The two presenters at 1 Million Cups both responded to the question, “What can the community do for you?” the same way. Their response is an important lesson for all entrepreneurs to learn, and one in which Brice McBeth of Standish and Devon Diaz of Millennia Launch Pad both shared in a it’s-not-my-first-rodeo-kind-of-way.
Brice McBeth kicked-off the morning talking about Standish, a new distributor of salon chairs (and that’s SAH-lon chairs for those who are trying to pronounce the word correctly). However, the presentation was not your typical presentation. Brice is the Founder and CEO of Reap Marketing, a Dallas-based digital agency focused on conversion rate optimization and AB/multivariate testing. That’s the complicated way of saying, research to increase sales. The company that Brice pitched, Standish, was an opportunity that Brice and his team pursued from within the agency in an effort to create a case study for launching/optimizing a website in 60-days. But, now he really does sell salon chairs… and makes good money selling them too! Crazy. From a book “Salon Chairs Don’t Sell Themselves” to his lessons on over-designing, Brice shared with the community not just a website that disrupted the salon chair industry, but also the importance of testing your market and iterating on the feedback.
Similarly, Devon Diaz pitched his latest entrepreneurial venture which helps entrepreneurs prepare their businesses (emphasis on the business, not the product/service) to pursue venture capital or private equity funds. What makes Millennia Launchpad similar to Standish? Millennia Launchpad needs to understand the minds included in their investor database to best prepare their startup clients for investor presentations. For example, investors now, unlike years ago with the [dot]coms, are looking for traction (the day’s buzzword of choice). Thus, Devon and the Millennia Launchpad team developed a series of checklists, milestones, and opportunities for their clients to receive guidance and support. They’ve deemed that there are 8 things that venture capitalists are looking for… Traction is currently one of them. Maybe tomorrow that will change… Millennia Launchpad will know and is constantly iterating their methodology based on their communities’ feedback. (Author’s note: It’s not likely that investors will stop looking for traction, but you get the point on listening to the market.)
There are several lessons that the community learned Wednesday morning:
- Don’t wait until you have everything perfect to launch. Just get started and iterate from there.
- Figure out where you can make an impact leveraging your personal experiences.
- Not having everything figured out is okay. Seeking advice from those around you is encouraged.
Both Brice and Devon subscribed to the idea of seeking feedback from the community. This is not their first rodeo. They understand that each startup that they start-up is different and involves unique challenges to overcome. To that end, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Talk through a problem. Seek out a community member to brainstorm a solution… or sign-up for a Whiteboard session. You never know what, or who, you might meet or inspire along the way.