Well, we joined an accelerator: The first six-weeks
ell, we joined an accelerator, The Farm located in Atlanta, Georgia.
This is somewhat of a continuation of our startup journey to becoming a product company. The only background you need to know is that we decided to join The Farm, an accelerator program for startup companies, but, if you must know and have 3-5 minutes to spare, read how we got to this point.
So, The Farm! It’s a 12-week program, which required us to be on-site and recommend that we have at least two of the co-founders for the entire 12-weeks. Also, we were forewarned, that they were going to be hard on us, to the point of critically possibly maybe most likely making us pivot our business, from the business model, the team, all the way to our core product. And, all we wanted was help with Sales and Marketing, and maybe fundraising.
At first, I was thinking, “what could they possibly teach us that would require all 12-weeks?”, “is there enough material for 12-weeks?”, “yeah, yeah, whatever, we can take critiques and we’ll decide what’s best for our company and how we move forward”. Now to be fair, The Farm did encourage us as founders to make our own decisions, whatever that we believe is best for our company/product moving forward, they’ll just give us their blunt/honest opinions 🙂 oftentimes, it’s more on the blunt side, which I personally respect.
I also want to preface that before we got started with the program, we wanted to be as ready as possible, be ahead of the game. So, we took the time to do our financials, and our pitch decks. Kind of important when planning to sell and market the product, and also for fundraising. Also, we kind of knew that part of the program would be a “Demo Day” that required each company performing a public pitch.
Okay, the first day was pretty chill, a lot of introductions, a few hands-on lessons, with meals and socializing thrown in between. And, they touched on customer discovery/interview.
The rest of the week, we had a few more lessons on customer discovery/interview. Now, at the end of the week, my mind was blown to smithereens (in the metaphorical sense, obviously). This so-called customer discovery/interview as The Farm touts, should’ve been our very first step after having an idea for a product/solution/whatever.
AND, it made sense. Why waste all of your time on an idea if you’re the only one that thinks it’s a good idea? The suggestion was to make solicited interviews with anyone (better if they are your intended customers, but you’re not selling, so anyone really) and ask them a bunch of questions about your idea. There are obviously specific and methodical ways you can perform these customer interviews, but for that you should join the program 🙂 Let’s just say, this idea of customer discovery/interview is one I will recommend and advocate to any entrepreneur. A definite must and a game changer.
With customer discovery/interview, one also has to be ready to be humbled. Because, you’ll soon realize that your assumption of a good idea, is probably not such a good idea. This happened with us really early on when we did our customer discovery/interview. To the point we stopped all selling and further planned development of DocQ. Because, we quickly realized that we didn’t know our real customers.
After that first week, we spent the next five weeks doing customer discovery/interview continuously, each time calibrating our questions and to a certain extent our product roadmap and to its entirety the messaging of DocQ.
Towards the end of the second week, maybe third week, COVID19 with the impending travel ban happened, and so everything became virtual. Most of us went home, I did, and joined Web Conferences, which for me started on most days at 3am, because in case you were wondering, Atlanta is on the East Coast, which is a 6-hour difference from Hawaii.
Those early morning meetings (for me) were hard, but I enjoyed them all the same. We learned about financials, sales, marketing, branding, more customer discovery/interview, pitching, building a pitch deck, creating ads, messaging, spoke with other alumnus of the program, and even had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of people (i.e. CEOs, VPs, Directors, etc.) that were in our shoes.
The first six weeks was grueling, because not only do we need to run our current Professional Services business, we had to attend The Farm program, do the homework and deliverables, scheduling and running customer interviews, all at the same time, finding available slots of the day to do all of that.
Fortunately, our (somewhat large) team, with Anuj, Ricardo, and every one of our Rockstar developers: Anderson, Bryan, Dielisson, Gabriel, Jennifer and Tony were all there to help make everything endurable. I did have one meltdown, at least one that I remember, there could have been more, okay maybe two meltdowns. Regardless, The Farm were accommodating when they could to our schedules and similarly with the team.
All in all, the first six weeks, albeit challenging, humbling and at times exhausting, I would not trade the experience and education for anything else, well, (if we’re wishing for things) maybe just the time zone difference 😁