What I learned at a Startup Week

So Denver Startup Week was last week and I spent virtually every moment outside of sleeping connecting with people, going to events and drinking alcohol at happy hours Monday through Friday. I haven’t done that last one since my freshman year of college. It’s interesting because if you asked me last Friday what I learned, I would have rattled off a few things, and probably would have said “I didn’t learn that much.” I would have been very wrong. Here’s what I learned; other than that my liver needs a break.

Key takeaway: keep a notepad or list (I use and adore Google Keep) of short insights. Then, come back later to summarize them. It took 45 mins and I’m sincerely grateful I did.

On Growth

Have a crazy response time. If you run an agency like me, or are just looking to make some moves in your own organization, always be available. Higher ups, and in my case bigger agencies, are bogged down with work. You can find an opening and make clients want to work with you because of your availability compared to larger operations.

A great product is characterized by:
 — The customer has a pain
 — It solves that pain
 — It’s a repeatable activity

Go to networking events where your target market is. This is another HUGE benefit of defining a target market. It makes it infinitely more simple to decide what events to go to. For example, my clients are not at startup events :D.

The next few are for me personally

Sustainability as a target market isn’t enough. It’s too broad. Instead, break it down and pick one. My current options are renewable energy (particularly solar) and commercial real estate.

Refine your scope. Include detailed list of deliverables so that you can show what you’ve done extra. Include what to expect and what is not included.

Ask for quick feedback after every phase of a project.

My dream project is working on a public sustainable transportation project. This is how to get there. 
 — Bidding for government RFPs isn’t going to happen. The Smart City competition for Denver was won by Xerox (who knew they even built apps, wtf). There’s no way a small agency like mine will be able to even see the light of day. Instead, getting in with engineering firms that hire out contractors for pieces of a project is much more likely (I’ve seen this with a few clients of mine doing the same in their industry). With this approach, I would potentially catch wind of a public project coming down the pipeline early. I also have a strong interest in sustainable construction and new buildings, so that’s a bonus. Lastly, there’s one step further back I think I’d need to go since getting work with engineering firms seems daunting (is it though?) — getting to engineering firms via their suppliers. I already have one, but it’s asphalt. It’s a handy coincidence that my newly defined target markets are renewable energy, particularly solar and eventually commercial real estate. If I can get in with solar companies working with engineering firms, that’s my ticket to public sector work. To summarize:
 — Target commercial solar companies
 — Work with commercial real estate companies
— Get in with engineering firms
 — Be brought on for UI of public sector work

On Sales

Land and expand. I’ve been working this angle a lot lately. It’s not about jumping in and

Automated your sales process with the right tools:
 — kitedesk
 — fullcontact
 — yesware
 — adroll
 — Otheres: klenty, zapier, pipedrive

Find the champion. If you are targeting larger organizations, make sure you cultivate a relationship with a person who will be your advocate inside that organization.

Post general content, then optimized/targeted content. It’s similar to casting a big net to find where the fish are, and then casting smaller more targeted nets catered to your target audience.

Create a lead magnet. I’ve been working on this one…but the idea is some way to get people to go to your site and sign up for something that will help them. An example for my own work would be, 5 ways your website has a security vulnerability or 10 things you can do to improve your website’s conversion rate.

Qualify leads on the phone, then ask questions to find a pain point. Are they the right person? Do they have enough investment for a project? What problems are they currently facing?

On User Experience

Process: 
 — Define business problem, objectives/goals and expectations
 — Define what to test and how to test
 — Define success metrics (and KPIs)
 — Define cost
 — Research
— Define business (products/services, goals, customers, competitors, etc)
— Define user (audience and segment)
 — Write out user flow
 — TEST, iterate and test again (rinse and repeate as necessary)
— Reduce steps
 — TEST, iterate and test again (rinse and repeate as necessary)
 — Define pages and components
 — Concept (sketch)
 — TEST, iterate and test again (rinse and repeate as necessary)
 — Wireframe
 — TEST, iterate and test again (rinse and repeate as necessary)
 — Use document
 — High Fidelity
 — TEST, iterate and test again (rinse and repeate as necessary)
 — Outcomes
 — Debrief

Tools: Use chalkboard to click test

Ask the right questions: Ground your questions like an interview (how have you, show me how you, do, send, complete, find

Ask, Listen, Probe, Validate (when asking questions)

What to look for when testing users:
 — Trends
 — The good/bad
 — The big picture
 — Key quotes (to feed back to key stakeholders)
 — Solutions
 — Opportunities
Then Prioritize and centralize feedback

On Books

Here are the books that were recommended to me at Startup Week:
 — Predictive revenue
 — The Challenger Sale
 — primal leadership
 — the hard things about hard things
 — Drive -Daniel Pink
 — Getting Real ***I really think I should read this first
 — Zero to One
 — Interviewing Users -Steve Portugal
 — Just Enough Research -Erika Hall

On Personal Development

Watch: Mel Robbins — stop screwing yourself over

Listen: David kaddaday — love your work

Do: Focus on don’t list