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Finding clarity in startup land

This is a non-sales-pitch for this week’s Startup MBA, which starts on Friday and runs over two weekends. It’s NOT too late to sign up, since we still have a couple of places left. If you’re interested in learning more, email me (soon!) for more details at adele@escapethecity.org.

You know how when you hate something, you generally kind of suck at it? Along with Excel, Photoshop, playing bar chords on guitar and sitting through Tarantino movies, another thing I highly suck at is sales.

The funny thing is, I found myself essentially giving a ‘sales pitch’ on the phone the other day, when talking with a woman who was considering attending our upcoming Startup MBA course.

Speaking to her felt more like counselling than a sales pitch – she’d quit her job, started up a business, had the website up and running, and had some initial customers. She just wasn’t sure about next steps.

I started rambling about the Lean Startup book (which she hadn’t read) and it reminded me why I’m excited about the next two weekends.

The problem with starting a business

So many of us dream of starting businesses. So few of us actually do.

So many of us think we need to ‘find the right idea’ or ‘the right co-founder’ and BANG! Found The One. Game on.

Obviously, having a strong idea and co-founder helps (duh) but what few of us realise is that finding them is a process, often driven by serendipity as much as it is by calculated logic and analytical thinking.

It is easier than ever to validate an idea intelligently – this validation process can lead you to the idea and co-founder that ultimately end up being The Ones. I’ve seen this over and over again (and experienced it myself).

The antidote to feeling stuck

I’ve been in the startup world for over five years now, and reading the Lean Startup completely changed how I approached validating ideas. I started executing more effectively and I saw my outputs improve quicker than I could have imagined.

What helped me connect to the woman on the phone the other day was knowing how she felt, because I’d been there myself.

I told her what I’d told myself: clarity, focus, and strength often comes from surrounding yourself with like-minded people, scheduling time to learn from smart folks, and getting inspired through knowing that you’re not alone.

The Startup MBA

We ran a bunch of events last year, but members consistently asked me for a deeper learning process – so Escape teamed up with Rob Fitzpatrick to put together our Startup MBA, which starts this Friday.

You can see the course overview here and this 73-page prep book provides an intro to the course material.

We’ve got 30 fantastic Escape members signed up, and spaces for a few more.

One woman attending has already founded and sold three companies; other members have already started businesses but aren’t sure where to go next; and most members are coming on the course without even having an idea (e.g. they “just want to start a food business” or “just know they want to do something in fashion”).

@robfitz = startup rock star

We’re thrilled to announce that the lead instructor for the course will be Rob Fitzpatrick.

Rob is a practicing entrepreneur who has in the past led a VC-backed startup, with clients including Sony, MTV, and Aardman.

He is also a graduate of Y-Combinator, the Silicon Valley incubator whose better-known funded companies include Scribd, Airbnb, and Dropbox. He writes about early stage startup strategy here, provides startup support here, and is kicking off his next startup Dex.io.

Here, you can see Rob explain how building a blog community is a good proxy for your business model’s channel. (Also check out his post on How to date a supermodel (or get dealflow or find cofounders).

 

More details

We always get inspired by hanging out at The Hub Westminster in Piccadilly, which is why we chose to host the course there:

·  Weekend 1: Friday 5th (6 – 9pm), Saturday 6th, & Sunday 7th April (9am – 6pm)

·  Weekend 2: Friday 12th (6 – 9pm), Saturday 13th, & Sunday 14th April (9am – 6pm)

Saturday 6th April: Foundations – Part 1

The morning session covers strategy, business modelling, and building a dashboard as you develop your idea.

The afternoon session covers customer personas, startup marketing and using it to catalyse your customer development.

Sunday 7th April: Foundations – Part 2

The morning session covers product development timelines and shipping your MVP effectively.

Part of the session will include using Startup Metrics for Pirates to develop your own metrics dashboard.

The afternoon session covers customer development interview techniques, wire framing, knowing when to pivot, and an accounting and legals overview.

Friday 12th April: Mini-demo day

You will be required to present to the room, what you’ve learned so far from last weekend and how you’ve applied that to the business idea you’re working on.

Saturday 13th April - Sunday 14th April: Growth hacking 

The weekend will cover:

  • Developing and implementing growth techniques
  • Knowing how to track whether your idea is viable, as you develop it
  • A/B testing with sales pages
  • Effective sales techniques
  • Determining your sales funnels
  • Optimizing your sales channels
  • Virality and the viral coefficient
  • Lean analytics
  • How to make technical hires
  • Overcoming barriers to motivation
  • Developing your company/founder’s story

Again, it’s not too late! If you want a phone version of my non-sales-pitch, which will most likely turn into some kind of counselling session (assuming you’re up for it… which is totally fine) OR if you just have questions and want to learn more, just email me (ideally, today) at adele@escapethecity.org.