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VMblog Expert Interview: New Book "Blueprint Seven Six", a Guide to Transforming Technology Startups into High-value Software Product Companies

interview Leo Reiter 

"Blueprint Seven Six" is a brand new, page turning book by Leo Reiter, a technology executive with extensive experience in building companies, teams, software products and strategies.

The book is well-written and easy to read, with clear and concise language. Throughout the book, Reiter remains on mission to keep things simple and understandable for a wide audience. However, it is aimed primarily at product and technology leaders, though it could easily be of interest to anyone involved in product development or quality assurance.

Overall, I found "Blueprint Seven Six" to be an excellent resource for anyone looking to transform an early-stage company and improve product quality in a technology company. It provides practical guidance and insights, as well as a compelling argument for the importance of quality in today's technology-driven world.

To find out more, we spoke with the author, Leo Reiter.

VMblog:  Before we get into the book, can you tell us about your background?

Leo Reiter:  I love my family, my home, and my software!  I've been into software my whole life, writing my first lines of code around the age of 6.  My dad, may he rest in peace, exposed me to real micro and even mini computers in the very early 80's when most other kids were limited to rudimentary video game consoles of the time (like early Atari's).  Don't get me wrong, I loved playing video games, but I enjoyed creating them too.  In fact, a couple of years after I caught "the bug" for programming, my dad made a rule for my brother and I: if we wanted to play video games on the weekends, we had to write our own during the week.  So, inspired by the popularity of mid 80's RPGs, my brother and I got busy creating things like graphical adventure games - he would do the artwork (often pixel by pixel!), and I would write the game engines and language processing stuff.  That all obviously led to a nice career in software development, and eventually, entrepreneurship and senior leadership.  Honestly, "computer programmer", as developers used to be called, was not the most lucrative career, but I didn't care - I couldn't imagine pursuing anything else (except writing, ironically!).  We didn't foresee the "software is eating the world" phenomenon that would take off in the 1990's, so I guess you can say I got pretty lucky.  Luckiest of all though is that I get to do what I love and make a great living out of it, which is humbling considering that so many people don't.  I'm grateful for this.

I'm also really grateful for "growing up" in the industry.  Software development is so different today than it was 40 years ago.  I'm a pretty nostalgic guy in a lot of ways - I like analog cars, watches, and hands-on things like gardening and cooking.  But I see value in the new as well as the old in this industry.  Software developers now can focus much more on solving problems and adding value, by virtue of the "top of the stack" being so high.  But still, I'm so glad I worked with things like low-level languages and practical implementations of algorithms that these days people don't even think about anymore.  Also, my experience with processes like Waterfall many years ago make me appreciate Agile even more today!

In my "spare" time I enjoy reading, cooking, gardening/landscaping, motorsport simulations, traveling, and of course spending time with my family.  I have two wonderful sons, one fully grown and getting close to finishing college, and the other one a toddler.  I couldn't be more proud of them both!  And I'm privileged to have such an amazing and supportive partner in my wife, Grechen.

VMblog:  What was your inspiration for writing this book and why now?

Reiter:  The opportunity to demystify something really complex like transforming early-stage technology companies into valuable software businesses inspired me.  I've learned so much in the last 3 decades working in the industry that I felt like sharing this knowledge and experience in a practical, anecdotal way.  There's a ton of reference material out there for just about anything you can think of, but the simplest lessons often get lost and overlooked.  Things like what software is really for (spoiler: solving problems), how to add value, how to motivate people to reach their full potential, and how to remain focused in a ridiculously distracting climate.  Plus, I think Blueprint Seven Six is a good story, easy to follow, and most importantly, easy to apply.

Why now?  After more than two decades of hustling in early-stage startups as both a founder and a ground-floor "hired gun", disrupting industry giants and their insane resource levels, and powering through tons of neighsaying and skepticism that anyone who tries this can relate to, I finally achieved a satisfying outcome.  I didn't do this "all by myself" obviously, but the market-relevant software products I created, as well as the team and culture I built along the way were certainly the main drivers.  So I felt the time was right to articulate all these practices and anecdotes in the form of Blueprint Seven Six.

VMblog:  Tell us more about the book.

Reiter:  First I should say that "blueprint" is a bit exaggerated - in fact much like it recommends you steer your own product, the book is more descriptive than prescriptive.  In that sense, it's really more of a guideline.  But "Guideline Seven Six" sounded kind of boring, so I embellished a bit!

Every company, team, and technology is different.  You have to adapt and adjust process to fit your market, software, and above all, people.  But it does describe a simple, iterative "journey" that anyone can make their own and achieve good results with.  For example, you shouldn't worry too much about scaling a product's sales until you've built the foundation for it, including the mechanisms and practices you'll use to implement it  It talks about things like what makes a real "1.0" and why this precedes "2.0" and "3.0".  And so on.

