Four years ago, I made a decision that changed my life. On a sunny Saturday morning with many cups of coffee and a pile of napkin sketches, I decided to start a technology company.
Prior to that moment, I was an English teacher, a finance professional, a sandwich maker, a bartender, a laborer, and a rather unsafe bike delivery rider.
In other words, I knew absolutely nothing about inventing, building or launching new technology.
But to get smart, I employed three tactics.
First, I began each day by contacting three new people in the Twin Cities technology and business communities. I had never met any of these people. I picked up the phone and called their office.
Many people hung up. Most never returned my call. However, a surprising number were eager to offer advice over the phone or even meet in person. It was fun. I met incredible people, heard hilarious stories, built a strong network and one person even went on to invest in my startup.
Second, I read everything I could about entrepreneurship. This seems obvious, but it can’t be overstated. Books and blogs are virtual mentors.
Lastly, I got started, which is a frightening proposition for any startup or large organization launching a new venture. But it’s where the real learning begins, and I’m excited to share some of my favorite links that have helped me a great deal.
This list only scratches the surface (doesn’t include fundraising, hiring, or scaling), but the following links should help you jump in and get smarter faster in finding your fit and building a customer model.
Words of Wisdom from Seasoned Veterans
How to Start A Startup -Paul Graham
Create a Million Dollar Business This Weekend -Noah Kagan
Revenge of a Fat Guy: Achieving Product-Market Fit -Marc Andreesen
From Nothing to Something. How to Get There. -Seth Sternberg
How to Build a Lean Startup, Step-By-Step -Eric Ries
1000 True Fans -Kevin Kelly
Blogs to Follow
Feld Thoughts -Brad Feld
Ben’s Blog -Ben Horowitz
Paul Graham -Paul Graham
Steve Blank -Steve Blank
The Big Idea
13 Ways to Get to $10 Million in Revenues -Steven Carpenter
The Ultimate Guide For Becoming An Idea Machine -James Altucher
Finding A Market
Customer Discovery Toolkit -Stanford d.school
Product/Market Fit: the Value Proposition Canvas -Alex Osterwalder
Google Trends -Learn search term trends and check your ideas.
Google Insights -Segment search data by location.
Facebook ads -Learn audience sizing by creating ads. No need to launch the ads.
Sizing and Selecting a Profitable Niche -Pat Flynn
Bringing Your Idea to Life
GoDaddy -Domain names and web hosting. Pro Tip: Google ‘$.99 domains’ and click on the ad.
Squarespace -Build a good website quickly.
WordPress -Not just a blogging platform. Create a free business website.
LaunchRock -Create a quick and easy “coming soon” landing page to test the concept and value proposition.
Free Stock Photo Websites -NuSchool brings artwork for your landing page or website.
Product Marketing for Pirates: AARRR! -Dave McClure
How to Cultivate Loyal Customers with Social Media -Ravi Schukle
Facebook For Business -Reach customers through precise ad placement and segmentation.
Canva -Design awesome social media graphics.
Buzzsumo -Discover what is being shared online in your industry.
Mailchimp -Easy to use email software.
Friendbuy -Customer referral platform.
LeadPages -Create pages that capture leads and grow your customer base.
SumoMe -Tools to grow your website traffic and keep customers engaged.
Mailcharts -Email marketing intelligence. Discover what your competitors are sending.
We invite you to add to this list. Leave a comment or get in touch with us on Twitter (@gokartlabs). We would love to hear from you.