Day 1 (Monday)
Only one person will do the pitches, but both should be able to be able to pitch.
The document with all of our stats and elevator pitch, they will send that to the newspapers etc who ask “who can we do a story on”.
By demo day, they need a high quality vector of our logo.
Most people have team t-shirts for demo day.
Going to want business card. youprinting.com
inspireus challenge, limited to 2 minutes. Two weeks out. Be vulnerable. May 15th.
Need to make sure the reading is done, late night homework.
Everybody seems to like the idea of that “register” button. Lexi said “whoever wins is going to be able to do that”. Even though it’s not necessary, maybe people like it enough that it’s worth it.
Money will be wired once the
[Upstart Team Meetings]
“Hundreds” applied, three teams accepted.
We were all chosen because they got some “yes”s from follow-on funders, like the chatergooa place. Who were interested in our markets, liked our teams, etc. Person there used to be dean of chapel hill. Invest 250k-1M. I think they’re a women only fund, too.
They chose people who they thought they could help, too, specifically.
Upstart accelerator has best investment record of all cohorts.
Investment comes from a mix of the mentors as well as the funds at the end.
Send the Netherlands person the research on the housing.
Need to get bank account setup.
Should be able to Skype Tara all the time, so long as it’s not a lot of talking/bothersome.
Mara’s California women network will also be people we could get intros to.
Often we’re getting intro’d do investors who care about investing in women.
Some of the investors invest because they care about supporting women, and others invest with a financial reason, because companies with diverse leaders (perhaps just women) perform 60-80% better.
Every Wednesday, the women in all the programs have a morning coffee.
[End of Upstart Team Meetings]
Need to go out to talk to 50 customers.
People have been fired from the program.
Only half a percent of all startups raise outside capital.
500 teams applied overall, 18 accepted.
Think about top categories for giving up KPI’s, need to set goals, probably by end of week.
Every Monday, 60-90 seconds which said how we did in the past week, as well as what our current goals are for the next week. Very quantitative. What we learned. At the end, we can say what we need help with, and other people can provide their help with us after their meeting.
Weekly “investor” email that we send to all the investor leaders.
Bryan - end of first day, he does the maps now for mapping out cell reception. Been running his business for 20+ years. He has thousands of employees now.
Elevator Pitch Practice Document:
Day 2 (Tuesday)
Read first half “lean B2b”, relevant even if you’re not B2B. At least to page 128.
Customer discovery: we have a lot of assumptions about our product. Removing assumptions about your product by asking the customer.
4 hypotheses: 1. the problem,
- user: first and second year college students
- economic buyer: students and parents
Need to make a customer persona, with picture, and descriptions.
Customer Persona Document: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14UiCbxCaUzPnDTGDaUqemD2T_lzBqad3sReARthXQ9s/edit?usp=sharing
Homework: put together customer personas, and first set of interview questions to validate/invalidate the customer personas (that is, validate the problem, solution, price, and go to market).
Should ask everyone in here to be put in touch with their friends who are still in college, especially the first and second year students.
One good question: would they be willing to pay for the service.
Figure out which of the needs of Alex are most strongly felt, if any. And trying to quantify it, if possible.
Good advice from a guy to get calls back: if you get voicemail just say “Hey [name], this is Joe (919) 259-2136. It was really important that…”. and then hang up the phone.
Approach it from like “I’m a startup, I just want advice from you”, they’re more receptive.
Combination of twitter and email (tweet at them and then email them).
Advice is to “disprove your concept rather than prove it”. Try to poke holes in the idea using the customer discovery process.
One of the other accelerator members who is a teacher at U of Mississippi could put us in touch with some of his students for user interviews. Says they complain all the time about not being able to get into the classes that they need to graduate. The classes required for their majors fill up really quickly.
Recommended this for review while doing customer interviews, eliminating biases: https://hbr.org/2015/05/outsmart-your-own-biases.
Maybe should refer to our investment as “an angel group in Memphis Tennessee” rather than an accelerator? One of the guys did this it and it sounded good.
Should talk to Andre about our business model canvas. He’s really good at digging in and asking hard questions.
Tom - middle of second day. Talked about best way to do user interviews and stuff, reducing bias. He’s coming in in person on Friday.
Day 3 (Wednesday)
Separate all personal activity with personal activity. Need to keep separate bank accounts as well as credit cards.
Business income: sales, not loans or investment.
Need to know what was for business and what was personal.
