I Wonder If Ben & Jerry Had Days Like This

North Dakota: Come for the weather, stay because your car won’t start *

cars in snow When you read those stories about how Ben & Jerry drove up and down the state of Vermont giving free samples of ice cream to stores, or how the guys from Snapple drove around the northeast with a cooler in their trunk trying to get store owners to try a bottle, it all sounds like an entrepreneur romance.

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth, I was in North Dakota meeting with teachers who use our game, and personnel at other schools to invite them to be in our next testing cohort in the fall, and when I looked out my window this morning I saw that several inches of snow had fallen during the night. Did someone not get the memo that it is April?

Very funny, North Dakota. 

This comes on top of a blizzard on Monday which had me spending an extra day in Grand Forks.

The testing part was pretty great, I will say. It’s always fun to meet with the students and their teachers and to hear their ideas. This time, I asked the students to get in groups of four and write down what they would like to see in the game’s next levels and their suggestions for improvement. They gave me pages of ideas.

But then, there were the technical difficulties …. (see my next post)

My point is that while the trotting to all corners of the earth to show off your new product sounds wonderful in theory, and it can sometimes be in practice, there are also parts where you are exhausted, freezing and frustrated.

The best book ever to describe this period in a start-up is The Dip, by Seth Godin. In  a few words – being a start-up is not a hockey-stick in terms of positiveness, it’s a parabola. That is, at the beginning there is a big high, you tell everyone you’re going to do this wonderful start-up, you get your team together and it is all rah-rah. Then, there is a very long period of work, fixing bugs, driving through snowstorms, writing documentation, meeting with users, rebuilding the installer and installing it in a computer lab until 8 pm in a school where the heat was turned off at 4 pm. The Dip. Eventually, the bugs are almost all found, your product is reliable and sales take off. Most people give up in The Dip. We won’t, but this week I am really tired – not to mention cold.

* thanks to @sammikes on twitter for the apt description of today’s weather

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