Founder Institute headcount: down to the Final Ten.
(65% drop out rate at the 7 week mark)
When people dropped out early on in the program it was easy to dismiss them as people who weren’t really that committed to founding a startup, but as the weeks have gone on I’ve found even great people leaving for one reason or another. Part of the challenge is that FI sets a fast pace and not every business idea is ready for a step required of the program.
For example, last week for the topic of ‘Cofounders, Hiring & Firing’ we had to advertise to hire someone to work in our business – yet I’m still investigating whether I’ve got the right idea and am not really in a position to hire yet. It’s a good process to go through, however when time is limited and there are other more important priorities for your business it can make you feel torn between doing what FI requires versus what your business needs right now.
The pace of FI can easily put you in the position where you feel left behind – however put into perspective it’s only been seven weeks that I’ve been investigating this idea, and the Lean philosophy is all about maximising learning and adapting to findings rather than plowing ahead in the wrong direction – I’m pretty happy with where I’m at. What I’m committed to is the process and path, as the ‘idea’ itself may change as I learn more.
For example, evolution of the idea over the past seven weeks has involved:
22/08/2012 First idea FanFit: Software-As-A-Service to help indie filmmakers test-market their film projects from initial concept stage onwards, using customer validation to identify the best marketable ideas, minimising the risk of wasting time and money developing & producing films without an audience.
23/08/2012 Generated another two ideas and spoke to potential customers about all three ideas to gain feedback:
ConCoterie: an online match making market to help brands, broadcasters, and content creators to split the cost of content creation by finding partners with shared interests to collaborate on mutually beneficial projects.
StoryBase: an online match making market to help producers find quality film & tv scripts and writers that are the perfect match based on common interests and needs so they don’t have to waste thousands of hours reading through the slush pile of generic submissions or miss out on ideas not submitted.
04/09/2012 Based on feedback refined idea to Hunchproof: a web platform to help creative small businesses – such as authors, filmmakers, musicians – to create low budget marketing plans, by stepping them through the process of a marketing strategist.
I spent time clarifying and simplifying the idea of exactly how it would work, and rewriting how to explain it as I found this a challenge.
03/10/2012 Based on more feedback, I questioned the whole thing all over. New ideas of how to solve the problem prompted:
Hunchproof: A website to help creative people become more business savvy about how they sell their creative products, by providing tools, certified courses, and a services marketplace that caters specifically to the creative industries.
And I know that I’m not done yet, I haven’t hit on the right solution to the problem, and may not have even defined the ‘problem’ correctly. I’ve learned that the customer interviews I did over the first weeks weren’t as well structured as they could have been – to diagnose the ‘problem’ correctly – so I’m redoing them with a better structure. (Fyi am borrowing heavily from Jason Evanish’s advice on customer development interviews).
Thus being in FI feels a bit two-steps-forward-one-step-back as on one hand I’m speeding along trying to keep up with the program whilst also having to go back and reevaluate step one.
Welcome to the world of startups