Demo Day – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Demo Day – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lean Accelerator: Lessons and Stories from Five Early-Stage Startups was written by TractionTank Co-Founder, Eric Morrow. Our blog posts featuring excerpts from Lean Accelerator are posted here with his permission. All TractionTank applicants receive a free digital copy of Lean Accelerator upon completion of our online application. DEMO DAY The culmination of the Summer Accelerator was Demo Day. I sent an eventbrite to everyone who was involved with the teams over the summer, inviting them to come watch the teams pitch. Our Demo Day followed a simple structure: I made a brief welcome and introduction of the program. Then the five teams each made a presentation. Each team had 7 minutes to pitch their business, followed by three questions from the audience, with 45 seconds allotted per response. After the pitches, there was an open mingle session. The purpose of the Demo Day was to have a concrete goal and end date the startups are working towards. The Accelerator provided a set structure for the startup to operate in, until the business got actual customers and developed its own internal rhythms by catering to them. The Demo Day marked the end of the Accelerator and was the moment when the startup should have had enough traction to go out into the world and continue making progress on its own steam. Conclusion Much like a startup, I came into the Accelerator program with many assumptions. One critical one was that I could engage the teams enough that they would follow my program for 10 weeks. The second one was that the methodology I wanted to teach would be successful at...
Lessons Learned (Part 2) – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lessons Learned (Part 2) – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lean Accelerator: Lessons and Stories from Five Early-Stage Startups was written by TractionTank Co-Founder, Eric Morrow. Our blog posts featuring excerpts from Lean Accelerator are posted here with his permission. All TractionTank applicants receive a free digital copy of Lean Accelerator upon completion of our online application. LESSONS LEARNED (PART 2) Lessons-Learned Presentations The links below will take you to the videos the students prepared for their lessons-learned presentations, the actual lessons-learned presentations themselves, and the Demo Day presentations. For a collection of these videos in one easy-to-watch place on the web, please visit my blog. 1. Driven Analytics view presentations (video) 2. Levaté view presentations (video) 3. Icarus Aerial Technologies view presentations (video) 4. XiP Technologies view presentations (video) 5. Sower Publishing Group view presentations (video) My thoughts on what the students said they learneD The first thing I thought when I saw the final presentations was, “wow!” I was blown away by the quality of the videos, the presentations, and what the students said they learned. There was a heavy emphasis placed on really listening to customers, selling and scaling/scrambling/building, and Elaine Hamm from i2e identifying good challenges to the businesses. Also: Learn who your customer is by trying to sell them (getting out of the building). Spend time with your customer learning about them. Seize unexpected opportunities that arise! Research and talking alone doesn’t find customers. Cash validation is powerful validation. Look for shark bite interest (vs. mosquito bite). Power of the prototype—show people your device actually working (pictures/videos/real life). Power of cold calling—hunt down your customers. Testing the market by selling and looking for commitments is more effective than relying...
Lessons Learned (Part 1)- Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lessons Learned (Part 1)- Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lean Accelerator: Lessons and Stories from Five Early-Stage Startups was written by TractionTank Co-Founder, Eric Morrow. Our blog posts featuring excerpts from Lean Accelerator are posted here with his permission. All TractionTank applicants receive a free digital copy of Lean Accelerator upon completion of our online application. LESSONS LEARNED (PART 1) Steve Blank uses the last official class session to have the teams present their lessons learned. Here are his exact instructions on how to prepare a lessons-learned video, copied directly from the Lean Launchpad. I thought the instructions were so good that I could not further improve on them. And from the quality of the responses, it seems that was a good instinct to have. Note: The following is taken from Blank’s Lean Launchpad Educator’s Guide, which you can find in its entirety here. Loads of examples and info for lessons learned http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyGr-eoONqo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bJ8rd1dxy8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7H0LZWVt0I RedOx team from Yale: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/redox-final-nsf-presentation NeonLabs from Carnegie Mellon University: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/lighttip-nsf-final-presentation Phioptics from the University of Illinois: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/phioptics-nsf-final-presentation OmegaChem Iowa State University: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/omegachem-nsf-final-presentation City Climber team from City University of New York: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/city-climber-story-video-nsf Soliculture team from UC Santa Cruz: http://www.slideshare.net/sblank/soliculture-story-video-nsf Story video Details (2 minutes) If I can replace your team name and get the same story, that is BAD! Be unique! Be very specific! (note: my addition, the rest is from Steve Blank’s curriculum) Think of the story video as the heart of the team presentation as told through video. Suggested Story Video outline: What are your names and what is your team’s name? Introduce yourselves. Pan the camera around your office so we can see where you work. How many customers did you talk to? Did you...
Resources, Activities, and Costs – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Resources, Activities, and Costs – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lean Accelerator: Lessons and Stories from Five Early-Stage Startups was written by TractionTank Co-Founder, Eric Morrow. Our blog posts featuring excerpts from Lean Accelerator are posted here with his permission. All TractionTank applicants receive a free digital copy of Lean Accelerator upon completion of our online application. RESOURCES, ACTIVITIES, AND COSTS The seventh Lean Launchpad class is the last one of the curriculum. It looks at the key activities and resources and how much it will cost to make the product the business sells. Being on the left side of the business model canvas means I consider it part of the “product” side of the startup equation. One basic assumption I had going into the Accelerator was that if a team could prove there was a market for their product, a demand for it, then they would be able to build it. Building would require people and resources, but those aren’t in short supply if you have the money to pay for them. And if a startup can prove that customers are willing to pay for the product, they can normally find the money to pay for the resources to build the product. All of the work the teams did to validate their market answers the first startup question: does anyone want to buy or use what I’m making? That goes by the handy name of product-market fit. The second question is, can I make money selling the product or service that people want? That gets into all the questions of customers and channels, culminating in the revenue box on the business model canvas. The third question is whether...
Writing for the Web – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Writing for the Web – Book Excerpt: Lean Accelerator

Lean Accelerator: Lessons and Stories from Five Early-Stage Startups was written by TractionTank Co-Founder, Eric Morrow. Our blog posts featuring excerpts from Lean Accelerator are posted here with his permission. All TractionTank applicants receive a free digital copy of Lean Accelerator upon completion of our online application. WRITING FOR THE WEB At 7 weeks into the program, it was a good moment to look back and see how far 2 months of work can take you. When the teams came in, they were a mix of ideas and business planning, with one team (Levaté) having done a few months of human-centered design. Two months later, there were teams with paid contracts to start pilots with customers, teams with a big list of interested beta testers, teams with high callback percentages from interested university parking directors, teams doing flybys of construction sites, and teams exploring partnerships with large institutions. I was very pleased with the progress created by an obsessive attention to running experiments and hunting for real customer feedback. In this week’s startup skills class, the teams asked for help with how they present their companies in writing. Potential customers often ask for marketing materials. Often the initial point of contact wants information they can pass on to other people inside their company. And folks who get a cold call or email will want to check out a website to learn more about the startup. That’s why writing for the web is a critical startup skill. Writing will almost always be how the company introduces itself to potential customers and investors. As the startup progresses, the kind of writing the...

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