October 23, 2012

Planning how to learn about validating business ideas

October 23, 2012 - Categories: business, entrepreneurship, planning

I’ve been taking notes at business events and sharing them on my blog. People tell me that they really like the notes. They’re engaging, memorable, and easy to share. I want to see if I can start capturing and sharing paid events as well, eventually turning this into a visual communication business (sketchnotes! videos! workshops!) that could provide opportunities for other people to create value. Other people have built businesses around graphic recording and explainer videos, so why not?

What do I need to do in order to explore this? I need to find out:

So let’s start with a narrowly-defined niche. I want to focus only on business-related webinars, conferences, presentation series, and workshops, and only for companies whose messages I can stand behind. (No get-rich-quick schemes!) I might even scope that down further – drop workshops, because those are much more interactive.

Possible value proposition: Sketchnotes offer an engaging, visual way to follow up with leads and increase the reach of your content. They are easy to review and to share. (Hmm, can I start testing and quantifying these things?)

Instead of offering graphic facilitation, which tends to require a larger canvas for greater interactivity, I’ll offer digital sketchnotes on my tablet PC. The advantages: quick setup, no distractions away from the speaker, no materials cost or logistics (blank walls, etc.), quick turnaround – images are available the day after the event. If people want the visual impact of a 3’ or 4’ sketchnote mural, I can refer them to graphic recorders or facilitators who work in Toronto or elsewhere.

How can I go about exploring this idea?

If you put in the work of testing this idea and it works out well for you, fantastic! I think the world is big enough – and even if it turns out not to be, then you’ve done the hard work of validating the idea and making this happen, and I don’t need to. I can move on to the next business idea that I want to build. =)

Besides, by sharing, I’m probably going to run into way more people who are awesome and who can help me learn how to make things happen than people who want to just scoop the idea. See? I have perfectly selfish reasons for thinking out loud.

Pub nights and thinking about networking at events

October 23, 2012 - Categories: connecting

One of the lessons we took home from the Quantified Self Conference in September was the importance of a pub night for turning a meetup into a community. We tried it last Friday at our first post-conference meetup, squeezing twelve people around a long table at the Firkin on Yonge. I sprung for appetizers for the table and dinner for one of our attendees, who had driven for five hours from Detroit in order to join us. It turns out that three appetizers is too much for 12 people (some ordering food); next time, I’ll get one plate for every six people.

It was good to continue the conversation in a non-meetup context. I got to hear about people’s lives and even offer some help. I think it would be fun to get to know folks more. I wonder what ENT101 would be like with an informal pub night afterwards!

I really like the Quantified Self meetup. People are geeky in all sorts of different ways. I’ve taken on more of a hosting role, greeting people as they come in and checking with them after the event. It’s a good stretch, and I don’t feel as strong a need for introvert recharging after the meetup than, say, after parties or conferences.

I wonder what it is, and maybe if I can shift my experience at the other events I go to. I think part of it is the ease of introductions. With regulars, I don’t have to introduce myself, and I can ask about things we talked about before. With newcomers, I can quickly introduce myself as one of the organizers and ask them what got them interested in the group. At other events, I think I can take on the quasiofficial role of a sketchnote recorder.

Social get-togethers are still a little awkward, but that’s just more incentive to host them myself, so I can skip the introductions. Come to think of it, my tea parties are usually more about group conversations than about pairwise introductions… Hmm.

I liked supporting conversations with food. I should bring people together more often. I’m planning to have lunches and coffees more often, but I should also look into organizing communal get-togethers for coffee or dinner. We had 12 people in the coffee shop and I think that might be as large as I want to make it so that I can still listen to everyone. Maybe even six for dinner parties? We’ll see.