August 18th, 2013

ARK Challenge (@ARKChallenge): Week 11

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If you would like to hear me read this blog post to you, please click below.

It hasn’t been a great couple of weeks. We felt that we had essentially been classified as on the “B” team among the competing groups in the ARK Challenge. Our publisher partner is not interested in using our minimum viable product (MVP) for testing. And we are far behind on our pitch. All things that had we known four weeks ago would have put us on a different track for getting to where we apparently should be today.

And on top of that, we are not getting the feedback we need on our MVP. Our key question to users is: will you listen to and/or watch articles that originally appeared in print? Instead, we are getting feedback on the quality of our production and execution. I want to be whiney and say, “but all the ‘Lean’ books told us that it didn’t matter how our MVP looked!” But no one understands that and they are, in fact, distracted by the quality enough to not be able to answer the question about the viability of the concept.

So I am frustrated. But I am not deterred or discouraged. I am kicking our schedule into high gear and we are going to be one of the top performers on Demo Day. I am determined to be proud of the presentation and the product that we have to offer. And it all really comes down to the presentation.

We have a few key mentors that I feel like we can have honest and blunt conversations with and who are helping guide us to the pitch deck that investors want to see. I am thankful for the people that giving us the extra time and attention that we need.

I have a vision for our product and I see the path to get there clearly. I am marching down that path with Jody in tow. We will walk away with investor confidence and financial commitments to help our business grow. I am invigorated.

Here is what we accomplished this week:

  • Recorded stories every day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday Jody was our talent and did video and audio. Thursday and Friday I was our talent and did only audio. We are experimenting with turnaround times and preferences for audio vs. video.
  • We launched a blog for PressBaby and I’ll be aiming to post there three times a week. We will write about the progress of our product development, giving a position on the news about the publishing industry and just in general sharing our thoughts about the future of media consumption.
  • We revised our pitch deck twice, first growing it to cover all the content, then paring it down to say it more efficiently. We are currently on version seven of our pitch deck.
  • We dug in and did some more research on our market size; not just who are users are, but how they are spending money on digital media. Turns out, it is a huge market. Which is good news for us.
  • We continued tweaking our pro forma, taking it out three years and getting more exact with our projections.

It was a week full of highs and lows, but such is life in the world of a startup. 18 days left until Demo Day. And now is when I play my personal theme song:

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