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Startupfest 2015: TOM WALSHAM (TWG) - "How to" Stage

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How to save your early stage startup from certain doom
In this session, Tom will combine anecdotes and data to highlight some of the oft-repeated mistakes that startups make when trying to get themselves moving. Listen and learn from the mistakes of those before you. Examples include: Too much listening to users, not listening to users enough, cargo cultism, not looking at competitors, comparables and corpses and, most importantly, blindly following advice from people on a stage who give you startup advice.

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Startupfest 2015: TOM WALSHAM (TWG) - "How to" Stage

  1. 1. Tom Walsham / @tomwalsham - - July 17th, 2015 Application of the bleeding obvious to avoid clearly signposted pitfalls How to save your early-stage startup from certain doom
  2. 2. Tom Walsham Director of Product The Working Group @tomwalsham 25 Years writing Code 15 Years working in Online / Tech 10 Starts annually with TWG clients 5 Years practising Lean Methodology WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO THIS GUY? HAS THE CLOSING PARTY STARTED YET?
  3. 3. One of your school friends is a cofounder You’ve been working at it a few months, with limited traction You have no revenue, but have t-shirts Your stack is Golang & Cassandra with a RabbitMQ layer (but you don’t know why) You don’t talk to users as they don’t say anything you didn’t already know You’re like trendy startup X but with a clever twist You have a refined pitch deck with 5yr projections & market sizing You have one more feature to build before you really take off You dream about your big exit, not your company HOLD ON. THIS LOOKS FAMILIAR @tomwalsham
  4. 4. 01 What are you building?
  5. 5. An existing market need Problem Before you build anything First IT’S FIRST BECAUSE IT’S LITERALLY THE MOST IMPORTANT THING @tomwalsham
  6. 6. All happy companies are different: each one earns a monopoly by solving a unique problem “ FOLLOW ADVICE OF MEN IN NICE JACKETS WITH ENIGMATIC STARES - Peter Thiel @tomwalsham
  7. 7. [Don’t] Fall in love (with your idea) IF YOU LET YOUR LOVE FOR YOUR IDEA CLOUD YOUR JUDGEMENT IT WILL BETRAY YOU @tomwalsham
  8. 8. [Don’t] Build someone else’s idea COVET NOT THY NEIGHBOUR’S TERRIBLE SITCOM STARTUP IDEA @tomwalsham
  9. 9. [Do] Build a Boring Startup REVENUE MODELS (BORING). REAL PROBLEMS (BORING). ENTERPRISE (BORING). @tomwalsham
  10. 10. [Don’t] Get Distracted By Your Pitch “BUSINESS PLANS ARE DOCUMENTS INVESTORS MAKE YOU WRITE THAT THEY DON’T READ” - @sgblank @tomwalsham
  11. 11. Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing “ PARKS AND REC. SECOND ONLY TO SILICON VALLEY IN STARTUP WISDOM - Ron Swanson @tomwalsham
  12. 12. 02 Validating Your Product
  13. 13. [Do] Talk to Humans. PLEASE TELL ME YOU’RE DOING THIS AT LEAST @tomwalsham
  14. 14. We actually want to talk to our customers “ IT’S KIND OF AMAZING THAT CUSTOMER SERVICE CAN STILL BE A DIFFERENTIATOR - Tony Hsieh CEO, Zappos @tomwalsham
  15. 15. [Don’t] Follow your users’ advice “IT’S ON THE ROADMAP” IS YOUR SECRET WEAPON @tomwalsham
  16. 16. Those solving similar problems for a similar user baseCompetitors [Do] Understand your competitive landscape Those using similar techniques to solve problems in different domainsComparables Those who have failed attempting to do exactly what you’re tryingCorpses EVERYONE ALWAYS FORGETS THE CORPSES @tomwalsham
  17. 17. [Do] Talk to the Corpses Zombies have good insight OUCH! GET OFF! YOU’RE STANDING ON MY HEAD @tomwalsham
  18. 18. [Don’t] Practice Cargo Cult Product Management I THINK THAT’S ACTUALLY AN AEROFLOT PLANE @tomwalsham
  19. 19. THIS IS A SCREENSHOT FROM F-16 STEALTH FIGHTER. THAT’S THE JOKE [Don’t] Attempt Stealth Mode @tomwalsham
  20. 20. [Don’t] Be Data Driven … [Do] Be Data Informed THE PERILS OF LOOKING AT TWITTER WHEN COMPOSING A DECK. THANKS @tomwalsham
  21. 21. 03 How do you build this thing?
  22. 22. Learn PROCESS IS NOT A DIRTY WORD Build Measure Rinse & Repeat [Do] Have a Process @tomwalsham
  23. 23. [Do] Read Awesome Books [Don’t] Get your process from a book THE STARTUP EQUIVALENT OF ‘STREET SMARTS’ @tomwalsham
  24. 24. [Don’t] make Bad Hires INSERT PITHY BIGHEAD QUOTE HERE @tomwalsham
  25. 25. [Don’t] Use Bleeding Edge Technology (for its own sake) MONGOREDISCASSANDRADOCKERRABBITMQGOLANGLISPHASKELLERLANGZEROMQ @tomwalsham
  26. 26. Premature optimization is the root of all evil “ IF YOU KNUTH THE THINGS I’VE SEEN - Donald Knuth @tomwalsham
  27. 27. [Don’t] Fail Fast Fuck That WHAT A STUPID LESSON. LEARN FAST, TRY NOT TO FAIL @tomwalsham
  28. 28. n Conclusions
  29. 29. [Do] Solve Real Human Problems [Do] Talk To Users [Do] Focus [Don’t] Mimic [Don’t] Skip Validation [Don’t] Mistake Ideas for Products DON’T TAKE ADVICE FROM RANDOMS ON STAGES TOO SERIOUSLY @tomwalsham
  30. 30. Thanks! @tomwalsham / @twg / Montreal StartupFest 2015