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15 Suggestions for Doing a Startup Outside of Silicon Valley

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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.

10. Survey your users in cohorts and try and understand why they signed up, what problem they thought you were solving and the greatest benefit they received from your application.

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.

14.Follow everyone on Twitter from this list

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.

The post 15 Suggestions for Doing a Startup Outside of Silicon Valley appeared first on Dan Martell.


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