Someone Please Write a Blog Post about Minimum Viable Strategy

Watching Dave McClure‘s presentation today, I started to think about how a lot of the lean startup and customer development folks talk about creating the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), Release Early / Release Often, Product / Market Fit, Pivoting, etc., etc., but there’s very little talk about choosing your market or your product strategically. (At least not that I’ve noticed, feel free to correct me.) I’d like to read that blog post.

A lot of the advice out there ultimately mitigates risks. Here is my horribly unfair summary:

  • Minimum Viable Product (MVP) – Spend less on creating your product, therefore you are risking less time and money on a bad product.
  • Release Early / Release Often – Learn in small increments, therefore you are risking less time and money on a bad product.
  • Product / Market Fit – Either change your product to fit the market or choose a different market for your product before you start spending money on marketing, therefore you are risking less time and money on a bad product.
  • Pivoting – If you have a bad product, change it to something else.

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Building a Future Through Entrepreneurship

Today I watched a group of 9th grade students at Oakland Tech present their preliminary business plans to a panel of judges and was impressed by how much I can learn from those who are so much younger than I am. The showcase was part of the entrepreneur program created by BUILD whose mission statement reads:

Our mission is to provide real-world entrepreneurial experience that empowers youth from under-resourced communities to excel in education, lead in their communities, and succeed professionally.

It’s a great program that boasts a 70% graduation rate through the 4 year after school program and 100% of BUILD graduates go on to college. That’s even more impressive considering that the program deliberately picks the kids that most schools write off as being hopeless. Over the course of the program, the students prove beyond a doubt that they can succeed in life beyond what any statistical model would predict for them. That’s a skill I want to learn. The skill to exceed expectations. Continue reading

Why I’m Not Raising Money (Yet)

If you count Mom and Pop shops, the average entrepreneurial venture requires about $25k in startup cash. Talking to Web 2.0 guys, it seems like everyone is out to raise a couple million to put their plans into action and pay their salaries during early stage growth. I was particularly struck by this article and Nivi’s responses which state you should raise “As much as possible“. I’ve also been advised more than once that I should look to add people to our advisory board who can introduce us to sources of possible funding (in other words: VCs and Angels). For better or worse, we’re bootstrapping for now.

A couple of things have led us to this decision and an understanding of when we’re going to have to change our minds.

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Caffeine Killer (Productive Chaos: How to Hurry Without Rushing p. 2)

People really like their caffeine. I guess I should’ve realized that before, but I got a bit of  flack when I suggested that caffeine was not the most efficient way to get things done in my previous post. Ok…I get it…coffee tastes great. Fair ’nuff. But I’m sticking to my guns and I’ll say it again:

If you have a cup of coffee every day, you’re not actually more awake and aware than if you didn’t have any caffeine at all.

But aside from the basic biological facts of your body normalizing to the amount of caffeine after a while, there’s a philosophical issue. Caffeine is a crutch. A lovely lovely yummy crutch that I love in sugar coated form, but a crutch none the less. Continue reading