Topic:   Startups

Startups: How to set a realistic timeline when building a software product

“Sure, we'll have that done in three weeks.” says the engineer. The marketer rolls her eyes, of course, and expects it in five. Eleven weeks later, it's delivered (and it's not very good). After an additional seven weeks of ironing out the basic bugs and UX kinks, marketing finally feels comfortable promoting it. Why didn't the engineer just say “about 20 weeks” and aim for delivering a tad early?

Seven reasons why a Rails, Redux, React, and React Native stack is fantastic for new startups

Here are the reasons why I'm all-in with this software stack.

Life Coaching

Most of us — if we are fortunate (and whether we like it or not) — have people in our lives who help point out our blind spots and teach us new things. Significant others, friends, colleagues, kids, parents, sports coaches, teachers, music instructors, etc. are often the people that pour into us and/or remind us that we’re human. (Seriously, we have many people to thank!)

Introducing Prota Ventures

Along with our first set of portfolio projects, my partners and I are excited to unveil Prota Ventures, a venture-building and early-stage investment firm based out of Seattle, Chicago, and Jacksonville.

How to conduct free and low-cost experiments to validate your new business idea

Entrepreneurs are always tempted to build their products secretly in a cave. This, however, is rarely the most effective way to succeed. According to common Lean wisdom, the better route is to get the idea in front of customers early and often, smartly collect feedback, and iterate rapidly toward product-market fit. But, as anyone who has ever tried it knows, this is easier said than done. How do you actually validate an idea? How do you best design experiments? Who do you ask to participate in them?

How (and when) to select advisors for your new venture

Like all entrepreneurs who have been in the game for awhile, I too am forever grateful for advisors who have helped shaped the course of my career and the ventures I've co-founded. However, finding the right advisors and formalizing the relationship properly is often a confusing process. I've fallen into many traps (as both a founder and an advisor) that are avoidable with — you guessed it— the right advice.

Building a new web product: How to best setup engineers AND creatives for a win

Pre-launch startup operations are always chaotic. That being said, equipped with your idea, team, market analysis, customer personas, early validation via surveys and interviews, and a brief overview statement (yes, do all that first), there is something simple you can do to setup your engineers and creatives for a win.

How to boil down vision and mission into an overview statement for your new business

At this point in your idea-to-launch journey you probably think you have a solid elevator pitch, but you'll be surprised what happens when you attempt to put that in writing. For the sake of you, your team, and your early advisors (which I'll talk about more in an upcoming post, subscribe to my newsletter for updates) — especially when it comes to a foundation for building your product — it's a good idea to boil down your vision and mission into a single paragraph and include, in broad strokes, your main features. This is critical to keep everyone on the same page as you move forward.

How to maximize learning from pre-launch customer surveys and interviews

Your job as a wild-eyed entrepreneur with the next big idea is to start validating your idea early and often, long before any code is written or designs are sketched up.

How to identify “ideal” early customers

So you have a solid idea, team, and market analysis under your belt, now it's time to accelerate the validation process. It's time to start selling. At this point you've made some noise with a set of friends that — let's be honest — are mostly there to support you. As long as you don't charge too much (or annoy them too much), they will likely be your customers. But, they are not the early customers that matter.

How to evaluate a market for your potential startup

So you have an idea, and you're in the process of convincing one or more people to co-found your company with you, now what? The next step is for you to do a much deeper evaluation of the market than you have probably done thus far in order to determine whether you should proceed.

How to compose a co-founder team

The number one reason why investors write checks to fund an early-stage startup is because of the team; most specifically, because of the CEO. Your startup will look very different in the not-so-distant future, so the insane people who give you money are really betting on you.

How to generate startup ideas

Ok, so you spend time looking at the green grass and mythical creatures over in startup fairytale land. Awesome. Now what?

How to create, grow, and fund a tech startup: an operational framework

Throughout the course of co-founding, advising, and investing in startups over the past couple of decades, my partners/advisors and I at Prota Ventures have developed the following practical operations framework to help founders through the early stages of startup life.

How to work with a visual designer to efficiently build mockups for your app

Next up in our intro to web and mobile development series, here we'll discuss how to move from wireframes to more detailed images of your user interface (i.e. the “mockups”). This may sound obvious, but the actual creation of mockups should be reserved for the most talented visual designer on your team. If you don't have a legit person for this, recruit one before attempting to move forward here (seriously).