Because we’re here completely on business, because we relocated for business, then rent is actually considered a business expense. I suppose food is as well? Yes, it is, because we’re relocated. But food is only tax deductible to 50%.
Everything you spend to generate revenue for the company is an expense of the company.
They separate cash outflow from expenses (capitalization), so if you buy a computer, you take all that money out of the company, but you would only put it on the book over the course of using the computer (yearly over the course of 5 years)
Recommendation: perfect world, W-2, but that will be particularly burdensome for the first year because of the taxes. They essentially said that it can depend. If you’re just taking money out every so often, rather than regularly, it’s better to just do it through the W-2.
Sales tax is a thing that we need to worry about. Services right now aren’t always taxable, often not. But that’s been changing. Payment systems like Stripe might be taking care of it for us, though.
Because not planning to stay in TN, don’t actually need to register as a foreign company operating in TN.
Accounting software not 100% necessary. Quickbooks, Freshbooks, Xero, Zoho books, Wave accounting, sage.
Just be sure to be detailed, consistent, about all the expenses. Who you paid, what it was for, and when you paid it. Maybe also keep personal stuff on there, and then have someone else separate it out.
3 big mistakes: waiting until to April 12th,
The company has to hold the money they owe the government due to employer’s taxes, sales taxes, etc, so that they can pay at the end of the year.
A company said they’d help with bookkeeping with stuff likely for a discount rate.
[End of Startup Accounting]
They seem to not be paying for trip to the conference in June.
They don’t pay for the flight/trip to San Fran, but they pay for “on the ground” expenses.
16:9 aspect ratio, no less than 30 point font, use only PowerPoint.
Problem, solution, benefits 50%. 50% for business case.
Recommended that you don’t broaden the target customer at the beginning (don’t mention colleges), and then scale it out later (toward the end when talking about market size and business).
Day 4 (Thursday)
Apparently the better teams will free round trip tickets for San Fran from American Airlines.
October 3rd - October 7th, as target date for San Fran.
Should go through all of the companies who have the same customers, and make some connections with them. Might have to talk to 50 to get 5-6 connections.
First contact (word of mouth, organic search, email advertisement)
—immediate / 12 hours —
—50 seconds —
Decide if they could use it or not — drop off
—4 minutes —
You save them time and money, but what does that mean for them? What can they do with that time? What can they do with that money? What does the decreased frustration really mean for them? What can they do now that they’re not stressed/frustrated?
Representation bias, confirmation bias, need to keep all of those in mind. And the other biases.
They will help when we get cease and desist letters.
Does our team match up with what we need. Like, do we need to hire a CEO.
Find conventions/meetups that have to do with your space, and then just use their hashtag in some tweets and people will start following you. Some guy got like 10 journalists in education to follow him. You can also just retweet people’s tweets.
Homey wrote a Twitter bot which will like/favorite, does 100 favorites/likes a day based on hashtags, and people will follow them bag. Also on Instagram. They had a 20% follow rate on Twitter and a 40% follow rate on Instagram.
Videos are really good engagement for advertising on Facebook, according to guy who did it for his shipping company (Dave).
https://fbstart.com/, can say that we will have a mobile app. Gives $500 free advertising. Actually, they have an “accelerate” one that gives $2500. Should look at Google Adwords to see if they have something similar.
“Don’t sell what you do, sell the benefit you provide” - Dave.
Mentors are told to get back to a team’s email/call within 24 hours.
Need to report every 1:1 meeting we have during the course of the accelerator.
Need to download app which logs who we’ve met with and what day, etc, so that they can see who we’re meeting with.
Pitch Practice Document:
Day 5 (Friday)
[Media Relations Advice]
Should consider adding press kit on the website.
“Tell me a little about yourself” and “Anything you would like to add?”.
Maybe not having Facebook or Twitter or whatever else unless we have the ability to post frequently.
80% should be something that’s interesting and relevant and non-product related, 20% should be about the company/advertising whatever.
Jump in on trending hashtags, and then maybe also include other people as tags which makes your post show up when people search for them.
[End of Media Relations Advice]
[Advice from people at party]
Karen Holst, myedu. Could talk to her about what worked for them. Brian Rogers knew her.
Greek life might be good
Should look at other companies who are targeting the same people, try to partner with them, learn from them.
Schools sometimes have Coursicle Notify, but the CS kids just share it within the CS kids.
