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 Ten out of Ten, 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 Ten out of Ten, 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

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...

What’s your riskiest assumption?

Read enough startup advice content and you'll inevitably run across the advice that Focus is critical to success. Founders need to focus on one priority, one goal and relentlessly pursue it if they want to be successful. That advice is correct. In theory. Most startup advice is actually correct in theory. The question though is - what to focus on? What should be the priority? What mental model are we using in order to figure this out? What I've learned from working with founders (and...

What about the other half?

Last week, I read a quote from an investor, sharing how he makes investment decisions. "50% of what I'm looking for in an investment is me being able to answer, 'Do I like this person?'" Yikes. I find this incredibly problematic. Of course investors should put money into companies with founders they like. The founder/investor relationship is for the long-term. I certainly wouldn't invest in someone I didn't want a long-term relationship with. Here's the problem though: We humans tend to "like"...

Start as you’d like to continue

I just moved to Denver over the weekend. My furniture is scheduled to arrive later this morning, so I'm sitting on the floor in my dining room writing this. And in a minute, I'm going to go for a mile run along Cherry Creek Trail. Not because I feel like going for a run, but because I want to be a runner. New beginnings, of all kinds - new homes, new jobs, new cities - are a fantastic time to introduce or strengthen a habit. You're already out of your comfort zone in so many ways, new sounds...

Do you need a little break?

I was catching up with a close friend and very successful entrepreneur yesterday, and she shared how unproductive she has felt for the past few weeks. She was still getting the basics accomplished each day, taking care of customers etc, but also spending a lot of time on fun stuff like checking out new music and bingeing on Netflix. My response? You must have needed it. And I've said this enough, to her and about myself, at various times over the years, it's almost a life motto. We often feel...

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, laughing and joyous. Instead, I had hundreds of photos of kids deep in concentration as they drew pictures, tried to fish a monkey out of a barrel, hop in a straight line, or make sure their balloon on a stick hit their brother's...

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....

I hate pitch competitions

They glorify being certain in an industry that is all about creating value out of thin air, where nothing is certain. They don't differentiate stages, so startups that are very early are pitted against companies that have customers and a product. Often, judges don't even have or use a rubric for scoring. They pick winners based on their "gut", which we know is actually code for bias. They distract founders away from the work they should be doing - talking and selling to customers. It is...

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...

You can stop pitching now

What would it feel like if you could be completely honest about your business? What would it feel like if you didn't have to constantly live in pitch mode? Personally, I think our startup communities would be stronger and we, as founders, would be healthier. Because entrepreneurship isn't showmanship. We shouldn't be prancing around the arena trying to look our best. Entrepreneurship is messy, confusing, discouraging, full of dead ends and lost time. It's also full of a-ha moments, discovery,...

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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