Category Archives: Building Stuff

Lean Project Teams

Probably about time that I share a little bit of how we build stuff at Cospace. Here’s how we staff our project and startup teams.

Roles & Actions (blue) – Project Management, Customer Dev, Product Dev, & Business Dev
Focus (red) – Areas of responsibilities
Metric (green) – Profitability, Revenue, Users/Customers, Cost-to-Acquire-a-Customer

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Innovation in Education

If you don’t think things are changing – FAST! – in education take a look at TeamTreehouse, Skillshare, OpenStudy, and a host of other social-infused education startups. We have a couple brewing ourselves at Cospace that you’ll see more of 2012. It makes you wonder what higher education is thinking (or not rethinking) right now:

“Many in higher ed believe the analogy with businesses doesn’t apply to them. They think they have a corner on the credential business and right now a credential is the ticket to most good jobs.”

Jeff Selingo

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What is an Entrepreneur?

This is such a powerful story from Cameron Herold, a lifelong entrepreneur from a family of entrepreneurs. Regardless of what you do for a living (and we’re all different from head to toe),  stop trying to fit your round self into that square peg. Figure out what motivates you, what you’re made of, what you want and go get it! It really is that simple. Enjoy and thank you TED Talks for making these videos and making them so easy to share.

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Been busy all summer @CapitalFactory bui …

Been busy all summer @CapitalFactory building our company @GroupCharger Inc and products like @AlumniCharger and (soon) @CampaignCharger.

Also, I’ve continued to speak and publish about lean business building @Worksody and @Cospace.

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Snatch the learning from my hand grasshopper

In this case, the pebble is learning and the grasshopper is you/me, the entrepreneur.

There is nothing more important to an early-stage company/entrepreneur than learning. Learning about the market, learning about the customer, and ultimately, learning about whether you have a problem worth solving. All before you build anything!

The key questions are: a) speed – can you learn quickly enough so you get to positive cash flow before you run out of money?, and b) focus – can you avoid all of those other things that look like opportunities but are really only distractions?

Here’s what we’ve learned in the last 30 days testing out Worksody.com:

Problem Hypothesis: (Restated) It’s difficult to become “investment pitch-ready” because it’s seemingly a Catch-22: you need capital and/or specific skills and access to customers to achieve the traction investors are looking for to even get in front of them.

Customer Segment 1: Early-stage entrepreneurs

Customer Segment 2: Early-stage investors

What we’ve learned so far:
  • Investors are interested in quality deals / entrepreneurs but will not pay for the lead.
  • The “waste” or inefficiency in the process today is a cost investors have already baked into their model.
  • The lean startup/product development process is still relatively new to people, especially those outside of web app development and outside of lean “hotspots” like Austin.
  • Coworking places like ours, Cospace, are also a relatively new concept but catching on quickly in the investment community (see Founderscoop.com).
  • Most entrepreneurs have not planned their exit in any meaningful detail.
  • Most entrepreneurs’ view of their prospective customer channels is limited due to time constraints and by the access afforded them from their business/social network.
  • Leaders of larger small businesses (50-499 employees plus) also have a need to learn and solve problems but have the same time and access challenges facing entrepreneurs.
  • A vast majority of early-stage investments happen outside of angel groups / angel networks (e.g. there is significant “quiet money” available).

What are we doing with this learning? We’re framing up a solution to test with problem interviewees and other select entrepreneurs and investors we are working with at Cospace and in our startups (GroupCharger and ShareOnce).

Expect another update in 30 days and please follow us on Twitter @Worksody, @KirtusDixon and @JamesWeddle.

Cheers,

James

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