Category Archives: Tools

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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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

Worksody

My business partner, Kirtus Dixon, and I have launched our own unique approach to startups and building businesses. It’s called Worksody (Worksody.com) and it is focused on solving the #1 problem of entrepreneurs: running out of resources before achieving cash flows, growth and sustainability. Worksody combines the efficiency of lean development professed by Eric Ries, Ash Maurya and Steve Blank; the access to talent and resources often found in venture groups like Y Combinator; and the openness and promise of coworking…all under one program management office.

We think it’s part of the solution to our economic future that I wrote about last time and  that Startup America and its detractors are actively talking about.

But that is just our hypotheses. It matters most what you, our fellow entrepreneurs and business leaders,  educators, and economic developers think.

Visit Worksody.com and let us know.

James

Ready-Aim-Jobs!

Let me be Captain Obvious for a moment and predict that the word-of-the-night in tonight’s State of the Union address will be “jobs”. Duh! Great. Got it. Now…where the jobs (good jobs, preferably) come from is another conversation.

We’re not going to bring back manufacturing on a grand scale anytime soon unless the government starts operating off Andrew Liveris of Dow’s playbook for U.S. manufacturing.

It’s not going to be led by government hiring. State governments are broke (they’re cutting back, not hiring) and we all know what happens when the federal government gets carried away with its hiring practices. Let’s not even consider health care since that is seemingly back up-in-the-air.

It’s going to happen from innovation. Solving problems worth solving. It’s going to be boosted by entrepreneurs and small businesses working in environments like we have at Cospace and following lean processes like these. It’s going to happen with incentives to angel investors like the ones at Venture Hacks and Angel List who seed fledgling products and business that achieve product-market fit through lean development and customer discovery.

I’m looking forward to seeing this tonight. I want to see how our President’s leadership at such an important time.

James

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