In 109 days we will host the 8th annual LAUNCH Festival…
… and you’re launching your startup at it!
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Over the eight years, I personally selected and coached startups including: Dropbox ($10B+ valuation), Mint (sold to Intuit for $170M), Yammer (sold to Microsoft for $1.2B), Red Beacon (sold to Home Depot for $70M+), Clicker (sold to CBS for $100m), FitBit ($300M+ valuation), Swype & TrueCar (IPOed this year, $1B valuation) for their six monumental minutes on stage.
Those startups combined, and the 390 others that launched on the stage, are now worth well over 20 billion dollars.
Over 10,000 people are coming this year (more: jc.is/Festival15), and 3,000 will be in the room when you launch.
There is nothing that says your journey can’t start right now. You can launch a killer idea on that stage! Everyone in our industry is, with few exceptions, 1st generation. No one running a unicorn right now is 3rd generation Silicon Valley. Doesn’t exist. It’s not like the people who ran HP let their kids start Microsoft and their kids built Netscape before their kids created Twitter.
99%+ of the folks here in the Bay Area are *imported*, and most are from much humbler beginnings.
Just. Like. You.
Here is all you need to do:
1. Find a problem in the world that you think needs to be solved.
2. Build a team of three people including at least one awesome designer and two developers. If you’re a business person, get three partners.
3. Commit to working 40 hours a week on the idea: that’s only 6 hours a day.
4. You actually don’t have to quit your job—you just have to commit to not wasting time watching TV.
5. Do interviews with actual customers, ask them the basic questions like: “how likely would you be to use this product?,” “how much would you pay for this product per month?” and “how would you solve this problem if the product didn’t exist in the world?”
6. Release an MVP on stage that does at least two or three cool things in a simple fashion, explain how you’ll make money and what five things you are considering doing next (showing designs of those five things—mock ups are ok!).
All of you can do this, but few of you will.
50 of you will get on stage.
40 of those companies will get funded.
25 of those companies will make it to year two.
10 of those companies will have awesome exits.
Two or three of them will change the world.
My good friend Phil Kaplan told me once that an average person has a million-dollar idea every day. I told him that means a stupid person has a million-dollar idea every month and a smart person has a billion-dollar idea every week.
The ideas are out there. The problems are out there.
But folks would rather binge-watch Homeland and Orange is the New Black (both excellent by the way), rather than tackle the hard problems.
Will you “catch up on your shows” or change the world? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.
The LAUNCH Festival is for the folks who are willing to give up their TV and Xbox and focus their lives—even for a brief 120 days—on building a kick ass product.
If that’s you here’s what you need to do:
1. Sign up for this mailing list for updates from me: jc.is/1xdD5Cm
3. Watch This Week in Startups when you need a break: jc.is/1qs6BOP
4. Buy the Lean Startups Books
5. Study great product designs at Dribbble.com and Behance.net
7. Make a plan to build the top three things — not all the things — that will build credibility with angel investors and early adopters.
8. Anything that doesn’t fit into the plan goes into the “not right now bucket” or “mock it up bucket.”
9. Refine your skills: go to TreeHouse, Lynda or YouTube and f@#$ing figure it out. Be resourceful because the Universe doesn’t care that no one taught you how to do it—it’s your job to do it!
10. Watch Startup Basics here: jc.is/1saU4yT
Credibility comes from how elegant and simple your product is, not how loud you talk.
You demonstrate your worth in this industry by building product and you build product based on your skills. Talk is cheap, ideas are easy and no one gives a s@#$t about your deck.
SHOW. ME. YOUR. PRODUCT!
Product speaks. Don’t overthink this.
Apply here to launch at the Festival: jc.is/1u2xfRV
There are four competitions:
1.0 competition: No screenshots, no press, no AngelList profile, no nothing! You are hidden and people see your product for the first time on stage. You don’t pre-brief the press, you don’t do a demo day before the Festival. You’re on lockdown!
2.0 competition: Whatever is released to the public, press and angellist is your 1.0 and we judge you on the new stuff the world has not seen. This means you have a MASSIVELY compelling new product.
Crowdfunding competition: You have an ACTIVE kickstarter, indiegogo, tilt, etc. campaign going.
LAUNCH Incubator: Six companies hand-selected to spend the next 12 weeks with us here in San Francisco: jc.is/1xzkxwk
Bottom line: you miss 100% of shots you don’t take. The LAUNCH Festival is the most open event in the world:
Free for founders to come: jc.is/1xl9swW
Free for founders to be on stage.
Free for founders to have a demo table (if your product is awesome).
It’s free because we have awesome partners like:
IF you care about innovation, founders and startups help us put on the Festival: firstname.lastname@example.org. You’ll feel great about doing so, and you will sell into an audience of 10,000 folks who share these stats:
70% spend over $1,000 on personal technology annually
35% are going to buy hosting services this year
40% are founders
of those founders, 35% have raised money for their startup
The 200 companies on stage and in the demo pit, plus the hundreds more in the audience, will be the next Dropbox, Yammer and Mint. Sponsoring the event is how you meet them.
all the best, jason