Sunday, July 1, 2012

Lean Startup Machine Day 2

Day 2 of Learn Startup Machine was another learning-packed day. Seriously, the mentorship is just outstanding. My team got an early start reviewing our learning hypothesis canvas (I really need to find a picture to link too...), our riskiest assumption, our validation metric, etc. After that, we immediately went to work making phone calls and doing a few in-person interviews with startups who hire software developers.

In our interviews, we tried to keep the conversations high-level so the interviewee could surface the issues that were really important to them. We generally started by asking whether they had ever made a hiring decision that they regretted later. It was really interesting to see the diversity of responses here. We really thought this would be a sure-fire "yes" all around. However, we got a lot of negative responses early on. A number of folks responded that they had never regretted a hire and demonstrated that they had extremely tight filters. Our criteria for passing validation was that 6 of 10 hiring managers had to indicate that culture was a top problem in hiring. We ended up with 11 interviews and 4 negatives, so the assumption was validated, but barely.

Although our assumption had been validated, we had to make adjustments to our hypothesis since we started with a very vague notion of what we were after and after our interviews, we had a ton of information. In the commonalities among the many interviews, we found that startups hiring technical talent have trouble ensuring that the candidates that fill their pipelines are high quality. We modified our canvas, got some feedback, and started on our next experiment. I can't share the next experiment yet because it would ruin it. However, I'll post more info later.

Before wrapping up, I have to say that I've been really pleased with the talks. Adam Berk is the lead on running everything and has been doing a stupendous job. He's given us a ton of feedback and kept the 9 teams on track. John Sechrest, who everybody loves, has also been around the entire time giving great advice at every opportunity. Patrick Vlaskovitz, Clint Nelson, Irina Menn, Bob Crimmins, and Charlie Kindel all gave really informative talks and spent time mentoring. All these folks supporting Lean Startup Machine are what makes Seattle an awesome place to start a company and they all have my deep appreciation for their commitment to the community.

Tomorrow is the last day and I'm eager to get to it! But first some much needed sleep...