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Bootstrapping a startup

Startups are tough! Here is a blue print that I followed building @mytweetmark and @homecookme. Your strength and endurance through the process is key. People break with pressures. However I always believe that you go after the knowledge and gain. Win or loose, nobody can take away your knowledge. Live each day like it's your last. Make each hour count towards productivity of your company. Bootstrapping is very difficult because money is small. You have to make it happen. Your self-discipline matters. Yoga, exercise, etc. helps. You have to keep producing, while having a good internal balance. Break the time into the building the product, or interacting with customers. Everything is moving at a much faster pace as the product evolves, but so are you. Just know that you are making yourself stronger day by day by going through the process. Without pain, there is no gain, right? Welcome to entrepreneurship!

Idea: Start out with a simple idea. What is needed? How can I make the world a better place? Do research. Come up with first wire frame, or screen shot of the product.

Money: Burn rate. Everybody has expenses. Nights and weekends to start out the product. Spreadsheet to calculate month by month expenses into the product.

Project Plan: Helps a lot! You can start seeing a picture of tasks that needs to be accomplished. Really helps with head down focusing and breaking things down in design. Write down the task, duration, priority, description, date, etc.

Market: What's the market size? @mytweetmark heavily utilizes @twitter therefore it was key to spend a lot of time on twitter and understand the culture, users, product and figure out how to offer additional services. I spent more time on market that anything else in the beginning. Learn about investors through Twitter because they help you understand demand and competition. Twitter has millions of users and Facebook has over a billion users. Search tags # help penetrate the market through tweets.

Validation: By building a limited feature product and deploying in front of twitter audience. Conferences help a lot, etc. #chirp, #sxsw, #f8. Also, by asking the correct questions to VC and Angel investors. Remember @drspiritcom, @mytweetsports, @viralfactors? Yup, I deployed 5 websites, and dropped 3, kept only @mytweetmark and @homecookme. Fail fast and accept the grief quickly.

Focus: Reiterating back into the product. Found a new niche with farmers markets customers desperately needing social media. Introduced v2 of @mytweetmark. The demand utilizes both @mytweetmark and @homecookme products so no work lost.

Pivot: Changing the product so it fits the demand of the farmers markets audience.

Market: Understanding the market size, competition, execution time, etc. Farmers market is $1 billion business in United States. 16% growth in past 1 year due to economy crises. Produce brings cash. Farming community is way behind on social media. Willingness and ability to hand hold, and help the audience.

Customer Validation: Early customers using the product and giving feedback. Their like, dislike, eye popping, eye brows up, etc. signals are key. Measuring happiness.

Influence: How is your product changing the market? Can you measure the influence? Klout score helps. Also, how is your customer influencing the market? For example, TV commercial ads play over and over again. When you are ready the buy a certain product, obviously seeing the right advertising helps make that decisions. Auto tweets help us emulate that behavior for farmers and customers on Twitter. Our customers on radio station, interviewed by bloggers, New York times, etc.

Ranking: We are the largest network of social media farmers market businesses in Northern California.

Pivot: Never stop changing.

Growth: Backlog of features to implement next. How can I influence the market and grow? Klout scores to individual farmers, deploying on one forty platform, viral, iphone application, coupons, etc. are all ideas for growth coming next.

So there you have it. Please also view recent videos on youtube,

#sfnewtech September 15, 2010 #sfnewtech Video I
#sfnewtech September 15, 2010 #sfnewtech Video II

Any questions, please feel free to contact bilal at mytweetmark dot com. Cheers!


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