Need to capture cross-school interaction, like get it to spread to neighboring schools. Maybe suggest connecting with your high school friends.
[End of Advice from people at party]
Day 6 (Saturday)
Worked on our elevator pitches, performed in front of the people who were there, and then got feedback from Mara and the other people in the room.
Then did parrot pitches, where one person would pitch to us and then we’d have to stand up and give that same pitch to everyone else.
Day 7 (Sunday)
Standup Meetings Document.
Weekly Investor Update.
Lead List Spreadsheet.
Day 8 (Monday)
15% is based on your hard skills, 85% is based is soft skills, which indicates your success in life.
Would be insulting in some cultures to let a business woman walk through a door first, because it demeans them as a woman.
40-60% of the time, look the person in the eye. Don’t need to look below the those.
Person who extends the hand first for a handshake has the advantage.
Rings should be limited due to size.
Go in straight with your hand, go web to web.
Listeners make the sale. It’s better not to talk.
Three styles of : asian (chopsticks), american, continental (the way everybody except american’s eat).
Continental: keep the fork facing down. Keep
Name tag on your right, their left. Because you read left to right as well.
Stand to the right of your presentation, so the audience's left. Because you read left to right.
Customer is most important. Would present person in the company to the customer.
I would like to “introduce to you”, I would like to “present [this person]”, if very formal.
Spray antiperspirant on hands to prevent sweating.
Give equal titles, not Mr. Smith and Fred. Technically poor manners.
What happens when it’s very hard to hear them?
Might be careful about cursing even if they curse, some people have double standards.
Gibson martini, doesn’t have any alcohol. [Tara checked and it actually may have alcohol]
Usually the person who invites pays.
[End of Professional Etiquette]
Extraverts get energy from being around people. Extraverts prefer verbal, and speak then think.
Introverts prefer written communication.
[End of Myers-Briggs Indicator]
Talked to Jack about Google Adwords expert he had doing his ads. They’ve been doing $60/month, they’ve gotten 5 or so conversions (each paying at least $10/month).
[Founder Dinner - Chris Williams]
4-hour work week. Shows how to shrink the things you do down (save time).
5% of time on strategy, 15% on leadership (who helps you carry out your strategy), 80% on execution.
“Limit what you do to what only you can do”.
Had all of us text him a question, as an anonymous way of asking questions.
He doesn’t have a business card, instead get their card so you’re in control of the contact.
Get really good at failure, believe in yourself “so Disney”.
Says he was abused as a child, and that’s what he feels focus about.
[End Of Founder Dinner - Chris Williams]
SendGrid is coming in for Start-Q.
F6S, get Alpha card or something for points on flights.
Will get email with link.
Day 9 (Tuesday)
Advice we should really seek (from mentors, etc.): how do we penetrate the college market? Greek life? Google Adwords? How do we achieve great cross-over between schools?
Hosting advice we should seek: how to launch massive scraping effort of thousands of courses at low latency with low cost?
Email advice: how can we send a large amount of email in a short period of time without getting blocked/marked as spam?
[Art of the Interview - Lauren Squires]
Feedback from Lauren: A little wordy, maybe not “and/or”. Shorten them a bit.
How do you ask if you can record it? “Do you mind if I record for my record?”, may want to ask a bit later to get a read on them.
What’s the cap on the number of questions we might want to ask? Just want to base it on the time, and may want to ask different questions to different people, have different tracks that we can do.
[End of Art of the Interview - Lauren Squires]
Day 10 (Wednesday)
[Baker Donaldson Legal Bootcamp]
No federal entiy. All state based.
Incorporate also refers to LLC.
Certain states would allow for you to anonymously form entities (Deleware is one).
People went with C-corps because people in the courts and laywers were more familiar with all the laws around them and their structure, but LLC’s are getting more popular and well known.
The annual meetings, keeping minutes, etc in Coroporation is essential. It’s the formalities that are often why people go with other things.
Corporation “owners may freely transfer shares of stock”. Not subject to self-employment tax, so the flow-through doesn’t get self-employment tax.
S-corporation is not actually a different type of corporation, it’s just a tax related thing. You can freely go between C and S Corp.
Phantom income is a problem with LLC, where you have to pay personal income tax on gains made by the LLC even if you reinvested that money in the company.
Should do some sort of statement with the state we’re operating in to say “hey we’re operating here” otherwise might need to pay back-taxes or something??
Going to need to do a state filing, once we settle in a state.
