Y Combinator’s latest Startup School session ended this week. I still haven’t gotten nearly as far as I would have liked in TuneSage’s development, but I did make some progress, and I’m hoping to launch it near the end of next month. Of course, that prediction is probably still off, since it feels impossible to predict, but I did submit an application to Y Combinator’s core program, so the sooner I can launch it the better. If they’re looking at my application and can find no demo videos or samples online demonstrating what TuneSage can do, so much the worse for me.
Anyway, here are some of the biggest things I’ve learned from this year’s startup school:
- Launch your product as soon as you can. The initial version doesn’t have to be as polished as you might imagine. They talk quite a bit about launching an MVP, a “minimal viable product”. This allows you to start getting feedback from early adopters. Handling the initial version of your product like a manuscript submission or a film premiere that needs to attract a crowd upon release isn’t the right way to think about a tech startup launch; the initial version won’t be polished. (For TuneSage, the initial version will likely only generate melodies and chords.)
- After launching, it’s all about growth, and organic growth at that. Pay attention to new users you’re attracting, user retention, and how users are using your product. (Paying to advertise your product isn’t a great idea because having to pay to obtain your first customers isn’t going to scale, and may throw off any traction metrics.) Decide what to work on based on how it will stimulate growth.
- Set concrete goals (preferably having to do with growth) so that you know whether or not what you’re working on is having the desired affect.
I’ll admit that some of the finance stuff (stock, shareholding, vesting, etc.) is still a bit over my head; some of it is just lingo to learn, but I also think I need to see more examples of it in action.
The Startup School videos are on YouTube, available for anyone to watch (I’m sure I’ll re-watch some of them), but participating in the course also gave me an opportunity to have weekly meetings with other founders. This allowed me to develop my “pitch” and get real feedback. I will admit that I need to get better at talking. A bit too much repeating myself, ending sentences on conjunctions (“and, yeah…”), forgetting words and stammering. Sometimes I wasn’t so bad, but it’s definitely something to practice. And, yeah…
Overall, it was a great experience, and I’m excited to get TuneSage up to a launch-able state. Like I said, I wish I had made more progress during Startup School itself, but I should have more time next month.