Start Hanging Out With People Who May Have Your Solutions

Stop staying around people who have your problems and start staying around ones who have your solutions.
Jeffrey G. Allen, Instant Interviews

Background

About a month ago, I was at local Startup Drink night and met Mohd Shahnawaz. Crying in my beer about my inability to get traction for my startup, Mohd recounted Jeffrey G. Allens’ quote & suggested I try finding events where people may actually have the skill-sets I looking for.  Oddly enough, my favorite Startup Lessons Learned is Steve Blank’s “Get Out Of The Building”. Unfortunately, my myopia equated it with Customer Development & not recruiting. But as luck would have it, I had just received an email inviting me to the weekly Westmount Networking Breakfast & figured that’d be the perfect place to start.

Westmount Networking Breakfast

With about a dozen people in attendance, we went around the room giving our respective 60-second “info-mercials” (or, “Elevator Pitch” in geek-speak) and concluded by describing the perfect new contact we’d like to meet.  Being the week after the International Startup Festival, I figured my pitch was in fine form. I figured wrong! It was met with confusion. However, it did validate that I definitely needed someone in Marketing.

During the meeting & over the next week, I met with some & gathered more & more feedback.  As each week went by, I tweaked my Pitch & tried my best to come up with something that not only resonated with the audience but had potential to even help some.

Going For Coffee is Not a Waste

This morning, I was reading Mark Suster’s post “Why You Need to Take 50 Coffee Meetings” & posted the following Comment:

As a techie startup, not every challenge can be resolved writing code – like Customer Development (Steve Blank).  Instinctively, going out for coffee seems to align more with Lean’s definition of Waste (“Any human activity that absorbs resources but creates no value”, Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System.) But nothing can be further from the truth. Providing you’re not going out for coffee to listen to yourself pitch, or, drink your own Kool-aid, getting out offers  huge opportunities to save precious time & resources.

 

Recently, I started attending a weekly business networking breakfast of 10-15 regulars where we all take turns presenting what we do (Elevator Pitch) & the ideal contact we’d like to make. And while I’m the only Techie Startup, everyone else in the room is pretty much a Startup, whether they’re a Small Medium sized Business (SMB), or, an agent for a larger organization.  Personally, I love presenting/pitching, so I look forward to every meeting where I could tweak & tune my Pitch, hoping it aligns better with the audience’s needs. It’s a lot cheaper to change a 60-second Pitch than to keep cranking out scalable code that customers will may never execute.

 

For those who shy away from presenting, there’s no better place & forgiving audience to practice in front of, week after week.  (Steve Jobs doesn’t wing it.) Going for coffee is not a Waste – it’s a opportunity. Blowing a face-to-face potential stakeholder (employee, business partner, customer) meeting, now that’s a Waste.
Thanks Mark for drawing those thoughts out of me. I feel a blog post coming on 🙂

Lessons To Learn

Read Mark’s post, join a local business networking group, go beyond “Getting out of the building” and “Coffee Meetings” and “Stop staying around people who have your problems and start staying around ones who have your solutions.”

The Twouble with Twetailer

Golden Rule of Branding:

  1. Choose a name that is your URL
  2. Don’t choose anything that paints you in a corner. With the word “tweet” in it, it’s painted into a corner.

— Mark Suster, referring to TweetUp at 6:11 into This Week in Venture Capital #2 with Mark Suster.

In the beginning

There was something familiar about Twitter back in December 2008 when I posted My Five Ws of Twitter in less than 10 minutes (video included). It wasn’t necessarily the short messages – like text messaging (SMS), even though those were its roots. It wasn’t so much the chat-like short messages either. It was something I recognized as an IBM MQ Series feature call Message Persistence – basically meaning, the messages are saved on some hard disk on some server somewhere on the network. So what? So as opposed to email, text messages, or, chat messages that are 1) unless they’re spam, are sent to a select group of people, and 2) can be deleted, Twitter messages are potentially in the public domain, persisted (save to some disk) and searchable.

The original idea behind Twetailer was to expand on those persisted tweets, as if they were MQ Series persisted messages and use them as a poor-mans’ communication channel. And just like MQ Series with its ability to have operating system agnostic clients communicating to the MQ Series server, there were already a whack of Twitter client applications out there like TweetDeck, Twhirl, Seesmic, etc. That way Twetailer could focus on the transaction engine and let its users choose their favorite client app. We even had free text messaging (SMS), courtesy of Twitter.

Hence the name Twetailer, which is short for Twitter Retailer.

Sounds like a plan, eh?

But Dom Derrien was concerned about relying on Twitter for these persisted messages, so, we decided to persist our own. Still true to our Twitter inspiration, we built a transaction engine that runs in 140 characters, or, less. As a Consumer, your initial request looks like:

d twetailer wii console locale:1235 us range:25 mi expires:2010-12-23

and subsequent requests could look like:

d twetailer rent twilight dvd

since we already knew your previous preference for location and default the expiry date to one month in the future.

Oh, by the way, Dom was right! To date, Twitter does not persist searchable messages beyond a few days, at best!

Too cryptic

While everyone we yakked to about the concept Where Demand comes to meet Supply loved it, they either didn’t tweet, or, thought the messages were too cryptic.

How to paint yourself out of a corner

Twitter is still a force to be reckoned with. But so is email and so is the web and so is text messaging and so is Facebook and so is Google Talk and so is iChat and so is Android and so is iPhone and so is yada yada yada. Cryptic, shmyptic!!! Our  Twitter-inspired transaction engine has an open application programming interface (API) allowing us, or, you to build more client apps than ever before. Nonetheless, we have to heed the outside-in advice of  those we respect.  So we’re keeping http://twetailer.com as our project name but moving forward with http://AnotherSocialEconomy.com.

Thanks Jason, Mark & ThisWeekIn

A big thanks to Mark Suster, Jason Calacanis and the rest of the crew at ThisWeekIn for helping us paint our way out the corner. I’m pleased to say we have gone from the single Twitter Stream to multi-stream and from Twetailer to AnotherSocialEconomy.

Thoughts

Has anyone out there been faced with a similar situation? Did you stick with your ‘program”, or, re-positioned yourself?

Enhanced by Zemanta