Yesterday we celebrated the 1 year anniversary of Pinpoint Software, Inc. and Date Check Pro.
We could not have imagined a better way to spend it then at the Wisconsin Grocer’s Golf Outing. It was a beautiful day and we met a ton of great people.
Looking back on the last year, there are some significants events that helped get us here and there are several lessons learned that we would like to share with other startups. First though, thank you to our family, friends, and supporters. You are all great!
So to get started, the events that we feel we could not have lived without:
- 94 Labs Incubator and Accelerator- Thank you for having faith in us to give us the legs that allowed us to run with Date Check Pro. It was the seed capital and mentorship that came from this program that not only got Date Check Pro off the ground, but gave us the support to truly build a company. We had a great run and I now look forward to seeing all that the new incubator and accelerator (Gener8tor) can do for other startups.
- The Wisconsin Grocer’s Association Expo- This was where we first publicly pitched Date Check Pro to numerous grocers. We got great feedback about our product and gained many great contacts at the event.
- The move to Whitewater- The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has been a huge supporter of our company. The resources offered to us here are very much appreciated and we are certainly glad to have made the move and to call the Innovation Center here our home.
- WGA Endorsement- We certainly are excited about our product and we are happy that the WGA is as well! It has been and no doubt will continue to be great working with the wonderful team at the WGA.
- Numerous pitch events- These events allowed us to get feedback about the company and product from a wide group of people. The new view points were certainly helpful.
Now for the good stuff! The lessons we learned over the last year:
- Launch an MVP fast and earlier than you would like- A minimum viable product is the most basic form of a product and is a critical part of lean startup. Our MVP was a website with essentially two pages working and a lot of pages that said “Coming Soon…” While this would crazy to most, this allowed us to launch the product within a month of starting development and gain feedback from customers early. That feedback then allowed us to refine the product and make it even better than we would have first planned. In addition, we were able to save a bunch of time by not developing anything that a customer would not have found value in.
- Involve the customer early- While getting an MVP available early is important, even more important is feedback from customers. In the “Startup Owner’s Manual,” Steve Blank states that “No business plan survives the first contact with customers.” Your customers know their business better than you do, or at least can offer a new viewpoint, so get outside of your office, meet with them, and ask them what they think!
- Network like crazy- You never who knows what or who until you ask, so attend events in your community, and industry to meet new people. We have met numerous people that have been very helpful to our company at meetups, pitch competitions, and other events.
- Pitch the idea all the time- To say you got the business model or product right from day one would be foolish, so get out there and talk about your idea. People have different viewpoints and will share information with you that help you improve your business and product by simply offering a new perspective.