Week 8 of 13: Looking Beyond The 13 Weeks

Time to hire in a sales person?
It's a strange thing, to be two-thirds of the way through the Summer. We're far enough through now that I can be a little more realistic about what can be achieved. I'm excited that we might just have a pretty interesting product by the end. At the same time, I'm sad that we may not generate revenue - which was my original ambition for the Summer. However, if we look at this project beyond the 13-week Summer, this may not be necessary just yet.

My original plan was to do product development and customer development in equal proportions over the summer, building something and getting some trickle of revenue through to prove that what we'd built could be scaled. I could, I then thought, spend my second year at Kellogg "scaling the business". However, there have been challenges.

On product development, we now have something that can be cobbled together for demoing. However, as I have previously suggested, I may have expected too much of the undergraduate student interns. Consequently, I've had to dig in and get more involved than I'd originally have liked. On the flip-side, customer development has been, and continues to prove to be, difficult. Just simply scouting out the right person to talk to requires tremendous time and effort. Then following up with them and getting some of their time can be a sales effort in itself.

Knowing what I now know, I have to ask myself: what is the best use of our time and resources for the remaining 5 weeks of the Summer?

I've decided that we'll focus entirely on product development, turning our cobbled demo into a working service. As part of this, we'll continue to work with the existing handful of potential clients we've developed relationships with. However, we'll forgo the tremendous time and effort required to develop new relationships with new potential clients. The risk is that we won't have fall-back options, with respect to clients. The upside, though, is that we'll have a more substantial product to show people.

The second part of this "new plan" looks beyond the Summer. At the end of the Summer, with the money that I have remaining for this project, I'll hire a sales-person/operator to shop the service around and run it for three months, i.e. during Fall quarter. Given that this person will have a working product, and given three months of dedicated customer development by this person, we should know by the end of 2010 as to whether this thing "has legs".

As I look beyond the Summer, I have also started to think about what I'll be doing after my MBA. I need to figure out whether this business can support me, or whether I need to recruit for a job. I feel like I'm developing a skill-set in this early stage new venture development space. If I were to take a job around this area, what kind job in the area would it be?