As a mentor, a typical scenario that I have often witnessed during Startup Weekends is that Friday idea pitches are either 100% business-focused or 100% technology-focused. This sounds obvious and it is, it’s a reflection of the person who gives the idea pitch. However, the value of Startup weekend has to kick in and often the team leader (who also gave the pitch) forgets that. For instance, a solution might be conceived to resolve an identified problem but the mechanics and execution of the idea might not be technologically feasible. On the other hand, I have also seen pitches that are viable with regards to programming and development but are not sustainable long-term as a commercial venture.
A big value of startup weekend is to substantiate and give “face” to your idea. Still a lot of team leaders forget to validate and iterate. Making a user fit is hard, harder than people think. If you are a charismatic business founder, it’s easy to convince your teammates that your idea should be selected and if you’re a technology founder, it’s easy to “wow” teammates with your technical skills. However, is that a user fit?
Therefore, one recommendation that I can offer to teams would be to first, validate your assumptions. As a start-up, your ideas will be based on a number of presumptions about the target market, their behaviors and needs. Ensure that your idea can solve that existing validated problem and second, check that it is within the scope of your team’s technical abilities to program the application or software. Use metrics to support your decision and your direction. In forming your hypothesis, the statement “We think” is incorrect. Instead, using phrases such as, “we know 1,000 people have this problem because we talked to every single one of them” provide a better basis for supporting your idea.
Talk to passersby, gauge whether they fit the profile of your intended customer and get their input on your product. In doing so, you can understand the consumer’s mindset, make adjustments to the original set of assumptions you made with your team and refine your product or service offerings. Evidently, the proportion of individuals that you arbitrarily discuss your products with may not be the customer you had in mind. However, their feedback may be invaluable in that you are able to determine how other market segments perceive your product.
With regards to growth hacking techniques, one method that I advocate and highly recommend using would be pre-written tweets. Users can click on a link and a Twitter dialogue box appears with content and call-to-actions which serves as an easy “share”. To conclude, a piece of advice that I’d like to provide to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to remember that the average relationship with an investor is typically longer than the average marriage. In other words, make sure that you and the would-be investor are compatible. As in any relationship, two-way communication and clear expectations build the foundation of a successful partnership.
Jeffrey Broer, Founder of Grayscale Ltd, Co-founder of Surround App.
Contact Jeffrey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jebbery