Lean close and tell me what you’re up to

I love that technology has given individuals the tools to strike out on their own, craft solutions to problems they care about, and (well, this part is shakier) make a living at it.

It is through this kind of massive, decentralized innovation that we’ll see continued, accelerating progress of humanity.

“Lean” is what (successful) small, unfunded startups naturally are — growing both the products and the business organically and flexibly, through a rich feedback loop with customers. It’s the antithesis of the funded startup that spends 2-3 secretive years getting a big-bang product out. We need those secretive companies occasionally, but get them too often.

We’ve also seen the rise of the “portfolio” product company. The realization that — in software and web services at least — you can both tackle projects incrementally (frequent releases) and leverage synergies of technology and customer mindshare across products to make the whole more than the sum of the parts. Google, 37 signals, Fog Creek, Geoffrey Grosenbach are inspirations at various levels of scale — it’s possible to have an ongoing product portfolio down to the 1-person-company level. The book Micro-ISV is another recent inspiration for software businesses.

This is where leancode.com is coming from. But, with no customers yet to guide us — where should it go first?

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