Candl Investor Weekly Update #18 – February 24th 2017

We Have A Working iOS App!


Ask For Help

1. We’re seeking volunteers for empathy interviews. If you’re willing to donate 20 minutes of your time in the next week to talk about your experiences around smartphones, please sign up here. Thank you!

2. We’re also seeking introductions to current (or former) VP Partnerships & Business Development at MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators), such as Boost Mobile, Cricket Wireless, Tracfone, Straight-Talk, Virgin Mobile USA, Republic Wireless, and MetroPCS.

Successes

1. As seen above, we have a working iOS App! We’re able to monitor activities on the hotspot, and next week we’ll be working to take control of the device as well.

2. We’ve made tremendous progress in our intellectual property strategy. We’re on to something really big. I can’t wait until we can share more.

Challenges

1. We’ve made significant changes to our overall product roadmap and business plan without really testing the changes with customers. We can do better, and plan to address this now.

2.  At this stage (pre-product, stealth mode) we’ve struggled with identifying our Key Performance Indicators. This is something Natty and Julie (our Techstars Managing Directors) are working with us on specifically.

3. We still haven’t received our hardware. We’re a little frustrated with the poor communication with our hardware partner, but we are working on improving that.

Action Plan

1. We’re going to be conducting dozens of empathy interviews this week with the goal of reconnecting with the pain we’re trying to solve.

2. We’re meeting with several lawyers, IP specialists and telecom policy specialists in the next 2-3 weeks to discuss our larger ideas and more clearly define our intellectual property strategy.

3. Work progresses on the mobile app, hotspot firmware, and backend systems.

4. The marketing team is working hard on the brand voice, messaging, and customer experience we want CANDL customers to have.


 

Weekly Highlights

One of the biggest highlights from this week came on Thursday morning when we got to participate in a live-stream with Eric Ries, the author of the revolutionary book The Lean Startup.

Eric Ries dropping knowledge bombs

Eric dropped several knowledge bombs on our cohort (as well as Techstars cohorts watching from Austin, Boston, Los Angeles, Remote, and London). Some of the key takeaways from my perspective:

  • Getting true bad news is better than getting good news that isn’t
  • Customers don’t read your business plan
  • Even at my most successful startup I thought about quitting several times
  • Do as many experiments/iterations as you need to get someone to say “this product changed my life”

Techstars teaches us how to embrace the Lean Startup methodology, especially the part about being a learning organization. We’re slowly incorporating more learning and feedback measurement techniques into everything we do – both internally and externally.

Another big highlight from this week was listening to Matt Talbot from GoSpotCheck tell us his founder story.

Matt Talbot sharing great insight in the ‘cone of confidence’

Matt’s story was gripping and compelling. They struggled early on to find their identity, but have since built a world-class enterprise software platform for field-based teams, and have raised more than $25M in funding.

Matt talked about how those early struggles led him and his cofounders to become a learning team, which led them to the business they run today. Companies like GoSpotCheck emphasize the power of being a Lean Startup.

The weather turned on us this week – giant fluffy snow flakes have been falling on Boulder for 2 straight days. Luckily the snow services here are far more effective than those back home in Atlanta.

Baby it’s cold outside

And finally our Armenian friends from Team Rodin fired up the Armenian BBQ once again and hosted a fun get-together for the cohort over the weekend. Hands down the best BBQ in America or anywhere.


Closing Thought

There’s so much I want to share about our journey through Techstars that’s just not appropriate to share publicly. One thing I’ve come to appreciate about Techstars is the ‘cone of confidentiality’ that surrounds us.

Several Techstars alumni, mentors, and guest speakers have dropped real stories of strife, struggle, legal fights, boardroom brawls, nasty competitor tactics, and just bad luck. They also told us how they overcame all kinds of problems to get to where they are in their paths today.

Their stories have helped us frame the challenges we face today as just challenges to acknowledge, address, overcome, and move past.

When CANDL has delighted our 500,000th customer and helped over a million refugees around the world get connected, I’ll be really excited to come back to Techstars and share our bumpy, ugly stories in a ‘cone of confidentiality’ for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Cheers,
-tom