Two Mastermind Open House Events in November and December

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Silicon Valley, skmurphy

SKMurphy Mastermind Groups SKMurphy Mastermind groups have a unique high-technology focus and are limited to eight qualified members. We guide a small group of peers to brainstorm and critique your critical business issues. Our use of ‘workout buddies’ provides a level of feedback and joint accountability that will help you to become more effective. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to present their businesses issues, share referrals, and advise one another in a confidential, supportive environment during two meetings a month.

SKMurphy Offers Two Upcoming Mastermind Open House in November and December of 2013

Both events are no charge and will allow you to meet other members and potential members of our Mastermind groups.  The regular meetings run two hours and are held twice a month; the cost is $100 per month.

As we approach the new year, we want to take stock and evaluate what will impact our bottom line. Join us for the upcoming Open House. Bring your 2014 plans and let’s get a jump-start on making it your best year ever!

More information


Chris Christensen of BloggerBridge At Bootstrappers Breakfast Tue-Nov-19

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.Join other entrepreneurs for serious conversations about growing a business based on internal cash flow and organic profit at a Bootstrappers Breakfast®. Chris Christensen of will offer a seven minute briefing on “Podcasting For Bootstrappers” and answer questions from other attendees at the Tue-Nov-19 breakfast in Sunnyvale. Chris’ briefing will be followed by our regular roundtable discussion format.

When: 7:30am to 9:00am Tue-Nov-19-2013
Where: Coco’s Restaurant 1206 Oakmead Parkway Sunnyvale, CA
Cost: $5 RSVP, $10 at door (order your own breakfast).
Please RSVP

Chris Christensen Join fellow bootstrapper and like serial entrepreneur, Chris Christensen, owner of, a new startup connecting bloggers and industry contacts. He is the host of the Amateur Traveler. The Amateur Traveler is a popular online travel show that focuses primarily on travel destinations. It includes a weekly audio podcast, a video podcast, and a blog. He will share podcasting tips and tricks.

Chris has worked for years in technology startups in Silicon Valley. He was formerly the Director of Engineering for TripAdvisor’s New Initiatives group and was the EVP Engineering at LiveWorld where his team built and ran online communities and events for companies include eBay, HBO, TV Guide, Expedia, Marriott, A&E, History Channel, the NBA, NBC, ABC, Disney, Microsoft, WebTV and American Express.

Lean Innovation 101 at SF Bay ACM Nov-20-2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

I am trying out a new talk on “What is Lean? – Lean Innovation 101” at the SF Bay ACM on Wed-Nov-20-2013. Here is a brief description:

“Lean” provides a scientific approach for creating a product and developing new businesses. Teams can iteratively build products or services to meet the needs of early customers by adopting a combination of customer development, business-hypothesis-driven experimentation and iterative product releases.

What I will cover:

  • Why more and more companies are using Lean
  • What is Lean, what it is not
  • Key concepts
    • Focus on determining and delivering what the customer values
    • Get Out Of Your BatCave
    • Use an initial product (MVP) as a probe to explore the market
    • Build-Measure-Learn loop
    • When and how to pivot
  • Rules of thumb for successful lean innovation

Speaker Bio: Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy, Inc., offers customer development services for technology entrepreneurs. SKMurphy’s focus is on early customers and early revenue for startups. Sean is an early and active member of the Lean Startup group and has been a workshop presenter and mentor at Lean Startup Conferences. SKMurphy’s clients have offerings in electronic design automation, artificial intelligence, web-enabled collaboration, proteomics, text analytics, legal services automation, and medical services workflow. Sean holds a BS in Mathematical Sciences and an MS in Engineering-Economic Systems (Management Science) from Stanford University.

Note: It’s a new talk and I am looking for a few chances to do a dry run. If you are interested in walking through a rough version for 30-45 minutes on skype or GoToMtg and providing some feedback please contact me.

MVP Clinic for Social/Community Apps Wed-Oct-23

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 1 Idea Stage, 2 Open for Business Stage, 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, Events, skmurphy

If you are planning a new service offering, involving technologies and social interactions between customers, this clinic on minimum viable service can help you learn your way out of conflicting assumptions, lack of relevant data, difficulty understanding service value, and resource constraints. This is especially the case if you need to get adoption by a newly forming or an existing community, that may be contained within one firm or span many.  Drawing on their experience in new product introduction and communities of practice, Sean Murphy of SKMurphy and John David Smith of Learning Alliances, will demonstrate the value of a “walking around the problem” technique for early service design that they have developed individually and together over many years.
Webinar: Minimum Viable Product Clinic for Social or Community Applications

Our two panelists:

  • Dixie Griffin Good is director of Shambhala Online, a global learning community connected by the meditation teachings of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche. For 15 years she consulted with local, state and national education organizations on the educational use of technology. She has a masters in Future Studies and enjoys managing and studying change processes.
  • Terry Frazier is Principal and Senior Competitive Analyst at Cognovis Group. He has been studying, writing about and consulting on competitive and industry issues since 1998 and his work has been used by both Fortune 1000 businesses and international analyst firms. Today he writes at

Each panelist will outline a significant growth challenge related to the social/community aspect of a new offering, describe hypotheses they plan to test, and explain how they will assess the impact.

