Preparing for a coaches’ meeting, parts 1 and 2 (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear as a two-part series on NWEN’s blog.

Congratulations to the 20 companies who advanced to the second round of the First Look Forum!  Hopefully by now you’re already scheduling your meetings with the coaches.   We’ve got a great list of coaches, including some of the highest-profile investors and entrepreneurs in the Seattle area.  From a startup’s perspective, it’s a huge opportunity — and potentially a little scary.

Back in fall 2009, I was in that situation with Qworky.  We were delighted to make it into the second round, and through the luck of the draw one of our coaches was one of the angel investors on our shortlist of “people we really really want to meet”.  Huzzah!  But then everybody’s schedule got busy and we didn’t prepare as thoroughly for the meeting as we had intended to.  One of the other founders still hadn’t left their previous job, and the other had some conflicts, so I wound up doing the meeting by myself …

And I bombed.
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The home stretch: part 6 of “The Agile One-pager” (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear on NWEN’s blog.

The first four parts of the series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) have gotten us close.  Now it’s time for the final push.  For impatient readers, here are the tips

  • Go back over the section descriptions in the application form and double-check that you’re addressing the right questions in the right places.
  • Do a section-by-section, line-by-line review
  • Formatting and wording changes can often save you a half-dozen valuable lines, but don’t remove all the white space or emotion
  • Make it look great.  Have you included a logo?
  • It won’t be perfect.  Relax.  Nobody else’s is either.

Read on for more …

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First Look Forum participants, please join us Wednesday evening for a Twitter chat!

As we head into the homestretch with the First Look Forum, we wanted to give an opportunity for people to ask some last-minute questions and get some quick feedback.  Email works, of course, but it’s soooooo 20th century.  So we’re also going to be having a Twitter chat, on Wednesday February 16 at 7:30 p.m.

If you’ve never been to a Twitter chat before, you’re missing out on some good fun.  It moves quickly, and with a lot of people talking at once it packs a lot of information into a short time.  Whether or not you have a Twitter account, you can follow the discussion on the #nwen hashtag using TweetChat at http://tweetchat.com/room/nwen or use your favorite Twitter client.

Want to join in the conversation?   You’ll need to have a Twitter account — you can sign up at http://twitter.com/signup.  Twitter’s FAQ and Howcast’s How To Use Twitter video have more information to get you started.

If there are some topics you’d like to see discussed, feel free to leave them as comments here — or you can email to me at jon {at} achangeiscoming {dot} net.    Or even better, you can tweet them to me —  I’m @jdp23.

Read on for more background (originally from the ACM Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference‘s Getting started on Twitter page).   See you on Twitter!

jon

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Sharpening and tightening: Part 4 of “the Agile one-pager” (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear on NWEN’s blog.

In the first three parts of the series (1, 2, 3) we got to an initial version of an executive summary and begin iterating on it. This installment focuses on improvements in a couple of individual sections. For impatient readers, here’s the tips:

  • Get feedback from a lot of people — they’ll see different things
  • You can get great feedback even if people don’t read the document
  • Iterate repeatedly.  Incremental progress adds up.
  • A picture is worth 1000 words

Read on for more …

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Making good use of a phone call: part 3 of “The Agile One-pager” (DRAFT)

Draft! Revised version to appear on NWEN’s blog.

In the first two parts of the series (1, 2) we looked at the reasons to do a one-page executive summary and made some initial progress — enough to get to the point where we could get some useful feedback.  Now we’re in the heart of the iteration loop, steadily improving it.  For impatient readers, here’s the tips:

  • Advisor time is a scarce resource, so make good use of it. Let them know where you want help: which questions are open, what sections you want to concentrate on.
  • Think about your goals and a rough agenda for each meeting to make sure you use your time well. Try to give people enough time to read the document before the meeting.
  • Be yourself, tell a story, and try to write the way you speak.  Try verbally explaining why your idea is so great and ask what resonates, then incorporate that language into your one-pager.

At the end of part 2, I had set up a phone meeting with somebody I’ll call “Rebecca” to give me feedback on my one-page executive summary.  I still had a lot of holes in the document, so I took another pass through it and put in something for every section except the financial projections.  As usual it took longer than I expected so before I realized it, it was almost 6 p.m.   Yikes!

