For those who know me personally, real football (i.e. soccer) is a passion of mine. I grew up playing competitively and the game took me many places – the sport became a way of life to me. Soccer put me through college and this time period in my life became a defining moment for who I am and what I’m about today.
After breaking my ankle twice in college and struggling to get back to match fitness the second time was an extremely trying time in my life. My college team was consistently a top 10 ranked team in the country that attend the National Championship every year I was there and not having the opportunity to participate half the time was really difficult after working so hard to reach that level. Add to that trying to compete for a starting position on a stacked squad after coming back from ankle surgery after the 2nd break and almost a year in cast, rehab and a blow to your mental confidence – I struggled and it was really, really hard to get back.
So, what does this have to do with Lean?
What Being Lean Means To Me?
Determination To Find A Way! Entrepreneurship is hard and you have to be a tenacious creature in order to make it work. You will fail and you will learn from the failures but what you learn from each experience is very important. My college soccer career taught me a lot about determination and being mentally tough. Shit, when you are physically broken like I was and you want something so bad you have to be determined to climb back to the top. But, sometimes you have to climb to the top in a different direction.
Lean Startup to me is about finding that direction and being determined in that process to find the best path fast. I just wish Lean was around for me to practice in previous startups I was involved in that did not make it. Today, I’m involved in a couple and doing what I can to evangelize the importance of the methodology.
What’s StuckIn.TV & How’s It Lean?
From a business model perspective, StuckIn is a multi-sided online video platform for the world’s largest sports marketplace – FOOTBALL. The primary purpose of the platform is to allow talented players to showcase their skills to the world and for teams and clubs to manage the process of finding them (amateur to pros). Now, its taken my business partner, Steve Arters, and I two iterations to come to this business model conclusion as a bootstrapped side project.
Recently we brought in a 3rd partner our CTO, Jamil Walker, who is a former Major League Soccer player and hybrid UI designer & PHP developer – a needle in a haystack if you asked me. My search was long and hard to find and convince him to work for sweat equity but like I said above, determination to find a way is important. But, now practicing Lean we are trying to validate our business model and are working on a MVP (screen shots below).
Running Lean (shameless plug for a friend click me)
Here’s our current Lean business model canvas that we continue to reflect on and simplify – click image to enlarge:
Lots Of Customer Discovery
For some time we’ve been qualitatively talking to customers; face-to-face, through email, forums, on soccer fields and a conferences. And, we just recently returned from an international soccer coaches convention where we walked around with an iPad showing coaches wireframes our proposed product and listening to their reactions. We proved our assumption that, “we believed 80% of this target customer segment would agree with the problem of needing better management tools to promote and track talent”. We showed these potential customers a view from a recruiters and a promoting coaches perspective plus what an individual player and team video channel might look like. Below is a recruiters management view – it’s pretty cool and there’s some slick monetization aspects we’d like to experiment with in the future similar to Pay-Per-Click but for video placement:
Working On Our An MVP
To learn more from customers we are currently building a marketing site to bring in more folks to learn from. However, if you personally know any soccer players, coaches or scouts or recruiters feel free to share this post and link to StuckIn.TV where they can sign up to receive more info if they want to be part of our development process. And, if you are reading this from the SXSW Lean Startup event and want to vote for us to get some of that prize cash and more importantly advice from the panel just tell the community in the comments below or Tweet everyone on the Lean Challenge panel of mentors that we are lean and mean and deserve a shot to build a cool company
Ciao for now.