I originally wrote this in 2010 but wanted to revisit, fix and re-publish for others to read.
If I wasn’t doing my startup in San Francisco, here’s some random thoughts on how I would do it in another city – most likely in my home town of Moncton, NB. (which I ended up doing with Clarity!)
1. Start. Build something. Launch. #JFDI
2. Ping friends on Skype and ask them to full screen share and do ad-hoc user testing.
3. Sit down once a week, in person ( you need to see their pupils dilate ) with potential customers to learn about their reality and problems. Go to their office, see how they work and watch them try and use your application. #Humbling.
4. Spend at least 50% of your day writing code and fixing things that you learned from your in person meetings. #Iterate
5. Read books (not blogs) on psychology, marketing and persuasion.
6. Build an admin dashboard that monitors high-level conversions (visitors, signups, activation, upgrades) and customer activities (essentially a “news feed“) so you can learn.
7. Once a week I would call (not email) someone brilliant who lives in the valley to get their advice on a specific marketing or product idea. Call it getting the “pulse” of whats working and whats not.
8. Once every 2 weeks I would host a call with 3 other amazing Entrepreneurs and ask them about their top challenges, try and help out and keep in touch.
9. Run paid ads ($10 / day) to a landing page application so you can have a consistent amount of signups everyday to learn and iterate.
11. Keep the team small (2-3 people) and insure they are all extremely talented (only hire A+).
12. No government programs or grants. They distract you.
13. Read TechCrunch, Eric Ries, Steve Blank, Dave McClure, Marc Suster & Chris Dixon.
15. Only hang out with entrepreneurs (any industry will do).
This is a quick list I through together, but open to feedback… anything you would add? Leave a comment below.
Bonus: The only thing I would add that wasn’t there in the original list was a bi-monthly scheduled flight to Silicon Valley every 7 weeks. I did this as I built out Clarity from New Brunswick.
My schedule was simple: I pre-booked flights between New York, San Francisco & Toronto every 7th week for the year. It was a 5 day loop that I perfected and got HUGE leverage from.
The investment was $10K per year, but the value was immeasurable. I highly recommend all founders do the same.
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