Programming Fact Sheet
Russell Colbourne : Your Money Machine
Season 5 Episode 9 – Product Development
31 May 2021
Your business is Your Money Machine. Starting or growing a business has been likened to assembling an aircraft midway through its first flight. Having started and exited from a number of businesses including an Airline, I know what it takes to get your business off the ground. In this show, I’ll share some of the stories and lessons I’ve learned over my 30 years of entrepreneurial business experience as a Chartered Accountant with companies like Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.
During season 5 we’ll be following a structured path to building a globally scalable, investable business based on the Founder Institute Pre-Seed Accelerator flagship program that will create a logical roadmap to success. I’ll take you through some real life business building examples including my recipes for creating high performing organisations and we will take a look at some the mistakes I made along the way and the lessons I learned from them.
This show won’t build your business for you – only you can do that, but I will show you how to build your business efficiently and effectively, so you won’t have to waste time and money doing things out of sequence, back tracking over work already done or making the same mistakes I and many others have made before you.
Today’s show is all about product development and how you can develop a product roadmap for your solution. We will discuss the techniques you can use to speak with your target customers to get feedback on your solution.
We will also cover what human resources you should have available to build a viable solution and how you can identify and engage with the human resources.
What You Need to Know - The What
#1 (Intellectual Property) Secure and protect the intellectual property for all of the work that you have done to date.
#2 (Patents) Examine the Patent landscape for your solution.
#3 (Solution Goals) Develop your Solution Goals.
#4 (Project Team) Set up a Project Team to create the solution.
#5 (Product Roadmap) Develop a Product Roadmap.
#6 (Project Plan) Create a Project Plan for the next three months.
#7 (Development Tools) Secure any necessary Development Tools.
#8 (Next Release Plan) Plan your Next Release.
#9 (Select Advisors) Select your Advisors.
What You Need to Do - The How
#1 (Intellectual Property) Secure and protect the intellectual property for all of the work that you have done to date. Mark all of your work products with a copyright notice, such as “Copyright ©[year], MyCompany, Inc. - All rights reserved.” Mark any sensitive information with the label “Confidential Information, MyCompany, Inc.” Create a bulleted list of the key work products and documents that you have marked. Create a bulleted list with the names, email addresses and roles of everyone that you have asked to do measurable work on your company, such as your Design Resource, and have each individual sign an appropriate agreement for the role that assigns the intellectual property that they have developed for the company.
#2 (Patents) Examine the Patent landscape for your solution. Identify which portions of your product may have specialized or novel elements which could be patented. Perform your own online patent search on the US, EU or any other applicable patent office’s website, using the process recommended by the US patent office (https://www.uspto.gov/learning-and-resources/support-centers/patent-and-trademark-resource-centers-ptrc/resources/seven). Write down the names and numbers of any patents that are related to your product. Identify one Mentor, Advisor, CEO or CTO of a startup in a related industry that has successfully filed patents. Reach out to them and set up a 20 minute call to discuss their intellectual property strategy. During the call, ask about the need, the process, the costs, the advantages and the disadvantages of securing a Patent.
#3 (Solution Goals) Develop your Solution Goals. Write a couple of sentences to evaluate the current state of your solution and all of the feedback that you have received from customers. Create a bulleted list of the three Solution Goals that you would like the Next Releases to solve for your target customers over the next year. Make the Solution Goals measurable and easy to understand. Sample Solution Goals may be "to help my target customer find a rental property in less than 24 hours" or "to provide information on cryptocurrency transactions within 10 milliseconds of a closing." You want to achieve the Solution Goals with the least amount of work possible and the least amount of technology.
#4 (Project Team) Set up a Project Team to create the solution. Spend time to reflect on what are the optimal skills required to create your solution based on the Solution Goals, and start organizing the skills into Roles. Provide a bulleted list of all Roles that are required to develop the solution, including the name of the Role and a couple of sentences on what the Role will provide. Identify any Team Members that you currently have or that you can quickly acquire to fill the Roles, which can include vendors, freelancers or Advisors. If you have the Team Member identified for a Role, consider the compensation you are willing to offer. Ensure that all Team Members sign documentation to assign the intellectual property rights for their work to you and the company. If you need to use any vendors or freelancers, consult with any relevant Advisor Candidates to validate that this is an appropriate approach.
