Over the past 30 years, I have been a founder, co-founder or management team member for 6 startups. Over the course of that time, I have made (or the team) so many mistakes, it would be impossible to count. What’s worse, is that I’ve repeated some of these mistakes because I didn’t properly track decisions and outcomes.
My new Founder’s Toolkit helps with just that and more. It’s a group of 6 tools that will help founders tactically maneuver the rough landscape of startups. It took many years of trial and error to collect these tools and to determine these are the right tools. I hope that you or founder you know can benefit!
Back in the early days of Gigable, we worked to release and market our mobile app and ticket platform. The app was officially released on July 1, 2016.
To introduce the app to our initial audience, we got a booth at Ribfest in Naperville, IL. This fest is the largest of its kind in the suburbs of Chicago during the summer. There is a big focus on live music which is why we wanted to introduce our app at this event. We also had a big showcase planned for August 19 at Wentz Concert Hall in downtown Naperville. What better way to promote a live show, than to talk to people at an outdoor music fest in the weeks leading up to the show!? (more about this lesson in Vol. 2)
We got our banner printed, along with a few thousand promo cards. Then we spent 4 days meeting and talking to about 1000 people about Gigable and the emerging artists we feature. The conversations were very positive and we had a good response from music fans regarding our concept. We ended up getting about 100+ people load the app.
All this is going well, except we didn’t configure a great solution to measure app usage. In hindsight, we should have had a plan to use Mixpanel or GA to get in-depth analytics on usage. Not just usage, but stickiness. How often to people come back and use the app on a weekly basis? Are they saving shows or favoring songs? Unfortunately, we don’t know. As of September 7, 2016, we still don’t really know.
The big lesson: Setup methods to measure “viability”! It’s great to say that you are launching our MVP and getting the product out there. That is a great accomplishment and you look really smart. But, is it truly viable? What’s the threshold? What’s the benchmark? It doesn’t have to be a perfect measure, but directionally, you should be confident to invest more money into the product and marketing post launch. It’s really easy, I mean super-easy to dump thousands of dollars marketing anything. But does it stick? Is the brand message getting through? How will you know?
These are the questions you will have planned for prior to launch.
As an entrepreneur growing a startup, I’m constantly pushing the envelope. Always trying new things and ways to reach people and inspire them to action. In the startup world (especially tech), everyone likes to throw around the phrase “fail fast.” Which means, find the stuff that doesn’t work as fast as possible so you can get to the stuff that does work.
The problem with this is that I’m human, with feelings. When I come up with an idea and push it out into the world and it falls flat, it wears me down a little. When we believe in an idea and we execute on it, there’s a part of us expecting that it will work right. When it doesn’t, sometimes we have to face some harsh truths and adjust course.
After 1000 failed attempts to create a commercial incandescent light bulb, did Edison say to himself, ‘this is stupid and I’m an idiot.’ He probably felt that, but tried 1000 more times and got it right. That belief in the vision to keep going in the face of many failed attempts is some of the most difficult terrain any person will encounter.
Then there are the days where you’ve applied the lessons learned and executed to find that you’ve succeeded. If you can get through this cycle enough times, you are a superhero.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) is set to explode over the next 5 years. After a few years of experimentation and a lot of hype, it seems we’re getting down to business.
A recent Forbes article explains how we got here and where we’re going. As an IT professional who’s been living and learning this stuff since 1989, my take is that the time is right for AI. We’re seeing new use cases every day in every field and from every type of AI application – vision, speech, images and conversation.