It has been a great semester for the organization. We had successful events around the world and a spectacular one here at home in Austin. We had an optimal mix of developer and business talent, and their potency showed during the Sunday night pitches. Six companies demoed on Sunday evening and several have continued working on their products (we’ll have more on them in the following weeks). For participants who didn’t continue their projects, they learned equally valuable lessons over the course of the weekend. Everyone though, learned several important lessons, and their experiences over three days seem to validate this.
It was 1am, early Sunday morning, when I heard someone say “Hang on, I’m talking to a customer.” I was shadowing a mentor and we had just walked into a room to see if the team needed any help, and that was the very first sentence uttered. That is when we realized the lessons of 3 Day Startup had begun to settle; i.e talking to your customers and having them tell you what they are looking for in a product. There are no unfounded assumptions – only hypotheses supported by research, both online and offline. All teams were doing similar research, albeit at other times during the day. Austin Technology Incubator, our generous host, was half deserted for a significant portion of the weekend, and this meant the participants were out in the field – testing, validating, and ultimately changing their product ideas.
For me, market validation and the experience of talking to real customers is one of the real benefits of 3 Day Startup. I was thrilled to see so many of our participants going through with it. It took some longer than others, but everyone realized the value in offline feedback. Facebook surveys are easy to launch, but they are limited to our friends and family. The real feedback comes from people who are already purchasing similar products – will they use what is being built, what problems do they currently face, are these significant enough to warrant solutions, etc. Questions like these are the ones that teams asked over and over, and used the answers to build amazing pieces of technology supported by strong business propositions.
I know 3DS will evolve over time, but its core value will remain. Whether it be in Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Hebrew, or Dutch, the best way for students to experience entrepreneurship is learning by doing. Chemistry student have labs, football players have practice fields, and entrepreneurially minded students have the world. It just makes a bit more sense after playing around, and I can’t wait to see what the 3DS participants do next.