Monthly Archives: December 2012

How to Manage your Time Better as a Startup Founder

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A lot has been written and said about Lean Startup, Minimum Viable Product , and Bootstrapping your idea to a product quickly and efficiently.

The techniques are known and well described and the unending amount of tools that help you to achieve it are also common knowledge by now.

But getting to know how to do it, doesn’t mean you can set your mind to accept it.
So HOW do you get yourself to become that person? How can you adapt to lean thinking?

Seinfeld Moment: When Karmer told Jerry he’s gonna make his Rickshaws in NYC idea happen, he explained how he’ll do it quick, efficient, and with a minimum cost:

“We’ll start out with one, and then when it catches on, we’re gonna have a whole fleet!”

I used to be

Before starting my first venture, I used to work in a Telecom company for around 5 years.
This is a completely different type of work, with different working methods – Selling Cycle is long, we got to make sure everything is perfect, and things may take some time. In many cases a very long time.

So when I started my first venture it was obvious to me I knew the right methods, Quality Assurance was a top priority, and everything should be well polished.

Worst part? my partner was working in the same company as me. We were both screwed.

needless to say this first venture failed, but during that time of failure, I came across the principles of being Lean.

Getting to know those principles, on the other hand, doesn’t make implementation easier.

How to make that mental switch

Diving in my second venture, SUMMER, left me no other option but to decide (quickly) what’s important and what to focus on.
When you don’t understand what’s important, you spend all your time on every single part of the product, and on every single and useless feature that comes to mind.
It took me one failure to learn NO ONE cares about most of what you’ve done, and to get my mind not to care either. To be more conservative – I’ll care when I’ll need to.

So I came up with a Pareto concept for my Time usage:

Spend 80% of your time for 20% of your product elements

paretoG2

Picking out the features under the 80% percent in the graph is great for you to be agile, smart, and efficient.

Decide your 20%

Recently, me and my partners were thinking about some cool stuff we wanted to create, and we didn’t want to waste our time on anything. Every one of us has his Pareto in his area.
During the weeknd, mighty Rambo Oz built the Social Bar so we could test our assumptions on some part of our bigger idea. We knew exactly what’s important, and what we should spend our time on.

Many people already explained and shared their case studies on how to do everything right.
I would like to focus only on how to choose what to work on, and how to spend your time.

1. 100% of the visitors that will get to your landing page will see, well… your landing page.
Your Goal – get as many of those visitors as possible to understand your message.

2. considering how good you did on this first part, some portion of your visitors would like to go on with you. Your Goal – Keep your sign in process quick, easy and clear as possible.

3. Those new users you just owned now want to use your product, or actually try out this one thing you promised them, and caught their eyes. How many of those will start using your product immediately?

4. The rest of your product – Leave it for when it becomes necessary.

5. My Tip – Even with the slimmest product you build, let the users leave a feedback – they will from the get-go, and you’ll get a lot from it.

72 Hours of hard but precise work, led us to #1 on Hacker News with our “Show HN” post of Social Bar, getting thousands of visitors, and hundreds of sign ups almost immediately.

That can only be done with the right time usage, and knowing which elements to focus on.

How do you split your time when building a MVP?

Photo Credit: mararie on Flickr

If You Have Competitors, Go On With Your Idea

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So you did it, you had the big A-ha! moment. You encountered a problem and come up with the solution; an idea that you find really helpful or needed in so many ways.

It might have arisen from a personal need, or be a new use or twist on something that already exists. It could be anything.

The funny part about ideas is they take a second to come up with


After this one-second spark of brain lightening, comes the interesting part. Who is already an innovator in this field, who is trying to solve the same problem, and how they are doing it?

It’s a hard search to start – you don’t actually want to see others doing the exact same thing, and even worse – succeeding. 

While building and improving upon SUMMER and other previous projects, I used competitive analysis as a metric to assess where the business stood. The process of understanding where my business was relative to other taught me the value of competition.

Someone is already working on your idea


The important kick-off point is the fact that even if no such thing exists already, someone else is working on it right now. And it’s probably several people.

