January 21, 2014

How to Launch a Startup in 100 Days

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By Ali Hamed

The question I get asked the most about founding a company  is: “How do I get started?”

It’s a bit difficult because each startup is different, and various products can receive different levels of traction offline — but this should give a general idea:

Day 1-3: Gut check

Talk to lots of people — not just friends, but people you don’t know — in order to decide if your idea is worth pursuing. Continue to do this constantly throughout the first 100 days. This does not stop.

Day 2-5: Wireframes and mockups

Begin outlining what your application or website will look like. Draw out each page, the functionality, how each page will link to the next and so on…

Day 5-6: Check if people can understand the product. Practice your pitch.

Show people the mockups and wireframes, and pick up a book on HTML. Start learning.

Day 6-15: Design the pages

If you are new this will take a bit of time and lots of revisions. Come up with a theme, pick up Photoshop and begin designing something super simple. All you need to care about is whether or not someone could use the application.

Day 15-25: Code the pages into HTML/CSS

If you have done the process correctly, you should be able to code the most minimal functionalities into HTML/CSS. If you are not willing to pick up these two languages, you are likely not willing to start the company and run it over the long term.

Day 25-45: Pitch the idea to everyone

Either start learning how to code (probably the best option) or begin pitching the idea to everyone and anyone. Put up a landing page where you can get a number of sign-ups to prove that someone would use the service and try to create distribution partnerships. Figure out ways to get users quickly once you have launched.

By building out proof of traction you have validated the idea, and shown your own dedication. This makes it more attractive for an engineer to join you, or for someone to invest.

Day 45-75: Get the functionality of the site coded

Either use the 20 days you just dedicated to coding the site, or hire someone to code the rest.  Only code basic functionality, everything will take longer than you expect, and leave time for a full cycle of quality assurance.

Day 75-100: Pre-launch

Get people on the site, let them break things, fix the things they break, take the feedback and add the most necessary features.

Day 100: Beta-launch

Get 1,000 friends, family members, enemies, anyone you can on the site. Make them use it. Keep going.