Startup Roots Speaker Series #2 Preview – Carl Coryell-Martin

As we come off a nice overview session on tech entrepreneurship with Joi Ito last week, I’d like to announce our next speaker, Carl Coryell-Martin, Managing Director of Pivotal Labs Singapore. I’ve known Carl for over a year and a half now, and have had the good fortune of interacting with Carl and the rest of his team at Pivotal Labs Singapore in my capacity as its local director, and also on some of our portfolio companies.  As Startup Roots Singapore is mostly a tech engineering-centric initiative, I thought I’d hit up Carl who’s a great guy, to share his experiences with our fellows.

Wringing out the Muda, Mura and Muri in your Software Process

7.00pm: Talk begins
7.30pm: Q&A and Discussion
7.45pm: Mingling and dinner (food is not provided)

As always, attendance is free – hit up our event page to RSVP your attendance as a friend of Startup Roots. If you like what we’re doing for the students and the tech ecosystem at large, we’d appreciate any donations you can afford. Just hand it to us in person when you see either Derrick, Zaizhuang or myself.

I’ve also done a tiny email chat with Carl, as a preamble to the session.

Hey Carl, thanks for agreeing to be our next speaker for the Startup Roots SG Summer Fellows 2011 Speaker Series. For the benefit of those who may not know you, could you tell us more about yourself and your background?

Hi James, I’m working with JB Steadman to open the Singpore office for Pivotal Labs. We’re a software engineering services company and we’ve helped hundreds of companies ship software in our history. I came to Singapore to follow my spouse and spent a year here working with partners in the US building an iPhone app for bird watchers. Prior to coming here, I’ve been a partner in another web services consulting company and an analog audio digitization company.

I know you don’t want to give the talk away before you actually deliver it. Still, could you tell us a little more than what the Eventbrite entry says? Waste in software engineering? What gives?

If you’re part of a team trying to ship some software and you’re looking to achieve better outcomes, it’s not really realistic to ask yourselves to be smarter or to work harder. Instead I think that it can be interesting to look at the activities that you’re currently doing that don’t contribute to shipping products and stop doing them. My theory is that a great part of the success of Pivotal’s methods is that we do much less wasteful activity and I’m trying to catalog and explain that.

What sort of topics are you most comfortable giving advice on? This is to help our fellows (and the public) come up with more relevant questions for you.

I’m thinking about software engineering management lately and how to structure relationships between engineering teams and business teams that aren’t obviously doomed to failure. As a side note, advice is a tricky thing, the advice giver is not at the sharp end of the rope and rarely understands all the forces and context that the entrepreneur feels. I do like to share experiences and hope that I can save others some of my bloody failures.

What are you busy with these days? What keeps you up at night?

Finding office space for Pivotal and figuring our our SE asian business model keeps me very busy. Outside of that, I’m currently thinking about citizenship and the purpose of the state especially in the context of what the user experience of the SG government is now and could be.

I look forward to seeing all of you this Thursday evening at HackerspaceSG.

Flickr photo courtesy of Joi Ito

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.