Six Hats with Tech Talent South Startup Primer

This was my experience through the Tech Talent South Startup Primer. I enrolled to learn how to start a business, which starts with a product. My product was Six Hats. I learned alongside other budding Charlotte entrepreneurs, who developed their own awesome products.

Why?

I’m an aspiring product manager, designer, and entrepreneur. I like to learn, especially from local sources, like Tech Talent South.

I want to see Charlotte become a technology and innovation hub. Tech Talent South fosters that growth. I contribute to this community too. I created the free Charlotte Light Rail app and host the React JS Meetup. This class engrained me further in the technology scene. I got to meet some great locals too.

I recommend this class if you’re thinking about a product, or business! Don’t make the mistake of starting a business without validating the idea, learning the steps, or getting proper guidance.

The Setup

Each student entered the class with an idea, either a product or business. A product and business are really the same thing. You need a product to have a business, and the other way around. Six Hats was my product.

Guest Speakers

Startup Primer was seminar style. Each week had a theme. And a series of guest speakers. They each taught us how to develop our business ideas.

Zachary Kirchin, CTO at Tech Talent South, explained MVPs (minimum viable products). Geoffery Graybeal, taught us about product research.

We had a fireside chat, with Betsy Idilbi, CEO of Tech Talent South. We learned the stuff of startups not covered in books.

Fireside chat with Betsy, CEO of Tech Talent South, at Advent Coworking

Terri Marascio, from Mint Marketing Solutions, and Caitlin Sellers taught us about marketing and brand identity. We built a Business Models Canvas with their help. Then we learned web analytics from Zach Cardais.

Jason Idilbi talked to us about legal. A much needed discussion. And pain point for many startups. His insight was invaluable.

Learning Startup Legal from Jason at Advent Coworking

We learned pitching and fundraising from two seasoned entrepreneurs. First, Ben Lee, who built and sold Autopilot and Express Lake Rentals. Then, Jeff Brokaw, veteran web developer, investor, and Director of Charlotte Startup Grind. They shared their impressive startup experiences.

Finally, Ramya Mahalingam and Nora Orton from Charlotte Storytellers helped us with our pitches.

Our class mentor was Carly Gardner. She guided us through the class. She shared experiences from her own Charlotte startups.

Who were the students?

I was 1 of 6 students. It was great to learn with a like-minded group.

Startup Primer Class #1 Students

Anthony Famularo (far right) pitched Home School Match, a website for the homeschool community to collaborate and find resources. It takes the frustration out of homeschool curriculum planning by matching parents, students, and local businesses to relevant learning activities. Anthony went on to pitch at Pitch Breakfast.

Tracey and Justin Morris (purple jacket and sunglasses) created My Food Prepper. They prep home-style meals. Pick meals up at your local gym, or have them delivered to your house. Pop in the microwave for 2 minutes. Eat up. Save the time of cooking and still have a satisfying meal.

Naomi Thomas (far left) developed Workdrobe, an solution to help college students access professional clothing for interviews and their first jobs. Instead of buying an expensive new wardrobe, students can rent business attire at a budget rate.

Criseida Rico (white top) contributed to the Women In Tech movement. Her website, What She Techs, features exclusive interviews to inspire women and expand their participation in technology.

And I’m Joseph Guerra (black shirt). My product was Six Hats.

What’s Six Hats?

Six Thinking Hats is a problem solving methodology, developed by physiologist Edward de Bono in the 1980s. Everyone in your group thinks in the same direction, one direction at a time. This avoids arguments, fosters collaboration, and allows you to solve problems fully.

The colored hats represent those different thinking directions. White for facts. Red for emotions. Blue for process. Green for creativity. Yellow for benefits. Black for risks.

My product was a web app called Six Hats. It guides you through the methodology in a creative way. Check out my Six Hats prototype.

Pitching

All of us Startup Primer students pitched on the last night. It was the culmination of our learning and product development. The first public opportunity to share with the Charlotte community. Special thanks to Advent Coworking. They hosted the classes and the pitch event.

Video of Joseph Guerra Pitching his Six Hats App

What’s next?

For me, Six Hats served as my case study for the Startup Primer class. I will not make it a business. It will not become a product that makes money.

Wait! What?

The class taught me there was not adequate product market fit. Too niche. Not a viable product to charge customers, even as a low cost app. It might make a handy, free app, at best.

And that’s OK! That’s the purpose of Startup Primer. You learn how to validate your product and business, in a safe environment. It’s a primer. Not an incubator. And not an accelerator.

I learned Six Hats was not worthwhile as a business. I’m not ashamed of that. In fact, I’m happy. I learned not to chase ideas that don’t have value. I learned the steps to validate a product, or startup business. One positioned for success.

I plan to apply much of my Startup Primer experience to Team Luna, my team of six local Charlotte techies. We build apps and foster technology in Charlotte. We built the Charlotte Light Rail app, and have other ideas!

Who’s Tech Talent South?

Tech Talent South teaches adults and children coding and web development. And not just programming! They have classes for learning Startup, Internet Of Things (IoT), and personal development. They’re a great asset to Charlotte and other southeastern US cities.