eTech, Day One Tutorials

Today I went to the tutorial sessions here at eTech in San Diego. I attended:

Highlights following: 

 

Creating Passionate Users:

Focus on the passion: where there is passion, there is always a user kicking ass. People are passionate about what they are good at.

It’s not about the tool:
it’s not the digital camera, it’s photography. It’s about what your users do with your tools.

When picking what to focus on, it’s good to have something that has an endless growth curve (i.e. playing the bass, a martial art) something where you’ll never reach perfection. It’s also good to have an easy growth curve so it’s easy to get started but a curve that gets steeper to further you get into it. Need to get users through the "suck" threshold quickly and up and over the "passion" threshold.
    Q: Why does anyone snowboard, twice?
    1. There’s a clear picture of how much fun it’ll be when you’re good.
    2. There is a clear path to getting better. A ski map shows you what areas of the mountain will open up when you get better.

Conversational tone beats formal lecture. Retention and recall both go up when you communicate and interact. The brain thinks it’s in a conversation and that they need to "keep up" their end of the conversation. Talk to the brain, not the mind.

Why? Who Cares? So What?
Three questions to ask to get at the core of your message.
Honda asks "why" five times to get to the heart of what needs to be communicated.

The flow state – when knowledge and skill is perfectly balanced with the challenge before them. Keep your users thinking that they are just "one compile away from nailing it." Time while you’re in the flow state passes by quickly.

How to keep them into the flow when it’s something that’s actually a bit of a slog. Get Attention > Build interest > challenging activity > payoff > repeat
The longer you take to get to the payoff, the better the eventual reward needs to be.

Game developers know this well with the concept of "the next level"
Levels, belts (as in martial arts). Should make the levels as granular as your userbase. Can tune your levels when you see drop outs. If people drop out before they make it to level three, make another level at 2.5.

Java Ranch – very successful community site – has 500k uniques/month – no sponsorship. Greenhorn > Ranch Hand > etc. These labels were really sought after but once they allowed people to pay for levels, the value of these levels actually went down.

You cannot write about your tool or service until you know what journey the user is going to go on. Gaining knowledge is not enough, need to get them to the point where they will look at the world differently. How to get the photographer to look at the world differently.

The Tribe – Create T shirts/bumper sticker first before you create the product. When there is a tribe, they want others to know. Part of being in a tribe is that you know things that others don’t. Easter Eggs are a good example (eeggs.com). People like to impress.

The Secret. . . It doesn’t matter what they think about you – it’s not about you or what you do. All that matters is how they feel about themselves as a result of their interactions with your organization or product. How does this help someone kick ass.

From Coder to Co-Founder

Building to flip is building to flop
– Too limiting, need as many ways to succeed as you can. There are more ways to succeed than flipping your company to an acquisition.

Prudence becomes procrastination
– Don’t hesitate or think over it too much. Thinking about it to much and asking too many people will sap your confidence. Talk to enough people and you’ll be talked out of your idea.

Momentum builds on itself.
– Jump when you’re more excited than afraid. Release early and often.

Instant yes means Instant no
– Stay away from people that are too excited and throw caution to the win.

If you keep secrets from the market, the market will keep secrets from you.

Give people what they need, not what they said they need.
– The danger of focus groups.

Work with people you like, work with people who like and believe in you naturally.
– Great things are made by people who share a passion, not by those who have been talked into one.

Cool ideas are useless without great needs.

Build the simplest thing possible.
– Always easy to add complexity later.
– "Race to a finished product" – 37 signals
– Solve problems, not potential problems.

Test everything with real people.

Start with nothing and have nothing for as long as possible. Having nothing focuses you on what needs to be done. A VC can cloud the issue and distract.

Be plainspoken and entertaining in your pitch.
– Your business should be easy to understand. ("I have x users growing at x rate and with x margin. I expect to be able to grow at y rate in y timef"rame.)

No means maybe, yes means maybe.
– No just means no for right now. Keep the people updated.
– Yes means yes in principle. The only money in the bank is actually money in the bank.

Fundraising

VCs don’t fund companies, they fund businesses.

VC will get you:
– Money (for a while)
– Credibility (maybe)
– Guidance & Review (maybe good)
– Some introductions (maybe)
– Advocates for the company
   
Standard Ratios:
– 10 face to face meetings = 1 term sheet
– 3 term sheets = 1 financing
   
From pitch to term sheet: 2 months
– 10 or more meetings.

From term sheet to money: 1 month
   
Total time: 4-12 months
   
August & December
These are dead months for the VCs and b/c all VCs work on consensus, nothing will get done in August or December.

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