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Building tactical, practical, and innovative products

By Nathan Beck

We had the privilege of attending INVENTURE$ 2018 in Calgary this past week to showcase our AI assistant, In case you missed the event, we would like to catch you up and share our takeaways from this year's event.

The highlight of the event were the keynote discussions; complementary and impactful, the keynote speakers applied their disruptive ideas into everyday innovation and application, and illustrated thoughts and advice based on professional experience.


Keynote Takeaway: Don’t Worry Be… Crappy?

Most notably, was Guy Kawasaki's keynote that discussed the Art of Innovation and the 10 steps to help tech startups launch their product with confidence (including a bonus tip at the end)! Here's the breakdown:


1. Make meaning

Your business should be built around a purpose, not around a product.

· Apple = computers

· Google = information

· Canva = design


Guy had a great analogy for this:

“is a camera company in the business of printing photos or capturing memories? Define yourself by the value you bring, don't define yourself by what you do.” - Guy Kawasaki


2. Jump to the next curve

Focus on the benefits and be open to answer "how" you can continually, incrementally improve your product. Assess where you want your product to go, get feedback from your customers, and see where they find value. Look above the treeline of your project, think ahead to new ideas, and anticipate any issues you may encounter in the future.


3. Don’t worry, be crappy

"If you don't look back at your product’s first version and cringe, you aren't moving fast enough." Ship what you have and don't let perfection get in the way of progress—but make sure what you ship is your MVVVP: Minimum Valuable Viable Validated Product. Perfection is a rabbit hole many of us fall into; we start doubting ourselves and thinking “what if this isn’t good enough? Maybe we can fix this? We should improve this. What if we add this feature?” No initial launch is ever perfect, but that’s why software updates exist.


4. Focus on merit

Prioritize competence before all else. If your product doesn’t help you achieve your personal or organizational goals, do you think it will help your customers? Sure, your product is good, but does it do good? If you are proud of your product and it provides value to others, it’s likely you are prepared to launch.


5. Polarize people

Great products will have just as many strong backers as it will have strong haters. By no means think of this as “any news is good news,” but if your product is starting conversations, be the neutral party and read what both sides have to say.


6. Ignore naysayers

“Don't let the rich and famous fool you. Just because they're ‘successful’ doesn't mean they're smart, so if they doubt you and your product, prove them wrong. End of story.”


7. Change your mind

It helps to listen to feedback from your customers and change direction based on how they use (or don't use) your products. Stay flexible! Afterall, you’re building your product FOR THEM. It’s not about you; it’s about your product. Though the customer may not always be right, they sometimes are.


8. Niche thyself

“You need to create and communicate products that are both unique and valuable. If it's valuable and not unique, you'll make some money, but you’ll also be in a heavily competitive space. If it's unique, but not valuable, you're dumb for trying to sell something like that. If it's not unique and has no value, then you're dumb and dumber for having a product like that.”


9. Let 100 flowers blossom

“If you, for example, create lotion for women and they use it as bug repellent for their kids, just take the money!” Try a lot of things and be open, because you’ll never know what's going to stick—"because in reality, most successes can't be predicted.”


10. Churn, baby, churn

Keep improving what you make, constantly updating, and constantly iterating. Unless you want your product to stay frozen in time, you’ll have to keep assessing, fixing, debugging, and building on your original product. Society has this incredible tendency to change quickly, you’ll have to strap yourself in and enjoy the ride (otherwise you’re stuck waiting for your friends by the exit line).


11. Bonus! Perfect your pitch in 3 steps

1. Use a black background; a white background makes it look like this is the first time you've used PowerPoint.

2. Customize your intro to suit your audience. Do a bit of research to on your audience to make a connection with them early on.

3. Use the 10-20-30 rule: 10 Slides, 20 minutes, 30-point font.


Final Thoughts

We had a blast attending INVENTURE$ 2018, and all of us at Testfire Labs look forward to next year's "unconference." We had the opportunity to meet investors, government officials, and professionals from various sectors, from large energy and agriculture companies, to small businesses and fellow startups. We’re glad we checked it out, and our team will definitely be back next year!


Interested in reading more? Keep up-to-date with Testfire Labs News and blog.



“INVENTURE$ brings venture capitalists, angel investors, startups, entrepreneurs, service providers and thought leaders together in one unified conference to discover and share the latest in innovation, research, capital access, deal-making and experiential learning… featuring high-profile keynotes, executive panel discussions, experiential learning and more.”

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