Big crackdown on making sure workers are appropriately classified. 1099, etc.
Finally, an answer. It’s just where the money is coming out of. We don’t save any net money by paying ourselves as contractors.
You said the government is concerned about not making money through taxes, but if those making money as 1099’s are also paying the self-employment tax, is it just going into the wrong bucket, even though it’s the same amount of money?
If hiring someone as an independent contractor, should probably require them to have their own LLC or something.
Concern levels really starts to rise about 1099 vs W2 when bringing on employees.
1099 seems probably to be fine for small employees.
Should keep the terms link “above the fold” so that it’s visible when they first come to the site, which is better for enforcability.
Shouldn’t do retroactive changes to terms.
If children under 13 using the site, then you have to have a terms and privacy that specifically handles things.
May want to include language that says “we’re not knowingly collecting info from children under 13 and if we do collect info let us know and we’ll remove it”.
There’s a “do not track signal” that browsers can send, which you may want to include language about to say “it’s not standard yet so we don’t honor it”.
Should mention how exactly we’re taking measures to prevent data breaches.
If data is breached, need to let users know.
Should provide contact info (email address) for letting them contact us if they have questions or want info removed.
Copyright. Simple a bundle of rights protecting an original work of authorship. Minimum level of creativity for it to be copywritten. Software falls under this.
Names, titles, slogans, facts, all of those things aren’t copywrittable. Don’t have the sufficient level of creativity to be copywritable.
The source code is copywrittable. Can black out trade secret parts of programs.
“Creation copyright” - exists, essentially as soon as you create the work. Maybe would be called “common copyright”.
Hiring people to write your programs for you: if you or an employee, codes for you, then it is assumed that the copyright is owned by the company. If you hire an independent programer, then you need a written agreement with them, otherwise the programmer’s own the copyright. Have to say “it’s a work for hire agreement”.
The copyright is just applying to the source code. If someone independently creates a program that does the exact same thing as your program, then you have no protection. They have to actually copy your code for you to get any protection.
Trademark is just for distinguishing goods and services from others. You have to have something that’s not generic.
Probably couldn’t have trademarked Class Checker, because it’s too descriptive to be considered unique.
Google doesn’t want to lose their trademark, so they’re trying to stop people from using it as a verb.
Common law trademark, essentially it just comes to you upon use.
Patent is exclusive rights for inventor for fixed time in exchange for regulated, public dislosure of the invention. Becomes public domain after 20 years. If you have a trade secret, then you could keep that forever, because you’re not publicly discosing.
Essentially excludes anyone from make, use, sell, import, offer to sell, etc. all in the US.
Can do design patent, which is just about the way something looks.
Utility patent, which is actually about how something works.
To do a utility patent, you have to have patentable subject matter, you have to have utility, has to be novel (anywhere in the world, anytime in the past), and it also can’t be obvious.
He says that the majority of the arguments he has about this stuff is obviousness.
Can also patent a process, like a computer method.
Can’t patent algorithms. But you can patent a specific use of that algorihm.
No common law patent right. You have one year after making a sale with the use of your invention, or public use or dislosure of the invention. In other countries, you don’t have that one year.
Even sending an email with that info could ssart start that one year ticking.
If you’re still experimenting with the invention still, then the 1 year triggering event won’t apply. But it’s good to have people sign NDA’s, to show that it’s potentially patentable.
Only individuals can be inventors. Co-inventors . No “work-for-hire” doctrine with patents. You can’t assume that you get ownership of their patents just while they work for you.
Trade secret can pretty much be absolutely anything. Just has to derive economic value because it’s not generally known. Can’t be reverse engineerable, or obvious, and have to take reasonable efforts to maintain its secrecy.
Algorithms are a trade secret.
Negative know-how also could be a trade secret. That is, knowing that something didn’t work.
No expiration of trade secrets, does not protect against independent discovery. Idea can be a trade secret. Absolute secrecy is not required. But must be a substantial element of secrecy. Must be difficult for anyone outside the confidental relationship. Have to show that it was hard.
Firewalls, passwords, separate databases.
Most important are the agreements when new employees come on. Did you say that the thing was a trade secret, saying at the bottom of the document that contains the confidential information.
Terms of trade secrets can be unlimited in term.
1way nda: one party is disclosing to the other.
2-way each party is exchanging information.
Would our company be damaged by disclosing the information, then it’s a trade secret and you should have people sign NDAs.
