August 25th, 2013

ARK Challenge (@ARKChallenge): Week 12

If you would like to hear me read this blog post to you, please click the Soundcloud play button below. (Note: the sound quality is not great; I am playing with a new microphone and after three recordings, got tired of reading this post out loud. Apologies in advance.)

The days are ticking by too quickly all of the sudden. We are 11 days from Demo Day. Our focus is perfecting the pitch deck and getting content up on our beta site.  Though this doesn’t sound like much, with just a team of two to get it all done, it is a lot. The content is taking the majority of one person’s day each day to the point that really that is the only thing that person can work on that day, whether it is me or Jody. We did not anticipate this being such a time suck on our days.

There is a lot that we did not anticipate along the way. Just this morning for example, I anticipating spending 30 minutes on pro forma revisions; I spent three hours. I anticipated writing three blog posts for PressBaby this week; I wrote zero. It is a truth in business that everything takes longer and costs more than you expected.

I also did not anticipate coming down to the final two weeks and having consistent battles with my business partner. But that is a truth in business, too: we are all just people, each with our own idiosyncrasies and we have to learn to work together in a high pressure environment. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Everything always works out as it should. Things happen for a reason. Karma is a real thing. And all those other things that many call bullshit, but I actually believe are all true. I think we have learned a lot from each other and about how to work with a business partner. Though we both still have a lot to learn.

The bottom line is this: we have a product that we can be proud of, a pitch deck that is coming together nicely to tell our story and a financial model that shows this business can be successful. We have accomplished a lot over the last 12 weeks and we will be able to walk away from Demo Day proud, regardless of the outcome.

I don’t think I can say enough nice things about the ARK Challenge program, the experiences that I have had or the people that I have met. I would do this all again in a heartbeat. But I will save all of these observations and lessons for a final wrap-up post. For now, here is what we accomplished in Week 12:

  • The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette has agreed to share our content on their digital channels in the next couple of weeks so that we have data from a broader audience to reference in our final presentation.
  • Jody went to Las Vegas this week to meet with the head of the Las Vegas Review-Journal (owned by Stephens Media) on Wednesday morning. They have agreed to become one of our beta partners and will allow us to take over their Facebook page for a day with our content.
  • Two major newspapers on board for beta shows significant traction for pitch purposes, so we are pleased to be able to report that.
  • We met with James Hendren of Synamomet and Gene Eagle of Arkansas Development Finance Authority. These two are major funders of the investment and will be on the review committee on Demo Day. Each team had the chance to meet with them so they could understand a bit more about us and our product beyond the eight minutes we have to pitch on Demo Day. They seemed to respond well to the business opportunities and we even brainstormed additional opportunities for the content that we are creating.
  • I met with Mike Smith and Ted Dickey of Innovate Arkansas to talk more in depth about the pitch deck and our financial projections. These two men have been tremendous resources for me and have been patient with my questions and good teachers. I am feeling good about the current state of our pitch deck and financials, though I know we will continue tweaking over the next 11 days.
  • I am proud that Millie has agreed to be our official “introducer” for the Demo Day. I have promised her that she and Stone Ward will be proud to be associated with our business.
  • Our third official company newsletter will go out on Monday. If you would like to sign up to receive it, please send an email to

It’s the final countdown!

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