MEST Day 2 – Workshops

19 Apr

Why are pirates always so grumpy?

Day 2, Wednesday 6th April – Workshops

The MBAs were to give workshops to the EITs about several business areas: Tayo and I would cover budgeting and sales forecasting; Mike and Jaro covered business plans; and Louis was taking on implementation strategy on his own.

I was slightly apprehensive about the workshops. Despite having completed a PhD, I never got the opportunity to do any teaching (I emptied bins instead, but that’s a different story…), whereas Tayo has been a university lecturer in the states. Nevertheless I obsessively read startup and VC blogs so I figured I could take something useful from there. Maybe I should be concerned that I based my workshop on a few blogs rather than the very expensive learnings of my MBA!

I took my main inspiration from a couple of my favourite presentations: Dave McClure’s “Startup Metrics for Pirates” and Andrew Chen’s “How to Start a Profitable Freemium Startup”. Fortunately the EITs hadn’t seen these before, so my first suggestion was to look up McClure and read everything he’s ever written (whilst warning them that he uses “colourful” language and his slides look like they’re made by an eight year-old!).

I actually started out by saying that I think that revenue forecasting for start-ups that don’t yet exist is mostly a folly*. Top VCs will want to know that you are aiming at a big market, and that you have a product that people want so that you can take a significant chunk of that market. The actual forecast you come up with isn’t that interesting, because you have to make so many assumptions that the margin of error is massive. Nevertheless, showing that you’ve thought of each of the variables that contribute to the forecast shows that you’re thinking about the important factors that determine whether or not you’ll get any revenue at all.

So then we discussed each of these factors using McClure’s AARRR (like a pirate, geddit?) framework**, which stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Referrals and Revenue. We took each factor in turn and discussed all the potential ways we could maximise our percentages at each stage. Tayo and I had quite a neat tag-team effort going on, with him talking about how to build a strong brand and use marketing to generate revenue rather than sales. He even treated them to a branding framework he had developed during his PhD.

Finally, I would take them through Andrew Chen’s freemium spreadsheet and show them how the things we had just discussed during the AARRR session were applied to each of the stages on the sales funnel in Chen’s model.

The EITs said they got a lot from our session – all of the sessions in fact. Even though I was paired up with a university lecturer who has a PhD in what he was teaching I think I did ok. Tayo’s a good lecturer – maybe he could have a word with a couple of the lecturers at Saïd***…

That evening everyone from MEST went out in Accra for some dinner, where we ate fine Ghanaian cuisine, and we redeemed our bonus beers for getting pics of the lighthouse (all the teams managed to get a pic!). There was some entertainment mostly in the form of singing both English and Ghanaian songs. There was also a humorous… ummm, spectacle… which I can only describe as “the duck”.****

*Note I haven’t been a VC, or raised money for a startup, so you can take my opinion with a pinch of salt!

**Obligatory pirate joke – Q: Why are pirates always so grumpy? A: Because they AARRR!!

***If by any chance you’re a Saïd lecturer and you’re reading this then of course I don’t mean you!

****Can’t tell you what this is. What goes in Accra, stays in Accra. Well, at least until I put the video on YouTube! 😉

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