I also tried to keep it simple as much as possible.  My elderly mother is reading it and she's about as non-technical as a person can be.  She "gets" most of it - only asking me questions about stuff that would otherwise make sense if you're currently at least exposed to the technology space.  In fact, most non-technical software sales and marketing types working in the industry would have no problem understanding any of this.  It's just that she hasn't worked in 50 years and my dad took care of anything "technical" in her life, so it's understandable that she may need clarification!  My goal was to make this relatable, anecdotal, and about people above all else.  I do like to explain things metaphorically, and you'll find some fun references to a certain 1980's blockbuster movie in there, sports, and life in general.  I personally think it's a fun read and that's the feedback I've gotten so far as well.  I certainly had fun writing it!

VMblog:  Who did you write it for?  What's your audience?

Reiter:  Honestly, I wrote it for people like me - technology and product leaders, looking to transform early-stage or nascent companies and organizations into high-value players.  It's what I specialize in, and obviously most qualified to write about based on decades of experience "doing it".  If you're in this situation or thinking about getting into one like it, you'll find this stuff very relevant.

For the curious, it can give you a glimpse into the mind of technologists and a good helping of psychology around development teams and their practical and political interactions with other stakeholders.  So I think in general, if you're in the space in any way, even in a sales, support, or communications role, you'll probably find this interesting.  For example, most of the business-related non-fiction I personally read focuses on areas outside my core competencies, so I can learn to build broader organizations and relationships.  If software evolution and development seems like magic to you, but you're tasked with taking their products to market, this book can really demystify things for you in a very practical way.

VMblog:  What do you hope your audience walks away with after reading the book?

Reiter:  That building great software products and teams is really just about pragmatic execution, common sense, and focus.  Achieving good outcomes is not about genius or luck, but rather the result of patient application of good practices over time.  There's no guarantee that you'll do everything right - whatever that means for your unique situation - and then someone will write a giant check in return.  But it's pretty much a given that if you don't focus on the basics, like solving problems aligned with a clear and consistent, market-relevant value proposition, you won't get very far.

Technologists love picking the "high-hanging fruit", prioritizing interesting but overly-complex challenges even when prospective customers beg for simple, pragmatic solutions to their real problems.  That's the "low-hanging fruit", and it's usually staring you in the face while you wrestle with your wobbly ladder to reach higher up in the proverbial tree.  If you iterate "on plan" and avoid distractions, you'll find this fruit grows juicier all the time - in the form of customer traction, market capitalization, and eventually, strategic interest.

VMblog:  Do you have any advice for other would-be authors after going through this process yourself?

Reiter:  Yes - 3 words: "go for it!"  If you have something you really want to say and feel that you can organize it into a narrative, start with an outline, which will keep you on track in the long-run.  I literally wrote for only about 15-20 minutes per day, early mornings before family duties and of course work beckoned.  The outline was a life-saver.

Don't edit while you write.  The most important thing to do, first and foremost, is to write the content down.  Once you've finished, print it out and read it, marking it up as you go along.  I found the paper method to be a really nice change-up from the word processor, as it actually provided a different perspective somehow.  Go back and make your edits, and repeat the process at least once or twice.  You'll find the first pass is more about "connecting" than correcting, but subsequent passes are where you'll be editing for clarity.  Your writing software should already identify spelling and grammar issues, so spend your valuable time on making things concise instead.

Once you feel like your piece is ready to leave the nest, send it out for review to peers, mentors, or anyone else you trust to give you an honest assessment.  Ask them to focus on content and apologize that it's not professionally edited yet.  I'd avoid your English teacher friend for this pass as it will probably drive them nuts!

Finally, invest in a copy editor.  You can find freelancers on sites like - I'm so glad I did this.  Even if you're self-publishing (which is great and pretty easy, by the way), do this anyway.  Even though I'd already read my book several times and made tons of edits, the advice and insight I got from a professional was gold.  Every review I read points out how well-written the book is.  A lot of this credit belongs to the editor.

Don't worry about what anyone else says or thinks.  Try to write how you talk, especially with non-fiction.  This will sound genuine to readers.  One of my friends and former colleagues told me he could hear me talking as he read Blueprint Seven Six.  That was my goal, rather than writing a lecture or an artistic piece full of mechanisms that only a literary aficionado would appreciate.

If you're writing non-fiction, I highly recommend immersing yourself in something like Malcolm Gladwell's lessons in Masterclass.  I watched hours of this on a transatlantic flight a few months ago.  He's one of my favorite authors (of The Tipping Point, Blink, and David and Goliath fame), which drew me to the series in the first place.  But what kept me watching episode after episode was how practical and relatable his advice is.  Even if your book, like mine, is more a labor of love than a professional endeavor, you'll find the teachings of a professional writer to be incredibly valuable.

VMblog:  Where can people get their hands on this book?

Reiter:  Like most books sold on Earth for almost as long as we can remember, Amazon!  It's available in both Kindle and paperback format.  If you're outside the U.S., you'll just have to go to your local Amazon marketplace (e.g. or and search for "blueprint seven six".  Otherwise, here are some links in the U.S. marketplace for each format:



I thank everyone very much in advance for buying, reading, and reviewing the book, and truly hope you find it insightful and useful for your own endeavors!


Published Tuesday, March 28, 2023 10:26 AM by David Marshall
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