Our top 3 lessons learned (so far)
Hi blog readers!
I’m glad you’re here, and thanks for checking out Reset. As we take this 2-person ship (houseboat? pirate vessel?) to sea, we thought it would be good to document some of our lessons, fears, struggles and wins on this blog. Going forward, myself or Siri will write about something in that spirit and hopefully not bore you to death. Spoiler alert - I really like corny metaphors.
Ok let’s get started…
The last few weeks were a whirlwind for Reset. We exhibited at the FUND Conference in its inaugural year in Austin, we launched our sign-ups and we pitched in front of 700+ attendees! And, I personally contributed a great month to many Austin coffee shops.
As Reset’s first public debut, we spent the day telling anyone that would listen about our plan to bring beautiful, comfortable spaces to remote workers – and learned a lot in the process. I’ve been told it’s never too early to start writing down your lessons learned - so here are my top 3.
If you can’t pitch your company in 30 seconds, you’re doing it wrong.
For the FUND Conference, we had the chance to pitch on stage in front of 750+ investors and attendees. Only catch – we only had 30 seconds. My first thought was panic, and then attempting to figure out how many words I can say in 30 seconds. Apparently, quite a few but some of them were really really bad.
The key lesson here was sometimes you only get one shot to peak someone’s interest, and you should be able to communicate your company’s value prop even in 30 seconds. We all know about the elevator pitch, but there’s something truly exciting/terrifying about doing it on stage in front of that many eyeballs.
At first, we started with long-winded statements of our features/pricing/value – but quickly realized that wasn’t getting us anything except shortness of breath. As founders, we spend so much time rethinking our value props that we forget that most people have no idea what we do, who we are or what Reset even means. So, we took a step back, forgot everything and started from the top.
At the end, our pitch was 20 seconds and we really only needed that much to get to the point.
So my advice to you is get rid of all your go-to phrases and start from the top. What do you do, and what are you trying to solve? Make it easy to digest, don’t use big buzzwords and make sure people know how to learn more (website, contact info, etc).
Save your sanity, designate friend time and founder time.
Starting a company with a good friend is AWESOME, and I’m not just saying that because Siri is reading (hi Siri!). You already know each other’s ticks really well, you know how the other person works and there’s usually a lot more fun involved. But, things can get a little sticky once the lines start blurring between fun friend hang time and fun founder work time. I heard from a lot of founders early on about the importance of making sure you carve out time for both, and I can’t stress that enough.
Starting a company with a friend will absolutely change your relationship, but that’s not a bad thing. The key I’ve found is to make sure that you still carve out time for just friend time and you set time for work sessions. It doesn’t mean you won’t be having fun or doing a little bit of work in either bucket, but it helps maintain the expectations and keep work from taking over your friendship
Find what works for you in your friendship vs. founder relationship, and make sure you’re setting times for both sides of the relationship. Don’t forget about friend time, and always always communicate. Seems like a no-brainer, but I promise it’s harder than you think.
Have you found a certain way of setting boundaries helpful? I’d love to hear from you since we are both still figuring this one out.
Find your tribe, ask for help, and be vulnerable.
Every founder you talk to will tell you how hard starting a company is and how alienating it can be. Yet, it’s easy to get lost in the endless list of to-do’s and forget to ask for help from your fellow entrepreneurs when you need it. Standing in a room full of passionate founders of all backgrounds, it was amazing to see the sense of community and grit come to life. More so, it reminded me of how important it is to be vulnerable and ask for help/advice when we need it. No founder’s journey is a solo road.
I’ve grown more comfortable asking people for help and advice over the last 6 months, though it’s still something I need to force myself to do sometimes. It’s easy to tell yourself that you got this and forge ahead, but if you take the time to look around you’ll see there’s a whole community of people who want to help you succeed!
So take risks, ask for help and don’t only share you wins but your vulnerabilities! And of course, pass it forward when you can.
Things I am obsessed with this week:
This has nothing to do with the theme, but I wanted to share some things I am loving this week.
How I Built This: Au Bon Pain/Panera Bread: This is one of my favorite podcasts, and don’t even get me started on my deep, deep love for NPR. But, this episode specifically is a gem - Ron Shaich is the kind, humble kind of entrepreneur that you are always rooting for.
Hearing the Homeless: Fellow startup at FUND Conference, which I thought was so awesome. A non-profit, they work with the homeless on a 1:1 basis capturing their stories through art and sharing them with the world. The goal is to destigmatize the homeless and highlight human stories.
Finally - I want to thank the organizers at the FUND Conference for putting on a wonderful event, as well as our fellow exhibitors! From Hearing for the Homeless to Bad Jupiter, startups ran the gamut of industries and we saw some truly innovative and impactful products.
As always - you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions/comments or general musings.