By @SimonCocking

Tristan Kromer @TriKro Lean Startup coach & Innovation Ecosystem designer at TriKro, T-shaped * generalist, organizer at Lean Startup Circle, blogs at GrasshopperHerder. Allergic to ninjas & rockstars,  @LeanCircle.

Your background, how did you get into what you do now?

I’ve always been interested in creative collaboration, so moving from creating improvisational music to product management to innovation ecosystems was a surprisingly natural move for me. I spent 10 years in the music industry, 7 in IT security living in 5 countries, then moved to Silicon Valley to get involved in innovation and come back to the US. The past 5 years I’ve been working with the ecosystems and infrastructure that support innovation and how to improve them.

1 min pitch, Lean Startup Circle, what does it do? Why is it awesome?

Lean Startup Circle is a grass roots community of lean start up practitioners in groups all around the world from Beijing to Saudi Arabia to London to San Francisco. It’s a peer-to-peer community where people strive to continuously improve themselves and their abilities to develop successful innovation products.

That’s what I do for fun. Professionally, my team at TriKro and I help build innovation ecosystems for governments and large corporations that want to improve their ability to innovate.

Lastly, I blog about lean start up and innovation ecosystems at

What are you excited by at the moment?

Robots, 3d printers, self-driving cars. Also, the US presidential race has me increasingly amused right now.

Any of these that will help in your day to day work also / what sort innovations are you looking to introduce?

None of these will help me personally aside from not worrying about being hit by a bad driver when taking a walk.

I’m excited about using things like 3d printers to reduce the cost of innovation and spur the next generation of job creation.

How was the last 12 months for you?

Great. I got to work on a train the trainer program for start up coaches for the Vietnamese Ecosystem.

What are you most happy about?

I used BJ Fogg’s habit formation techniques to start exercising.

Anything you would do differently if you could?

I love doing retrospectives but I don’t believe in second guessing.

Where do you hope to be in next 1 – 3 years?

Taking a break from coaching startups anddesigning accelerator programs to get back to building my own products.

You’re a coach, what would be your key tips?

The original word priority did not have a plural in Greek. If you have more than one priority as a start up, you’re probably doing it wrong.

And what mistakes do people keep making?

Entrepreneurs are consistently bad at identifying business risks. When they finally do manage to identify the right ones, they consistently do some crazy lean start up tactic that they most recently read in a blog…which has nothing to do with their greatest business risk.

For example, an entrepreneur who agrees that their greatest risk is a lack of customer demand (a.k.a, “Will they pay us?”) might test that market demand by offering the solution for free as a concierge service. Offering something for free does not validate if the customer will pay.

It’s cargo cult adoption of tactics based on someone else’s experience who might not have any relation to your current business model.

I’m currently working on a creative commons project with 42 other authors to provide an index of lean start up experiments and how to choose the right one. It’s called the Real Startup Bookand we’re releasing it in two week iterations.

What tech do you wish was already invented and available to make your life easier?

  • Teleportation.
  • Decent email filtering.
  • Drones that don’t sound like I’m about to be attacked by 1000 bees.
  • Full colour liquid crystal displays that can refresh at high frame rates. (Would allow me to work outside in full sunlight with no glare and low battery consumption.)
  • I/O port for my brain to learn skills like in the Matrix

Life / work, online / offline, what are your strategies for managing it?

I wrote an article arguing against the concept of work life balance. I think it’s a bad concept that should be replaced with work life flow.
In short, we need to know ourselves. What gives us energy? What reduces it? We should organize our calendar around our energy level.

For example, I’m an introvert and get energy from doing quiet, creative work. So I schedule my meetings in the morning and early afternoon. Then I have time for solo creative work before I go home.

That allows me to recharge before going home and being social with my family instead of being tired and just wanted to sit around and disengage by watching TV. That wouldn’t be fair to my family and makes me enjoy my day more.

How / where do you create time for yourself to be a dreamer and a thinker?

Every moment is time to be a dreamer and a thinker.

Anything else we should have asked you / you’d like to add?

I offer free office hours for early stage startups at

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