Going Back to Class

Three months ago I went to a Start Up Weekend.  Its a gathering of product ideas, Web UX and developers.  For a weekend, including all through the night, a concept product is developed.  The intensity is very cool.  You meet and converse with other people trying to build.  Its far better than pounding at code by yourself.

Come monday morning I have learned and energized myself about being able to build something quickly.  To build what the original developers of this idea would call a minimal value product (minimal value proposition).  Unfortunately, the StartUp Weekends do not by themselves to truly create a start up.

This is where NEXT comes into play.  It teaches a business development approach to actual create a company that is a start up.  The nexus of the course material is online.  Yet, taking the course is a kin to sitting in your apartment having your own solo version of Start Up Weekend.  NEXT StartUp is a social event to get the concepts of creating a start up company formalized enough for a team to execute.  It also teaches a common vocabulary so that young startups can converse and talk on the same terms.  Critical for a concept to take root.

For me, this is a bridge of knowledge.  I did many of these things in developing my companies prior to the book and classes.  However, its not to say I had the same vocabulary, models or processes.  I come from a developers point of view, and to me this is a business built around agile/extreme programming.  Minimal steps and fast feedback in order to keep as much code relevant to the final build.

Stop for a second.  I am not saying that development drives a start up.  On the contrary, what NEXT is doing is to teach developers who want to be companies, that first you have to be a company and that company has to provide a value.  You need to solve a problem, not provide a feature.  You need to search for the customer, and listen to their needs.  Not build and convince people that your tool is really what they want.

I’ve taking two classes of NEXT.  As I listen to others and their comments, its clear that the first hurdle for a new startup is to focus on what is the value of their idea and how to communicate it.

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