– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. –

“Except in very narrow cases, where there’s breakthrough science that needs patent production, worrying about competitors is a waste of time,” Eric Reis told me. “If you can’t out iterate someone who is trying to copy you, you’re toast anyway.”

Ries speaks with confidence, likely because people seem to listen. In fact, he’s become one of Silicon Valley’s best salesmen, largely by preaching what seems to be common sense: in order to maximize resources, companies need to find out what customers want as quickly as possible and capitalize on those findings.

Just one indicator of Ries’s power: entrepreneurs from 100 countries watched his sold-out, second-annual “Startup Lessons Learned” conference streamed live recently from San Francisco. (Its aim? “To unite those interested in what it takes to succeed in building a lean startup,” said Ries.) Another indicator: Ries’s new book, “The Lean Startup”, doesn’t come out until September, but is already the 11th-most popular book in the business and investing section of Amazon.

Ries, 32, never expected he would make his mark as a tech evangelist. A Yale grad who studied computer science, he began his career as an entrepreneur while still in school. (He now calls his short-lived startup, Catalyst Recruiting, “a footnote to a footnote.”) But even then he found himself “considered not only an expert in programming but in startups” by local incubators and two venture firms who asked him to be an adviser.