Taking Back Problem Solving

Let’s take a trip down memory lane
With the game talker, native new yorker
Gators on my feet, formerly british walker
Yes love, that’s how it was before
When you was funky fresh or down by law
Parlay with your crew at the corner store
Carrying a boom box ’til your arms were sore
We be wildin’ on the corner free stylin’
Or politickin’ ’bout doe we see piling

– Big Daddy Kane (2 Da Good Tymz)

I’m super excited about the 10-10-10 initiative that Tom Higley is planning for this Fall in Denver. The premise is that 10 entrepreneurs will spend 10 days in Denver working on 10 “market opportunities”. In other words they’ll be trying to solve big problems.  Opening up a diverse set of market opportunities to leading entrepreneur’s  from across the country under such a time constraint will unleash some amazing innovations.

It formalizes something I love most about living in a “startup city”, which is open dialog and problem solving with other creative people. It’s a really natural process, and for entrepreneurs it happens very casually. Any problem we have is an opportunity to think of a solution. We’ve done a poor job integrating this type of open daydreaming into the creative problem solving process recently. We’re in the business of getting more done, faster, and we’ve all been rushing solutions.

By flipping the traditional incubator model of selecting teams and solutions on its head, Tom and a group of entrepreneurs are recreating this natural process into something fundable (with $500,000 in seed funding on the line). Which entrepreneur reading this wouldn’t want to be part of those brainstorming sessions? Knowing that there is cash and press behind selected teams raises the stakes and focuses everyone’s attention for 10 limited days on finding the right solution.

One thing I know for sure, we’ve got a lot of solutions in need of problems, it’s about time that we have an event focused on the problems first. If nothing else, we won’t be creating another “twitter toilet paper” app.

Taking Back Problem Solving

How we plan to scale up our artist base

This past week, Chad and I implemented the ability to purchase premium greetings on our site. The site’s basic monetization engine and minimum viable product is finally complete.  We’re ready to test our assumption that consumers are willing to pay for artist created greetings. We need artists to post and promote content, so we’re ramping up our artist recruitment process. This isn’t new for us since we’ve been recruiting artists for our alpha testing since day 1. We largely understand our value proposition and the basics of our pitch. Now we need to do more of it, better.

Starting this week my design hours will start to decrease and my hours of artist recruitment will increase. At this point we’ve been relying on good ol’ fashioned networking to find artists.  That won’t suffice now, its time to branch out and see if we can convince people who have no social obligation to hear us speak. We expect a lot of rejection, but we think that is a good thing. It will help us hone our message and fix issues with our product. Here is our strategy to deliver a good pitch to artists and continually improve it.

1 – Focus on the 2 benefits that our site brings to the artist (Money and Publicity)
2 – Track each and every potential artist in a recruiting dashboard, keep notes about the features they like and request.
3 – Never give up. Return to artists that rejected us when we’ve added features they wanted or overcame their concerns.
4 – Give them a one-page pitch document they can look at while we’re talking.
5 – Put a big smile on our faces and enjoy the ride even if we get rejected.

After we’ve proven that the basic assumption works, it will be time to scale the process by adding a “refer an artist” feature to the system and finding a charismatic artist manager to help recruit talent.

A lot of you have gone through this process before, any advice for us?

How we plan to scale up our artist base