Fast-forward a month and now I have a draft business model, business plan, and spent the day at the LAUNCH Fest, a tech start-up/launch party/hack-a-thon.  It’s a lot of energy, innovation, and nerds crammed into a small space, and I left today (the first of three) with some new ideas and many questions.  Here’s some thoughts, notes, resources, and questions.

Thoughts:

This isn’t the most appropriate conference for this project, but it is certainly an interesting perspective on tech startups, the thing Silicon Valley is famous for.  I walked around the “demo pit” (booths) and talked to the small number of socially minded groups, those “with a mission.”  Aside from those focused on education, I found only two others, Code2040 and Pidgeon.ly.  None remotely similar to Nuestra Voz – which might be a great opportunity in the future.

As expected, many of the participants are typical developers: male and either white or Asian (I include Indians in this category).  They organized a Diversity in Tech panel, but I felt that a lot of the points were underdeveloped and left me feeling frustrated about the lack of a clear way forward (though the panelists themselves are doing awesome stuff, see below).  I also noticed that a lot of the other panels/talks were severely lacking in diversity, for example, I think there may be only one female speaker outside of this panel.  Again, possibly another opportunity to seize.

Attending this conference is much different than the many workshops, classes, etc. I’ve had on non-profits.  There is much more detail to the “user experience,” or UX.  I think that is supremely important, especially to become financially sustainable.  It’s given me a few new thoughts on how to think more about UX and incorporate feedback from the user perspective.  It’s also great to see examples of people who have done that really well.

Notes:

  • Organic growth: see the path toward organic growth, build in viral loops, start with inherently social design
  • Be clear and upfront with our big vision from the start
  • Questions/responses from the judges after startup pitches: what are the skills/experiences of your team? why you/why now? find 100 people that love it.  incorporate real data/facts that demonstrate case.
  • Bootstrapping (self-sustaining):
    • Spend time with clients/customers/members and get a lot of feedback.
    • The minimum viable product has to be share-worthy.
    • Bootstrapped startups might be more resilient because they optimize process efficiency before growth when funding is tight
  • Mock up a user experience, flow through the site.  What does the process of collaboration look like?

Resources & People:

  • Trello: collaborative project management
  • Treehouse: affordable tech training, located in Orlando
  • Grovo: free, one minute training videos on social media
  • Agile methodology, scrum, and sprint: a process to manage software innovation/development
  • From the diversity in tech panel:
    • Danilo Campos (Puerto Rican) and his post on unpacking his privilege knapsack
    • Adria Richards and her website called but you’re a girl
  • Thrive Alliance, a network of non-profits in San Mateo, CA

Questions:

  • What does the startup process look like?
  • Terms I didn’t know: customer acquisition model, SaaS, series A
  • What do our users look like, what’s their tech use like, how will they want to collaborate online?  What is the process of collaboration?  Is there a flow chart??

Next steps:

  • Revisit the point of view of our potential members, ask what experiences they’re looking for
  • Use this conference to find a mentor and maybe even a small peer support group
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