From the winners of the BILVALCHAL | Funding for custdev
@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.
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.