The First 2 Weeks – MVP and Office Space
So here is how my first two weeks went..
Begin the MVP (Minimal Viable Product) definition process in earnest, look for office space, think MVP, brainstorm user flows, rethink MVP, identify office space, fill out lease application, revisit MVP, shop for general liability Insurance, get car washed during week when line is empty (bonus!), refine business plan, lunch meetings to help validate plans, purchase insurance, sign lease & get keys to office (woo hoo!), call and haggle with Comcast for the cheapest Internet and first available install date, refine MVP, think through User Experience for MVP, shop for cheap second hand furniture on Craigslist, borrow truck and haul furniture into office (ouch!), run to Home Depot, hang second hand whiteboard on wall, acquire trash can and markers at Office Depot, wait..and wait for Comcast installer, operate on old Time capsule/router to coax it to work, refine MVP and noodle mobile designs and workflows with the team….you get the picture.
Clearly, the two things I spent most of my time on over the past two weeks were – MVP and setting up the office space. I will have a lot more to say in subsequent posts on the importance of MVP, and the design process. Let me first address the significance and the importance of the office space as a few people have wondered if we were ready for it – especially since we’ve not raised any money yet. The common refrain has been – “You’ve got a home office – haven’t you?”
While, my co-founders and I have spent many evenings and nights at our various home offices, it is just not the same as having this space. For one thing, assigning a physical space to your efforts, jointly signing a lease and setting it up immediately elevates the effort in everyone’s minds. It says – “This is all serious now people.” When we meet at home, the spouse or the kids want to drop in and say hello and see how things are going. All good – but every now and then you might also get requests to watch the oven or put the laundry into the dryer. Not so much good. So this helps cut out the distractions and actually drive discipline. It becomes a place where the team actually wants to be present at in order to focus exclusively on work.
Finally and most importantly imo, the space psychologically becomes a physical embodiment of our venture. It becomes something that we can all readily visualize and commit to growing. We can collectively dream about how things might be when we actually get funded, get our first customer, see revenue flow in, host our first party etc. (On a philosophical note let me just say – it is ok and even important to dream and to aspire but then be very careful *not* to get attached to those dreams and results. Remember – Its ok to dream. Work towards achieving those dreams. But, if you begin expecting certain things then you might be setting yourself up for serious disillusionment.)
The first day I spent at the office after it was all setup, had me going through a range of emotions. It was exhilarating to finally be in our own space. It was all real now. Hey – we’ve got a whiteboard with markers and all. Let’s go! Then of course in the corner of your mind there are the daemons that cast fear and doubt that every entrepreneur has to contend with. But being positive and believing in what you are doing, quickly help overcome those thoughts. Nevertheless as humans, we are always looking for signs of affirmation. For me personally, it was interesting that this space I found on Craigslist turned out to be the very same building where I worked at first after moving to the Bay Area over 20 years ago. I have good memories of the place. I was beginning a new chapter in my life then. I feel good about being back in the same space trying to start another.
In summary – if you are serious about executing on an idea with a team, I recommend investing in a common work area. The the cost of leasing a small office space or even a co-working space is in my opinion a very small price to pay for the benefits you will likely reap.
P.S. We did debate an office space versus a co-working space. We decided to setup the office space close to our homes for convenience. We are still contemplating and planning to spend time at some happening co-working facilities periodically to network and imbibe the energy.