One of the biggest, greatest lessons I’ve learned while doing a startup is one that isn’t shocking.  In fact, before I say it I’m going to go ahead and say it’s going to sound stupid.  You’re sometimes told this in consulting projects, read it in some books, but it’s just the very experience of doing a startup and smack-your-face-duh moment when you really appreciate this. So here goes… when you’re offering any product or service, you have to make a TANGIBLE value proposition.  People and companies largely respond to one thing: net profit.  This means there are two big levers – raise my revenue or lower my costs. 
Yeah… sounds simple and stupid, right?  But if you were me, you may think that there may be a grand idea you have that can save time or can “boost performance” or something like that.  Rarely do people really understand in these terms.  You’ll find those who can understand that building a stronger athlete with ancillary benefits like accountability and the like, but most people do NOT get these concepts.  What do they really understand?  Budget. 
I can tout how in 60 days, I saw personally how I increased my strength by 4.86% (read the post here), or how a high school football team’s top 10 players saw 9.13% gains in the Barbell Bench Press and 5.13% gains in their Barbell Power Cleans, but sometimes, it doesn’t quite click yet. 
Instead, listening to some coaches, especially college coaches, they immediately latch onto the opportunity to save money via summer workout programs.  That is, today, colleges spend roughly $20 per book that is sent out to players over the summer with their summer workout plans.  What ends up happening oftentimes is players lose their books, too, so the Strength & Conditioning program has to send out a new book.  Not only that, but the book just sends out the workout with no feedback system.
So the value prop here for Body Boss, for example, is the ability for coaches to use Body Boss to share summer workout programs with one system at a cost lower than printing and shipping books at $20 per book.  For college football teams, for example, if you produce books for 105 players (NCAA Div. 1 squad size limit), that’s a good $2,100.  Further, Body Boss can be the way that players can get feedback, while also accessing a workout program without the fear of losing the “book”. 
Thinking about consulting, this should be a no-brainer.  How often or easy is it to build a business case or even sell a project if you’re just selling soft benefits? 
So in the end, before you get all enamored about your idea and try to build marketing messages set on value props not based on values, don’t.  If you’re touting saving time, perhaps it’d be easier for your customer to not think of the time aspect as much as the value of that time.  What are the opportunity costs you’re experiencing by doing what you do now?  If you used product XYZ, you’ll save time so you can DO that opportunity cost. 
Anyways, so yeah, sometimes you can get enamored on what makes your product so great or why a project would be nice, but if you lose yourself in the wrong value, your message just falls on disinterested ears.

– SC Ninja out

It occurs to me that Body Boss has a great story.  A great story of why we’re here today with Body Boss trying to disrupt the “industry” of Team Strength and Conditioning.  
Darren Pottinger really started us on this path back in 2010/ 2011 of bringing more intelligence to working out – bringing regression and statistical modeling/ forecasting to training with a simple Excel model… yet can be built better and stronger.  Being the zealous and extraordinarily gifted problem-solver and programmer, Don Pottinger joined in on the fun looking to build the spreadsheet into something greater – an app for the masses.  
For several months, the brothers Pottinger iterated, and it was in the fall of 2011 when Andrew Reifman joined the team to bring his black magic of Design Creativity to the fold.  Andrew and Don were long-lost friends from Dunwoody High School.  After learning Andrew had built award-winning sites while working at various design agencies, Don asked Andrew to join.  Definitely loved his personal website.  I mean, how do I get little power bars like the X-Men cards I used to collect???  This Andrew guy is LEGIT.
I’m not sure when I really joined because I was consulting and always traveling.  Tell you what – if you can travel while trying to do your own startup, props to you because I don’t recall when I was adding value on a consistent basis.  SO enter me, Daryl sometime in that glorious assembly of the Dream Team.  Having played soccer at Tech with Don, we had become best buds for a while.  I bring to the field the execution and drive as well as some patience for the business administration – makes sense since I was entering Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in the accelerated One-Year Full-Time program May 2012.
Gifted with an extraordinarily talented team who also lived and breathed personal fitness, we entered Startup Riot as one out of 30 startups competing in a pitch-off of sorts in Atlanta in February 2012.  Many to this day will never forget our presentation where Darren stripped off his shirt to the hoots and hollers and affection of women… and men.  We were voted into the Top 5, and at the time, we were aiming to be a B2C company.  We were going to build an app based on the principles of intelligent personal fitness leveraging the growth of mobile and technology.  Though, we didn’t even have a product to show.  All we had was a dream.
After meeting with Georgia Tech and re-evaluating our strategy, we decided to shift to the B2B market – focusing our efforts on helping improve the feedback loop between Coaches and Players in sports teams and organizations.  As we reflect on our own past experiences, workouts were disseminated from Coaches to Players via sheets of paper and rarely, if ever, were those workout results ever returned to the Coaches. Even rarer was when the Coaches would take those sheets of workout results and plug them into something like Excel spreadsheets.  Tracking pieces of paper, writing it all down, transcribing the number into Excel… that’s about a 2-3 minute process for a single player.  If you’re a Coach of a team with 50 players, you can do the math and that’s a lot of wasted time.  Add to that other competitors’ focus on just the Coach… that’s not how TEAM sports are played.  We wanted to create a tool that engaged everyone on the team from the Coaches, Trainers, and the Players.  Afterall, Players are the ones who have the execute come game time.  That’s when Body Boss was really born.  
We built towards a vision without actually talking to too many other players or Coaches, but in August, we met with the Athletic Director of Centennial High School in Roswell, GA where we presented the initial design and vision of Body Boss.  Excited for what we were working on and seeing an immediate value, he invited us back after a few enhancements.  In December, we really locked in with the Head Football Coach and Head Baseball Coach at Centennial High School to trial Body Boss with their players starting January.  Everything since then has been… shall we say, history.  
So here we are, a bunch of Georgia Tech nerds + a talented Graphics Designer from University of Georgia.  Our home is Atlanta, GA, and our dreams lay in the stars.  Our backgrounds in soccer, weight training, certified personal fitness training, expertise in data and analytics, technical programming and design know-how, some great business sense, and a whole lotta drive… we’re aiming to change the world.  We’re not just a team… we’re a family looking out for one another.  We’re proud of the family and friends we’ve earned over the years, and we will make you all proud.  We’re here to disrupt the team strength and conditioning space with Body Boss.  Be excited.  Visit us at BodyBossFitness.com. Follow us.  @BodyBossFitness

