Morgan Linton took the stage during the Keynote Luncheon at TDC in Fort Lauderdale today, sharing his in-depth story of what it takes to take a start-up idea from conception to launch, and how these lessons can be applied to those within the domaining industry who are hoping to propel their promising domains from good idea to great business.
It’s easy to assume from success stories that everything goes smoothly all the time, Morgan began - but there are so many failures we don’t hear about. Failure is a big part of making it as an entrepreneur, but there are many tools that can help you build a successful business. One of these tools for Morgan was the book Lean Primer by Eric Ries, who advises that a lean approach forges the path to success. This is an approach used to validate and invalidate ideas faster - which doesn't mean running a business more cash efficiently or with less people, but takes the "customer development" approach over "friends and family development."
Lots of people in this room will own a lot of domains, Morgan continued, and there’s so many ideas of what those domains can become. But how do you validate and invalidate each one? Where can you put your focus? Another tool Morgan used when launching Fashion Metric was the Lean Startup Machine validation board, available for free online, which enables you to go through the full idea validation process before launching. Design experiments and figure out what works - before you sink your dollars into launching an untested idea or product.
Morgan's tips for pursuing customer development include:
- Ask open ended questions (not leading)
- Talk to people in target market (not friends and family)
- Accept that your idea might not be as good as you think it is and use this as an opportunity to really learn about your customers.
Morgan found that asking these questions actually led to a new problem than the one they were initially trying to solve, and they had to adopt a method of pivoting: changing strategy without changing vision.
Other key findings from Morgan's own experience included a warning that just because an investor invests in you, doesn’t mean you’ve succeeded. You’ve only just reached the starting line, and each milestone only gets you to the next starting point, the next step towards growth.
Finally, he suggested that all attendees take advantage of the wealth of knowledge within these rooms at TDC, and use it! Ask people what they did in their past, and why. What made them make certain decisions, or shifts in their pursuits. Seek advice.
To sum it all up, here are Morgan's key lessons for domaining:
- Think lean - validate your assumptions before spending money, writing code, etc.
- Focus is powerful - you can do ten things pretty well or one thing really well.
- If you have a lot of projects be honest and determine which of these are actual businesses that will make you money.
- Take action:
- Write down your assumptions.
- Find a way to test them, one at a time (until they’re proven, they’re just assumptions).
- Invalidate over and over again.
- Talk to target customer.
- Don’t be afraid to kill almost all of your “projects” to focus on your business.
Thanks to Morgan for a riveting keynote address and the sound advice!