Don’t be afraid of maps

I’ve spent a bunch of time with a handful of the TechStars teams in the last few weeks. The first week of TechStars was a complete whirlwind (lots of new people to meet, presentations from a bunch of big tech vendors, learning the lay of the land in Boulder, etc).  Now the teams have caught their collective breath and are starting to realize just how quickly the summer rolls by when you’re creating and building a business.

While it’s fun to run and gun during the early stages of business formation, I’ve always been insistent that the teams that I work closely with map out their work for the summer early on. It’s not something that’s set in stone but is a good guide of where we think we can get to in a 12 week period. These roadmaps get modified on a regular basis throughout the summer but the overall framework generally remains the same (in part because each team is striving to make discernable and demonstrative progress by the final "pitch" day at the end of the program). 

I’ve been around plenty of start-up businesses. Some have been more methodical than others at planning out where they were going and what they were doing; at collecting data early on in their dev process from prospective users and working that into their product thoughts; at working their dev cycles to allow key issues to be surfaced earlier rather than later; at thinking through scale before their first users hit their system; etc.  Others, not so much. I bet you can guess which ones have the higher success rate…

  • danmayer

    So I guess that leads to a natural question, we might have to discuss next time we meet. Are we measuring enough? What else should we measure?

    I think we might need to spend a little more time on engaging prospective users, but I feel like we need to be able to show people at least a glimpse of our product, before we could get any more valuable feedback.

  • Great advice Seth! Our team (TripDoor) had been trying to master the art of delegation as well as provide enough support for our code monkey (we only have one right now). We don't, however, have an official roadmap for the summer – only a week to week plan. We would love the opportunity to meet with you. I'll schedule it via email.