3 Lessons from YC’s Startup School

Two weeks ago, NestEgg completed our 10-week course with Y Combinator’s remote Startup School, fall class of 2018. The course offered educational resources and weekly office hours to groups of startups to share and discuss progress/obstacles.

During these 10 weeks, NestEgg has been preparing for our upcoming pilot ☀️ SolarShare: a platform to crowdfund and share solar panels on other people’s roofs in order to reduce your own energy bill.

If you’re building a startup, here are 3 key insights we learned from the course that might serve you best:

1. Create a metric to measure success

Upon joining startup school, we realize we didn’t have a metric. So we created a waiting list for customers to sign up in advance before we launch SolarShare.

This seems obvious at first glance. Yet upon beginning the class we didn’t have it defined. While building the technical requirements for the pilot, we use agile 2-week sprints and track progress on tasks assigned that week, and thought that would be sufficient. Tracking progress towards launch.

Yet our personal group within the class encouraged our team to find a metric that would align action that directly correlated to success. Simply measuring progress on the technical requirements wouldn’t give us success if no-one was there to purchase/use it.

Thus, we came up with the idea to create a waiting list with a (refundable) €10 deposit. This would allow us to begin onboarding the most enthusiastic customers and, upon technical feasibility, have initial customers ready to participate. You can signup on this waiting list at 👉 NestEgg.eu/solar.

Having a clear metric such as waiting list signups gives a very narrow call-to-action that helps organize and focus our effort. This also enables greater creativity as the goal is simple yet can be gone about in various different ways.

Thus, defining exactly what you need is half the battle to reach your next milestone.

2. Weekly Peer Review

We join a weekly video call with other startups to discuss what went right/wrong and what we’re doing next.

When building a startup, each week presents opportunities and challenges that you may not have foreseen the week before. After a few weeks, it’s easy to lose yourself in the daily tasks and lose sight of the greater mission.

As an additional measure to the metric, YC hosted weekly “Office Hours” via video call. Our group of 10+ startups would join one of the scheduled slots and discuss our week with the other startups present (including our helpful advisor!).

Our weekly conversation exercise was very simple and straightforward: what did you do this week? What will do you do next week?

Through explaining your progress and challenges to others, you begin to discover new opportunities by vocalizing your week that otherwise wouldn’t receive a tidy and neat summary. Yet by aggregating progress into an update, you both make it easier to get feedback and help from other startups and also clarify to yourself what the specific challenge needs to be overcome.

3. Write down progress, publically

It’s easy to stay busy with tasks, but be sure to write regular updates for your customers and community!

In addition to the weekly “Office Hours”, we were required to write a weekly update that would be reviewed by our advisor.

The template for the weekly update was simple:

  • What’s your key metric? (For us, it was SolarShare ☀️ waiting list signups)
  • What’s the current status of your metric? (How many are signed up?)
  • What’s the percentage growth of your metric compared to last week?
  • What’s your team’s morale? (on a scale of 1–10)
  • Write a summary of your week
Tracking signups to SolarShare by each weekly update

By writing weekly updates and talking about them during the weekly Office Hours, you’ll be in a state of mind that is much more focused on your tasks at hand and how they relate to the larger goal.

While our startup class is over, NestEgg will continue to post updates to our community via our blog, newsletter, and twitter!

Excited? Get Involved!

Throughout Startup School, we’ve been preparing our upcoming pilot. You can join NestEgg and the wider energy transition movement, no roof needed! 🏡

We’re accepting pre-signups for the SolarShare program, in which we’ll be notifying customers when our first solar panels are available.

Clicking this button will take you to http://nestegg.eu/solar

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