Today’s post is a bit different… Not talking about any supply chain or job specifically, but I wanted to touch on something that’s been on my mind a lot recently with my co-founded startup Body Boss Fitness.  That, and David Cummings has a great post about this: part-timing to build a product and company — great post and tough lesson (see article here).  It highlights a few very important lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs especially the need to run full-speed on a project.  That being said, I’d also like to  point out a few take-aways specifically for those aspiring entrepreneurs (this list is not all inclusive nor exhaustive, just immediately on my mind).  

  1. Building a business is tough.  Taking the plunge is not for everyone understanding there are life circumstances and personalities that necessitate bootstrapping a project.  Wheels may spin, and it’d be great to have that all crucial customer feedback soon and up front.  The key, I believe, is continuous learning along the way even if it’s internally focused (learning how to code, dealing with the attrition of team members, etc.).
  2. Be ready to commit at the right time.  Building on the preceding bullet, committing full-time to development of the product would be great, however, there are extenuating circumstances (yes, I’ll include “fear” here) that may necessitate bootstrapping.  What will surely kill your startup is launching and doing nothing to nurture it.  I learned this when friends and I launched ABigEffU.com.  Huge failure.  We developed it in 30 days, but after it launched, we just sat back thinking it would just take off.  It was a stupid move, and one that I also didn’t commit to because it was more of a challenge if we could build something but I wasn’t passionate about it.  There’s a big lesson learned — startups don’t go anywhere without care and attention (and some love).  It’s kind of like having a baby… take care of the baby while in the womb, yes.  You can still work, go out with friends (don’t drink, please), etc. while the baby’s in there.  But when that baby comes, you better be ready to commit to parenting.  (Maybe a bad analogy, but you get the point.)
  3. It’s about you.  I love ABC’s show Shark Tank.  Thank goodness I have a DVR so I can watch it and fast-forward through commercials.  Anyways, you hear some pretty wacky ideas on there, and some pretty good ones.  You can really tell who will succeed when you watch and listen to some of these presenter, nevermind their product.  I remember when I was in the Boy Scouts, I was at summer camp.  My friends and I started a “business” where we sold Magic Pens.  Magic Pens were nothing more than sharpened sticks with charred ends.  They let people write on the canvas of their tents and easily washed off.  We even dipped the end of the Pens in wax as a sign of authenticity and quality!  We sold them for a nickel with varying packages.  We ended the week with $10 in our pockets — enough to buy several slushies at the Trading Post.  Something so simple and silly that all of our customers knew how to make, but they still bought it to the tune of $10 (99% profit).  I didn’t know all the kids who bought the Magic Pens.  They bought because we did well marketing and selling charred sticks.  It’s about you… not necessarily your product.
  4. Be resilient.  And as David highlights, most startups fail.  Heck, Venture Capitalists pick 10 really, really good startups to fund with the hope that ONE of them will make it big. However, a key deciding factor of how a company will make it (potentially the ultimate) is the people.  Are they resilient?  Do those on the SharkTank take the hits and despite not getting love from the Sharks, do they learn, and are they passionate enough to succeed?  Spending weeks, months, or even years bootstrapping is one thing but once you launch, be resilient and focused to win.  Hear your customers, investors, and choose what you listen to.  Be resilient. Steve Jobs always had this notion that to succeed, you tell customers what they want.  Of course, you won’t succeed if you always ignore.  But you have to know which to listen to and what to file away.  J.K. Rowling pursued 12 publishers who all rejected her manuscript for Harry Potter before finding Bloomsbury.  I think she’s doing alright.

Like in grade school, “In conclusion…”, David’s got a great post about committing full-time to a project.  But if you’re a bootstrapper, you’re probably a bootstrapper for a lot of reasons, but make sure you’re learning along the way and you’re pushing the company and product as fast as you can.  This is especially true if you know this area is the next hot market — you don’t want to start competing against the world, afterall.  Just know that at some point, if you really want it to grow, you need to devote your time, energy, and love full-time.  The company is yours so it’s all about you and what you put into it, and how you can stay resilient to your product while knowing what to hear and what to listen to.  Like David said, it’s “tough” but he never said impossible.  

Strive for greatness fellow entrepreneurs!

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[1] Body Boss is a performance tracking application for sports teams and organizations.  Coaches can build customized workouts for their players to ensure workouts achieve fitness goals and beyond.  Body Boss creates social competition, continuously motivating and challenging players while driving accountability.  With Body Boss, coaches and players now have a competitive edge to win the battle off the field to deliver results on the field.Visit us at www.BodyBossFitness.com or contact us at info@bodybossfitness.com.


[2] David Cummings is a serial entrepreneur and investor in Atlanta, GA.  Mr. Cummings founded Hannon Hill and Pardot. Recently, Pardot was acquired by ExactTarget for $95.5MM.  You can view his blog here.