Coffee Notes (July 20, 2010)


  • Gregarious N (Lil’Grams)
  • Darius
  • Nick O (Health Startup)
  • Justin K
  • Derek (
  • Tristan (Startup Square)
  • Laura (Bike Trips Through Italy)
  • Sumeet J (CMEA Capital / WorkingPoint)
  • Dan S (

Power of LinkedIn

  • Power of LinkedIn - since there’s less attention there’s an opportunity to be heard (Sumeet)
  • Find the right groups that may be relevant - there are like 50k groups there (Sumeet)
  • Unfortunately, the process is very manual and time consuming - no way to necessarily automate
  • Custom offer makes the process trackable

Leverging Meetup

  • Can directly contact members for groups your a member of (Tristan)
  • Limited to sending 12 messages a day (Tristan)
  • Look for groups open to sponsorships as a possible contact point (Greg)


  • Make a temp site so digital downloads would be possible (Nick)
  • Small traction initially (Nick)
  • Created a video in Keynote and added some audio (Nick)
  • Worked local connections as well, better success (Nick)

Get Outside

  • Practice your pitch with real people (Greg)
  • They’ll ask you the questions you need to know the answers to (Greg)
  • If you need to stand up, try and make it clear how you are a participant in the community (Sumeet)
  • It’s a great way to define who the customer is (Nick)
  • Go there being genuine (Derek)
  • Going to events is not the most scalable solution, unfortunately (Derek)

Other Techniques

  • Sponsor key sites your customers visit (Justin)
  • Contact the top posters on a site (Justin)
  • Work the forums
  • Sponsorships for key people in your space (Derek)
  • Content Creation - make it specific to them or you won’t get a lot of feedback (Derek)

Lean Deck Clinic #1


Every Lean Startup finds itself with the need to “present” their concept. Be it a product concept deck or an investor deck, communicating in an effecient, effective manner is critical to learning and ultimately success. Unfortunately, getting the guidance around how to improve your deck usually requires tons of experience. In the spirit of hacking, our goal is to bring some seasoned clinicians in to give you direct insights into the best, working practices around developing and pitching your deck.

When / Where

August 2
6:00pm - 9:30pm

250 Brannan Street, SF, CA


  • Sumeet Jain, CMEA Capital
  • Chris Redlitz, Transmedia Capital
  • Hiten Shah, Kissmetrics
  • Thomas McInerney, Angel Investor
  • Debbie Landa, DealMaker Media
  • Steve Katz, MHS Capital
  • Philip Kaplan, Blippy


6:00pm Welcome
6:15pm Deck Clinic
7:00pm Welcome All / Food / Break
7:30pm Key Performance Metrics Panel
8:15pm Deck Presentations

Key Performance Metrics Panel

Lean Startups are deeply focused on measuring progress as part of the learning process. In a vacuum, metrics can get in the way of seeing the bigger picture. Our panel of clinicians will speak on the various KPIs they look for when evaluating a business and give some background on why these data points have historically proven valuable / predictive.

Deck Clinic

The Deck Clinic will present 18 startups with the opportunity to present their deck and receive immediate feedback. Startups will be grouped into sets of 3 and paired with a clinician (an angel, vc, or seasoned entrepreneur who can provide measured feedback). Each presentation will last for 15 minutes:

  • 10 minutes to present your deck
  • 5 minutes for feedback

After all 3 startups in the group have presented, the clinician will choose a “winner” to go on a present to the entire group.

Deck Presentations

Following the private presentations, the winning decks from each group will have the opportunity to present to the whole group for additional feedback. Each winner must make adjustments to their deck based on the feedback they received during the clinic.


Here are the key dates to keep in mind for the Deck Clinic:

07/27 - Submissions Deadline
07/30 - Selections Announced
08/02 - Deck Clinic


Any startup is eligible to participate, though we’ll have a natural bias towards startups who are still bootstrapping.

  • Judging will be done by Gregarious Narain, Rich Collins, and Tristan Kromer
  • All decks will be kept in complete privacy and shared with no one except the judges

Submit Your Deck

Register Now!

1 note

Coffee Notes (July 13, 2010)


  • Gregarious N (Lil’Grams)
  • Steve K (MHS Capital)
  • Will (oLink)
  • Maurice W (Pay 4 Tweet)
  • Mike (Android framework)
  • Nick O. (health startup / lean consulting)
  • Romy
  • Tim R (Cloudspace)
  • Justin (seeking co-founders)
  • Tom (Block Wyld)
  • Nima (Yum Dom)
  • Darius D (customer service / operations)
  • Burt (Storify)

Building Your Deck

  1. Create a draft
  2. Socialize it with your close network who’s been through it before
  3. Iterate until you feel the story is right
  4. Pitch it!
  5. See 2

Know Your Audience

  • Often you have to adjust your case based on the audience and their awareness of your vertical (Romy)
  • Assume people don’t know that much about hour space - sell them
  • Recognize the patterns to be successful (Darius)
  • Research who you’re pitching to and what they’ve done previously (Mike)

How important is the personal story? (Maurice)

  • It is a great lead in for the story (Greg)
  • Make sure that if you say it, you’re still saying sincere and not sounding canned (Romy)
  • Having the story as the start and as a source of your passion then justified with Lean Metrics is very powerful (Nick)
  • Be careful not to ramble in the process - stories may enable that action (Darius)
  • It’s a great sales technique and makes the connection for many people (Maurice)

When do you take money?