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The agile approach to a one-page executive summary, part 1: Getting started (DRAFT)

Update, February 2: Final version posted on NWEN’s blog.

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A showcase as a social media opportunity: thoughts for First Look Forum participants and others (DRAFT)

DRAFT! Work in progress, feedback welcome!
Revised version to appear on the NWEN blog

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Seattle Geek Week: a Pitch Slam, a Tweetup, pii2010, and more!

This is “Geek Week” in Seattle .  Yeah, yeah, every week is geek week here, but this is especially geeky with pii2010, gnomedex, and a host of other events.  Thea Chard’s got a good overview in XConomy.

I’ll be at a couple of events on Tuesday, August 17, and probably more later in the week.  Please let me know if you’d like to sync up.

  • at 4:30 in the Bel Harbor conference center, it’s the pii2010 opening reception followed by the the Innovate 100 Seattle Pitch Slam is on August 17.  Innovate 100 is run by Guidewire Group, which includes Chris Shipley (best known for DEMO); they’ve already done over a dozen in Eastern Europe, and this is just the second one in the US.  Judges include Rebecca Lovell of NWEN and Fran Meier of TRUSTe.  I don’t know details but it looks very interesting.  It’s $40 to attend, and if you’re looking for an interesting window on innovation or a good networking opportunity, it could be a good deal.
  • at 8:30, pii2010 and NWEN and the CFP coference are having an impromptu tweetup somewhere in Belltown.  We’re still finalizing the location; look for more info on the #nwen and #pii2010 hashtags on Twitter.  It’s no cost to attend (in this context, “Tweetup” is code for “everybody buys their own drinks”), so if you’re a night owl, come join us.

Speaking of NWEN, if you’ve been considering applying to the First Look Forum, we’ve pushed the deadline back to August 23 to better align with Geek Week.  Rebecca Lovell’s Help us Help You: The Art of the One-Page App on the NWEN blog has some very helpful advice.

And speaking of pii2010 (privacy identity innovation), if you’re doing anything related to online identity, privacy, or the social web, by all means check it out.   It’s pii’s first year, and they’ve got a really exciting program.  The pitch slam is one of several other things going on their, including a Startup BootCamp on Thursday at the space needle.   There’s a lot more information at http://pii2010.com/ … see you there, perhaps

jon

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The NWEN First Look Forum: early-bird advice

Update: the final deadline is August 23.
Rebecca Lovell’s The Art of the One-Page App has some very helpful advice
Don’t delay! Apply today!

  • If you’ve launched an innovative business with growth potential….
  • And you’re looking for expert coaching and some exposure to the investment community….
  • And you have not yet presented your plan to an angel group membership or VC partnership…

…then NWEN’s First Look Forum could be the perfect opportunity for you!

Indeed!  Dog food, e-forks and other ideas in TechFlash, Software Vs. Medical Startups: Online Travel Is the Winner in XConomy , Why We’re Shouting “Thank You” from the Rooftops, and For the Love of the Craft on Qworky’s blog tell the story of April’s finals, where Mikal’s awesome 5-minute presentation got Qworky to the top five.  We also participated last fall, when we made it to the round of 20 and got some great feedback, calibration, and connections.  It’s a great event, and was really worth the time and energy we invested.

The next FLF is fast approaching, and the application deadline is August 18 has been extended to August 23.  Submitting by the early-bird deadline of August 2 gives an extra round of feedback and a bonus shmoozing opportunity at the “Early-bird reception”. If you’re potentially seeking for angel funding in the next six months or so,  it’s worth investing the time to put together a one-page executive summary.  The application form and the full schedule are on NWEN’s site.

Event chair Rochelle Whelan and NWEN executive director Rebecca Lovell asked me to be part of the volunteer organizing committee to represent the entrepeneurs’ perspective.  My pleasure!  And when I think back on my perspective back when Sally, Mikal, and I were first thinking about applying application, the word that springs to mind is “uncertain”: did it make sense for us to participate?   If we went for it, how to maximize the value we get from participating and our chances of doing well?  Presumably others are in the same boat.

So I’d like to pass on some excellent advice we got from our advisors and a learning from our own experience.  And if other past participants have suggestions, please drop them in the comments.

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