people there, from pre-launch to established startups. Everyone had different backgrounds and different spaces that they were familiar with and that sparked some very interesting discussion.

During the meetup on Tuesday, we also discussed how we’d like the next meetups to run. We decided early on that we didn’t want to become a generic business / startup group. We wanted to be very focused on lean startups that adhere to a certain culture / ideology. This also meant that we’re going to try and focus on the quality of the meetups overall and not the size. We don’t want to become a giant group with boring presentations every month. We want to focus on being interactive & collaborative, placing a high value on feedback from the group as a whole.

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So if you’re interested in startups, either starting one or joining on, I encourage you to join the meetup.