Our AlphaLab companies tell us that one of the most valuable aspects of the program is the opportunity to meet and learn from fellow entrepreneurs, our advisors, and other domain experts in our network. We do this in many different ways, ranging from AlphaLab alumni group and our Interim Demo Day to networking events, but a core component of our program is the weekly group sessions with these guest speakers. Recently, Sean Ammirati, the COO of ReadWriteWeb and an AlphaLab Advisor, talked with the companies about a variety of topics, centered around the theme of “Demo or Die.” Sean stressed the importance of reducing risk from an investor perspective during the AlphaLab program and that a key way of doing so was developing an initial release of the product and iterating rapidly on user feedback. Sean shared five tips with the companies on how to “Release Early & Often”:
- Be “embarrassed by your first release” – LinkedIn’s founder Reid Hoffman’s quote is a great way to capture this sentiment of releasing early.
- Go “anti-stealth”. Sean stressed the importance of developing relationships early with the people who can help your business and that a good way to do so was to be transparent about your ideas and plans so that they can provide feedback/help early on.
- Get really good at the elevator pitch. Usually one thinks of elevator pitches with talking to investors, but Sean emphasized that the companies need to have an elevator pitch for any interaction they’re going to have.
- Use agile development techniques. Even with a two or three-person startup, it is important to be able to estimate and manage development. Sean talked about the notion of “velocity” and how Scrum (as a technique) could help companies measure their velocity.
- Measure, Measure, Measure – Sean emphasized the importance of measuring the business and identifying what matters the most to measure.
Sean has been a great advisor to AlphaLab and we thank him for continuing to be a big part of the program!