June 18th, 2013

ARK Challenge (@ARKChallenge): Week 2

Working in the Iceberg. Image courtesy of Lukas Deem.
Working in the Iceberg. Image courtesy of Lukas Deem.

We are already into Week 3 of the ARK Challenge, but I want to recap Week 2 while it is still fresh in my memory. Last week (Week 2) was a busy week with speakers, mentors, a retreat and my notebook nearly half full of notes already.

Though I recognize it is only Week 2, I feel like I am balancing my two jobs–PressBaby and Stone Ward–fairly well. Being naturally introverted, this week I was more overwhelmed with getting to know all the people in the program better than I was with the workload and associated task lists. A weekend back in Little Rock and meals with good friends restored my sense of normalcy before heading back to Fayetteville for Week 3.

This second week, we accomplished the following:

  • Completed all our legal paperwork and received our official Corporate Record Book.
  • Learned about SEO from Adam Vanderbush.
  • Created our first :60 pitch video.
  • Took at two-day retreat to Ponca, Arkansas for zip-lining, hiking and team-building. (I walked away with many bug-bites and bruises, but some great photos and videos, too.)
  • Learned about what investors want to hear in a pitch and how to make the most of an accelerator program from Kristian Andersen.
  • Learned that a nice air mattress is not really that bad of a bed situation.
  • Learned that an empty apartment echoes when talking during Stone Ward staff, to which I connected via video conference.
  • Decided that I needed to get some chairs and a desk for my apartment.
  • Got some good advice and guidance from mentor David Moody.
  • Heard a bit about branding from David Baker of Moxy Ox.
  • Established that guys in their 20s are not super self-aware (and that is okay for now).
  • Realized how much fun and how much work the coming weeks are going to be.

A few consistent pieces of advice that we heard:

  • Know the problem you are trying to solve and constantly refer back to that as you move through development. Don’t stray from solving that problem once you identify it.
  • Don’t listen to every piece of advice you get in the coming weeks. Everyone will have an opinion and they will often be conflicting. If we try to follow advice from every mentor, we will find ourselves running in a hamster wheel and making no progress. 
  • The best ideas don’t “win.” The best presentations “win.” We need to focus on having a great product story, a great looking product and customers who can help testify to the benefits of using our product. The idea needs to be big and have a narrative around it that investors feel like they can connect with.
  • Build a relationship with everyone you meet in the coming weeks–both with each other and with the mentors. Network development is huge; think of it as “relationship capital.”
When creating a pitch video, the view only sees you from the chest up.
When creating a pitch video, the view only sees you from the chest up.

Our :60 pitch video:

It was really beautiful in Ponca, Arkansas for our retreat.
It was really beautiful in Ponca, Arkansas for our retreat.
Look at me and all my gear on the zip-line tour!
Look at me and all my gear on the zip-line tour!

A few highlights from the zip-line canopy tour:

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A beautiful hike on Wednesday ended at Eden Falls.
A beautiful hike on Wednesday ended at Eden Falls.

Here is a gallery of all the photos I took during the two day retreat:




ARK Challenge 2013 Retreat, a set on Flickr.

How I participated in Stone Ward staff meeting on Friday morning.
How I participated in Stone Ward staff meeting on Friday morning.

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