If you’ve had questions about why I think the hiring process is broken, check this out. The future of hiring will be about aligning the intrinsic motivators of people and organizations. When aligned they’ll cause an explosion of knowledge, community, and productivity, for employees and employers both.
I’ve been spending a good portion of the last few weeks networking on the local scene in an attempt to find a co-founder or technical lead to help me build out a prototype. I’ve met a lot of great people, from really talented students already thinking about how to start companies to programmers fully entrenched in multiple startups, but I haven’t found anyone up to my challenge. What am I looking for that’s so hard to find?
The more innovative recruiters at growing companies like Zappos and Dell are now are using social media to engage prospective candidates in a genuine and inexpensive way: building candidate communities in their career site and blogs, search engine optimizing job listings, distributing jobs through social networks to dramatically drive referrals, and tracking web analytics by job to determine their best sources of talent.
To me, the more interesting acquisition was Monster’s purchase 18 months ago of Trovix, a Bay Area startup that built a behavioral algorithm for matching jobs and resumes to help recruiters sift through applicants and jobseekers through jobs. But, the irony is that they will be “unveiling” this new technology, dubbed 6Sense, on this weekend’s (expensive) Super Bowl, the annual marketing battleground of the big, horizontal job boards.
Many of you probably heard earlier this week that Monster purchased Yahoo’s HotJobs. The timing of this is fascinating, especially as Monster prepares to launch their new “6Sense” job matching system (word is today, during the big game).
I don’t want to get into my thoughts on how to position my company amidst this landscape (yet), but the point made in this article about the current downturn dramatically speeding up forces at play in the hiring market is well made. If Monster is shelling out big money for candidates (HotJobs, to try to take the #1 position again) and matching algorithms (Trovix, to power their new 6Sense system) there’s clearly a lot happening that the big dogs are trying to keep up with.
I found myself on venturehacks.com today after following their just launched StatupList writeup on TechCrunch. But once I was on their site I started digging through their archives and their writeup on Minimum Viable Products leaped out at me.
Most of the founders I’ve been talking to have a clear mental picture of what their product is, the need it addresses and where they see it growing in the future, but the vast majority haven’t done the simple and easy steps outlined above. I’m just as guilty of this; the prototype I was building before getting in to the Founder Institute is all but useless now, in part because I hadn’t properly spec’d my MVP or tested basic hypotheses in the market (and maybe, a little, because I hadn’t researched the market sufficiently before diving in). I’m not making the same mistake this time around, and I highly recommend you take some time and truly find the Minimum you can put together to prove you’re moving in the right direction before getting any farther along in your development cycle.
Don’t get me wrong, It isn’t that I hadn’t heard about MVP before, or that it hadn’t come up in conversation recently, it’s that in the course of developing a product and a company it’s so easy to get swept up in the scope of What Could Be. As founders, we owe it to ourselves to reduce the risk of our ventures whenever possible; if we can prove that a feature will add value before we develop it, how can we pass that up? Or, if that didn’t pop your cork, if we can prove that a feature won’t add value, how can we afford to waste our time building it?
I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Here’s my minimum viable product spec:
- AdWords Campaign
- Three splash pages: one for candidates, one for hiring managers, one for home
- Splash pages have links for different features (so we can track what people most want to do)
- Links lead to form for users to add themselves to our mailing list
What do you think? That seems like too little to me, but I think that’s just my “pride”, as it were, “fucking with me.” Personally, I’d rather start a dialogue with my customers than let a little pride get between me and some good, old-fashioned, actionable metrics.
Post your plans for MVP below or tell me how I can further reduce mine!
Had a great time on Thursday night attending the Dart Boston Pokin’ Holes event. If you’re a Boston based startup, or interested in working at one, you should definitely come out for the next event.
For folks at the Founders Institute, the video resources here are great, especially the episodes of Capitalize, which feature real startups pitching VCs.
I know this isn’t my first time plugging these guys, and it certainly won’t be the last. Thanks to Dart Boston for being such great hosts!
I’ve just gotten home from New Exhibition Room’s Stone Soup fundraiser and ran into enough people who knew I was doing something in the startup space but weren’t sure what exactly that I think I should take a little bit of time to clarify some details.
Eliminating waste is the fundamental principle of lean thinking.
As defined by Womak/Jones in their book “Lean Thinking” (a must-read):
Waste is any human activity which absorbs resources but creates no value.
Of all resources, there is no resource more valuable than time. Time is more valuable than money. While money can fluctuate up or down, time only moves in one direction – down.
Another way in which the value of time shows up for lean startups is through Boyd’s Law which states that:
Speed of iterations beats quality of iteration.
Colonel John Boyd, a military strategist and Air Force fighter, found this by studying an anomaly in dogfights where an inferior aircraft (F-86) consistently beat a superior aircraft (MiG-15) because it was able to iterate faster thanks to a hydraulic versus manual flight stick. Eric Ries applies Boyd’s Law to lean startups by highlighting the importance of maximizing cycle time through the build/measure/learn loop.
Startups that succeed are those that manage to iterate enough times before running out of resources. Time between these iterations is fundamental.
This article isn’t 100% original, but gives credit where credit is due. I’ve read “Flow” which I found to be eye-opening, but this articles takes the wonderful leap into constructing a meaningful founder’s schedule around the same concepts. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety and following Ash Maurya’s future posts.
I found this post from Eric Ries blog, which has a lot of other great resources for startups http://www.startuplessonslearned.com/2010/01/amazing-lean-startup-resources.html
I don’t know how I feel about reviewing software– maybe it will be an occasional occurrence on this blog, maybe it won’t – but I do know that using Balsamiq is one of the easiest, most natural experiences I’ve had online. I was up and running in seconds building mockups of my latest application.
In truth, I haven’t used wireframes in the past. As a single developer with no team, I’ve only occasionally sketched out designs before leaping into implementation. I’ve always preferred fast iterations to a long and drawn out design process, but Balsamiq is easy enough for non-technical users to pull up, tweak and send on its way, not using it really would be a detriment to the final product.
It’s free to check out, so if you’re a developer interested in a better way to communicate ideas with designers, or just an entrepreneur looking for an easy way to explain your idea to others, Balsamiq is a great place to start.
I’m aboard the MegaBus back to Boston from another Thursday night in NYC as we speak. Before trying to get some sleep I thought I’d share this wonderful slideshow. I truly think there’s something that will speak to everyone here, so do yourself a favor and take a minute to read, reflect and introspect.
As mentioned previously, I’ve been spending a lot of time researching business ideas for the Founder Institute. Tonight I’m entering a new stage of this research, as I’m posting surveys through SurveyGizmo and launching an adwords campaign to help vet my ideas. If you’re interested, you can certainly help.