48 Hour Startup Mission

I’ve made so many mistakes… and I always thought I’d have time to correct them!" - Jack Bauer - Season 7, 24

If Jack Bauer can save the world in 24 hours, how hard can it be to build and launch a startup in 48 hours?

Sounds like an impossible mission but that's what the teams at Launch48 set out to do this weekend.

Select an idea, form a team, validate the idea, build a prototype and demo the prototype. Start Friday evening and finish Sunday afternoon. Sleep was a small part of the schedule.

I enjoyed being on the judges panel yesterday and was impressed with the progress made. In some ways the 2 days were a microcosm of the challenges facing startups.

Here's what impressed me;

1. Teams who already had a deep understanding of their target market.

Having personal experience of a customer need is a great way to shortcut to the pain point.

However, the danger is to assume your pain point reflects the needs of those who are willing to pay (they may be different). A second danger is that the market might be too small (not enough people also have this problem or need).

2. Teams who were prepared to change direction based on their customer discovery.

There was a great example of a team who tore up idea one after 24 hours to start again with a very different direction. This happens in real life too and anyone starting up needs to be prepared to adapt.

3. Teams who were attacking a large market.

There were several great ideas that I thought were viable businesses but that the size of the opportunity was not interesting enough. Interesting means having ambitions of net revenue in the tens of millions.

4. Teams who found a honed down starting point to execute from.

Having a big vision brings with it a challenge; finding a simple place to start from. This is especially the case with marketplaces.

I'd recommend that the first milestone needs to be connecting one product range from one supply source to one customer segment through one marketing channel. Each if these four dimensions can be built upon over time but you first need paying customers to build momentum.

5. Teams that could convincingly pitch with demo with confidence.

A confident pitch is not always convincing. A convincing pitch is rarely delivered without confidence. Most teams presented really really well. They stated the problem or need, they explained the opportunity, they talked about their customer set and they visualised the solution.

The one area to watch out for is to be clear on the proposed route to market. I thought most teams handled this well but a few need to pay it more attention in the future.

But overall, a great experience. It's clear much was learnt over the weekend. I wish all the teams well for whatever they go on to do next.

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