Archive for September, 2012

Late night lessons learned

Building a startup is all about learning. “Build, measure, learn” is the lean mantra. I’m learning a ton building Tribbon with Jody, but I’m a bit surprised at how many of the lessons are “foundational.”

For example, my most trusted advisors – people like Jason Cohen, Ash Maurya, and Rob Walling – always talk about running small experiments where you can get answers pretty quickly. I knew that intellectually going in, but I hadn’t really experienced it.

After many late nights coding Tribbon to get it ready for the Business of Software conference, I think I figured it out. Now I really KNOW what they mean by running smaller, tighter experiments. I’ve experienced the pain of doing it the other way, so I don’t just know it intellectually.

A couple of months ago, it made perfect sense to go heads down and make a “minimum viable product” for the conference to see if attendees would like it. In hindsight, I let my pride and my perfectionism – both good things – keep me from running smaller experiments. Instead of coding for 6-8 weeks and launching a still-imperfect product the day before BOS, I should have started here on this blog, simply telling people what I was building. Then I could have done “traditional” 1-week agile iterations and had something to show each week.

Our “fans” – the people who are going to BOS, care about what we’re doing, and want us to succeed – would then have given us feedback all along the way. We would already have had 6-8 weeks worth of feedback instead of just starting that process now (while I’m physically exhausted to boot). People attending BOS would already have known about Tribbon and might have had a clue about what it could do for them. Instead, we’re starting the whole explanation process tomorrow as well.

Lesson learned. We need to run smaller experiments and include more people in the process along the way. I don’t think I’ll make that mistake again.

But there’s another thing I’m learning – it’s less important to be perfect than it is to be persistent. This is just the first in a long series of experiments that will lead us to building something we want to build that customers want to use and pay for.

I’m having a blast and can’t wait to see all my friends at #BOS2012. Time for sleep. Tomorrow, we launch!

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Getting out there

Hi – Jody here.  I am getting ready for the Business of Software Conference next week. Can’t wait to see old friends, catch up on trends and do some product testing and market research for Tribbon. Oh!  And I am doing a lightning talk this year about living fearlessly so I am even more jazzed than normal.

Patrick (my cofounder, developer and super-CEO) has been up late nights working hard to get Tribbon ready to show and test at the conference. It has been both impressive and painful to watch him juggle the demands of a full time day job, travel, family, unexpected technical glitches and a nasty head cold in the process. Oh, the glamorous life of a startup.  😉

We will be demoing and talking about Tribbon at BOS for anyone who would like to check it out. We might even have a version for you to try out for yourself by then. Stay tuned! Feedback and suggestions are being gathered at uservoice.tribbon.com. Feel free to go there and share your thoughts now or later.

As a marketing professional I have to admit, I am learning that there are vast differences between what you do for a start up and what you do for an established company. What an awesome adventure! I will start sharing some of my lessons learned in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, here is a summary of the tactics I am deploying for this event.

  1. A blog to communicate updates and other good stuff (you are reading it now)
  2. Some well-timed tweets on the conference hash tag (#BOS2012)  leading up to the event.
  3. customer feedback mechanism (I chose Uservoice because they had a great mobile experience)
  4. A basic website with a decent product description:  www.tribbon.com
  5. Branding stuff.  Biz cards & t-shirts with QR code, elevator pitch, etc.
  6. Speaking gig at the event to draw some attention (AKA: 400 hours prepping for 7 minutes of torture :))
  7. Be present and helpful at the event.
  8. Analyze the results and decide what to do next.

So that’s the plan. I am sure I haven’t nailed it completely. I know I must have missed the mark on a few things or overlooked some altogether. But I am willing to make mistakes to learn. THAT feels pretty darn good.

Let me know what you think.

Jody


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