We’re 8 friends conducting a lean startup experiment:
Can we build a value & revenue generating company in 3 weeks?
- Long enough to test our basic business hypotheses. More
- Low opportunity cost. More
- Gives us a chance to work together, without “getting married.” More
More details on why we chose 3 weeks here.
(who wouldn’t send me a picture so I got to pick one)
Marketing & Community
This is a more detailed explanation of the bullet points above.
The business we’re building, OnCompare, is like a “Yelp for SaaS” and is something Justin had been doing customer development on for a number of months. He’d already validated pain points from:
- SaaS customers – SMBs like yours and mine spending too much time finding & choosing the right online services like CRMs, email marketing tools, invoicing services, etc.
- SaaS providers – eager for an unbiased marketplace to compete
- SMB consultants – willing pay to have their SaaS optimization services featured on a site like this
What customer development couldn’t validate, was whether we could:
- Address these pain points well enough to monetize the solution. It’s one thing to talk about providing great SaaS recommendations, it’s another to do it.
- Build a community. Without one, we’ve got no defense; what’s to stop someone else from trumping us a week after launch?
- Bake useful virality into the product. We don’t want SEO to be the only marketing gun in our arsenal.
Three weeks is enough time to test these hypotheses and plan our next steps, without ditching our other long-term goals. Which brings us to…
More than anything, this self-imposed 3-week deadline has lowered the opportunity cost for everyone involved.
Most of the guys on the team are in a transition period. Aaron & Jeremy are both looking for technical leadership roles, or are considering starting their own consulting firm. Chris & Nathan are great devs, now on the free agent list, and Justin about to moving to the bay area shortly to explore starting a new company.
In the meantime though, this gives all of a chance to develop our lean startup skills, develop our Ruby on Rails chops, try some new agile development techniques, and most importantly, make a lot of mistakes.
Sure, I knew Jeremy, a killer dev and entrepreneur in his own right, before we started this project; he came to the PicTranslator launch party. And yeah, I knew Joe, our awesome UX guy. We met outside Qwest field when I sold him a Sounders ticket.
I knew (almost) all eight guys before we started this journey – but not to the extent that I’d bet my next company on it. Instead, an extended Startup Weekend where we can get a sense of how well we work together, and see to what extent we’d like to do it going forward, is a great fit for this situation.