TechCrunch Disrupt & What I Learned About Startups

Last month I had the amazing experience of visiting New York for the first time and exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt for Auximiti.

Yes, it’s a real thing.

One of the reoccurring things that I heard when people learned that I had been to TCD is “Like in the T.V. show Silicon Valley?  That’s a real thing?”
“Yes, it’s a real thing,” I would often respond and go on to laugh about the show.  I don’t blame them.  Technology Startups are few and far between and most of them fail somewhere between “I think we got this.” and “This will be huge.” as everything looks great until it doesn’t.  I have become aware of this over the last 45 days since TCD and it has helped me refocus my efforts and drive our business initiatives forward to help us reach our goals, even to the point of not developing any new code since TCD.  I think this is where a lot of startups fail before they even get started.  Let me give you an example:

I recently went to Galvanize in Phoenix, AZ to listen to Nathan Mortensen of Tallwave Capital which was great.  I learned about raising capital, the difference between investors, venture capital firms, and other forms of capital infusion, and Tallwave’s particular criteria and decision making process behind funding startups (they do post-seed rounds).  While I was there I met two co-founders who had built a machine learning system and were looking for funding to help them revamp the system, hone the algorithm, and start building traction.  Here is the kicker; they had zero customers.  Maybe they started asking people if it was something they could use or maybe they haven’t (or maybe they need the better algorithm for it to be worthwhile to customers).  Their problem is that an investor wants to see, more than anything else, that people are giving you money for what you are selling.  Even if it is just a little bit, like 20 bucks for a trial, money is 10 times the market validation of anything else and tells you that product market fit is not that far away.

It doesn’t make much sense to code.

This is why I haven’t coded a line since we came back from New York.  We have a system that works and we can set people up and start taking payment.  Building up our platform so that it is nicer or has more features isn’t going to help Auximiti as much as finding more people to use what we have already.  Until we find someone who is willing to pay more for a particular feature, better UI, or another integration, it doesn’t make much sense to code.  One caveat to this mentality is when your product simply isn’t selling and you’ve been trying to sell it, really pushing it on everyone you meet, and nobody wants to give it a go.  At this point, you may need to go back to the drawing board or explore how you can pivot into another product, market, or traction channel to find someone who is interested.  Still, coding may not be required.  If you can use a prototype, design spec, or some other way to market your idea and find interest you may not need to code a single line until someone comes to you, money in hand, to buy the product you don’t have.

At that point, it’s go time!