John and I will ask clarifying questions about the learning happening in target market/ community of interest and suggest experiments / probes. The audience is also welcome to take part in asking questions or making suggestions.

Peter Cohan: Differentiating Your Offers Starts With The First Contact

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Events, skmurphy, Workshop

Another excerpt from Peter Cohan’s very insightful new article  “Stunningly Awful vs. Truly Terrific Competitive Differentiation – What, When, and How

From the customers’ perspective vendors are “differentiating”, positively or negatively, with every contact, every meeting, and every deliverable.  Let’s explore possible negative differentiation first.  How do you feel about:

  • Vendors that cold call you – repeatedly?
  • Vendors that take forever to answer your email inquiries – or ignore what you asked?
  • Vendors that leap right to showing you a “solution”, without sufficient Discovery?
  • Vendors whose demos look complicated or confusing, in spite of having a pile of “competitive differentiators”?
  • Sales people that speak ill of their competition?
  • Sales people that are “cagey” about providing pricing information?
  • Vendors that over-promise and under-deliver?

Interestingly – and sadly – the list above is what often occurs with typical, traditional vendors and sales people.  Most of us as customers perceive these items as unpleasant and they contribute to an overall negative impression.  Unwittingly, perhaps, these vendors and sales people have differentiated negatively.

Let’s look at the same list again, but with a different approach to each item:

  • Nurture or “trickle” marketing activities (as opposed to cold calling).
  • Rapid, specific responses to email inquiries.
  • Thorough and intelligent Discovery – before presenting solutions.
  • Crisp, focused, engaging demos of the Specific Capabilities needed by customers.
  • Sales teams that are clear and honest about their own offerings’ strengths and limitations.
  • Clear and transparent pricing information.
  • Building a vision of how the customer will move from their current (painful) state to their desired (glorious) future state with the solution in place and operating.

Generally speaking, these activities are viewed favorably by customers.  Vendors that follow these processes are already differentiating positively in comparison with “traditional” vendors.

My take: a startup is negotiating from the first contact with a prospect. They are negotiating for attention, time, insights, data, feedback, revenue, endorsements, etc.. The more you can do from the very first contact to show that you value your prospect’s time, opinions, and ultimately business by how you treat them, the better able you are to differentiate your startup from many common practices that communicate a lack of respect for the customer and their needs.

Related Blog Posts

 Great Demo! Public Workshop October 15-16, 2014

October 15&16, 2014 “Great Demo!” San Jose, CA Register Now

Our next public Great Demo! Workshop is scheduled to take place October 15-16 in San Jose, California.

This is an excellent opportunity for individuals, small groups or for teams that have new hires.

We’ve found that these events are most productive when there are two or more participants from each organization (singletons are also fine). This helps to mimic real-life interactions as much as possible, both when preparing demos and delivering them in the role-play sessions.

SVCC 2013 Work for Equity Panel of Startup Founders Announced

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Join us next Saturday October 5 at 1:45 for the “Working for Equity Startup CEO Panel,” an exploration of what’s really involved in getting a technology startup off the ground. We have four entrepreneurs,  an artist, an athlete, a scientist, and a community organizer, who will share lessons learned and take questions from the audience.

Remarks from “Future of Professional Consulting” at PATCA June-13-2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, Events, skmurphy

PATCA is a non-profit organization created in 1975 specifically to help connect businesses and independent consultants. I was invited to take part in a PACA panel on “The Consulting Landscape: Forward Looking Skills and Practices” on Thursday June 13, 2013. It offered me a chance to clarify my thinking on the future of professional consulting and to have it critiqued by seasoned professional consultants.

Here is the overview for the panel

Change happens. In the present it comes more rapidly than in the past. Are you prepared to steer your business and the services you provide to clients through the changes that will impact your consulting business?

This panel of three experienced consultants will look at trends and potential disruptions that will affect how you run your consulting business and what your clients expect from you. They will examine client business practices, economic trends and uncertainties, and technology that affect how we do business.

