Customer Interviews, Surveys
Customer interviews and surveys should be priority-1 for all new ventures. Knowing whom to ask, what questions to ask, and how to ask them, are the most important criteria and are critical mistakes many new ventures make. AlphaDynamics helps in the following ways:
- Identify target customer, proper questions, best methods (in-person, online, etc), incentives.
- Setup customer interviews (a higher priority than doing surveys) with key customers.
- Create, test, and analyze the results from focus groups.
- Conduct customer interviews as needed. Founder will want to participate, or may take over this task.
- Setup, advertise, and market online surveys.
- Conduct in person surveys when appropriate (for example, an invention-based ventures). Founders will want to be involved in this process.
These tasks will often be combined with that from other services such as A/B testing, Adwords testing, etc.
Market Research / Competitive Analysis
The 3 legged stool of startup success is Market research and competitive analysis are second only to customer interviews and surveys in terms of new venture needs, which are often overlooked. Alpha Dynamics helps in the following ways:
- Assess existing technologies and offerings with respect to customer needs and wants to determine:
- Market Demand
- Market Size
- Market Competition
- Research prior related startup failures and successes to determine potential pitfalls and lessons learned
This may be combined with other services, such as crowdfunding assistance (although crowdfunding is generally promoted as a funding mechanism, it also serves as a relatively low-risk method to determine market demand and size and the value of the venture's unique proposition).
Adwords testing and A/B testing
The only customer activities worth noting are time spent investigating the product, and actually purchasing the product. For internet based purchases this requires some investment upfront to determine what motivates buyers, and what causes them to spend money. Alpha Dynamics is experienced in helping with the following:
- Plan, Create and Administer an Adwords campaign to identify what most motivates buyers
- Create an auto-randomized A/B testing set of pages to determine what causes buyer to spend money on your product.
- Determine the ideal price by means of A/B testing for your product.
- Create and/or administer a campaign and customer incentives to increase the number of data-points for this analysis - which saves the venture a lot in the long run.
Note that this can be done as part of a product's homepage, but may also be done in a number of other ways. Note also that it is not necessary to have an MVP completed prior to doing this invaluably essential step. Ventures that do not this process usually don't have the correct pricing to succeed.
These tasks is also often a part of the Market Research and Customer Surveys to help determine Market Demand in general, and perform a gap analysis to identify where the venture should devote their resources.
Milestone funding (aka tranche funding) is a common element for many new ventures (especially those with less practiced team members). It has many advantages, and some disadvantages ... but Alpha Dynamics can assist with milestone definitions and management in a way that addresses all of the challenges normally found in milestone funding. Alpha Dynamics usually works as a liason with the investment group to facilitate better milestone management and insure adequate and proper funding is done ... enriching the experience for both the new venture and for the investors.
- Better Milestones
- execution-based milestones at the beginning, performance-based as things mature
- ensures things are done in a best-practices order and method
- Better definitions, as most milestone failure experiences are attributed to poor milestone definition
- Execution against milestones are measured through Alpha Dynamics, not through the investment group
- Weekly (or as needed) milestone meetings with the venture team, investors given full weekly report by Alpha Dynamics
- Keep investor relationship with the venture professional and measured
- Allows venture team to focus on execution & performance, not on educating and explaining technical challenges to concerned investors (as we take on that role instead)
- Experienced Entrepreneurs at Alpha Dynamics provide early identification of trouble points and possible pivots.
- Investors can provide shadow leadership through us that is more inviting than the heavy handedness of a financier
- Experienced Venture Teams working with us as fellow entrepreneurs mitigates any shame they might otherwise feel being put upon by having a Milestone funding arrangement in place. Alpha Dynamics assists in a earned position to help them with milestone management ... not as a non-technical investor to micromanage or distrust.
- Insitu arbitration provided as needed.
- Validating the idea
- Getting customers
Avoid Typical Needless New-Venture Money Pits:
- Unconditional resource commitment (manpower, funding, equipment, services, etc). This is does not preclude conditional commitments, which are always strongly encouraged.
- Unnecessary Prototypes and/or MVPs, and premature product-building. This does not preclude proof-of-concepts and well-defined product and customer parameters for research and analysis, which are always essential.
- Costly Development Methods. Development heavy validation should be avoided when something like the "onepage-website and test briefly with adwords" method can often suffice.
- Poorly-targeted conventional advertising-heavy campaigns. Grassroots campaigns (like working with blogging influencers, and crowdsharing) are often adequate, and in some cases are more productive.
