Way sooner that I wanted, day 1 of Google LaunchpadX day arrived. I woke up and arrived feeling indifferent if I’m going to be honest. The one thing I promised myself is that I’d take it all in my stride and take on board any and everything that came.
First day was all about the Product & Team – how long had been working on it, what evidence of it solving a problem did we have, traction, what’s our business model, how long had we been working together, our time commitment, ownership structure and on it went. Ours was not only the newest team in terms of formation but in terms of product. It was born as a response to teens at Acorn Hacks asking “what next?” and “how do we continue to learn?” two weeks ago. The rest of the teams had been at it for at least a year. However, from a timing perspective, we were the luckiest as we’re been accelerated to ask all the hard questions from day dot and have invested the least emotinal energy in our “baby”. As Emil said, some of us will get to next Monday and will be starting with a blank sheet of paper. As harsh as it may sound, I’ll take that.
Defensive is the word I can think of to describe our answers during our first mentoring session. It’s funny how, despite what you promise yourself, you end up doing the opposite. Our mentor had to keep reminding us that his job was to ask the tough questions. By the time we got to lunch, the wall of defense had been bulldozed but what was becoming clear was that we were not fully alignment as a team, yet. It’s to be expected as Elena had been working on the original concept by herself for almost two years, the rest of us were newcomers with differing views, thoughts, biases and experiences. We are still in the forming with four more stages of development to go. One thing is for sure, we’re going to go through it at break neck speed.
It didn’t get much easier after lunch. We had to test our biggest assumptions on who would pay for it in an hour. “What?” but the kids are at school or college and parents are at work we exclaimed (defense, again). Our mentor got his gentle beating stick out, again, lord and behold we’d spoke to 5 parents within the hour. In between this came our toughest issue we knew we had – revenue vs cost. Defenses had truly gone by now. Been confronted with the reality of the revenue we’d need to acquire in order to meet our costs was a serious gulp moment in light of the buying cycles and user vs customer acquisition challenges. We were forced to re-think costs, pricing and model.
We left Campus with more questions than answers, and not the questions I thought we’d be asking either. Been on the other side of the beating stick for once is the strangest feeling, despite all the things I knew especially been a mentor, I still found myself falling foul of some of the things le I’ve mentored do. The one thing that was said that kept rimging in my head was “If you’re not solving a true pain, no one is going to pay for it. If no one is paying for it, you’re building your startup on sand”.