SWCDO 101: Project management

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A Startup Weekend CDO Pre-event Presentation

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  • know why Startup Weekend is awesome: within three days, you’ll be able to see the real social dynamics and the drama that unfolds as the teams manage themselves: both good and bad. It’s like getting a very condensed experience of what startup life is like.
  • Know your time constraints and be ruthless in cutting features away. Your idea of MVP is never lean enough
    To developers, remember this is not a hackathon. To highly-excitable visionary “CEOs” in the team, diluting your developers resources into jamming more features in your next world changing, paradigm shifting, industry disrupting location aware mobile application demo is as good as being left with a thick Powerpoint slide deck and no working demo. And potential investors in the room don’t want to fund yet another startup that just looks good on Powerpoint and have nothing to show for it.
    In short: You have only 54 hours to develop and validate your startup idea, laser focus is key here and you have to ruthless hack down your to-do list to the bare essentials of what really needs to get done. For a guideline, the things you really need to do within 54 hours is this:
    Decide on your unique selling point
    Have a team to work on a demo/prototype
    Craft the dream you want to sell
    Sell the dream
    ??? (hard work and some lucky pixie dust)
    PROFIT!
    If you don’t have enough development resources, focus in developing on the core user experience and forgo the backend. That’s the strategy that I employ for the SmartTasker team. If your startup idea is any good and you are able to sell your dream, you’ll manage to find someone to flesh out the nuts and bolts after the event.

    Know your time constraints and be ruthless in cutting features away. Your idea of MVP is never lean enough
    To developers, remember this is not a hackathon. To highly-excitable visionary “CEOs” in the team, diluting your developers resources into jamming more features in your next world changing, paradigm shifting, industry disrupting location aware mobile application demo is as good as being left with a thick Powerpoint slide deck and no working demo. And potential investors in the room don’t want to fund yet another startup that just looks good on Powerpoint and have nothing to show for it.
    In short: You have only 54 hours to develop and validate your startup idea, laser focus is key here and you have to ruthless hack down your to-do list to the bare essentials of what really needs to get done. For a guideline, the things you really need to do within 54 hours is this:
    Decide on your unique selling point
    Have a team to work on a demo/prototype
    Craft the dream you want to sell
    Sell the dream
    ??? (hard work and some lucky pixie dust)
    PROFIT!
    If you don’t have enough development resources, focus in developing on the core user experience and forgo the backend. That’s the strategy that I employ for the SmartTasker team. If your startup idea is any good and you are able to sell your dream, you’ll manage to find someone to flesh out the nuts and bolts after the event.

  • If you’ve gone through all the problem and solution interviews and have determined that your solution doesn’t really solve a problem that people are willing to pay for, you may have to pivot to a different solution or different problem. If that’s the case, you may have to start the process all over. There is no sense in building a product that people aren’t willing to pay for. Don’t feel obligated to move forward with building something that people won’t pay for just so you can show a product during the demo. Again, hopefully you weren’t so off base that you have to start completely from scratch. You may be able to adjust things a bit on your canvas, scripts, and mockups then go run a few more solution interviews to validate that your new direction will work.
  • Customer Validation
    Start with people at the venue, because if your potential customer base is in the building, then you can run through your interviews more quickly. If you must, get out of the building and go talk to people directly outside, at coffee shops, or in your personal network. If you know who your potential customers may be and have some personal relationships with them, you could invite them to come to the venue. Interviews are better done in person, but if your customers are people in other geographies, then try to interview them through video-chat.
    Remember, the key isn’t to have perfect production-quality system. You just want to get something functional up as fast as possible.

    Don’t go overboard. Build an app that only has 3-4 screens and does little more than what you showed in your mockups. If you’re questioning whether a feature, button, tab, image, or text should go in, leave it out. If its not a core part of solving the problem that your customers have identified, leave it out. For example, you don’t have to have build functionality for things like online billing, security, email responders, or search unless its core to your product.
    If you don’t have the programming capabilities on your team, and nobody knows how to configure use a content management system (like Drupal) or blogging platform (like Wordpress) to implement your solution, then I would refine the mockups to make them more high-fidelity. Make them look as close to what they will look like on the screen. Make the buttons and links on the mockup be anchors to other pages in your Keynote or Powerpoint presentation, so you can actually click on them and you can see the navigation.

    the judges were able to appreciate the quality of the idea and the future of the business without having to see it fully in action.
  • Management 101: everyone in the team needs to reach a common agreement what needs to be done and distribute the tasks that’d maximize output.

  • The early phases of building your startup is usually a stressful one and it’s normal to be freaked out from time to time. That’s the whole purpose of forming a great team — having a support group structure where the members would not only support each other in terms of skills but also acts as the necessary emotional cushion that’d pad the stress that pounds you.
  • SWCDO 101: Project management

    1. 1. Startup Weekend Project How do you manage?
    2. 2. #1 : Braindump Ideas ● Throw everything on the table as early as possible ● Start talking about your startup Problem Milestones Potential Customers Monetization Solutions Technology Interview Scripts Costing Features MVP Technologies Mockups Customer Validation Strategies
    3. 3. But You only have 54hours? Decide Fast but Wisely ● Set Timers for Decisions ● Use Roman Voting
    4. 4. #2 : Prioritize and Refine ● Know your time constraints and be ruthless in cutting features away. ● Set Pivot or Persevere meetings - your keyword is “feasible” ● Always refer to your validations.
    5. 5. #3 : Allocate and Set Deadlines ● Use Scrum Board ● Assign Roles and Distribute Tasks Team Leader Designers - logo design, page mockups, etc. Developers - build the MVP/prototype, website, etc. Customer Validation - surveys, interviews, etc. Business Model Canvas - costing, monetization, marketing Final presentation
    6. 6. Rule : Limit Scope, Simplify Early Spend Time on : 1. Business Model - proof that you know what you are doing and you have plans 2. Customer Validation - proof that there is a need and potential customers 3. Execution - working demo Well, these happen to be the judging criteria also :)
    7. 7. It’s not the team size that matters; it’s getting everyone on-board on the same page towards the goal.
    8. 8. Freaking out is normal :) You have a TEAM - your support group not just for skills but as well as emotional support.
    9. 9. Be a Team Player! Utilize Strengths Let everyone shine Listen as much as you talk Dont be afraid to ask help Lead by action, not by words or force
    10. 10. Tips and Tricks
    11. 11. Your startup name is important — it must be easy-to-spell, catchy, memorable and meaningful
    12. 12. Basics of Branding Feature the name of your startup in both your slide decks and demo prominently
    13. 13. Show your MVP If you are not projecting your demo on the big screen, you are doing it wrong
    14. 14. Show Proof of Customer Validation Let everyone know that you have worked on Customer Discovery/Development
    15. 15. Rule of Powerpoint at all times Brief, Direct to the point, Compelling Presentation
    16. 16. Sell the Dream, not the Product
    17. 17. Project Management Tools Check out http://startupweekend.org/resources/
    18. 18. Startup Weekend is awesome! Take it seriously, but not too much. Have fun, but keep focused.

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