Beware of NDAs that require documents to be marked as confidential in order to included within the definition. Because that puts a big stress on you. He says it gets a lot of people.
What is a security?
Money invested in a third party that expects some return usually.
For our purposes, it’s any debt or equity financing instrument.
Recission rights: if you raise money, and you spend, and if there’s something wrong with your offering like with regard to the law, then you could have to owe the investor the money. And if it’s bad, you could have to pay fines to them, and if it’s really bad, you could go to jail.
Going public means: registering your stock with the SEC under the 1933 act, then you can sell your stock to anyone, and raise money that way.
The problem with IPO is that it takes a really long time, and takes a lot of money. Like 12 months.
The exemptions for not having registering with the SEC.
Finrabrokercheck.com which will tell you if you should be dealing with them, like investor, because you don’t want to deal with “bad actors”. You don’t want to give anyone stock who is a bad actor. You can check on that website.
Be careful about people who are saying they’ll find investors for you for a small fee.
Regulation D, which is 4(a)(2), which the most common way to get investment without going through SEC. The rule 504 and 505. Can’t do general solicitation, which means just asking people to invest saying you’ll sell them some stock for some money.
504 and 505: Resale of stock has to be registered with the SEC. So when you sell your stock to someone, that’s fine, but if they want to resell the stock to someone, then they have to be registered with the SEC. Should read more about these.
Accredited investor: someone whose individual worth has to be more than $1M excluding their house.
Rule 506(b): no offering limit, no general solicitation. Up to 35 unaccredited.
Rule 506(c): no offering amount limitation, but accredited investors only. But can generally solicit.
Should not disclose that we’re raising money in a public setting??
506(c), company is on the hook for making sure the investor is accredited.
Crowdfunding is actually illegal. Rewards crowdfunding, such as kickstarter.
Term sheet stuff.
All in recording and documents.
[End of Baker Donaldson Legal Bootcamp]
Day 11 (Thursday)
[Advice from office hours]
[IBM - Kelley]
Suggested load balancers.
[LBMC - Trey]
[GAN - John]
Do video content show them a video. Maybe do a weekly update type thing. Do a fake campaign to show brands the stats we could get. Clusterflunk, changed to pie.
[SendGrid - Brandon]
Kafka, or that category of tooling is called message bus. “parallel requests open source”.
[UPS - David]
Maybe charge to be a part of the ecosystem of selling textbooks within a school.
Parent perspective: don’t care about saving them time, but do care about them getting into classes, and also saving them money on textbooks.
As a package, showing parents what pain their children are going to face. E
Email him the link to uab.coursicle.com
[Louisiana startup prize - Sabrina]
Email about free access startprize .
[e.ventures - Jett]
Didn’t show up. Mara said we’d get facetime with them later. They were remoting in.
Day 12 (Friday)
[Innova - Jan Bouten]
Remind him to get in touch with Ryan,
All people in advertising and marketing.
[GrowthX - Brad Holliday]
We know the demand 3-4 months for textbooks, could buy textbooks and resell them at a higher cost when the costs of the marketplace is higher.
Use the fact we know what classes students are in to create note sharing instantly. Like a Google doc with everyone automatically added, in order to maintain long term engagement.
[River Cities Capital Fund - David]
[Urban Farm Agency - unknown]
Said getting college bound students would be good, parents of college bound students. Said that this is the kind of service that parents want their kids using.
Want to setup a meeting with us.
Said he wanted to introduce us to an investor. He said we were the only team they talked to that he was really interested in. She said she had never heard him say that before. He said he couldn’t speak for the investor but he was very interested.
Day 13 (Saturday)
Day 14 (Sunday)
Watched startup.com movie, which was pretty good.
Did inspire us challenge, which was very good.
Got Tara all set with everything and started getting her up to speed.
Day 15 (Monday)
Follow-on funding definitely seems to come from the existing investors. Jan is always watching, so he could do a follow-on round.
[Start of Paychex Flex Enterprise]
Social security, employee pays 6.2% on the first 108,500.
Social security, employer matches (pays 6.2%) on the first 108,500.
Medicare, employee pays 1.45% on unlimited.
Medicare, employer pays 1.45% on unlimited.
Federal income tax, employee pays based on their income.
State unemployment tax, employer pays, 2.71% on the first 8K on wages (per employee per year). (regardless of number of employees)
Federal unemployment tax, employer pays, .6% on the first 7K on wages (per employee per year). (regardless of number of employees)
Seems like you only pay state unemployment and federal unemployment when you are paying at least one person as an employee. So that would probably be a save if you paid 1099.
