Last night I spoke at a Founders Institute meetup located at FortyFour, a digital agency that a few friends of mine run. Somewhere around 40 people showed up, some of which had already started a business and some that were hoping to one day.

After briefly telling them my story (in a nutshell: this + this + this), I opened it up for questions and for about 45 minutes I answered all sorts of great questions about starting companies. Here are five that stick out:

Can you start a business with a general idea of what you’re going to do, or should you wait until you have the idea fully formed and planned out?

I answered this in the context of “runway”. I’ve talked a lot about runway over the past year (for example), and when I refer to runway I’m talking about the length of time your business will survive before it runs out of money. If your runway is 3 months (you shouldn’t start a company if you only have 3 months of runway, btw), then you need to have a fully formed idea before you start, because you don’t have much time to execute. But if you give yourself the proper amount of runway – 12-18 months at least – then you can have a general idea in mind and get to work.

When I started Dragon Army, Ryan and I had the idea that we wanted to make mobile games and apps for consumers. We didn’t know what kind, or for what consumers, or what the make-up of the team should be, but we knew the general direction and knew we had a few years to figure it out.

Can you start a business on the side, while having a “day job”?

No. You have to be “all in” on your startup if you really want to give yourself a chance to succeed.

How important is the customer acquisition strategy vs. the product itself?

This is a great question. Without a great product, no amount of new customers is going to help. Without a lot of customers, it doesn’t matter how great your product is because no one will see it.

The way I answered this was by saying that in my experience, too many startups focus on the “build it and they will come” strategy. Today, with the increasing ease and reduction of hurdles to building products and starting businesses, I think there needs to be more of a focus on how you’re going to acquire customers. The product is ultimately the most important thing, but you have to have a well thought-out and well executed customer acquisition plan to go along with it.

What’s the best way to get advice for my startup?

Easy. Take advantage of Advice For Good and every Friday go to the Atlanta Tech Village Startup Chowdown.

How long should I wait to get my product in the hands of customers? I feel like I need to wait until its really great so I don’t turn anyone off.

Get your product in front of customers AS FAST AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Create your MVP (David’s advice on building an MVP) and get as many people to use it as possible. Record all of their feedback and then, when you feel like you have a good enough sample pool, compare your notes to your original plan and match your product roadmap to what customers actually want.


My Serial verdict

January 15, 2015

Alright, I have to weigh in on Serial (the greatest podcast ever). If you haven’t listened to Serial yet, put down your Palm Pilot and download it immediately! Plus, the rest of this won’t make any sense ;) I’ve had discussions with a lot of my friends about who they think killed Hae Min Lee, and […]

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Let’s abolish voicemail, who’s coming with me?

January 12, 2015

I feel like Jerry Maguire when he’s leaving the firm for the last time: I really despise voicemail. It’s a huge hassle and there are better ways to leave someone a message these days. In lieu of just deleting voicemail altogether (that seems kind of harsh), I just changed my voicemail to this: Hi, sorry […]

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I’ve switched to the iPhone 6+! The why and how of it.

January 9, 2015

Ah, here we go. I’m back to the iPhone. To recap… I was an initial iPhone guy, even at times a self-proclaimed Apple Fanboy. Then as Android started improving, I become Google-curious. Then a year ago I switched over to Android after I fell in love with the Nexus 5. And for the last year, […]

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How I learned about Stuart Scott and what it means for the future of media

January 7, 2015

Stuart Scott was a broadcaster at ESPN. Arguably one of the best, I remember him as the guy who always got the Jordan interviews. Therefore, he was my guy. Sadly, he lost his battle with cancer this weekend. He will be missed. The way I found out about his passing was I think indicative of […]

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Here’s an awesome, heart warming initiative #reimagineatl

January 4, 2015

One thing I’ve learned over the past several years as I’ve spent more time studying and supporting non-profits, is that awareness of an issue is a huge barrier. The more people are exposed to things, the more they understand the problems in the world and feel compelled to help. I went through an intense, eye-opening experience […]

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Hm, feels like time for some resolutions

December 29, 2014

Yep, Christmas is over and New Years is fast approaching, so it feels like the right time for some resolutions for 2015. Side note: This drives my wife nuts, but I get equally as excited about the holiday season coming as I do with the holiday season ending. And not because I don’t completely enjoy the […]

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Let’s help the Boys & Girls Club! Oh, and I met Shaq.

December 17, 2014

This post is a long time coming. Ever since my good friend took a job at the Boys & Girls Club (donate!), my eyes have been opened to the wonderful things they do at that organization. I knew peripherally with B&GC did, but wasn’t fully aware of how awesome this organization was. And then I […]

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Advice on how a startup CEO should prioritize their time

December 15, 2014

I was talking to a good friend of mine recently, a startup CEO like myself, and he was struggling with the difficulty of deciding what exactly he should be spending his time on. He has a functioning version 1.0 product and two other people in his company. Should he be spending more time recruiting, finding […]

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The apps and sites I use to receive news and content on a daily basis

December 11, 2014

I’m a junkie for the news, but not in the sense of the actual news because its fairly depressing for someone like me that wants to stay positive. No, the kind of news I enjoy is industry (mobile, games, marketing) or technology-related. I had a conversation with a CNN executive recently about the ways that people […]

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