Notes from the Studio

At Fluent, we work directly with founders, program leaders, and startup ecosystem builders across the United States. We’re developing and testing entrepreneurial training and support tools and methodologies to help founders everywhere beat the odds in their venture-building journey. We share what we’re working on and learning here.

The Machine: Making Customers

One of my founders at Velocity Accelerator joked this week that we need t-shirts for our cohort that say “Build the Machine.” I say it so often, in my workshops and coaching sessions, that it has become the mantra of this cohort. I say it so often, because it’s the most important part of the business for founders to focus on, once they’ve proven they are solving a problem people care about. Too...

The Accelerator Model isn’t dead, but it needs to evolve

The world is moving and changing incredibly fast. Someday, we’ll have as many accelerators in the world as there are currently colleges and universities. As we evolve the accelerator model, I believe this is how we’ll train people to create value in an uncertain and ever-changing world. In order to reach that point, we need to think critically about what currently works and doesn’t about the accelerator model. And then we need to ambitiously embrace experimentation and continuous improvement.

Introducing Fluent & my 2018 BHAG

One of the things I love most about working in the startup space is the expectation to always level up and to find the next harder challenge after gaining some mastery at the current level. Having been a founder in an accelerator first, building a startup over the past six years, and then transitioning to managing an accelerator for the past two years, I have a unique point of view on the design and implementation of accelerators.

Learn more about the Fluent methodology

At Fluent, we are obsessed with pushing the state of the industry forward, specifically for community-based entrepreneurial support organizations.

In The Founder Machine, Fluent CEO Beth McKeon outlines her vision for how startup community leaders can move beyond optimizing for luck in our ecosystems to a model designed to produce predictable, repeatable startup success.

 

Available for purchase: Spring 2019

Learn more about the Fluent methodology

At Fluent, we are obsessed with pushing the state of the industry forward, specifically for community-based entrepreneurial support organizations.

In The Founder Machine, Fluent CEO Beth McKeon outlines her vision for how startup community leaders can move beyond optimizing for luck in our ecosystems to a model designed to produce predictable, repeatable startup success.

 

Available for purchase: Spring 2019 

For Founders

Real simple leadership tips

The October issue of Real Simple magazine has an article titled, "How to Raise a Problem-Solver." They give four tips: Make room for play - provide unstructured time for invention and "reasonable" risk-taking Support purpose - assign real work that matters and benefits other people Ask questions - give space to practice decision-making skills Let go of perfect  - prepare for mistakes and make it ok when things don't work exactly right This seems like really smart leadership advice, too. Each...

Two years of growth in 90 days

The best accelerators operate on two levels - business development and founder development. The person you were the day before starting an accelerator isn't the same person you will be called toward during the three months of intense work, experimentation, feedback, success, and failure. If you are the same person at the end of the three months, you didn't do it right. If you come into an accelerator very product-focused, you'll probably be challenged to get out and talk to customers, sell...

All good advice

Recently, I've started drinking a full Nalgene of water first thing when I wake up. And for the first time in a long time, I'm hitting my water consumption goals nearly every day. Thing is, I've heard this advice many times before, but never tried it for myself. But now is the perfect time to add a new healthy habit into my routine, so it's working. It makes me think pretty much all advice might be right, but not at the right time for you. Timing matters a lot. As you're talking to mentors and...

There are no magic numbers

There is a pernicious and harmful belief in the startup world that financial models are worthless. A founder toils away, wasting time putting in a bunch of magic numbers into a spreadsheet, with the end goal of showing exponential growth over the next three years. Every financial model has a J-curve showing success, so what's even the point. This kind of thinking overlooks the simple fact that financial models are exactly designed to demonstrate how a startup will win. It's a model for growth...

Go be awesome

Not everyone is going to love what you do, what you offer. Not everyone is going to share your values, your dreams, your vision for what could be. Go be awesome. Go do the thing you do, full out, as brilliantly as you are able. Share your values and dreams confidently. Seek out the people who do share your vision and believe in you and what you are building. (They are out there. I promise.) The people who don't get it, don't value it, don't want it don't belong in your world. And that's ok....

Are you product-focused or business model focused?

At Fluent, I'm obsessed with helping first-time founders build startups like serial entrepreneurs. I think we can do a LOT better than one out of ten startups succeeding and a big part of that is equipping first-time founders with the mindsets and skills of an experienced founder as they navigate the early risks of their venture-building. And here is the number one difference I see between first-time founders and serial entrepreneurs... First-time founders are product-focused. They saw a...

What’s your personal productivity system?

For the past few months, I've been working at about half my normal productivity. There were good reasons for that, and while I didn't necessarily like working less, it was something that my mind and body needed. And I also knew that when I moved to Denver, I wanted to do a hard reset on habits and activities to enable me to re-enter full productivity mode again. Where I'm a beast at getting big, ambitious projects done. My two productivity systems - honed over many years of trial and error -...

What do you need to learn today?

Entrepreneurs are great at learning and teaching themselves things. Need a website? Learn to code. Need more customers? Learn to sell. Need capital? Learn how to pitch and fundraise. The best entrepreneurs also know how to focus and learn only what they need right now. With the crazy glut of content and information on entrepreneurship available on the interwebs (this blog included), it's easy to get distracted, to fall down a rabbit hole reading and learning. But right now, you only need to...

Don’t jump off a cliff

You know what's dangerous? Daring new, first-time founders to take crazy risks in the name of being true entrepreneurs. Reid Hoffman is famous for saying, "an entrepreneur is someone who will jump off a cliff and assemble an airplane on the way down." As an entrepreneur myself, this quote speaks to me - the hustle, the nerve, the willingness to do hard and dangerous things. I resonate so much with all of these sentiments. And yet, as someone who coaches founders, I also hate this quote....

Do you need a mentor or a coach?

Mentors are the hot shit in the startup world. Our accelerator programs are full of mentors. As an accelerator director, I actually love the chaos and confusion of mentor matching days when founders meet with dozens of mentors in a single day, giving their elevator pitch and tackling the hard questions the mentors ask. Mentors are experts, experienced operators in business. They've seen a lot and bring a lot of wisdom to the table. But they aren't coaches. Coaches bring expertise too, but in a...

Work is play

I used to host a big community event for families with lots of hands-on activities. And after each event, I'd look through the photos we'd taken to find the gems we could use to market the next year's event. I was looking for pictures of kids with wide, bright smiles,...

Real simple leadership tips

The October issue of Real Simple magazine has an article titled, "How to Raise a Problem-Solver." They give four tips: Make room for play - provide unstructured time for invention and "reasonable" risk-taking Support purpose - assign real work that matters and...

It all adds up

Years ago with my last business, I noticed how big video ads were going to become and started offering to make short videos for my advertisers as a bonus when they signed up for an annual package. Then, I had to teach myself how to shoot and edit videos in iMovie. I...

All good advice

Recently, I've started drinking a full Nalgene of water first thing when I wake up. And for the first time in a long time, I'm hitting my water consumption goals nearly every day. Thing is, I've heard this advice many times before, but never tried it for myself. But...

Can you picture each foothold?

Champion athletes win because they have spent years of their lives practicing for the big game. And not just practicing to develop muscle memory, which makes sense for physical activities, but also to visualize each move, each scenario. Recently, I watched Free Solo,...

It’s gonna be uncomfortable

You know how terrible it feels that you don't know exactly how your startup is going to make money? Or get more customers? And sometimes, you're not even sure if you're solving a real problem? This is the discomfort of building a startup. It's supposed to feel this...

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