Fantastic February  

It all starts with your problem-solution fit. 

Who are your customers?
What pains/problems do they have? 
How does your solution help?

Core Concepts: Value Propositions & Customer Segments.

This is listed in a detailed step-by-step fashion. Please be sure to review all portions of this page:
GETTING STARTED | FUNDAMENTALSINTERVIEWS | PRESENTATIONS

Here’s an easy to use guide to all the links on the page


Getting Started!

  1. Sign up for a free account for Udacity How To Build a Startup Course

    • If it is your first time or it has been a long time since you've used Udacity and/or Lean Launch Pad (LLP), we recommend (but do not require) that you watch this course -- Lessons 2-6 (approx. 2.5 hrs) are particularly relevant to this month's homework. [Lessons 2 through 6 are named: 2. What we Know Now  3&4. Business Models and Customer Development  5. Value Proposition and 6. Customer Segments].

    • We'll highlight a few key lessons each month but the entire course is worth watching. If you have time and inclination - feel free to watch them all. Yes, you will see a lot of Steve Blank. Who is Steve Blank? 

  2. Sign up for Rise@, a tool that we use to create and shares canvases.

  3. LinkedIn - if you do not have one already please create a professional LinkedIn profile and join the VVM LinkedIn Group.  

  4. Be sure you filled out the Individual Entrance Survey and Company Survey (all surveys are required per the contract). These are due on Friday, February 8th. 


Fundamentals: Tools & Tips

One of the most important tools we use is the Value Proposition Canvas (VPC) and the Business Model Canvas (BMC). Let’s get you introduced to it so we can start off running in February!

Value Proposition Canvas

  1. Watch this short intro video.

  2. Using Rise@, create a Value Prop Canvas. (Here’s the real thing.)

  3. Need more? Preview of the book here with (hopefully) enough info to get started!

Business Model Canvas

  1. Watch intro video Business Model Canvas Explained, a 10 minute overview of many of the key principles you need to understand to express and show your businesses value and worth.

  2. Using Rise@, create a Business Model Canvas. (Here’s the real thing.)

Tips:

Things listed as "tips" are just that: optional resources you can take advantage of if you wish. We do strongly recommend watching, reading and reviewing these materials as they will help you get the most out of your VVM Accelerator experience. Do this regardless if it is the first time you are encountering these concepts or revisiting these fundamentals to give you a fresh lens on your current state of development. 

  • “People problems are the leading cause [65%!] of failure in high-potential startups” - Noam Wasserman.
    It is never too early to start thinking about team building, communication and forming your company culture. Whether you’re a solo-founder considering bringing on more team members or an already established group, read The Founder’s Dilemmas (yes, all of your founding team members should read it!) and discuss openly. If you think you are too busy - then read this (not as good as the real thing, but better than nothing) 5 min hack.

  • When troubleshooting a problem and/or when interviewing potential customers about their needs/problems, strongly consider asking ‘Why?’ a few times. This is called 5 Whys and is a proven and powerful technique. Other techniques here!

Tech Tips:

  • If you want to watch videos at high (or low) speed, check out these instructions.

  • We often link you to templates that are Google Docs, Sheets, and Presentations. You can’t edit the template. To get your own copy just go to FILE > MAKE A COPY and you’ll have your very own!

  • We often give you specific Google Drive folders in which to upload documents. If assignments have dates listed with them, that means they should be completed AND uploaded to the appropriate folder.

Resources:


INTERVIEWS

Most Startups fail from a lack of [paying] customers than from a failure of developing a [viable] product or service.  - Steve Blank

We want to make sure you have both - by getting you to actively engage with potential customers, partners and stakeholders from Day 1. Our program centers on “getting out of the building” and learning what the world needs by interacting with it and making sure you are not just telling yourself what you want to believe. Every month you will interview dozens of potential customers and/or partners. Many of our startups follow-up month-to-month with people they have already interviewed, so let your customers, potential partners, industry experts/stakeholders know you'll be calling again. In total, you should expect to complete 100+ interviews by the end of the program. Let’s get you ready...

