Wellllll

Lots has changed since I last updated you. Let’s see, where shall I begin? Two weeks ago I marched into my CEO’s office and handed in my resignation. Three hours later I walked out with a promotion and a significant raise. Guess my start up will have to happen on a slower timeline than I was planning. This promotion is fantastic and it will be quite challenging, and the change will be good. I’m disappointed about not being able to focus on my start up full time but since I am building a community, I know that will take time so maybe this is the right decision.

Also, as you know, I’m a mom to twin toddler boys. My husband and I have discussed baby #3 for some time but for various reasons, some described above, we decided now isn’t the time. Well, wouldn’t you know … SURPRISE! We’re pregnant!

Good thing I didn’t quit my job after all. 🙂 Whew, I have my hands full!

7 Deadly Startup Sins

Great, short list of things from OnStartups.com to keep in mind when getting your startup off the ground…

1) Lust: Be not easily lured by the fun, sexy market.

2) Gluttony: Many ideas makes mayhem. More startups die from idea gluttony than starvation.

3) Greed: Pure pursuit of profits is perilous. Pick a problem you’re passionate about.

4) Sloth: The lazy shall languish in obscurity. Toilers triumph.

5) Wrath: Don’t get angry with your competitors. Attack the problem instead.

6) Envy: Do not copy others out of envy of their strategy. Be yourself.

7) Pride: Hubris kills. Humility has a power all its own.

Should I? Or Shouldn’t I?

I’ve been going back and forth on what I should do about prioritizing my time between my full time job and my start-up. My job pays very well but I’m no longer passionate about what I’m doing. I’ve been in the industry for more than 13 years and the challenges are just repeating themselves at this point rather than evolving. I thought returning from maternity leave would reinvigorate my passion, but for various reasons the exact opposite has happened.

Part of me wants to get the MVP live, get some real-time feedback from real users, evolve the product, and decide to quit my fulltime gig at that point. However, since I’m building a community, the other part of me understands that it’s going to need A LOT of nurturing and I think that it HAS to be me serving that role. I don’t think I can be at my full time gig much longer and I don’t think my start-up can make much more progress without more of my focus.

I’ve decided to resign from my full time gig with an end date of end of October. My MVP will be live by then which means we’ll be gathering feedback and can better focus the product. I can’t even believe I just admitted that I’m quitting my job. This is such a huge step but as a life-long risk averse person, I’m beyond thrilled about this challenge. If it doesn’t work out, I think that the experience alone will be extremely valuable and perhaps even make me more marketable in the long run.

To complicate things, our lease is up at the end of October so we have to also worry about where we’re going to live. We have a very expensive NYC apartment. If I’m quitting my job to bootstrap my start-up, we have to be very thoughtful about where we go next, especially living in the most expensive city in the country. We also have an expensive (but worth every penny) employee – our nanny – to worry about. Obviously, if I quit my job to focus on my start-up, I’ll still need her to care for my children because there’s no way I could get the product off the ground without childcare help.

We are lucky to have options, though. We have free childcare in the Midwest, where my husband and I were raised. The tentative plan for now is to quit my job, extend our lease for 2 months (through the end of the year), become totally immersed in the start-up culture of NYC, temporarily head back to the Midwest to take advantage of free childcare and free rent for ~3 months (no more than 6 months). Hopefully we’ll get funded and we can return to the city – or head to where ever it’s important for my business to be. I hope we’ll be able to find our nanny (who is absolutely lovely) a temporary baby nurse gig until we can return and hire her back. I tend to be an optimist so I realize this may not be likely, but a girl can dream that everything will line up like I hope.

Am I crazy? What would you do?

Premortem

In an effort to avoid (hopefully) ever having to do a postmortem because my company actually failed, I’m doing a premortem with the intent of identifying potential problems early on. For a bit of context, my company focuses on a new type on online community.

My company failed. What went wrong?

  • I didn’t try hard enough/wasn’t focused enough
  • Audience was adverse to change
  • Didn’t hire the right support people at the right time
  • Didn’t get funded
  • Couldn’t build features fast enough
  • Didn’t prioritize features correctly to start
  • Marketing strategy wasn’t clearly defined
  • Couldn’t get enough eyeballs to build a useful community.
  • Didn’t allow for the community to take shape organically
  • Target audience is too broad
  • Didn’t generate enough content prior to launch

Through this process, I read several postmortems from failed companies to see if I could learn anything from their mistakes. Definitely eye opening. I’m walking away from this exercise with some clear next steps with respect to features, content and my audience. I don’t want this to be a one-time exercise — I plan to revisit as necessary to keep me grounded and focused on the right things.

Note To Self

Definitely don’t do something stupid like this when marketing a product:

Bic pens ‘for her’ unite women and men in snarky Amazon reviews

“The delicate shape and pretty pastel colors make it perfect for writing recipe cards, checks to my psychologist (I’m seeing him for a case of the hysterics),” notes one reviewer about the “for her” pens.

Bic makes razors for women, and we’ll buy those — and do — but pens for women? The writing instrument is getting scathing reviews on Amazon.com, where women — and men — are getting right to the point about these pastel pens that are irritatingly 1952.

Here’s one description of the Bic Cristal for Her pens, as carried by a retailer:

Cristal For Her ballpoint pens are reserved for women and feature a diamond-engraved barrel for an elegant, unique feminine style. The tinted, hexagonal barrel is thinner for better handling for women and still keeps the ink supply visible.

And on Amazon, the pen is touted — seriously — as having an “elegant design —  just for her!” — and a “thin barrel to fit a women’s (sic) hand.”

“Someone has answered my gentle prayers and FINALLY designed a pen that I can use all month long!” wrote Tracy Hamilton in the reviews section on Amazon.com. “I use it when I’m swimming, riding a horse, walking on the beach and doing yoga.

“It’s comfortable, leak-proof, non-slip and it makes me feel so feminine and pretty! Since I’ve begun using these pens, men have found me more attractive and approachable.”

“Breemeup” wrote: “Finally! For years I’ve had to rely on pencils, or at worst, a twig and some drops of my feminine blood to write down recipes (the only thing a lady should be writing ever). I had despaired of ever being able to write down said recipes in a permanent matter, though my men-folk assured me that I ‘shouldn’t worry yer pretty little head.’

“But, AT LAST! Bic, the great liberator, has released a womanly pen that my gentle baby hands can use without fear of unlady-like callouses and bruises. Thank you, Bic!”

Virginia noted that “normal black pen casings are just so hard on the eyes. It was like a breath of fresh air to see lady colored pens.

“For once, I don’t have to grip a giant, man-sized pen just to sign receipts at Saks. And the ink just hits the paper so smoothly, not at all like the rough, gritty man ink in Bic’s normal pens.”

These furiously funny fake reviews are not new to Amazon, by the way. (Read more about “Amazon’s Most Famous Fake Reviews” here.)

But the pen protests are quite on point.

“The delicate shape and pretty pastel colors make it perfect for writing recipe cards, checks to my psychologist (I’m seeing him for a case of the hysterics), and tracking my monthly cycle,” wrote E. Bradley, who also calls herself “LuckyLady1978.”

And P. Davies — who says that his real name, but after reading his comments, we’re not sure — wrote: “First of all I’m a male. I picked a pink one up by mistake to write a quick note … Next thing I know I’m sitting down to take a pee. Be careful.”