Hey <<First Name>>,
No blog post from me today, but I have a favour to ask.
In under a month I'm speaking at Jam Barcelona, and I'm planning a warts-and-all 20 minutes on what I've learned so far as a founder.
Through talking to the wonderful Mathilde and the Jam team, I'm starting to single out some of the stories I can tell that will both be interesting and actionable. The theme I'm starting to see is around sets of assumptions that I've held, often for years, that have been fundamentally changed by the last 18 months of trying to get this business off the ground.
These assumptions broadly cover Product, Market and Team, which is convenient as there's generally a lot of debate around the relative importance of these three factors in a startup's success:
'A good product sells itself'. But what does a good product look like when starting a new category? There's no meaningful competition to Progression to compare feature-sets or strategies with. We're really competing with good old-fashioned spreadsheets, but I've now learnt the hard way not to understimate the challenge of beating them.
Working with people you trust, respect and have a good relationship is clearly incredibly important. But maybe it's not enough when what you're trying to do will have such a fundamental impact on all your lives? Being aligned on long term goals and values as well as what you're personally excited by makes a huge difference too.
Does a market exist if no-one's around to test it? This proves to be the ongoing question for us as we grow. A new spending category for our customers means we have to educate them about the value we provide. Many say the quality of your market trumps all, and especially as a small self-funded company, that really resonates. Question is: do we have a good market?
I can think of at least one assumption I've incorrectly held in each of the above areas. Assumptions that, luckily, have become learning lessons and not existential threats to business or life.
But my question is: Given my embarassment of riches, how do I pick the right stuff to make this talk as actionable as possible?
That's where you come in.
I'd love your opinions — what would you want to hear me talk about?
Which of the above three sections feels most valuable? Maybe there's something else I'm missing – work life balance, tackling new skills or maintaining sanity?
Hit reply and let me know! I reply to everyone, you're now in my personal team ✊
In the meantime have a great weekend.
P.s. My wife Karen has also gone 'solo' and is in the process of setting up her own illustration and printed textiles brand.
She has some beautiful work in her new shop, so if you fancy some new art for your walls or commissioning some bespoke fabric, let me know! (Check out one of her prints below, photographed on our garden shed)
Karen on instagram
Her website and shop