Grow and Thrive: Three Startup Learnings, Part 1

Updated: Jul 15, 2020


Startups are exciting. There’s an idea; a spark. A feeling that you can change the world. It’s that feeling that keeps you going through all the uncertainty.

I’ve done two startups in my career. I’ve also been involved in designing many leading edge applications in my nearly 20 years at Intel. Like an adrenaline junky, I keep coming back for more.

A year ago I met James Kelley. He had a vision for a new way to improve leadership behaviors. I had a desire to find another opportunity to change the world. Just like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter cup motto, these were “two great things that go great together.” But it wasn’t easy.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share a few of my key learnings from the first year at qChange. Today, I want to share our product journey.

Learning #1

The product will be different than you thought. If you keep at it, it will be better than you ever imagined!

Our early concept - We started qChange with a focus on nudging leaders right before a meeting, to remind them of a specific action to take to help them improve their leader skills. It seemed like a great idea. You walk into a conference room, you are identified by your phone via Bluetooth, the system sends you a prompt for a specific action, and you take that action in a meeting. You improve….Voilà. Presto.

What we didn’t know.

Problem 1 – We added more work for corporate I.T.

Dang. Who wants more work? Even if we could improve leader skills, it would be a hard sell, and long sales cycles don’t get us to revenue quickly. OK. Why not integrate with a person’s calendar and nudge them a few minutes before a meeting? Yeah. That’s better. And instead of building our own app for I.T. to install, why not deliver the prompts through existing solutions like Microsoft Teams and Slack, or even G-Suite? Now that’s cookin’ with gas!

Bonus Opportunity. Who said we have to be B2B focused? Building leader skills can be for anyone. Since we don’t have hardware or software for I.T. to install and manage, we just massively increased the size of our market as anyone could connect to qChange via their calendar and collaboration account.