Gangplank Tucson: Lean Launchpad – Lessons Learned

On May 12, 2012 Gangplank Tucson kicked off our first Lean Launchpad course. It was modeled after the course that Steve Blank has been teaching at Stanford and other schools. The goal is to help teach entrepreneurs how to use customer development to search for a business model that they can ultimately scale. The course is intended to be extremely fast paced and requires a large investment from the student teams.

For this first pilot course our intention was to jump in, execute and learn from it rather than planning like crazy and trying to get it “right”. Because of that we pulled together 5 teams and 5 mentors. The mentors were chosen based on availability and were not assigned to a single team.

Each week we would begin by reviewing the selected reading from The Startup Owner’s Manual and Business Model Generation books. Next, we would proceed to review the associated slides from Steve Blank’s slide share. Last, we would pair each team up with a mentor to help the teams determine what they should be testing for the next week.

After eleven weeks we had two teams that really stood out. The first team was Forward Intel which started the class with the belief that they would provide a suite of big data software and services. By the end of the course they had narrowed to a very specific problem of providing actionable recommendations to marketing firms based on their web, social and related data.

The second team was Verb Club who were designing a mobile route application specifically for climbers. Due to the fact that details about routes change constantly due to weather it is extremely important for climbers to have current information. The app would primarily be supported by advertising.

All in all the course had a great impact and we will definitely be running more of them very soon.

Lessons Learned

  • There is a huge need for this type of education in Tucson as we have lots of entrepreneurs starting new businesses, but no education that focuses on this first phase of business building.
  • Some entrepreneurs have a STRONG reality distortion field. We saw one of the teams which absolutely believed that their vision was reality. They focused completely on web data and refused to get out of the building and learn from their customers one-on-one.
  • There are lots of great coaches & mentors willing to help entrepreneurs in Tucson. I was amazed at the willingness of all of the mentors to jump in and spend their personal time coaching teams for free. Thank you all for paying it forward.
  • It is important to match mentors to teams as it increases accountability for both the teams and the mentor. Additionally I believe it will be important to match based on the industries of both.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this first course a success!!


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Conferences on Intrapreneurship, Innovation, Customer Development and Product Development

I’m in the process of trying to find venues to continue to build my credibility around innovation, intrapreneurship and rapid experimentation.   Rather than keeping it to myself I thought I should share it here to help others.   If you know of any that I may have missed, please post them in the comments.

Upcoming Events: 

Here are a few 2013 conferences that will likely return in 2014:


Past Events:

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Lean Startup for Intrapreneurs (Podcast Episode)

I had the pleasure of speaking with some of the folks (Drew Lesuer, Derek Neighbors and Roy van de Water) from Integrum Technology on their Agile Weekly Podcast.   We focused primarily on tips, tricks and pitfalls of applying Customer Development (CustDev) and Lean Startup methodologies inside of the enterprise.

I’d love your feedback, what tips do you have?  What issues do you run into?

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Gangplank Tucson Featured in Tucson Weekly

Not quite sure what Gangplank Tucson does for the community or how we got started?  Check out my TQ&A interview with Mari Herreras inside the Tucson Weekly.  The article focuses on the answers to the following questions: :

  • What is Gangplank and where is it located?
  • How did I get involved with Gangplank?
  • What’s the connection between Bookmans and Gangplank?
  • How did Gangplank come to Tucson?
  • What type of events take place at Gangplank Tucson?

For the answers to these questions and to learn more information about Gangplank Tucson’s origination, read the full interview at Tucson Weekly.

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Keeping Your Social Media Synchronized

Keeping Your Social Media Sunchronized

One of the questions I’m often asked is, “How do you keep your social media synchronized?”  Therefore, I present the same question to you.  With all the social media options available, how do you synchronize them?  How do you prevent this from being such a daunting task?

In my presentation Keeping Your Social Media Synchronized, I emphasize the development of a social media strategy and show you what works for me.  Some of the techniques I share include:
  • Determining Goals & Objectives:  Before you can determine your SMART goals, you must understand your objective – why you have chosen to use social media.
  • Conduct Research:  Know your audience and where to find them.  Learn why this process is critical to your success.
  • Catalog Existing Information:  Now that you have information available, how do you get in front of your audience?
  • Measure Success:  What methods should you use to check the health of your efforts?
  • Watch for New Content:  Stay abreast of what’s happening and capitalize on what’s “hot”.
  • Managing Multiple Accounts:  Focus on quality rather than quantity.

At the conclusion of the presentation, I challenge you to

  • Create your SMART goals
  • LEARN about your customers
  • Identify one or two social networks to FOCUS on

Once you know how to keep your social media synchronized, the task is not as daunting.  Watch the above presentation to learn more about I keep it in sync.

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LinkedIn Optimization Techniques

LinkedIn SEO for Individuals and Businesses


Optimizing your LinkedIn profile is paramount to your success when operating a business.  Many business owners establish their presence within the LinkedIn network, but a very small percentage experience the true benefit of being a LinkedIn member.  In order to truly gain momentum with this networking tool, an individual or a business must understand and quickly apply a set of optimization techniques.


During the presentation, LinkedIn SEO for Individuals and Businesses, I show you the very techniques needed to take your business to the next level.  You will learn:

  • Why LinkedIn?  Why should you use LinkedIn? After all, it is the largest business networking site available and at your fingertips are decision makers with a different mindset.
  • Optimizing Your Profile:  Learn how to strategize and make your profile soar above the crowd with simple techniques, such as getting recommended.
  • Leveraging and Growing Groups:  In order to get results, you must have a targeted database.
  • Driving Traffic:  Generate traffic for your business.  Find out how connecting your blog to your profile makes a world of difference.
  • Webinars:  Webinars are the way of the future and to capitalize on your time, learn to address a group of people rather than one individual.
  • Build an Email List:  Having a solid email list helps you keep your business name and products and/or services in front of buyers and potential buyers.
  • Connecting With Decision Makers:  Eliminate the middle-man and connect directly with decision makers.


At the conclusion of this presentation, I challenge you to apply these SEO techniques to your LinkedIn profile, connect your profile to your blog, create or join a group, and either build or contribute to the group. My question to you is: ‘Will you accept the challenge’?

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