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Showing posts from June, 2015

My Favorite, Simple Customer Survey Tools

A couple posts ago, I wrote about advice I had given to a wantrepreneur when she asked how to start a business after incepting the idea. My answer was simple: “Do your customer discovery. Consider doing a survey.” However, she didn’t know how to start.
The word “survey” is generic and broad. Every time you ask someone a question, you’re performing a mini-survey. In a true customer discovery survey, you use a structured approach and many respondents.
A few simple survey tools at your disposal (my favorites): Verbal/ Manual. Not always the most appreciated or scalable, but soliciting feedback verbally is a form of direct survey. That is, going door-to-door (figuratively or literally) can be an effective way of getting in front of your prospects.Simple survey apps. Lots of tools here including popular SurveyMonkey, Qualitrics, and, my favorite, Google Docs (Apps). A Google Form can easily be used as a survey with multiple choice, true/ false, free text, etc. It integrates with Google Sh…

“Why do you call yourself an entrepreneur?”

Well, that was an interesting start to a first conversation. At first, that may come off as incredulous or even laughable (“j’accuse!” comes to mind).
An entrepreneur recently asked me this after a brief meeting citing he had had always introduced himself, “I have a company called XYZ doing THIS-THAT-THE-OTHER-THING”. I was the second person to introduce myself to him as Entrepreneur recently.
(At the event where we met, I actually consciously chose to introduce myself as “Daryl the Entrepreneur”.)
For months, I introduced myself with “well, I do a lot of different things” and would rattle off “independent supply chain and biz dev consulting, I program in iOS, just started a dev shop” and the list goes on. That took too long and eyes would glaze over.
In fact, “Aspiring Entrepreneur” used to be on my LinkedIn till I was reminded that once I was building my own startup and selling to customers, I was an entrepreneur. I was no longer “aspiring”. I was. That is, I am.
So I told him …

Finance of Startups: For Dummies (Part 8 – Fogo de Chão S-1)

If you know me, you know for my love for soccer, startups, working out, and meat. Beautiful, red, rare meat… so when Fogo de Chão announced its intentions to raise about $91M through an IPO, I have to study its S-1 Filing for my Finance for Startups series – see link for the S-1 Filing.


Note: this write-up is actually a little late as Fogo went public on Friday, June 19th opening at $20 and raising $88M vs. the $18 as purported in the S-1.
A quick intro, first, of Fogo de Chão (“Fogo”)… Fogo is a Brazilian churrascaria restaurant chain serving all-you-can-eat cuts of various meats including beef, lamb, chicken, etc. The restaurants are famous for their servers (“gauchos”) who walk around the restaurant serving meat via skewers. Gauchos visit tables where patrons have “medallions” flipped to their “green” side meaning “keep ‘em coming”. If a patron wishes to defer gauchos (pause service), patrons simply need to flip to the “red” side. I’m reciting this from my own personal experience …

Use Surveys to Test If Your Idea is Even Any Good

I was recently approached by a wantrepreneur asking how to start a company. She was paying developers to build an app around her idea, but otherwise, she was secretive about the whole business.
I ended up giving her my general first step in any idea – find out if the idea is even a good one. Translated: Do your customer discovery. Consider doing a survey.
I’m a fan of surveys for a number of reasons (assuming your survey is well organized): Who is your market, really? Is this a market of 1? She was convinced EVERYONE in the world would use her app. Yet, she mentioned she needed to get approvals to work with the government, DMV, etc. Well, the DMV requirement just excluded 95% of the world.Is this a real problem? Asking your friends and family questions about your idea is a good start, but can be biased with people of similar backgrounds (education, geography, income, etc.) who may not be as critical as you need them to be.What’s the product development roadmap look like? Speed is key…

Asking for Help Sooner Could’ve Saved a Month of Startup Paralysis

I met a couple entrepreneurs recently through a mutual friend who are building an iOS app. They’ve outsourced development, and have very little knowledge of coding despite being a technology company. (“Uh oh,” comes to mind.)
They were very enthusiastic about meeting, and before entering, I thought we’d talk about their project and what I’m doing… general first-date talk. But instead, it quickly became a “please help fix this bug!” session.
After ~30 minutes of studying the code, I was able to solve their issue. They were so excited because they had been stuck for over a month!
A few details about this that made me shocked… They have an office at Atlanta Tech Village. In a startup co-working space with the tagline “Engineered Serendipity”, entrepreneurs are surrounded by lots of technical talent. Finding help shouldn’t be hard.Of course, you need to ask for help. As entrepreneurs, we have egos; so doing things ourselves can be the preferred route. However, we’re obviously not good at…

I Became a Transparent Eye-ball One Morning to Find Inspiration

Every once in a while, it’s good to disappear for a few hours to find inspiration. Everyday, I’m stretching myself as I teach myself programming, put together recommendations for a client, meet new people, etc. After a while, I’m stretched out and exhausted… consumed by everyday life, I’ve focused on the tactical and left off the strategic.
A month ago, I hiked up Stone Mountain at 6AM on a Saturday to catch the sunrise. This was me being a “transparent eyeball” searching for inspiration -- famous transcendentalist author, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s metaphor for absorbing the world and having a deeper connection with people and nature.
As I was hiking back down, clear-headed, ideas flooded me. It was like a shot of adrenaline, but for my mind. I came up with several blog posts including The Mountain Biking Lesson That Gets Us Past What Stops Us, subject for my 100th blog post, and this post. I even had startup ideas that I put on my List – ideas to test later.
Otherwise, there was an amaz…

Time For A Change: Hacking My Writing Style

I just passed the century mark for posts, and I’m interested in changing my approach and writing style. At least, try a more concise writing style for 15 posts.
Scroll through different blogs, you’ll find there are many different styles from long text-heavy posts, story-oriented writing, concise and focused posts, to the list-centric. My style has been an adapted, hybrid approach with lists and examples per bullet. However, my writing can be… long-winded.
I’m changing my writing style for this and the next 14 posts towards a concise format no more than 300 words with short bullets, if appropriate (à la Master Blogger David Cummings). Why? Let me bulletize… I love experimenting and self-improvement. I don’t want to be so rigid to not be open to potentially better, different ways of doing things.I can be a little too verbose sometimes with redundant wording. This is an exercise in staying focused and to the point.I value perspectives. This new approach will give me a new perspective int…