Startup Diaries Week #10 – The Calm Before the Storm
March 22, 2016
There's a distinct feeling this week that this is the calm before the storm.
Accelerator programmes seem to culminate in two things: 1. a showcase of every business on the programme (or demo day); 2. significant movement towards investment.
This sounds great – wow, “big things” happen, you know. But the team here at Pip™ have had a busy week preparing for this next stage of the programme. For the last 4 weeks; for the “push”; for the storm.
What that means in real life is a week of cap (capitalisation) tables, cashflow forecasting and the beginnings, certainly for Pip thanks to being so “new”, of creating a new pitch…
Challenges this week
I've moved to the challenges section a little earlier than usual in this post, for the simple reason that the pitch is far and away the biggest challenge I'm personally facing.
There have been other challenges too of course, for example the “coming down” from the Product Hunt traffic spike and feeling the pressure of that, especially when you consider that our sole metric of value is user registration.
But there's no doubt that the pitch is a challenge. Let me explain why…
In every other pitch I've ever done; in every other deck I've prepared, I've had facts. And specifically, I've had financial facts.
For Pip™, right now, it's not about the revenue. It's about proving value and proving that Pip™ has a place in the world from which it can genuinely make peoples' lives better.
How does one measure that outside of financials?
Furthermore, because we're still so early stage, we're still developing our brand voice and our values. We're still formulating the long-term vision, albeit with a course plotted in our minds.
By virtue of a first third pivot during Ignite, I personally feel a little “behind” with this stuff. I know that we're not really behind, because being behind would imply there's a benchmark from which to measure ourselves – but still, the I can't help feeling that way.
Although, taking that apart further in my mind reveals something comforting: we're actually generating user registrations pretty nicely – much quicker than we did with Cavalry.
So much so that we've moved to offering international support already. We certainly didn't expect that and actually, that's one of the testaments to being a pure tech startup, on an accelerator – we launch a MVP, we test, we listen and we respond – we stay “agile”.
The pitch process will really kick in next week, during week #11, as I know we have a pitch workshop booked in (actually, as this post is published, we'll have likely just finished it!). Throughout that process I'm sure that we'll be refining and building our vision even further – but for now all Adam and I have is our base vision of Pip™ that we're feeling pretty good about.
I'm going to keep you posted on this, because it really will turn up an interesting process, set of learnings and ultimately, a pitch that we have to deliver in front of a packed audience in just a few short weeks.
Real life: How the co-founders are doing
It's a challenge being away from home for me now. I love travel, I really do, but now this is just routine and being honest – of that part of the Ignite process, I'm bored.
The only saving grace is that first class train tickets on a Sunday evening are only £7 more than standard, so at least we get a better experience there. And free tea. And biscuits.
I'm not sure if it's a remnant of the last few weeks, but I'm missing those throw away hours that you take for granted during an evening – the impromptu hour spent visiting one of the kids, or the folks and of course, just having 45 minutes over a brew watching “Suits” (or the latest Netflix binge!) with Mrs. A.
Luckily, we're coming up to a 4 day weekend as Easter approaches. That should prove a good solid “reset” for the last four weeks of the accelerator – a little fuel in the tank, if you will.
On another note, perhaps the most exciting part of my year is approaching, too: “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” hits cinemas this next week – so I'm going to be tired. I have it booked three times already.
Yep. That there is a real insight into how much of a geek I am.
The post is a little shorter than usual this week. And, there're no “lessons learned”.
The reason is that this week has been grafting – it's been hard work and it's been non-stop. The lessons learned in the last few weeks have been applied over and over this week and that has honestly resulted in a serious “headphones on, head down” week.
I've not so many of those recently and so I've really valued it. It's been a decent one for productivity and for results.
So that's a win.
Next week I'll be able to tell you more about how the pitch has developed and the lessons learned from that. That should be very interesting.
Don't forget, the more you expect from yourself, the more you WILL excel.