When hiring employee, need to fill out I-9 and W-4 filled out for each employee.
If they’re a 1099, they don’t fill out I-9 or W-4.
You’re liable for the amount of the social security and medicare if you misclassified an employee.
Paychex essentially does everything.
IRS is going to force employees making less than a certain amount to log their hours, even if they’re paid on a yearly salary.
More than 5 employees, you are required to carry worker’s compensation insurance in case someone gets hurt at the office.
[End of start of Paychex Flex Enterprise]
Day 16 (Tuesday)
Customer calls all day.
Day 17 (Wednesday)
Customer calls most of day, plus session with counselor for women empowerment.
Day 18 (Thursday)
Call with BBA.
[Call with BBA]
“they just don’t really care about the students”. Literally they say “is this microphone on?” “we don’t give a shit”.
$100,000/month on proxy servers.
They scrape Amazon, Chegg, everything to detect price changes.
40,000requets/hour, over 2000 IPs
10 million requests / day.
ultimate win for the job space is providing
they’re profiling the schools based on their skills and
they think it really needs to be verified.
do a request for information, freedom of information act. Can get anything only for public universities.
Berkeley is the most liberal of everyone.
For UNC’s bookstore act. barne’s and noble gives them 1 million to let them rip off their students.
verba is doing the price comparisons.
they own a lot of the product that chegg sells
Gatling, in rails, in the database, frontend in angular material.
Send the texts is written a Go, sent through Twilio.
text through email to see what bounces,
buy 800 number, send via that. 50 regular numbers that they cycle between.
$1/month + text message charge.
short code, apply for direct routes. $12,000/year for all carrier.
run your own push server.
[End of call with BBA]
Pitch practice [recorded the session].
Day 19 (Friday)
Worked full day on unit testing.
Day 20 (Saturday)
Preslam workshop. So trying to figure out our story. Why we’re doing what we’re doing. What in our life caused us to work on this, why are we motivated continue (even if this doesn’t have to do with why we started the business, like roommate going through mental episode, but could be the experience of an advisor telling us “just take the easy A classes, even though they don’t go toward your requirements”.
We’re making it painless to plan your class schedule and get into your classes because nothing should be painful about getting the education you deserve.
Finished the unit tests during the evening.
[End of Slam session]
Day 21 (Sunday)
Going over what we’re actually doing for our customer. The intangible benefits. How we are helping them on each level of Maslow’s hierarchy. We’re providing them “agency”, to feel control over their environment.
Note: people are promised agency when they go to college, but they’re smacked in the face with the opposite.
Story of self, story of us, story of now.
Story for slam.
In the summer before my freshman year of college, I had my first experience with course registration.
I spent 7 hours manually drawing out the classes I needed and how they could fit together. When it came time to register, I was funneled into a room of computers, with 30 other students, we were told to sit down, and open up a browser.
A few minutes later, someone in the room yelled “go!”. And we all began frantically racing against each other to click buttons on our screens.
This was the process that decided if you got the education you had been training for, the education you were paying for.
I’m talking to you today, because I wasn’t one of the fastest kids to click in that room. I didn’t get the classes I needed.
And I was destroyed. College was off to a terrible start. When the process was over, I went back to my car and just started sobbing.
I wasn’t alone. Millions of students were and still are going through the exact same process, experiencing the exact same thing.
And it starts out with “I can’t take that class”, but turns into “I can’t learn that subject, I can’t be that doctor, that lawyer, that engineer”.
We’re taking that lack of control out of not only your classes but the start of your life. We don’t think you should have to settle, and we at Coursicle are making it so that you don’t have to.
Bullet point memories:
Spent 7 hours
This was the process that decided
[End of Slam session]
Day 22 (Monday)
MVP hackathon will be about not just building product, but also building the revenue model. So maybe building in ads for jobs or something, would be cool and could be useful. Mara suggested the payment system for the parent, or something where they can tie in to pay for the student’s classes being tracked.
Mara wants us to do customer interviews with parents for this week.
Start Co. lounge coming up. First true networking event.
[Founder Dinner - Brad Silver]
Doctors take physical notes and they do stuff with unstructured text using Machine Learning.
Healthcare, “least agile people ever”. They really focus on volume (how many procedures can I do).
“People are slow to change”.
