Category Archives: pingWHEN Blogs During TechStars

Daily posts from the pingWHEN team during TechStars will be posted under this category.

Techstars Week 2: Finally…we’re getting out of the weeds

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

Count down to demo day - 87 days to go!

Count down to demo day – 87 days to go!

What did you do today?

The CEOs had a meeting at 7:30am following, which was surprisingly well attended bearing in mind last nights party went on until 3am. After that, we met with 6 mentors and were able to present the more refined pingWHEN that came from the “<app X> for Safety is <a product or feature idea>” exercise from last night. The sessions seemed to go better than those over the last three days, which the summarising feedback this evening confirmed. A few key ideas came up in the mentoring, including using a call centre to reach out to you in case of possible emergency rather than an automated SMS system, putting the user more in control of what constitutes and emergency.

After following up with the mentors we each went our own separate ways to do a bit of a ‘clean up’, and between us applied for three competitions for pingWHEN to boost publicity.

Ping Pong in the Kitchen

Ping Pong in the Kitchen

The clock is counting down worryingly fast – it’s now only 87 days until demo day! Although there’s still time for a casual game of ping pong!

Sam: After working through a few emails and writing two applications to the TalkTalk Digital Heroes competition, I spent time doing market research on personal automation services such as IFTTT and experimenting with what already exists and what works.

Techstars Day 4: Preparing for the Slaughterhouse

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

What did you do today?

We signed a deposit document!

We signed a deposit document!

Our big achievement today was making progress on our offer for the place we found to live – we’ve going through due diligence now, having signed an initial agreement and handed over a holding fee! Exciting times!

In the morning, we met with a TechStars mentor to talk about our product. One of the key pieces of feedback has been the negative impact of false positives (sending messages indicating someone may be in danger, unnecessarily) on both the mental state of those receiving them (especially if the user is out of power) and consequentially the reputation of the product after a few embarrassing press stories.

Tomorrow we have our first 2-hour deep dive with the TechStars directors (Jon Bradford, Max Kelly) and the Entrepreneur in Residence, Benjamin Southworth. In that, we’re really going to deep dive in the company, the product and the business model. Definitely expecting it to be hard-hitting and for the focus on the business to change a lot – but we’ll see!

iMac's are perfectly designed to hold 8 pink stickies - a spec not mentioned by Apple

iMac’s are perfectly designed to hold 8 pink stickies – a spec not mentioned by Apple

Sam: Today I started to invest significant time in the Analysis / Artificial Intelligence system that monitors journeys to detect incidents.

What did you learn?

Sam: I really learnt the impact the press could have on the general perception of our product, and how much of an impact a single mistake made by the analysis system could have on the business. I also learnt that the bottom of an iMac can hold approximately 8 sticky notes 🙂

 

Techstars Day 3: Moving on From Homelessness

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

What did you do today?

Julie in a flat we viewed

Julie in a flat we viewed

We’ve been in London for four days now, but are still living in a hotel close to the office, trying to find somewhere to live in London, preferably that’s close to the office. After another few hours trawling the property listings (and joking with the program director that we’d be sleeping under the desks) we secured two property viewings. We talked about studio vs two-bedroom place with space for family/friends/”staff”, and decided the cost-benefit of the two-bedroom place was worth it so made an offer.

Although next week is ‘Mentor Madness’ (check out yesterdays post for more), we have a meeting with a TechStars mentor tomorrow so have been preparing for that, including working on possible high-level business models to get his opinion on.

Finally after doing our daily push-ups, sit-ups and squats, we decided that it was worth the investment to get Julie an iMac since we will be here for 6 months – a decision that took a very long time!

Sam: I had a CTO meeting at 8:30, where we talked about the issues CTO’s have apart from writing code – it’s a common misconception that all a CTO does in an early stage startup is write code, whereas in fact it can be quite a small part of the job. After that, I had the awesome surprise that one of the Hackstars (Eduard) had fixed another of the website tasks, fixing a broken (and difficult) animation and finishing a new interface for the mailing list sign-up.

I also made significant progress on the app, fixing up various functionality (the new app is now fully functional, but there’s still more UX stuff to add before it’s user-review ready).

What did you learn?

Charger Madness!

Charger Madness!

Sam: I learnt about Sequence Based Processing, from the context of using it in our Artificial Intelligence / Analysis application. I also saw first-hand the lengths some hackers will go to, to avoid paying Apple any extra money (photo on left).

Quotes?

Someone at TechStars: “Guys – we love you – but you still don’t have a business plan”

Reason why we have not fully developed our business plan yet:

Winston Churchill: “No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.”

Techstars Day 2: Getting a Foundation.

This is a blog post in a series written during the first fortnight of our participation in Techstars London 2015.

What did you do today?

The crux of the TechStars program is serving as a mentor-driven accelerator. Teams will meet with over 80 people in just 2 weeks – known as ‘Mentor Madness.’ No. Big. Deal. Max Kelly gave our teams and overview on how to engage and work with future mentors ranging from email etiquette, asking for help, and building authentic relationships. It is inevitable that mentors will provide conflicting feedback known as ‘mentor whiplash’ throughout the frenzy of soaking up their knowledge. They warned all the start-ups to understand you will need to decide, synthesize, and act.

The rest of the day was spent searching for a flat across London. We have called so many agents and written about numerous properties, and still remain homeless. We seemed pretty optimistic that we’d be able to get one property – though we are negotiating for a short-term let.

Sam working with Eduard (Hackstar) on the new website

Sam working with Eduard (Hackstar) on the new website

Sam: After flat hunting I started working with two Hacksociates (a group of 5 Associates [bad-ass business gurus] and 4 Hackstars [world-class engineers] who are here to help with our startups) to fix up a few points on our website, including adding a floating ‘modal’ sign-up form, saving users from scrolling all the way to the bottom to sign-up. In the evening, there was some time to continue work on the app, adding a bunch of small user interface features.

What did you learn?

Sam: Cookies have massive value and will be super helpful in bribing various Hacksociates to help with our projects. Also: days go quickly, even 15 hour ones. I’ve been super-mega busy all day and only got chance to write about half the code I had planned.

Quotes?

Advice on how to rally and maintain top level mentors:

“Seriously, just don’t suck at communicating.”