Preparing to Pivot

Over the past few weeks, I have heard the phrase “get out of the building” countless times.  I heard this phrase from my laptop speakers as I watched Steve Blank’s How To Build A Startup series on Udacity, from Linda as she talks about our next steps, from Courtney Klein, founder and CEO of Seed Spot, as she gave a workshop to a group of arts entrepreneurs over the weekend.  This week it was actually finally time for us to do this thing that we have been hearing over and over, this getting out of the building.

Over the past week, the five of us have tested our first two value propositions: a holiday craft fair and what we are calling customizable performance based telegrams.  After class, we created a quick web based survey to nail down what exactly we were testing, and also to create a quick and easy way to send it out.  We also identified a bunch of target groups and physical locations to physically get out of the building and talk to people: staff and patrons at a nearby bar that has a parking lot we are eyeing for our craft fair, staff and patrons at the coffee shop next to this bar, local artists, student artists, farmers markets, people who work in cubicles, and anyone else that would stand still long enough for us to talk to them.  I have been administrating the online survey, so have been able to watch all week long as the results come in.  We present our findings tomorrow in class, but for now (spoiler alert) I am preparing to do some major pivoting tomorrow and in the weeks that follow.  Turns out, most people (33 out of 65 respondents to the online survey) would not want to receive a customized performance based telegram.  And, there are already about 47 holiday craft fairs (this is not an exact number, but based on my wild estimation), and local farmers markets all already have too many arts and crafts booths.  We were hoping to focus specifically on ASU artists, and it does seem like there are not enough outlets for student artists to sell their wares.

Shelby and I visited ASU’s Tempe campus farmers market today, held 4 times each semester.  While we are waiting on more information from the group that organizes the market, we learned that you need to be either a student or a member of the Arizona Community Farmers Market Association.  The market is mainly composed of the booth version of food trucks, quick, hot food that would be good for lunch (I was eyeing the Hatch green chile empanadas).  There were only 2 produce booths of the kind you find at other farmers markets, along with a booth by the ASU Arboretum, selling dates grown on campus.  There were 2 honey vendors, and 2 or 3 packaged food vendors.  Nestled in among the tamales, pita chips and vegetables was one lone booth that could be considered a craft: a local soap maker.  While the representative from the farmers market that we talked to said that any student can have an arts or craft booth (after contacting the organization and setting everything up) at the markets, the official website says that only registered student organizations or members of the Association can have a booth, and arts and crafts are only allowed at specific holiday markets (the November market, Valentine’s and Earth Day).

I am really looking forward to hearing what everyone else found out.  While we kept in communication throughout the week about where we had been and who we were talking to, we haven’t talked (much) about our discoveries.  I am curious to see what pivots we make tomorrow, and what new hypotheses we will be testing next week.  Maybe we’ll go back to the very first sticky note on our wall on ideation day: cricket traps.  I guess it depends on how loud the resident cricket in our classroom is tomorrow.

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