[End of Founder Dinner - Brad Silver]
Played Werewolf for the first time.
Day 23 (Tuesday)
Should ask them via customer discovery “if they’d be lookup a website that they saw advertised on campus”.
[Lunch talk - Brad Montgomery]
Should look up Bit.ly/actionable-metrics.
Maybe should read the book “Traction”. Gives actionable information. Things you can try. Lots of channels to get to customers that you’re not considering. The one book you should definitely read.
Takes 6 months to get on Google’s radar for blogging.
Need to ask him about:
Ask about his email marketing.
Ask about his current company about community colleges.
Suggested ways to proceed (suggested by Brad Montgomery)
Using scrapy's parallelization.
Setting up a queue/worker system, such as using RedisQueue: http://python-rq.org/
[Lunch talk - End of Brad Montgomery]
Day 24 (Wednesday)
Day 25 (Thursday)
Day 26 (Friday)
[Lunch Talk - UI/UX with Archer Malmo]
Really should do A/B testing on buttons on ecommerce sites.
Book recommendation: “Don’t make me think”. Been handing out that book for 15 years. Super fast read.
Optimize for scannability. Could look at eye tracking studies.
Red, blue, are call to action buttons. They have the exact hex in the slides.
Grey is body text, black is title text, off-white is ‘top google bar”.
Big giant centered button, not a lot of text. Clear language.
Asked for advice: guy said maybe left align all the fields. Make it more obvious where to start, like one big field to get started then allowing multiple filters. Said he would have to know the specifics a bit more. Probably remove the “saved” button. Said we could go over there for office hours for a bit to just walk them through it.
[End of Lunch Talk - UI/UX with Archer Malmo]
[Call with Brian Handly - Jan Introduction]
SMS advertising is very dicey.
You’ve got a valuable audience for the right brand or advertiser.
Find a sponsor, a brand that is going after college students like GoPro, or RedBull, that already spends a lot of money trying to reach college students.
Could look at apartments.com to see if they have an API.
Maybe look at the AroundCampus guys. They are always looking for ways to reach those students. Could try to find a way to work together that would be non-competitive. Even just help us pick the brand.
Really liked the sponsorship idea. Find a starting point, may be a local advertiser. Given our scale, need to start locally.
WebAssign, they’re experimenting with ad supported homework and grading system so students don’t have to pay for it.
Send out a text that says “hey if you would like to receive deals for around campus stuff, respond with ‘YES’”. That would give us an opt in list that we could sell.
[End of Call with Brian Handly - Jan Introduction]
[Call with Bank of America - Yolanda]
Proof of address needed of the company (like they need a utility bill)
Basic account will give checking and savings account. $14/month monthly account.
She’s been doing this for 18 years.
Concerns about releasing out the account number that is on your account, so they suggest having two checking accounts, one which will have the majority of the money and the other which people will wire money into. As long as we could prove that we didn’t make the transaction, then we wouldn’t have to pay for the fraud.
Cost to get wire coming in. Domestic $15 incoming wire (same day). Our clients can try doing direct deposit which wouldn’t cost any money, but they might have to pay money instead of us. If we are the one doing the direct deposit into someone else’s account, that’s after 3 business days, and it’s $10/month for up to 20 transfers. So we would pay $10 and get 20 transfers for that month.
“BillPay” will count as the 200 transactions which you get for free, which you can pay for some stuff if it supports that way of payment.
The checks are part of the 200 free transactions. We just have to pay for the “check order”, it costs $60 to get the set of checks. But as mentioned below, we might be able to get for free if we go in person.
Opening credit card will require that one of us sign up as a guarantor, which will involve a credit check against our personal account.
If you get upgraded to the more than basic account, which requires $15,000 in your account, then you some payroll features and stuff.
Businesses in general put all their money on their checking account, then they put money in their savings account throughout the year to make sure that they have money to pay for taxes.
Sanja said that they were able to setup the Bank of America account in person in Memphis and got everything setup, including a checkbook, for free. Did have to put $100 in the account immediately, which they found annoying.
[End of Call with Bank of America - Yolanda]
Call with Silicon Valley Bank - Submitted form online, they said they’ll reach out to talk more about things.
Day 27 (Saturday)
Hackathon. Finished testing all of Coursicle Notify and figured out 500 pool size for parallel requests.
Day 28 (Sunday)
Made quick hack for job advertisement on calendar page. Read a hellton about git.
