Week 7 of thoughtbot Startup Incubator: Senga

Dawn Delatte

“I’ve had some pretty big surprises. I came in with certain assumptions about what people will find the most valuable, what they’re willing to pay for, what they’re definitely not willing to pay for…the first surprise is that there are vastly different opinions about it.” - Senga Founder, Agnes Malantinszky

We’re here in the thoughtbot Incubator reporting to you live with the latest updates. Curious how we got here? Check out last week’s post about Week 6. Don’t forget to check out the Founder’s Journal at the end of this post for more insights from our startup CEO, Agnes Malatinszky.

Continued Testing

We continue to test our assumptions with freelancers sourced through userinterviews.com, iterating on the prototype and value proposition as we learn. The prototype is becoming more interactive and the team is finding much more alignment with the desires and needs of the market. The prototype is a really valuable tool that we can use to test assumptions and validate the desirability of a product. Agnes plans to continue utilizing this tool as well as all the guidelines and best practices for continued customer discovery and assumptions testing after the Incubator.


Future Planning

This week is the final week of our first Incubator program and with that comes a lot of off-boarding and planning for the next phases of work for Senga.

Technical Feasibility

Our developer on the team is leading some research on integration feasibility for a potential MVP. Integrations may include common platforms for freelancers like Upwork, Dribbble, Behance, and Freelancers.com, with the main goal of learning how to manage and communicate with clients regarding various projects. In addition, they’ll be creating some initial planning and architecture recommendations for building an MVP based on everything we’ve learned in the Incubator.

Design Guidance

Our designer on the team will be adding finishing touches to the prototype as well as creating a style guide that can be used to iterate on the prototype, marketing site, or early brand identity work.

Investor Updates

Another common tool for this stage is an Investor pitch deck. Knowing what’s valuable to investors in this space is an important component of early success. Being able to talk about what you’ve learned from your market about the viability and desirability of a product is paramount and will help you hone in on your value proposition to customers, future co-founders, and investors.

While these deliverables are an important (and exciting) part of the expected outcomes, it’s important to remember that a truly iterative approach is critical not only at this early stage, but throughout the entire product lifecycle. Continuously engaging your audiences and learning what’s going to be the next, most valuable thing to deliver, will keep you on track to creating a solution that people can’t refuse.

Founder’s Journal

We made good headway on both the strategy and prototype fronts this week. I’m interested in bootstrapping the business through the earliest stages, so we talked about options for revenue in the near future. The thoughtbot team advised that the key to doing this well is making sure that the early revenue strategy doesn’t take the business too far away from the larger vision for the company. Ideally the revenue source is also a boost to the business at large because it provides learning opportunities, more touch points with customers, etc. The three most straightforward options for me are monetizing content early on through gated lessons or webinars, offering advising services or matchmaking with subject matter experts, or partnerships with organizations with strategic alignment. I’m leaning toward the content option, since that will need to be developed no matter what. We also discussed Jordyn’s recommendations for developing and nurturing funding relationships even before I’m officially raising for the organization.

Meanwhile, we continued user interviews in full force, and our wonderful designer Kevin continued building out the prototype. Now that the interviews are focused on creatives, the variations in answers and reactions are decreasing significantly. Overall, it’s wild to see how far we’ve come in seven weeks!

Next up

This week, Agnes and the team will focus on continuing with customer interviews and testing with the prototype, and finalizing deliverables and documentation.

Are you a founder who’s ready to explore and validate (or invalidate) a new business and product opportunity? Applications for our Summer ‘23 Incubator open THIS WEEK on May 10! Sign up to get notified when applications open at thoughtbot.com/incubator.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in following along in our current programming, join us for our weekly LinkedIn Live with the incubator team. Follow thoughtbot on LinkedIN to catch us live or watch the recordings.