Shane Luke founded the launch tracking platform BlueMesh in October 2014. Prior to this, he held senior product leadership roles in the wearables space at Nike, and as Chief Product Officer at Recon Instruments. Earlier in his career, he worked in the gaming industry at EA. Shane has dedicated much of his professional career mentoring startups – including companies within Launch Academy and Techstars programs.
Shanes approach to building his company has been to keep it lean and lightweight. He's raised a small amount of money ($350k) and has kept a small team of 5 people. BlueMesh has taken a slow curve on growth, which Shane believes can sometimes be the right thing to do; depending on the context of your business.
Shane shared his insightful views on common mistakes founders make, which we've shared below.
Common Mistakes: The 5 Dogmas
These are recurring themes for start-ups. It's not that these factors are completely wrong, but more that things shouldn’t universally be done this way.
1. Too Lean or Pragmatic
Taking a ‘Lean approach' to growth is to use tight feedback loops from your customers to guide overall decisions about growth.
However, it's hard to know what your overall growth curve could or should look like. If at each growth point on the growth curve you just do what looks as though it's going to generate the most short term growth, you might miss opportunities to have better growth later on.
With each significant decision, it is important to consider whether it is better for you, as a team, to focus on quick lean growth (short-term), or move forward with conviction towards your end goal.
2. Misuse of Data
When building a startup everything is after the fact. If you use data for decision making too early, rather than later on, these things can be pretty destructive. There is not enough information to make decisions off. Statistics are evidence but don’t base all decisions simply off data. The data doesn’t look into why the audience is or isn’t responding to your brand or product. Statistics is just one input. Other factors such as who your audience is, why and how they use your product or services is vital to making decisions.”
3. Giving up to Easily
“Sometimes you need a lot of conviction. If you believe that something or a concept is right but the implementation is not, then you need to keep working on it; even if you aren’t receiving the desired outcome. You must know your audience/users/customers and talk to a lot of them often, in order to generate something of value to them.”
4. Trying to Hard
“Sometimes you are just wrong. You are always making a judgement call when you're trying to build something. When you're not getting the growth or usage rate that you want; it can be hard to gauge whether it's a bad idea, or whether people just haven’t latched onto it yet. In such situations it is vital to know your users and understand them: what are they wanting out of your brand? And what will they be using it for?”
5. Not Using Inference
“More often than not, people find it difficult to say what they actually want. As in, they will say one thing, but their actions suggest something else, which could be for a variety of reasons. It is, therefore, crucial to know your users, and infer what they need from that knowledge.”
Shane uses an example of his mum, who isn’t overly ‘tech savvy’, so she doesn't have much of an idea as to what she really wants in a computer. Shane asked his mum what she wanted to do with the computer and from this information, he was able to infer what she actually needed in a computer. The more novel your product is, the more you will need to infer it for your consumers.”
Analyse decisions case by case. If everything was ‘clear-cut’ and based on one set format, then everyone would be creating startups.
Try to maximise growth, but not at all costs.
Always question assumptions about what people and data are telling you, and don’t let analysis paralyze you - launch early, iterate fast, and try a lot of things. If you're not sure on the outcome - try it. Sometimes it's right and sometimes it not, a lot of things are trial and error, especially when developing/ starting a new product or brand.
Advice on Hiring People
- Reduce the number of people that you think you might need, and also look in areas where you may not usually look - as this will open many different doors for you.
- Contract services can really help, save a lot of time, and money.
- Networking helps when it comes to hiring. People will be more willing to take a chance once they have met you versus approaching someone via LinkedIn where you have never met the person before. Personal connection is very useful.
We would like to thank Shane Luke for taking the time to share his knowledge with our community, We would also like to thank Ilya Venske for co-organising this event and facilitating the connection with Shane. 🧡