Whether it’s the exact same idea or something similar, the point is that people around the world are using their existing technologies to implement solutions, or inventing new products to solve the very same problem as you.

What if there are no competitors?


You should stop and think why there is no one else doing it.
If no one is experiencing the problem you are trying to solve – can you think of keywords people will google to hit your landing page?

There is a chance someone tried this already and failed? Try and find out why.
Is it because there was no demand for the product? Or perhaps the problem was implementation.

Reasons for failure can be a bad marketing approach, and often times it can be that the solution was simply born ahead of its time.

In any case, by doing this research, you will find out whether to go for your idea or not, and more importantly – how.

Why you should WANT someone else to work on the same idea


The equation is simple:

Someone working on your idea = They share the same problem = You have a market

Of those who are having a problem, only a small portion will do something to solve it, and the ratio stays the same the larger the problem is. From the other side, the more people you have as competitors – the bigger your market will be.

Get yourself an edge (learn from your competitors)


Competition is good for your idea – it challenges you to the next phase of development – beat them.

In addition to finding out why your rivals might have failed, try and see what they are missing.

Funds

Research the competitor’s Cruchbase and AngelList profiles, find out if they received funding, when they got funded, and who are their advisors.

Business Model

Check out the features they offer and how much they cost. Figure out which feature is the most expensive one and why.

Engagement

Peek at their Facebook and Twitter accounts – see if they’re active enough, and how many people are engaged with the company.

 

So the next time you’re glowing with a new idea – pray for some competitors and then get to know them well. Your idea will become much better, faster than you can imagine.

 

photo credit 50mm on Flickr

How a Broadway Show Made Me Meditate

ImageAround 10 years ago, a friend of mine convinced me to join him on a meditation retreat. While I appreciated the beauty of silence, I found that five minutes was more than enough.

That was my last attempt at finding pure quiet. In the 10 years since then, technology added heavily to my list of distractions, and I realized how rare it is to do nothing. Think: Could you make it two hours without watching TV, emailing, texting, Facebooking, sleeping, or eating?

Catch a Broadway Show

During my last visit to New York, my girlfriend wanted to see a Broadway show. Of course I said yes, although this was not a matter of my enjoyment. Not only does theater not interest me in the slightest, I have bad vision.

After waiting for hours in a discount line we ended up with seats in the very last row. Ten minutes in, I gave up trying to enjoy the show and surrendered to my waste of time and money; I couldn’t see, I didn’t know what was going on, and most importantly, I didn’t really care.

Meditation Time

Here is the biggest problem with being bored in a Broadway show: It’s forbidden to do EVERYTHING.

I couldn’t open my phone, I couldn’t talk, it wasn’t comfortable (or appropriate) to nap, and of course leaving is out of the question. Afterall, I did pay $80.

That’s how I found myself meditating on Broadway.

For the entire three hours I completely tuned out the show and focused on sorting out the noise in my mind. I thought about the product I was developing and the setbacks it was facing. I thought about why some ideas worked but their duplicates did not. I replayed the last company meeting in my head and looked for points that I could improve upon. I saw it all.

Three hours of pure thinking without distraction – on some level it felt divine.

Bravo!

The show finished and I was the first up to give the actors a standing ovation (I’m sure they deserved it) – it had indeed been a significant life experience.

When I returned home, I began searching for that ultimate focus in my everyday life.
I tried taking longer showers, but longer than 15 minutes just felt excessive. I tried listening to music, but my phone kept distracting me. I even tried laying in bed with the lights off, but (to no surprise) I kept falling asleep.

There’s only one way for me to find that pure silence – find a show with seats in the back, pay too much money, and catch a Broadway play. It may seem a bit extravagant, but that overpriced meditation session was invaluable. I walked away feeling balanced, with renewed energy and a clear mind. When you get away from everything for a few hours, all you have to focus on is yourself and your thoughts.

Tips for meditating on Broadway:

During the show, sit up straight, or you might fall asleep and lose valuable thinking time. Intermission is a great time to retain your sanity/check your phone.

 

photo credit @robyoung