Tendai Charasika (@XcellentTea) EnterpriseCorp is from rural Kentucky. He works for a chamber of commerce state organization: the Kentucky Innovation Netowrk. He’s a business coach in community, working with all ages and states of compnay to pull and push their companies forward. He talked about 10 ways to “get out of the building” with examples. We need to “get uncomfortable.” He wants all of us to tweet our own ideas with the hashtag #getoutofthebuilding and add to the list.
We are the front line of entrepreneuship of rural kentucky. in the trenches, working with 100s of companies. what i’ve found is: lean principles help us manage entreprenurs to hit milestones in their development.
In working with so many companies, get asked: what’s the one commonality that you observe that these early stage companies go through? Wtihout a doubt, what gets these early stage entrepreneurss: lack of passion and lack of desire to get out of the building. talk to people to get early feedback about validating their assumptions one on one. Maybe you’re getting unconformatble as well about taking that idea you have and sharing it with people outside your friends and family.
A few things: first one is a fear of rejection. no one wants to be told that your baby, which you work on so much and feel so passionately about, is ugly.
On a tactical level: some entreprenerus literally don’t know how to get out of the building.
What we risk by not getting out of the building: the opportunity cost of pursuing your next best idea. You need to know up front if no customers want it. We also waste a lot of time — our time and other people’s time. But most importantly: opportunity to learn what customers want and will pay for. miss out on oportunity to iterate on products and make them better, someting worh pursuing.
10 pragmatic ways for folks to get out of building.
Leverage a combination of these. have found that the variious ways to do this are as unique as the entrepres in this room, so please add to this list! be creative!
1. don’t ask your uncle
this is about what not to do. when you sit at a table of entreprenurs and ask “have you talked to anyone?” they say “sure!” and you say “who?” and they say “my uncle”
2. set up a booth, do a public demo
3. interview potential customers
2 and 3 are scary. if you have a demo and you observe their reaction to your idea and
4. put your office where your customers are
5. throw a party
4 and 5 are about being creative, and you as a unique opportunity. 5 is to receive testers for their first mvp.
6. talk to experts in the field
leverage what others have found for you, if someone else has done the legwork already.
7. find the decision maker
that’ll be the one that buys the product and selling them on the values and benefits of what your’e building is critical.
8. listen to waht customers are demanding
9. pre-order, landing pages, analytics
8 and 9 show demand for product. if you have the ability to follow up with them (email or contact information), there’s no subsitution fo rthat.
10. ask for the introduction
to get in front of first customer, or getting a mentor, at the end of the day, it’s all about building relationships.
Now, some examples.
They built a version of an app that teaches basics of programming to kids 5-7 year old, fun and engaging. came with idea, we helped connect them to people in the community.
They interviewed 25 people face to face – parents and children – brought them in like office hours and observed children playing with app, and interviewed parents. found 2 critical things
1) children in younger demographic didn’t have fine motor skills to play the game. so they changed
2) after talking to parents, saw that what was most important was seeing their kids engaged in learning.
John and Gretchen wouldn’t have been able to do this without getting out of the building.
You can help them by downloading app and help them figure out if app sucks and stop wasting time, or actually improve product.
Rooibee Red Tea
Great examples of being where the customers are, putting product in the mouth of customers who will help them get it out on shelves. Music festivals, store openings, farmers market – to get feedback from experts in field; people who love tea from 2010 to 2012, now have national distribution.
aaron marshall and the app Over – pictuers on text you love the most, simple. experimented his way to over. Aaron doesn’t put his office in his basement or apartment, doesn’t sit in office building, sits in coffee shop in cool part of town, called “quills” — and talks to customers 5k downloads in first 3 days
Eric Ries says that the goal of a startup is finding the right thing to build that the customer want and will pay for as quickly as possible.
Read more: Lean Startup Conference 2012