  • Start talking as early as possible
  • Wait as long as you possibly can
  • Money doesn’t necessarily do great things for the product

What is a prototype vs. a MVP?

  • Prototype just demonstrates functionality (Maurice)
  • MVP is not a prototype (Nima)
  • Need to have feedback from customers and reactions to that feedback
  • Prototype serves as validation, of course, is your ability to execute and produce (Steve K)
  • When prototype has given enough evidence of the key metrics you’d like an investor to judge your business by (Steve K)
  • For consumer products, the cost is low and time to market is short - most will say bootstrap, get some early indicators (Steve K)
  • There’s still huge risk left over (Steve K)
  • Seems a good test of prototype could be whether or not scale can happen in a cost-effective and timely manner (Greg)

Charging Early vs. Freemium (Will)

  • Depends on if you say the value of your business is based on users, engaged users, and repeat users (Steve K)
  • User growth and acquisition is a rational way to garner investor interest if your business is predicated on that (Steve K)
  • Ideally there are comparable businesses that help investors connect the dots

What about for B2B?

  • Try to get some “consumerish” kinds of activity if possible (Steve K)
  • If you need large clients, try to get some pilots going with your targets (Steve K)
  • Be able to provide the references that validate your moving towards a solution that’s desired (Steve K)
  • Two constituencies you have to please: 1) is the economic buyer willing to pay 2) are the users of the product accepting and engaged (Steve K)
  • You’re 70% of the way there if you have users utilizing your service/product in a way that is directly related to what you believe impacts their business (Steve K)

Coffee Notes (May 25, 2010)


  • Gregarious N (Lil’Grams)
  • Hiten S (Kissmetrics)
  • Maurice W (Pay4Tweet)
  • Dan B (Fanosaurus)
  • Dennis B (Agilist)
  • Ryan B. (Liv)
  • Patrick M (Refinery CMS)
  • Augustine (AE Net)
  • Richard K (
  • Mike L. (Android Gaming Middleware)
  • Stuart A. (Architect / Academy of Art Collab Platform)
  • Tommy P
  • Lydia S
  • Steve (CloudFab)
  • Nick (CloudFab)

Why Multi-Variant Testing? (Patrick M)

  • Simple process and hoping to test variations of the copy to get people to sign up (Patrick M)
  • Google’s tool is called Web Site Optimizer
  • Have to be careful since there’s often unintended consequences - make sure you’re getting what you want when you measure (Dennis)
  • How do you construct the analysis to understand your results (Stuart)

When is the right time to start AB Testing? (Gregarious N)

  • You can start it as early as possible, we do it all the time (Ryan B)
  • Need to curb your enthusiasm with the results, make sure you’ve found significance (Gregarious N)
  • How many people does your finding actually apply to? (Lydia S)
  • 1 complain equals 25 actual complaints (Steve)
  • Find the holes in what you’re doing first, then your learning will be more effective (Hiten S) 

What’s a good conversion rate? (Hiten S)

  • What’s your conversion rate?
  • Benchmark against yourself so you understand what you’re trying to achieve
  • Don’t jump the gun (Tommy P)
  • If you can’t drive traffic easily, try to establish your baseline first (Hiten S)

How do you optimize first-user experience? (Hiten S)

  • Find people who have dropped off
  • Use that to generate the AB Test since you’re working from learning
  • Throw out your assumption for the right process first

How do you message people to get them back?

  • Make sure when messaging your users that it doesn’t seem like a mass email
  • We tried a mass mailing and go 1 response (Nick)
  • Followed up with individual messages and we got tons of lengthy responses (Steve)

Experiment in Capturing Feedback (Stuart)

  • Instrumented their app with a small bit of acceptance testing for the UI
  • Green checkbox means they were successful
  • Red checkbox means they missed a spot
  • Small note field for optional comments
  • Larger customers are often scare of this, however, small implementations could be more approachable
  • Got more and more participation as people used it more
  • Mass collaboration and consumer insights
  • Having an option for feedback is always better than not having the option (Maurice)
  • Much less annoying to the user than sending them email

How do you bring out the outliers? (Dennis)

  • Track small points to see if they’re happy or not
  • Use it as early warning system
  • Once you know who they are you can engage them further

On Pittsburgh

  • City is definitely not as involved as it could be
  • Project Olympus is helping to fund early ideas
  • MBAs seem more likely to stay than the engineers

On 3D Printing

  • Prototyping and proof of concept
  • Marketplace for finding the production of physical goods
  • Quality and turnaround is often more important than price
  • Invisalign is likely the most successful, visible use case
  • Done in america often since labor is not the expensive part
  • Very razor-blade industry, selling the supplies are much more expensive
  • Expensive to do samples since materials can be expensive
  • Doing PR via blogs and direct sales to industrial designers
  • Time sensitivity is what helps prevent customers from circumventing the service
  • "we can’t afford to shoot for the big dream now, you gotta have money to reach break-even" (Steve)