Thursday, 10 September 2009

Expect the unexpected

At the beginning of this week, I set out some goals following on from the interview I had last week with Springboard. I was quite happy that @seedcamp acknowledged the post and others took inspiration from it.

But I couldn't have anticipated how this weeks events would unfold, and how I'd have made major progress towards my goals is such a short time. So, here's a review of the four goals I drafted last Sunday night:

1. Product Management- I wasn't accepted to Springboard, and through this I've realised that while my product has both a mobile and cloud data loss prevention use case and value, trying to pitch both simultaneously, is quite difficult, and possibly a mistake. While the core technology and implementation lends itself quite cleanly to both scenarios of data loss prevention, trying to pitch these two together might be seen as contradictory. I've set a deadline for Monday morning 14 Sept 09 to update the presentation I did for Seedcamp, but now in 10-20-30 format I discussed in my previous post, focusing solely on the mobile data loss prevention, at first.

2. Sales and Marketing- Here was the big surprise. On Wednesday, I was made aware of an Invitation To Tender that was just announced that day, for a data loss prevention solution for a large UK council; approx. 5000 seats. This is potentially the revenue stream I was hoping for. I've quickly come to realise, being awarded this contract would be a much bigger win than having been accepted into Seedcamp or Springboard. I need to have a Datum Logic web presence online ASAP.

3. Finance- I have a potential partner. After I sent in my seedcamp application, but before my springboard interview, I met Mark C. from Brighton, who was also looking for new startup ideas and collaborators. Mark has experience with a few startup projects, has some good industry contacts, and has technical experience that complements my own. It was Mark who brought this ITT to my attention. He also has a project for which he's created a prototype, that he's trying to launch as well, but he's dedicating the next few weeks to my project and this ITT.

4. Product Development- One of the most interesting things about this ITT is the schedule. It will be awarded and deployed fast- awarded by November and deployed before the end of the year. This ITT almost exactly describes the problem I was trying to solve when I initially designed the Device Hotswap Agent and Removable Media Assurance component of Boomerang/PlexSafe solution. Focusing on this tender will not distract us from the larger picture; it will allow us to focus on an important subset of functionality and give us a vital reference account and provide us with a revenue stream, if we are awarded the contract.

So, all things considered, a very good week and lots of potential for the future.

rev 1 - 11 Sept 2009

Sunday, 6 September 2009

First thoughts for my next steps after Seedcamp and Springboard

Now that the deadlines for Seedcamp and Springboard have passed, it's time to get down to defining my next steps to launch Boomerang.

That I wasn't accepted into Seedcamp, and I haven't yet heard the outcome of Springboard makes little difference to what I have to do next. So here are the tasks, in no particular order at this time, that I've been mulling over since my Springboard interview last Friday.

1. PRODUCT MANAGEMENT- Refine my pitch for Boomerang, using Guy Kawasaki's 10-20-30 rule for presentations; that is, create a 20 minute presentation with 10 slides. The 'elevator' pitch I used in my Springboard application was better than in Seedcamp, as I used less 'Marketing-speak'. But after the Springboard interview, I realised I need a more in depth, and more focused pitch to work from; a baseline for my Product Strategy. I'm going to really focus on getting version one out there as a Minimum Viable Product to validate my ideas (see Eric Ries' blog I'm going to eliminate corporate 'happy talk' in everything I do (see Jeff Atwood's blog ). I'm going to use tangible examples and real scenarios.

2. SALES AND MARKETING- Start working on a revenue stream. Contact potential channel sales partners; as VARs evolve due to SaaS, look for partners who understand this shift and have strategies that align to Boomerang's target market and ideology. Start building relationships with online and offline review sites and authors. Get it out there!

3. FINANCE- I'm taking a lean approach to Boomerang, but I also want to be sure that once the product is launched, and I have at least a couple of prospects in the sales pipeline, I can approach Angels for funding to be sure that Boomerang has a solid foundation on which to build relationships and drive sales. I need to fully digest the Enterprise Investment Scheme and make sure that any investor will be entitled to all of the tax benefits allowed by law when investing in Boomerang. While I have good experience with greenfield projects and taking new products to market and I've run my own business for over 10 years, I am also looking for a co-founder with experience that will give any potential investor complete confidence in our success.

4. PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT- Last, but not least, I need to launch the Boomerang Beta, as soon as possible- ideally by the end of September. The prototypes are complete, so I just need to wrap these into a Beta offering. I am also working on making the software more testable and ways to validate the feature set (ala Minimum Viable Product as noted above).

rev 2 - 11 Sept 2009 [removed 'To be continued']
rev 1 - 6 Sept 2009