#5 (Product Roadmap) Develop a Product Roadmap. Reflect upon what you need to create in order to meet your Solution Goals with your Project Team. Purchase or acquire sticky notes and colored markers. Write down the various “Features” that are present in the Selected Project on the sticky notes. Then, organize the sticky notes by moving them around on a wall into logical “Groups,” such as “Registration” or “Search.” Rank all the Features in each Group by priority: (Priority 1) absolutely necessary, (Priority 2) wait to next version, (Priority 3) nice to have. Stick your most important Group of Features first on the wall, and then organize the other Groups by importance from left to right with the most important Group and most important Feature on the top left. Organize Features by level of importance into “Releases”, such as "Beta" or "Version 1." Turn the physical Product Roadmap into a digital version.
#6 (Project Plan) Create a Project Plan for the next three months. Fine tune the Releases in your Product Roadmap to be as simple as possible to test one hypothesis of the business. Each Release should take approximately two weeks to complete using your available resources and Team Members. If you do not have a professional Mockup of your hardware or software solution, then developing this Mockup must be your Next Release. You may consider doing a 'Concierge MVP' as a Next Release, where you deliver the solution on the back end using human labor rather than using automated processes. Create a bulleted list of the 6 next sequential Releases from the Project Roadmap with the name of the Release and a couple sentence description. Evaluate each Release based on the appeal to your Customer Archetype, the ability to help you achieve your Key Performance Indicators and the ability to prove a hypothesis about the market, your solution or the customer. Rank order the Releases based on this analysis. Update your Product Roadmap to reflect the changes to the Releases.
#7 (Development Tools) Secure any necessary Development Tools. Research any tools, technologies or systems that you will need to create your solution and to manage the process of developing your solution. Common Development Tools include team communication, document sharing, prototyping tools, design tools, database management, development environments, bug tracking, source code repositories and hosting providers. Consult with the relevant Advisor Candidates on their recommended Development Tools.
#8 (Next Release Plan) Plan your Next Release. Write a paragraph that describes to your Project Team the details about your next release. Write a couple of sentences about the timing for completion of the Next Release that includes a description of any processes to evaluate the progress over time. Provide a bulleted list of the Features in your Next Release, and write one sentence that describes each Feature, assigning each Feature to a Team Member, if applicable. In addition, add any instructions on how a particular Feature might work if that is necessary for a Team Member to create the Feature. Send this Next Release Plan to your Project Team, which may include Project Vendors.
#9 (Select Advisors) Select your Advisors. Selecting the right Advisors to join your Advisory Board is very important. Check in with each of your three top Advisor Candidates on the Advisor Test Project to collect the deliverable, and rate the deliverable on a scale of 1 to 5. Update your rating of the strength of your personal chemistry and of the ability to help the business for each top Advisor Candidate based on your interactions. Review your ratings and your notes for each of the top Advisor Candidates in the Startup, Industry and Technology or Marketing categories. If you have any doubts at all about the value of an Advisor Candidate, eliminate them from the Advisor Target List and initiate Advisor Follow-up with the next qualified candidate. Write an email to each Selected Advisor stating that you would like to briefly speak with them about joining your Advisory Board, and set up a short Advisor Closing Call. The Advisor Closing Call and the creation of the Advisory Board is covered in the next Episode.
Written by Russell Colbourne, FCCA, GAICD
Your Money Machine
Russell is a CFO and Entrepreneur who has worked across a diverse range of industries over the past 30 years. After a short service commission as a pilot flying Seaking Helicopters in the British Royal Navy, Russell studied business and qualified as a Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA) in the UK. Since then he has been integral with the start-up of many successful companies and operations within larger organisations. He has bought, sold and spun off business operations in the UK, Australia and the US.
In 1994 Russell joined Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airlines where he was responsible for a number of innovative services that were, at the time, ground breaking and helped revolutionise air transport. From launching the world’s first limo boat on the River Thames to developing the world’s first handheld check-in device and implementing drive through check-in booths around the world, Russell has helped the Virgin Group deliver unparalleled customer service. In 2000 Russell was the first of the Virgin team to arrive in Australia to start a new low cost Airline, and within 8 months had built a team operating flights between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Russell now works as a Part Time CFO for a number of SME businesses in South Australia. He is the owner of www.chiball.com.au a health and wellbeing business, and www.feesable.co a crowdfunding website for educational costs. In 2019 Russell and his business partner Peter Hattam created Feesable which graduated from the Founder Institute Program in 2020. He is one of the local Directors of the Founder institute Program in Adelaide where he lives with his wife and 3 teenage sons.
To find out more about the Founder Institute program and how you can take your idea to a globally scalable, investable business, please see www.fi.co The material used in this show is based on the Founder Institute program and is used with permission.
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