Thursday, February 9, 2017

Next MilValChal Offer - $500 to engage in an experiment

With the previous post on the MilValChal efforts and the Startup Day offer, we talked about doing one build, measure, learn loop. The Startup Day offer was an example of that: Make a hypothesis, run a test, and learn.

 I have personally told hundreds... perhaps close to a thousand people about the startup day offer. And that does not include the 10K people downsteam in my social media.... And yet, we have very very very few takers. I have done this at Startup weekends that I was facilitating, at the Open Coffee meetings, as the Key note speaker at a Startup day conference with over 600 people in the audience, In the Lean Startup Seattle meetings. Do a BML loop and you will get $$$.

 The strange thing is that this Lean Startup experimentation is exactly what startups should be doing. Fast, timeboxed experiments that lead to understanding of the market.

 One of the thoughts is that our process was not as clear as it should be. This is likely a distraction and that we should take the data at face value. We made an offer, our conversion rate was very very low, so we have not yet found customer/problem fit. We have in fact had one of the Open Coffee participants run an experiment and collect the $$$ from Adam. But the handful who completed it vs the thousands that were aware of it.... Relatively high customer acquisition cost.

Adam Berk (@adamberk) has outlined the next round of the experiment. There is room for 20 people to can get this. Between now and the end of March, if you follow this set of instructions, you can collect $500.

 Here are the instructions:

  • Decide on the target persona of your next experiment (can be a customer, user, partner, NOT AN INVESTOR, someone for whom you are directly solving a problem) 

  •  Form a hypothesis around an action you think they will take, something you can test within a month) ( the community will help you run the experiment if you do not have funds for marketing, landing pages, design, even moderate coding ) 

  •  Test the hypothesis. That is, go talk to target customers, make them an offer that tests the question at hand, take something of value in exchange (money, time, space), and then deliver on the offer.  

Write a blog about your learnings using this format:

  •  PARAGRAPH 1 My name is {insert name here and feel free to link to your current landing page or personal brand}. The individuals who helped me run this experiment are {link to the mentors who helped you - link directly to their mentor card on Trello OR their landing page for their experiment} The link to my specific hypothesis card on Trello is HERE.  (Board Link: )  

  •  PARAGRAPH 1.5 (Copy and paste the following = I am part of an experimental incubator that gives startups and entrepreneurs funding in exchange for testing and sharing leanstartup hypotheses). 

  • PARAGRAPH 2 This section will provide a quantifiable comparison of your prediction vs the results. This sections is mainly for mentors to get a snapshot. I THOUGHT that 5% of 1000 of this specific segment would do this - [this comes DIRECTLY FROM YOUR HYPOTHESIS word for word] ACTUALLY 3% of 500 people did this. In total, I have had conversations with THIS NUMBER OF PEOPLE who match the segment targeted in this experiment. [NO COMMENTARY HERE - this should be black and white which is why we ask for such specific predictions in the first place...] 

  • PARAGRAPH 3 COMMENTARY - take the MOST SURPRISING or MOST WRONG metric - and explain why you BELIEVE this happened... this can be positive or negative. Maybe 90% of 1000 people did something, THAT'S GOOD... but really it's bad because of how far off you were. Before you try and scale, you need to know WHY. Maybe only 1% converted, maybe you only got 50 views... pick apart ONE SINGLE VARIABLE THAT WAS MOST WRONG. 

  • PARAGRAPH 4 BONUS COMMENTARY explain the rest of the variables... If your last experiment had negative results... restate your problem and customer statements here. 

  • PARAGRAPH 5 NEXT STEP... post it in the blog itself, and provide a LINK to the next experiment in trello.  (

 For you to collect the offered money, you must accept the challenge by tweeting @adamberk and @sechrest within next ten days (by 2017/2/19) , must complete the challenge by end of march - Payments are limited to the first 20 people @$500 each // funds must be used to run the experiment defined in paragraph 5:)

The regular milvalchal is open to anyone, no rule changes, no limits, no entry windows (for now) , So if you want to run the whole experiment and get a $10K investment in your startup, that offer is still there: Slingshot Ventures invests in ALL startup teams at a fixed MILLION dollar valuation if you do custdev and run experiments. More info here

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