Start-up within a start-up

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Huh?  What do you mean a start-up within a start-up, isn’t one enough to keep us busy you might ask?  The answer is yes, one is more than enough however being the entrepreneurs that we are many times we come up with ideas we just need to dive a bit deeper on.  That is exactly what happened to us about a week ago, let me rephrase that, my business partner Ken Merkel had an epiphany while working out via a Zoom call last Monday.

Currently we are in the middle of the Covid-19 global pandemic where we have all (global citizen) been asked to stay home to flatten the curve and in doing so we have found ourselves looking for ways to keep fit somehow among many other things.  Ken let me know that him and his wife started working out twice a week online with a group of people they knew from the gymnastics club their kids used to go to. At the time I thought to myself, “that’s a good idea, maybe I should get my own group going” but then I thought about all the extra work I would need to do and that is when my laziness factor kicked in.
The more I thought it, the more I thought about how this is all playing out across the globe.  Working out and staying fit is definitely a personal and local activity each one of us does but it also happens everywhere.  Within the environment we find ourselves today, we believe that this is not a unique story, tons of people all over the world are looking for a new way to keep fit while staying at home. 
When Ken pinged me I was already thinking about the same thing, what about some sort of marketplace platform for fitness trainers and people wanting to stay in shape from home.  A place where trainers could find people interested in training and where people could find trainers providing training.  
Let me back up a bit first though.  As you may have noticed, we are in the business of helping organizations exponentially grow their businesses through a proven open source methodology (OpenExO) that has the ability to transform businesses into similar type companies like Google, Tesla, or Uber among others. We really want to live and breath the stuff we preach, so with that mindset we decided to move forward with this new concept and see where it takes us.
Taking a page out of Eric Ries book “The Lean Startup” we began with defining what our Minimum Viable Product (MVP) would be so we could get out and test market as soon as humanly possible.  We didn’t want to over plan or put anytime towards wasted efforts as we knew that with feedback from potentially real customers we might have to quickly pivot, focus on something else or completely abandon the idea altogether. Like most entrepreneurs out there, we strongly felt we had a fantastic idea that may be a game changer within this space. Sound familiar? The enthusiasm is great but convincing oneself without empirical data and evidence is the downfall of so many start-ups. I think it was Mike Tyson that said, “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.  We want to get punched in the mouth as soon as possible and as many times as possible so we could adapt (dodge, block and counter) to ultimately get to that sweet spot where we hit them with an offer (punch) they just couldn’t refuse (or in boxing terms, could’t block or counter).  Basically, we wanted to get a feedback loop in place so we could validate our ideas over and over again as we constantly changed and improved the service we were about to create. 
Welcome to our first iteration, “Monday Night Workouts”.  With a small group of fitness enthusiasts, we had our first test group to work with.  An online form on a landing page, an integration with Google Calendar and we were off to the races. People would signup online by entering in their name and email where they were automatically added as an attendee to an existing event within our Google Calendar which had the workout details. Yup, that’s it.  Nothing fancy about it.  We did get what we were looking for though, feedback from our first group of testers. They liked the simplicity of signing up, how the calendar functionality was done behind the scenes and the experience with the Zoom (video conference style) workout they did.   What they would have liked to see is the ability to add a review to the workout and the trainer much like you would for a business on Google. Needless to say, we got our feedback loop going and have already learned a few things.
What’s next? 
We iterate by building on what we just learnt and go back out and test again and again and again.  The cycle will just keep going and going regardless of good or bad success.  We will keep trying new things out and learn from them.  
Now getting back to the reason I choose the title “Start-up within a start-up”.  Our company ExO Execute’s sole focus is to help transform organizations by 10x following a unique methodology and process.  What good would our coaching and consulting be without living and breathing what we teach.  So, with that we will be implementing every single part of what practice into this new venture regardless of where it takes us. We hope to learn a ton which will be used as lessons learned for our client’s new ventures and initiatives.  This first post about it is just the beginning. 
If you found this article useful or useless, please let us know as we will learn from either. 

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