Reflections on start-up life: Week 17

After a quiet month or so, I’ve been getting back into the networking and meeting with people again. Having completed the prototypes, both Alex and I focused on taking them out on the road and getting feedback. I think I met around 15–20 people last week that I pitched the screens to and took feedback from.

While it’s not yet true validation (there isn’t any money down) we did confirm that what we are doing looks useful, is unique in some aspects and should be able to find a market. Enough confirmation for us to proceed to the next phase — building a working prototype, pulling together the engineering and the design work to get to a functional product.

The lesson learnt from this? Well in this case it was more a lesson confirmed — have printed copies of your screens. I have a clear presentation folder that I keep presentations in, covering 6 slides. 1 title slide, 1 problem slide, 1 positioning slide, 2 detailed screens (with call outs to describe salient features) and 1 end slide (with contact details).

While I could demonstrate something on a laptop, the printed slides are brilliant. I simply pull out the presentation folder and I can talk people through what we are doing around a table, on the steps outside a cafe, walking across southbank, in the full sun, in the wet — you name it.

With them being reasonably structured, I can also target the page I want very quickly so I keep moving through to what is relevant at the time. I also keep a couple of extra copies so when people are really interested I can leave on behind.

Listening for feedback on screen design is a real art (and one that I haven’t perfected at all) but something that was really useful is taking things away. We found that when you show people a screen with some element on it, they can be fairly non-committal about it, but when you show them the same thing with the element missing, they become really vocal.

On the engineering side, we are champing at the bit to actually build the prototype out now, but we are back into that conflicting zone where getting on the road seems really important, but needs to be balanced with actually delivering what we are talking about as well!

Also, thank to everyone who’s been reading these posts. I’m always amused when people ask me “so what week is this”, it’s great to get feedback that there are people following along with the journey.


  • Iterating through screen designs
  • Lots of great people being very generous with their time and helping us to get to the core feature set
  • Meeting a few people for the first time after lots of emails over the last few months
  • Approaching our core “minimum functional product” such that we can at least start building now.


  • Feeling the pressure of time conflicts again.

Goal this week?

Last of the meetings with interested parties then get the processing pipeline completed (the majority of the middleware piece done).