Hello. I’m Danny Boice the co-founder and CTO of Speek and this is Drake. He’s the rapper who coined the acronym YOLO.Who’s familiar: Who here is familiar w/ “YOLO”? What is YOLO:If you’re not already aware YOLO is this cultural phenomena where people are doing crazy shit and just shrugging it off like “You Only Live Once”. There are a series of memes that have cropped up so you know it’s legit.Connection to my talk: My team dared me to try and work YOLO into one of my talks – so here it goes. Be sure to tweet at SpeekApp with these hashtags so my team knows I actually did thisMy startup Speek is launching out of beta this month so I just had to make my own YOLO talk but instead of “You only live once” I had to make it nerdy and call it “You Only Launch Once”Here it goes
Speek is a new way of doing conference calls that doesn’t suck. You don’t need annoying dial-ins. Instead you get a simple link like speek.com/danny that you can share with anyone you want to do a conference call with. Once on you can see who’s on the call and when they talk, add / remove callers, share files, take notes. Speek was founded in June 2012 by myself and John Bracken who previously founded E-vite and did biz dev for AOL Instant Messenger and some other big communication products.Be sure to go register your free speek link now before someone else gets your name
We’ve had a little bit of success so far but still have a ton of work to do:Raised a lot of cash early on good terms from good VC’sAmazing teamDecent pressI thought it may help to share what we did month by month to get here
So we’ve navigated the infamous trough of sorrows. We just hit a good growth trajectory. Sounds cool but it started off in a very modest fashion.Back around February of last year John and I were in NYC and went out for beers after work. We were both serial entrepreneurs and in between startups at the time and did what any founder would do – we started brainstorming on startups to found together and drawing them out on cocktail napkins.The one we felt best about was this “bit.ly for conference calling” concept that John came up with.We were both big into Lean Startup so we immediately went about validating our riskiest assumption – that people would do something other than a phone number and PIN for audio conference calls
Theme: product concept validation before we waste time and money even forming a company
Theme: Even more product concept validation before we waste time and money even starting a company
Theme: We validated our product concept. Now we had to make it not suck so much.Voice quality was core. One bad experience churned a user. We had to get this right. It took us several months to do that.We never stopped organically growing along the way though (no paid advertising)
Theme: Our product doesn’t suck now but if we can’t scale it in a cost effective manner we’re fucked. Can we scale viral growth?Get out there and distribute, distribute, distribute
Theme: We can generate new users out of active users so now we need to feed the funnel with new users that will active and not churn
We’ve had a little bit of success so far but still have a ton of work to do:Growing exponentiallyRaised a lot of cash early on good terms from good VC’sAmazing teamDecent press
Don’t spend money on marketing until your basic product works enough to retain users at a baseline levelOrganic growth is fine and a great sign if you can achieve it
MVP = minimum viable product if you’re not aware.We literally sliced black and white balsamiq wireframes as our first UI in production. It got us a few hundred users which allowed to raise money on a note with a fairly high cap.
Once you’re basic product is retaining users at even the most basic level go full steam with distribution and growth
One way of understanding whether you are ready to grow or not is to use the survey.io survey to identify whether you have achieved product / market fit or not. 40% of a 30 user cohort must answer “very dissapointed” to the question about how they would feel if your product didn’t exist.
Virginia Lee from my product team literally stalked our early users on facebook and linkedin to get their feedback. This must be done.
Ours was active users. “active” means they did a conference call that was longer than 5 minutes with more than 2 people on it within the last 30 days. We tracked our % of growth on a weekly and monthly basis.
I think we would have saved ourselves a few months if we had gone to one of these at the very beginning.It not only gets your product out there faster, connects you with really smart mentors but it will also jump start fundraising
It will take you twice as long to raise half as much. We had me (previous exit, published, harvard, decade+ of tech) and my co-founder (e-vite founder w/ exit, berkleymba, several years of biz dev for AOL instant messenger) and it took us about 6 months to raise our seed round. Granted we did a convertible note with a high cap and only took money from pro’s.
Thank you for having meNow please go put a dent in the damn universe by founding startups!
YOLO: You Only Launch Once
DrakeYOLO: You Only Launch Once Danny Boice Speek Co-founder & CTO @DannyBoice | @SpeekApp #YOLO #EE2013
Current StateLots of Users100% Monthly Growth$1.5mm Seed Funding11 EmployeesJust hit “hockey stick”shaped growth curvelast month
Our JourneyStarted with NYC, ANapkin, and Beer. YOLO
February 2012Place: NYCProblem: Conferencecalls suck and people hatethemSolution: Use a linkinstead of a phonenumber and PIN YOLOFunding: $0Users: 0People: 2Assumption:People will use a link forconference callsExperiment: Lots ofcustomer interviews &some AdWord buys
March 2012Place: SXSWProblem: We need anapp for more experimentsSolution: Drink lots ofbeer (and bourbon) in ourAIRBNB house and hacka butt ugly MVP together YOLOFunding: $0Users: 0People: 2 + offshore devAssumption:We can overcome voicetechnology hurdlesExperiment: Get ourfriends and family to startdoing callsResult: FAIL - techglitches (Voice related)
June 2012Place: Arlington, VAProblem: Voice qualitysucksSolution: Host conferencecalls on hardware ratherthan AWSFunding: $50,000 YOLOUsers: 50People: 3 + offshore devAssumption:We can overcome voicetechnology hurdlesExperiment: Upgrade ourtechnology and keep gettingpeople to do calls.Result: Validated** This is when we finallyformed Speek, Inc **
September 2012Place: AOL Fishbowl Labs (ournew and current home)Problem: Not growingorganicallySolution: Start giving survey.iosurvey to all active usersFunding: $150,000 YOLOUsers: 1,000People: 3 + offshore devAssumption:We can grow without huge useracquisition costsExperiment: CustomerInterviews & Survey.io surveyand see if we can get to 40%“very disappointed if Speekdidn’t exist” for a given cohort.Result: 3+ months of iteration
December 2012Place: Fishbowl LabsProblem: Cheap useracquisition / feed the viralfunnelSolution: Try a bunch ofdifferent growth tactics -ITERATE YOLOFunding: $500,000Users: 20,000People: 6Assumption:We can grow our userbase without hugemarketing spendExperiment: Customerdevelopment + analyticsResult: 3+ months ofiteration
TodayPlace: Fishbowl LabsProblem: Scale growth,become ubiquitousSolution: Keep iteratingand get out early on newplatforms and devicesFunding: $1,500,000Monthly Growth: 100%People: 11Launching out of betaand charging $$