Chronicles of Summer Startup Accelerator Experience, Insights, and Projects

Today was great! We were given an exercise to confirm our fluency in building links with sprites.

After that 20-30 minute exercise we were finally given our big project, which was to build a very legitimate looking web 2.0 website that synthesized everything we’ve learned thus far.

Everything from working with our blank template (essentially starting from scratch), copy & pasting old code and making sure to debug for the new website, implementing advanced navigation design and shadow boxes.

This post is short, but I will admit I love this style of class. I’m feeling the power of the curriculum. We are learning, and more importantly applying it all on projects daily.

My favorite quote came from Dave Lifson, who came in to speak with us and allow us to pick his brain for knowledge – “there’s a fundamental difference between understanding theory and concepts and fluency in application. At General Assembly we hope to empower both”


Dave Lifson – he was a rockstar Product Manager at Amazon, the Team Lead for Product Management at Etsy, Co-Founder and CEO of Postling, and now head of Product Management for Education Programs + Outcomes at GA.

There was no formal lesson. We essentially had an opportunity to pick his brain. I think more guests should do this since, like a Lean Startup, allows the audience to guide the conversation in the direction it wants. The guest can add stories and give key lessons where necessary, but answering questions helps the audience get what they came for.

I got three key insights:

“there’s a fundamental difference between understanding theory and concepts and fluency in application. At General Assembly we hope to empower both”

“Work-in-process work has no inherent value, so get to “finished” product as fast as possible”. You want to get a shitty version of your project in front of some people versus keeping it in “built”. This is sort of like the drafts section of my blog. I’ve written blogs, but haven’t published them. Unpublished work , which isn’t shared, has no value.

Inherently starting a company and getting funding is all about risk. You do everything everyday to begin lowering your risk profile. VC’s run through a risk profile in their head: execution risk, team risk, market risk, etc. The lean startup method, lead by Eric Ries and started by Steve Blank, teaches entrepreneurs to close the gap as fast as possible. Every hypothesis is a risk and the sooner you get data and insight and are able to act on it the better. Every milestone lowers your risk.


Craft Coffee Project:

Now that accounting is over, I can finally dive head first into the project

Acting on Insights – My goal for the next day is to observe and collect as much data as I can. This means getting video narrations of people on the website and also building a flow-chart of the web and physical experience of gifting Craft Coffee to begin understanding what parts of the experience diminishes customer experience. Lastly, I feel the need to do a 5 Why analysis.

I think Sam and I are also putting together personas of their customers. I have a feeling I can just ask Mike and Angie about their customer demographic.

Search for tipping point & using the Pareto principle – My goal also includes finding the 10% we can change that will yield the biggest difference. This may be as simple as changing the messaging on the post card to optimizing the transaction to encourage gift givers to input gift recipient emails.


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