I’ve already learned a lot halfway through Techstars, but the clearest and most obvious is: if you want to test your startup, go have a 100 conversations about it. I don’t mean that abstractly. I mean 100 actual, focused conversations.
Go give your pitch 100 times and see if people get it. See what questions they ask. See what questions you start to ask yourself - as you stop focusing on crafting what you are saying so much that you can actually listen to yourself, and listen to them.
Describe your product to someone who knows nothing about it. Describe it to someone who knows everything about it. Describe it to someone who is a user, knows a user, can’t imagine what it could possibly be used for. Describe your product 100 times.
Describe your market to these same people. Describe your go-to-market. Describe all the things you know about how you are going to be successful 100 times and see at what conversation number you realize you actually don’t know that much. If you don’t get to that point, then there’s a good chance you are still talking more than you are listening. You may need more than 100 conversations.
Describe your end user 100 times. See if you can describe the actual pain point that you solve for them. See if you can define why you are a must-have and not just a nice-to-have. See if you can convince others, or yourself, that someone will actually change their behavior to adopt your product. See how many times it takes before you don’t really even believe yourself anymore. At that point, you’re a lot closer to success.
These 100 people aren’t “right”. In fact, they will contradict each other a lot. They will make the already difficult process of starting a company temporarily seem that much more difficult.
So, why in the world would you do this to yourself?
Because you’re not right either.
And, the repetitions and iterations and brute force that talking to 100 people generates are your best start to getting there.
M.C. Escher: Metamorphoses
Well. It finally happened. My kids discovered Uranus.
Well…their anus…er…your anus…um…Uranus.
Giggling and vibrating like Beavis and Butthead, my two daughters (6 & 8) came home from “school” having spent part of the day learning about the solar system and the Big Bang and how the planets were formed - and, all I could get was:
“Uranus, Daddy! Uranus. (butt out, one leg bent for emphasis, exaggeratedly pointing at their butts as if directing me from a 100 yards away that they’d found something really exciting). Uranus! Like YOUR ANUS! Anus, Daddy. Get it!?”
I feel like maybe this was a beautiful moment in fatherhood. Raising two girls, it’s not that often that a Beavis and Butthead reference is accurate or warranted or endearing. Oh yeah, and planets and astronomy and the history of our world and our tiny place in it too. So glad they’re learning that!
But, URANUS! Get it!?
Aside from a fatherhood milestone, it’s really a developmental milestone. It’s a play on words. And they GOT IT! It’s a warp speed flashback through the galaxy of all those knock-knock jokes they told and didn’t get. Worse, the ones they made up and nobody got! (I actually love those.)
Perhaps most importantly, this moment - Uranus - could well mean the liberation of the Dad joke. The possibility that puns and plays on words may actually land! This seems fundamental to the evolution of our relationship, our maturing mutual respect, and enduring love. How do you build those things without first “getting” Uranus? It may well be the linguistic fulcrum upon which balances the very possibility of fatherhood success.
Am I reading too much into it? Probably. But, I get it. And, I appreciate it. And, it’s awesome.