The “What Next Monster”

Disclaimer: The following post contains my personal opinion and may or may not reflect the views of Startup Weekend.

And so here you are, a while after startup weekend, wondering, “was it all a dream?”, and hoping that the answer is “no”.

For some of you, your experience mostly finished on the Sunday night, with Monday signalling a return back to a reality, almost, but not quite the same as before.

For many others, something has changed. It may be profound, or barely perceptible, but a seed has been planted, and sooner or later it’s going to start growing.

By now, the tiredness has faded, but the flashbacks keep coming. To the moments of laughter and stress, the feelings of pride, satisfaction and relief. But, something else is stirring, something you didn’t expect to creep up on you, but its about to smack you across the back of the head. That something is called the “what next monster” and for some of you, it will be more challenging than the weekend itself.

A moment, if I may, to recap. You went into the weekend with little to no expectations. Perhaps you had an idea, you may even have pitched it and succeeded in building a team, and doing something unimaginable over the weekend, but remember, the point of the weekend was the weekend of experience. The learning by no talk all action doing.

What, I hope, you’ve realised by now, is that an idea is meaningless without a team, preferably a team which can execute the actions to bring meaning to the idea.

And so, that brings us to, what we refer to as, “The Talk”. It starts by getting your team together, all of you, and agreeing to have an open and brutally honest conversation. Talk about the experience of the weekend. Talk about what you each got from the weekend. Talk about the idea. Talk about each other.

Answer the following questions:

  • Does the idea deserve to live - does the world actually need it?
  • What will it take to bring the idea to reality - how much time, skills, money, resources?
  • Who on the team has the skills?
  • Who on the team has the time?
  • Who on the team works well together?
  • Who has the passion and drive?

and then the tough part:

  • Who doesn’t work well on the team?
  • Who cannot add value in the immediate future?

Be honest, but don’t be offensive.

As a barely-even-born Startup, you cannot afford to be anything other than lean - there is no place for tag-alongs and/or dead wood. If you’re in the firing line, recognising the fact and offering to step away is the best thing to do. If you don’t recognise it, and are asked to step down, it almost certainly isn’t personal, so don’t take it personally - perhaps this just isn’t the right time/place.

A word or two about Intellectual Property and Equity. Don’t go there. Just don’t. You came into the weekend with nothing, you should be happy to leave the same way (but enriched from the process and experience). An idea isn’t really defensible Intellectual Property - and it certainly isn’t worth fighting over (and if you’re already fighting, you’re already doomed). You probably shouldn’t even begin to consider signing any equity documents at this point. My personal advice? Schedule a regular team meeting, at least once a week, for the next six weeks. Work out what needs to be done on the product, and get working. You’ll soon know who can hack it and who stops showing up, essentially firing themselves in the process.

Tough? You bet. Welcome to Startup Life.

Follow me on Twitter for more insights: @clogish

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