Dave Goldenberg at Digital Web ponders Why Do Web Startups Die? Having identified the pre-alpha as a phase of crucial importance, he elaborates on the need to build a solid foundation and then asks some good questions to help get through the process.
You don’t need a deckful of scatter charts to do this, but you do need the willingness to make some difficult decisions now—and stick to them later. Doing this in the alphalpha stage is a lot easier (and cheaper) than trying to build the foundation after you’ve raised the first story.
Intervals went through its pre-alpha phase two years ago. Looking back on that time, here is how we answered each of the questions. Not only have we been able to articulate our answers since day one, we’ve also managed to stick with them.
Question #1: What are we?
We are a web-based service providing time tracking, task management, and general workflow for small businesses, especially those that bill hourly.
Question #2: Who are we for?
We are for creative agencies, web development shops, marketing firms, and IT companies. We have an intimate understanding of these industries having worked in them ourselves.
Question #3: How are we different?
We are unique in that our web-based service maintains time tracking as its core feature and approaches the other features — task management, project management, invoices, and reports — from this perspective. We are also unique in our customer service, making every effort to interact with our customers and incorporate their ideas into our service.
Question #4: What are we called?
We are called Intervals, which is obviously a metaphor. An interval is the amount of time between a starting and a stopping point, a moment in time. Our service is all about tracking the intervals of time in your workday as you tackle each task.
Question #5: What are we like?
We are approachable. We have no need for egos or pedestals. We are not interested in becoming rock stars. We just love building things that benefit businesses like ours. We want to put something out there, build an audience, and then have a conversation with them about it.
Follow-up question: Can you stick to it?
Yes. We have stuck to it for the last two years. And we’ll continue to do so growing forward.
How would your business answer these questions?