From the winners of the BILVALCHAL | Funding for custdev

Our first guest blog post. Thank you Michael & Steve from

Thank you too to the 10 mentors who enthusiastically agreed to "invest" in this winning team at a BILLION DOLLAR VALUATION! Wow that bubble... wink wink... Those following along at home, the real reason they did so was to support customer development in a fun way, to reward teams for doing their homework, to be a part of something fun and yes, gimmicky, to get the data (you can get it too for $100 but you don't get the .0001% equity in headyfoods), and yes - maybe just because I caught them off guard in the crystal room:) Nevertheless, I do believe that doing custdev will make teams smarter, will lead to better decisions with resources and will outperform some fairly standard and well respected ways of filtering for startup success. If you were one of the mentors and have yet to ante, please click here... 

The less gimmicky MILVALCHAL continues HERE at a more reasonable valuation, and under more reasonable terms. It is no race to finish first, ANY team who does 100 in 60 days gets 5k to run an experiment at a 1m valuation. 

If you would like to give headyfoods $100 for access to their decisions in real time and a monthly feedback call for your own idea, comment below. Most startups struggle with the same questions, you can admit that you want to know if it's ok to pay yourself a salary, when should you raise money, who should build your product, when should you quit your day job, which target customer should you go after first, even when should you give up. Join the conversation, not just with the founders, but with the people helping them answer these questions.   

@ultimape @mikeginnyc  see more comments below...

How many times have you been teased with winning a prize? How many times have you actually won? My answer would be never, up until two weeks ago when my cofounder, Steve, and I won Adam Berk’s Billion Dollar Valuation Challenge. Steve came across the BilValChal at the LAB Miami, Miami’s hub for tech startups. Adam (a Lean Startup expert) was hosting an event called “Lean Startups & Fatty Stone Crabs,” which seemed right up Steve’s alley since he loves stone crabs. Not to mention we also just finished reading The Lean Startup by Eric Reis.

Upon seeing the details about the challenge, we sent an email to the person in charge (Adam) asking him if we were eligible. Basically, the challenge we agreed to undertake was to interview 100 people face to face asking them a number of questions about their problem (not our solution) our business seeks to fix. We let him know that if he’d let us do it we’d be done in a week or so. At first, we thought there was no way we could afford to take on the challenge unless it was going to benefit our business in some way. Realizing we had nothing to lose, we set out to submit the interviews with the intention of gaining some valuable insight into the relevant problems that people have with the current food system.

The Beginning…

It was about midnight when we got an email from Adam with the go ahead that the $1000 prize and $1,000,000,000 valuation were fair game.  Where could we go to find people at 1 am who aren’t drunk and who were willing to talk to us?  The University of Miami Library during finals… perfect.

We borrowed my dad’s Ipad and were on our way.  We stayed at the library until the only people left were the extra-delirious bunch, running on copious amounts of coffee and Adderall. After a quick 25 minute nap, we refueled and hopped on the Metro Rail to interview professionals on their morning commute. We continued this pace: interview, eat, sleep as much as our bodies could handle, as we racked up 100 interviews. After spending enough long days prowling coffee shops, hospital cafeterias, restaurants, and even while working our part-time jobs (which we’ve since quit to go full time on Heady Foods) we finally got an email from Adam letting us know that the prize was ours. Wow, we couldn’t believe we did it; I had never won a prize before.

What’s the takeaway?

1. Approaching strangers is scary.  But in life, fear can only be tolerated as a fleeting emotion.  You have to swallow your pride and approach everyone you possibly can.
2. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Some of the people who looked like our artsy, health conscious, app-using target market didn’t really seem to care about what we were doing; while many people who looked like they eat at Taco Bell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ended up having some valuable insights. blame the editor for the annoying bold, this is such a great lesson... the whole thing is great:) -ab
3. Don’t ask yes or no questions. One of our biggest challenges was to interview these prospects without wearing our biases on our sleeves.  It’s important to let the prospect do as much talking as possible, and the ones who ask the most questions are the ones we learned the most from.

So, what to do with the money?

What choice do we have: Experiment, Learn, Iterate….

We plan to use it to do even more experiments.
Do we focus on consumers or restaurants? Can we use a white label solution to build the MVP of our app? Can we use an Uber-style delivery method where we contract drivers on a case-by-case basis? How much volume can we move per day before we have to hire more drivers and/or get a bigger truck? Will paid advertising translate to orders?

Going all in on a startup is daunting, but I’m confident with our rapid learning and all the various forms of support we’re finding.  With plenty of risky assumptions, documented experimentation, and validated learning I think we can cause a significant disruption in the overly-centralized and static fresh food logistics universe.

We want to thank Adam Berk and his Lean Startup expertise; we are definitely set on the right path and have gained priceless knowledge and experience from the BilValChal Challenge.
Thanks Adam!

-Michael and Steve
Heady Foods
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