  1. (Re)Watch Udacity (Lesson 2.7): Customer Development vs Product Development &
    (Lesson 4.5): Hypothesis Testing

  2. A couple videos: Rules for Customer Interviews / Techniques for Getting Customer Stories

  3. Call List/CRM

    1. Build a Call List - could be a simple Google Sheet like this one, or something more advanced like this) if you want to start in Google Sheets. Some of you might already be working within a CRM. If you want to use a “real” CRM, you can check out some options in GAN PerksWhatever tool that feels best is fine by us, the important thing is to be organized, track your contacts, and document your findings to maximize your efficiency and results.

    2. Put potential interviewees into the Call List/CRM. Some tips…

      1. Given the number of interviews you need to complete this month, you’ll need to have at least two times (2x) that many potential interviewees. Why? Because not everyone you want to talk to will be available to talk to you by your interviewing deadline. Some won’t be interested in being interviewed.

      2. Remember that it takes a lot of time to actually schedule a meeting, often 1-2 weeks! Budget your time accordingly. Try asking ”Do you have any time, perhaps during your commute, to chat in the next day or two?” to schedule interviews sooner. Also, Google Calendar, Calendly, MixMax and many other time saving tools are out there to help with scheduling.

      3. If you are new to interviewing then at the top of your list should be at least 10 friends, family members, or business contacts that you have a solid personal relationship with.

      4. Need help generating prospects to call? Consider using Google/LinkedIn to find companies, organizations, clubs, etc. that might have potential customers in them. Use that info, plus some keyword searches on LinkedIn, to find 1st and 2nd degree connections that might be great interviewees. Ask everyone you interview for referrals.

    3. Create Your Interview Script. Your interview must be designed to help you validate or invalidate the hypotheses you put on your Value Proposition Canvas and in turn into your Peer Percolate presentation (see below).

    4. Interview at least 20 people and log your results in your Call List/CRM. What you learn from these interviews will be the basis of your main presentation.

Teams that do more interviews get more value out of the program.
That’s not our opinion, that’s what our alumni tell us!


PRESENTATIONS

  1. Prepare an elevator pitch. It is a 30-second verbal elevator pitch conforming to this template (or not!). You’ll use it at the start of the bootcamp to introduce yourself to your peers, in breakouts, and is generally a good thing to know!

  2. Prepare your Peer Percolate Presentation. This is a presentation - with slides - on your company's Value Proposition & Customer Segments. You will deliver this presentation, live, to a subset of your peers on Saturday of the bootcamp weekend. One-third of you will also deliver this same presentation to a panel of judges during our practice judging session on Saturday.

Peer Percolate Presentation Requirements:

  1. No more than 8 minutes long.

  2. We only use Google Presentation format. It’s free, simple, works on any browser, and removes IT headaches at bootcamps so we can focus on value-added activities. If you are new to Google Presentations go here to learn how to use Google Presentations.

  3. The file name must be named {MyCompanyName}_February.

  4. The presentation must cover all of the items listed in the February Peer Percolate Presentation Template. For month one, it is strongly recommended that you present them in the same order and with roughly the same time allotments as the template as well. Feel free to alter the formatting, look, and feel of the presentation any way you like. Also look for lots of “tips” and links within the template.

  5. You must deliver your final version of your presentation into the folder by Thursday, February 21st @ 8:30 AM.

Presentation Tips:

  1. This is month one - the most important thing is to get your ideas in pitch form to communicate as best you can for the bootcamp. We all start somewhere and you will be rocking it by the end of this program.

  2. Review the February Scoresheet that will be used to give you feedback and make sure your presentation is addressing these questions.

  3. Practice this pitch! You will present it live to your peers at the bootcamp weekend. One-third of you will also deliver this same presentation to a panel of judges during our practice judging session on Sunday. Come as prepared as you can be.

  4. After the end of the weekend, review your feedback here.

Prepare for MasterMind. Prepare an informal presentation (no slides) for your Sunday MasterMind group that:

  1. Shares the most important goal you wish to complete by the next bootcamp. You can use the goals you set in the Pre-Accelerator.

  2. Outlines the steps you are planning to take to address it.

  3. Asks the group to keep them accountable to reach the next goal.


Questions?  

Optional conference call on February 8th. More information coming soon.

Use the Slack channel (#homework) for any other questions at any time. You can ping me directly @dorota.

Here’s an easy to use guide to all the links on the page