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Startup Diaries Week #9: #PipPipHooray

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Startup Diaries Week #9: #PipPipHooray

Pip™ is in the wild! It's free and you can use it today (click to try)

Last week I told you how we’d put our MVP together and how it was liberating to be free of all serious tech considerations; bolting together a series of third party systems to trial our process.

After really nailing Mothers’ Day here in the UK for a handful of customers, we decided to focus in on another really tight niche: birthdays.

The reason for this is that the vision for Pip is much bigger than anything we’ve ever imagined before, it’s a world of predicting the future for our customers.

But the thing that we really need now is data.

Big old chunks of data to inform where our processes are leaky; to inform where our technical focus needs to be and to understand what we can and can’t fulfil in the short term.

All of this leads to the validation of a model that we will scale using learning that comes straight from the data gathered right now.

By focussing in on birthdays, and specifically by helping people arrange birthday gifts that otherwise they’d be too “busy” to arrange, we put ourselves in a position that is quite luxurious: there is a market – everyone knows someone who matters enough to them to have a birthday gift delivered on time and of a high quality.

Of course, one of the challenges with such a niche experiment is that we run the risk of believing that we are a birthday company. This is plainly not the case but when you’re living and breathing birthday fulfilment for busy people with spare cash, it’s hard to think bigger.

Luckily, that’s where being on an accelerator like Ignite comes in to its own: we get steered; we pulled and pushed into territory we’d perhaps only fleetingly considered and as a result, we never run the risk of thinking too small.

And so, armed with this vision and foresight, more of which (especially the former) I’ll be sharing with you as the weeks progress, we have began generating revenue.

Actual money. For real. Four weeks in.

That’ll do!

Challenges this week

Being so far into a 14 week accelerator programme and having pivoted halfway through is a challenge.

The main challenge is knowing where to focus. Having the “finish line” looming on the horizon and with investor lunches starting very shortly, we really had to figure out what to prove.

Now, investment in Pip isn’t the be all and end all. Our main goal is to build a sustainable business that breaks new ground. In fact, I said it last week: we could actually be the first in a new market with Pip, we just need time to develop it on from what it is in its MVP state, of course.

That said, we need to pitch this thing to investors at the upcoming lunches. Because of that, we had a good chat with Paul, CEO of Ignite, about what to focus on and agreed that we simply need to prove the use case in its most basic form, and then marry that to the vision we have for the future of Pip.

Simple, right?

Sure.

The resulting maths shows that to get the number of registered customers that we want to be able to prove, we must register 1200 users.

In 2 weeks.

Mega. But hey, we’re generating revenue,right? Should be easy.

I’ll keep you posted on that.

Remember the Cavalry “distraction”?

That’s still around. It’s still “moving on” so I’m going to have to let you know more about that as it happens. I’m really not sure what is going to happen there, but Adam and I are partitioning it off as a “project”, just to compartmentalise it and keep it from encroaching on Pip.

Let’s see what happens with that, shall we.

Real life: how the co-founders are doing

It’s been a distracting week this week, being honest.

Following a tough few days emotionally last week, this week I think the reality of the situation has really hit home.

The result has been a frustrating week personally and to be honest, I’ve been ratty. I’m not typically a ratty person, I’m usually the guy singing Phil Collins at 7am (Mrs. A loves it, really, ask her) but this week all I’ve wanted to do is work on my own with my headphones on.

So that’s been fun. Bah.

Also, I’ve had a few days where I’ve felt less productive than I’d like, largely due to situations out of my control: trains being cancelled and having to head home on Thursday rather than Friday, as usual.

I think that’s put some pressure on Adam, Pip’s co-founder, but he’s been great about it all. Pick your partners well, folks!

It actually feels like I’m coming down from a really long period of jet lag, but it’s more emotional drain and teetering on the edge of being angry than being tired. My motivation has been waning and I’ve had to force myself into running, just to boost the endorphins and keep that feeling at bay.

Thankfully that worked, kinda, and next week, after my Grandfathers funeral service, I’ll be able to pull some closure in and get back to “normal”.

The other great by-product of being in London for a while now is that the social aspect of things has elevated, and that’s really helped. We’ve had the pleasure this week of meeting some fabulously inspirational people, including Adam’s cousin Justin and wife Sarah, who treated us to a superb meal down at The Leather Bottle, and my good friend Mr. David Bain from Digital Marketing Radio. Check out the show, you’ll learn something from it I guarantee.

Lessons learned this week

  • Figure out what you need to prove in order to validate the next stage of your business idea. And focus on that. Wholly.
  • Don’t worry about turning a profit from day one of a tech startup, simply find a KPI that matters and treat that as your currency.

It’s a busy week of workshops next week so expect a more learned post, I’m looking forward to getting back to some of those sessions because they always spark amazing ideas.

I also want to thank my constant readers who have emailed me directly to express their support this last two weeks. Thank you, it’s appreciated more than you know.

Don’t forget, the more you expect from yourself the more you WILL excel.

About the author, Mark

Mark Asquith is a serial entrepreneur who has built globally successful design, marketing, software and digital businesses since he quit his real job in 2005.

A passionate podcaster, global keynote speaker and helpful bloke, Mark is the co-founder of Podcast Websites and the creator of Excellence Expected. He has a terribly embarrassing beard.

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