- Feature Creep. This is probably the most frequent mistake when new-ventures take a round-about path to success. Each venture should have a 5-whys master.
Proof of Concept / Prototype / MVP
Alpha Dynamics has considerable depth in the following product-realization related tasks:
- App Development
- Wireframing (UI and UX design)
- Solution Architecture - right tech and size, appropriate to the scope
- Can provide experienced Technical Project Management to reduce additional co-founder needs or responsibilities
- Software Development (as resources become available)
- Outsourcing management, managed by agile, or waterfall, as needed.
- Daily update provided as needed.
- Physical Products
- Access to multiple 3D printers, CNC machines
- Shapeways partner
- Skunkworks for quick
- Networked with local machine shops
- Investment casting, all materials (elastomers to metals) for short runs
Programming, IT Services
Technical startups with plenty of internal technical expertise will want to manage their own IT services and Programming, but for startups that need additional technical resources we can provide the following
- Virtual Private Servers
- Cloud Services using AWS
- Domain name Services
- Email Administration
- Telecommunication Solutions
- Programming Resources as the become available
- Technical Project Management services (for technical new ventures)
- PMP trained and startup PMP experienced
- Note this is an interim service so new ventures can prove out their model through MVP without feeling desperate to hire a technical co-founder
- Usually paired with outsourced development, unless the new venture already has developers
- Wireframing (UI and UX design)
- 15 Years designing User Interfaces for 100's of applications
Physical Product Design
- Degreed Mechanical Engineering with multiple products in the field
- Autocad, Fusion 360
- 3D printing, CNC machining for design validation
- Medical Device design experience
- Tooling design
- Injection mold design for high-throughput production
- DFM (Design For Manufacturing) Experienced
- Electromechanical design with respect to foundational engineering principles.
- Degreed engineers ensure products meet product safety and quality assurance tests according to ISO 9000 guidelines (UL, ANSI, ETL, CE, NSF, etc).
- FMEA (Failure Modes Effects Analysis) analyses to ensure products are robust prior to going to production.
- Make sure the materials are ideal for the products operating environment and usage.
- Additional investment in engineering details can prevent a disastrous recall while a venture is still young.
- Manufacture engineering expertise significantly lowers manufacturing costs, retooling costs, and costs (monetary and reputation) due to failures in the field
Intellectual Property Services
- In depth patent searches
- In depth public domain analysis
- QuickDibs™ method to secure patent rights exclusively for each client in the fastest, most frequent, and the lowest cost manner possible
- Consultation regarding recommended patent contents, verbiage, and recommended omissions (even many things that are normally added significantly weaken a patent)
Gone are the easy days when a cool name was all that was needed. Now ventures have to have the dotcom ... or at least something close enough to garner respectability, which can consume valuable funds at a ventures financially strapped alpha stage.
As such Alpha Dynamics developed a process for coming up with standout names that are both suitable and include the dotcom costing our clients 1/10th what is normally expected. See the following examples of branding we developed for our clients: ImmersionMax.com - a VR hardware company, SkinSoak.com - a skin moisturizing company, and LiveInterface.com - a UI/UX design company.
Web Strategics / Deployment
Alpha Dynamics helps web strategics in the following ways:
- Lead Conversion-based design ... everything from colors to layout to wording to selective content
- Landing Pages that reward a venture's early adopters
- Fast websites on private servers
- Integrated A/B testing so ventures can tweak conversions to maximum.
- Engaging, beautiful fully responsive web design.
- Designed for SEO
- Facilitating web-based content creation and marketing
Social Media Marketing
- Social Media links on every email, webpage, and news release.
- Periodic Content Creation reminders or ... outsource the content creation to Alpha Dynamics. This moves SEO and social media positions to the top.
- Social media drip campaigns.
- Work with influencers, providing perks and incentives for popular bloggers, journalists, key industry persons, etc
- Explainer videos (talking head, whiteboard animation, wiggly line, etc). SEO analytics prove it: web sliders don't convert. Explainer videos do.
Expert Crowdfunding Assistance
- Quality Engaging Explainer Videos and other Media
- Assistance with constant updates as production takes place (increases funding, keeps masses happy)
- Strategic timing for each campaign
- Pre-crowdfunding campaign assistance
- Deployment assistance
- Flexible human resources for schedule compression (for physical products this almost always turns out as a necessity)
Sales / Customer Relationship Management
- Experienced sales persons as a flexible resource for startups
- CRM setup and training (Salesforce, Insightly)
- Salesforce customizations.