I’m sure most of you have heard the phrase “eating your own dogfood.” In tech, it often means using the very tools you build. Or adapting the ideology you preach.
Last summer I decided that I wanted to hold a small event here in Portland. To help teach people the principles I’ve learned starting dozens of failed and successful online ventures. None of them were big, most of them were tiny. However, none of them were designed to be big. Some failed before I even told anyone about them, and did okay, and some pay my salary and that of my employees and have for over three years.
Paleo Plan is unquestionably my greatest success to date, and I constantly get asked “How did you start Paleo Plan? What tools do you use? What about Idea X?” And I love answering those, but to be actually helpful to people, it would take far more time and energy than I can give over a 30 minute coffee meeting. So, I thought it would be cool to have an event where I walk people through it. To actually teach them as much as I can in two days, and get force them to actually start building at that same event.
Skip ahead 12 months, and I still haven’t held my event (to my defense, I did triple the revenue of Paleo Plan *and* had a baby boy in those 12 months, so I wasn’t being too idle). But I still couldn’t shake the desire to share what I’d learned. So, I asked Cami Kaos to help me (she’s the Accounts Manager for Paleo Plan, so she already knew how to wrangle me). Two weeks later, we announced the event, and I couldn’t be happier.
Now, back to the dog fooding. One of my biggest encouragements to people is to quit guessing if their idea will work, and find out. Get a landing page up and test the idea either by tweeting it or buying Adwords. If people sign up, if they share it socially, if they contact you for more information, then you may have a hit. If they don’t, either tweak it and try again, or find another idea.
I was struggling to get my website up for Tiny Startup Camp, and Rick Turoczy looked me in the eye and chastised me “Just stick an Unbounce page up and move on.” Which is the type of advice I’ve always given other people.
So, now it’s up. And you can pre-register. This doesn’t mean that I’m waiting to see if I should have the event, but waiting to see demand so I can reach out to possible sponsors, and to determine a venue, and help incentivize different speakers to come. But I couldn’t have done that if I’d waited to get it all sorted out beforehand. And honestly, if all I’d heard was crickets, I’d pulled the idea and told people it was just a hoax. But luckily, that didn’t happen, and response has been awesome.
So, if you want more information on Tiny Startup Camp, then pre-register. We’ll be announcing pricing, location, and speakers very soon. But until then, you’re already helping me answer all my questions, prove my hypothesis, and eat my own dog food. So. Thanks.