Day 29 (Monday)
Setup git on our server, created user accounts for each developer to enable privileged setting, better security (disabled root ssh), and keep commits tied to each person.
Hung out with 0to510k people and played Xbox.
Day 30 (Tuesday)
[Call with Silicon Valley Bank - Chris]
What he said: the link he sent via email will be what we use to actually sign up if we choose to go with them. That we could ask him if we had any questions (I think).
[End of Call with Silicon Valley Bank - Chris]
[Founder Dinner - Thomas Knoll]
Difference between crowd and community. A music festival, that’s a crowd (nobody interacting, people in charge), but a bondfire on a beach is an example of a community (everyone interacting with each other, all facing each other, the group decides when someone has to leave, everyone brought their own food, the music). Really think back to the metaphor of a bondfire on a beach, and try to build something that’s like that.
Community has to be in charge of inviting, also moderating (being in charge of who is there or not).
Don’t be overzealous. Don’t be the one to greet them. Don’t answer all the questions. Instead, find someone else in the community who can answer the question. Teaches everyone that you’re not the only one who answers the questions, and
Regarding chicken egg problem: There should already be groups that are solving the same problem, and you should just be a good community member there and then
Can “feature” some of the users, and that way you can start people having conversations about more than just your brand, which will eventually turn into them talking about their lives which is o.k. And actually good, because that mean they see you as something more than just your product.
What sort of calculation do you do to determine if it’s worth making the investment to try to build a community for your business? That is what benefits do you see of building a community rather than garnering a crowd?
Retention is one of the biggest benefits is retention. You get a sense of loyalty when you have a community. Harder for users to leave it’s more than price, product, etc. Then referrals are also a big help. When you have a strong community, then people really want to share it.
We want community: we want to feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and because we want to think that we’ve made a difference, contributed.
You’re all saying “we have a drill. It’s really awesome. It’s got great torque and all these attachments. You should buy it.” But the consumer is thinking “I need a hole”, “I just want a thing that makes holes”.
Talked about imposter syndrome once you actually have an exit.
Can get a free 30 minute call: http://revelry.co/executive-advising/
No magic. Just get up every day and try hard.
[End of Founder Dinner - Thomas Knoll]
Day 31 (Wednesday)
[Lunch talk on Content Creation - Lurene Kelley]
So far, too broad to be helpful.
Write content that’s fringly related that people find interesting, maybe a mention of the brand in it.
Polls and quizzes that are relevant to our product.
Tap into people’s fantasy.
We could feature individual students. People would eat that shit up.
Very quick blog posts would be good.
They like numbers, lists, and DIY. Top 5 lists. They also like quizzes.
Becoming an expert, known as the experts. [so maybe doing talk about the numbers behind registration at schools]
[End of Lunch talk on Content Creation - Lurene Kelley]
June 3 (Friday)
[SEO Talk with Shane]
consider coursicle.com/auburn, will be better for SEO. Right now it’s splitting it amongst each of the subdomains.
maybe give a nice description for each school with some keywords
have some evergreen blog posts.
[End of SEO Talk with Shane]
June 13 (Monday)
June 17 (Friday)
[Archer Malmo - Press Release]
If a reporter reaches out, could say “would love to talk, could you tell me what we’d be talking about
The head of a news release (the title and subtitle) should almost be like a tweet. They should fully explain the news release.
They’ll hand out any news release we do at demo day to their local connections.
[End of Archer Malmo - Press Release]
July 21 (Thursday)
[Jan, Innova - Corporate Structure]
Board members. Should start with 2 common stock (company people) and 1 investor. Then after Series A, move to 2 investors and 1 independent person. Then Series B do 3 investors and 2 independent people.
Suggests keeping it to 7 people on the board max, because it can get noisy.
Should report ⅓ on the past, and ⅔ on the future in the board meetings.
Shouldn’t spend too much time preparing.
Recommend not making the CEO the chairman, because the chairman is supposed to be the one to calm down the board and call order, etc. and that can be weird if the CEO is also the one reporting to the board.
Board members generally get shares for each year they’re on the board. Ranges, as high as 5%, as low as .2%. But this only applies to non-investors/non-founders.
Jan prefers not paying the board members. Public companies pay over $100k just for membership on the board.
You would have to pay for their expenses (travel to the board meeting, etc.)
Ask the chairman the “dumb” questions before running it by the board.
[End of Jan, Innova - Corporate Structure]