Future of Professional Consulting

I have included my remarks and some of the questions, both edited for brevity. Here are the bullets from the five slides I presented:

Skills Still Valuable in 2020

  • Face-to-Face and Phone Conversation
  • Written Communication – E-Mail, Blog
  • Text Chat
  • Webinar / Screen Share
  • Negotiation and Sales Skills

Key Service Parameters

  • Outputs – What does the client get? What problem do firms hire you to solve?
  • End Time – How long will it take?
  • Cost: How much will it cost?
  • Inputs – What do you need to get started?
  • Controls / Interim Observations – How will we jointly manage the project and our mutual expectations?
  • Start Time – When can you start?
  • Inside the Black Box: questions not normally asked:
    What do you do?
    What is your process (beyond how do we jointly manage)?
    How do you do it?

Skills That Will Become More Important In 2020

  • Service Innovation
  • Podcasting and Audio Production
  • Video Presentation / Production – Video is the New HTML
  • Task and Project Management Systems
    • Stop E-mailing status and attachments
    • Don’t Let Discussions Get Buried in Inbox
  • Synchronous Docs Complement Conversations

Trends and Technologies to Watch

  • Trends
    • Non-Billable Hour or “Value” Models
    • “Flipped Classroom” Models
    • Continuous – Connected – Transparent
    • Global Practice
  • Technologies
    • Simulation
    • Diagnostic & Service Configuration Tools

About SKMurphy, Inc

  • We Are Customer Development Consultants
  • Our Focus is on Technology Entrepreneurs
  • We Help Them Find Leads & Close Deals
    • Early Customers
    • Early Revenue
    • Early References

Partial Transcript of Edited Remarks

What can you negotiate and sell is as important as what you can do.

The half life of skills seems to be shrinking, this means that you have to be strategic in the capabilities that you choose to develop and you need to continually invest in renewing those skills that offer competitive differentiation.

Service innovation is becoming increasingly important: how do you raise the bar not only by how you package your offering but also by adding new features or capabilities. Decomposing what you can do into building blocks that you can knit together with other partners is one way to increase your rate of innovation.

Continuing to increase your differentiation is going to become more important. Whether you face Silicon Valley competitors or global competitors, they are going to go to school on you if you win business.

Challenge as a consultant is to build trust. Voice presentations help to do that. Consulting websites are going to include a lot more audio and video because production costs have plummeted and done right it’s more compelling and helps to build trust more rapidly than print content alone.

Synchronous documents that several people can edit at once are becoming more important. If you are in the same room with someone we are used to collaborating on a white board or sheet of paper. Combining these synchronous docs with chat and a phone call makes distance collaboration much more effective.

We even use synchronous docs in a face-to-face meeting because it’s a much better model than one person taking minute or each person taking their own notes. The synchronous document is shared and persistent, you end the meeting with something everyone feels some ownership of, and it surfaces misunderstanding much more rapidly.

Involving your customer in co-creation–this is the natural evolution of passing people taking turns drawing on the same napkin or piece of graph paper–is something to consider.

If part of your value has been to deliver training, the flipped classroom model where the information is available beforehand–think MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and Kahn Academy–is going to put a lot of pressure on traditional classroom lecture models.

Question: why change if what you are doing now is working?

If you believe that these trends are at work and your current billing and service delivery models are going to be impacted, you may compress the need for a lot of change in a short amount of time if you let your competition move down the learning curve before you take the first step.

Another challenge is to start to be explicit about your intake, diagnosis and service configuration. Whether is going to a Jiffy Lube or an ER, the intake process is very efficient and follows explicit protocols for problem identification. I think consultants need to look at automating aspects of both their diagnosis and service delivery.

I think we are going to see expert services embedded and intermingled of these emerging communications infrastructure: tables, smartphones, and VoIP models.

Q: what about things that are “off the radar” like innovative materials and quantum computing? How much attention should you pay to these things and incorporate them in your planning?

Bill Buxton, the original inventor of the multi-touch interface, wrote a great article in Business Week called “the long nose of innovation.”  The time constant from lab demonstration to successful mainstream adoption of an innovation seems to be 30 years, and that lag doesn’t seem to be changing. 3D printers are 30 years old for example. The science fiction author William Gibson observed more than a decade ago that “the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

The things that will affect you in the next five years you will be able to see instances of today. They won’t come out of nowhere; somebody is already doing it now.

But the clock cycle for distance collaboration has sped up considerably in the last 30 years. We have moved from Fedex for overnight delivery to Internet downloads available in a few seconds. Understanding how to work with global teams is increasingly important.

Closing remarks

My perspective is that I am going to be consulting into the 2030’s. This is what I want to be doing: so I have a long term planning horizon.

That means that I try and cultivate relationships with people who are in their 20’s and 30’s as part of a talent spotting exercise so when they are in positions of authority they remember me as that SOB who helped them out.

I think too often we focus on “how do I get to the decision maker?” This used to be someone older than us, and is now someone our age, and pretty soon will be someone younger than us.

You have to be planting acorns every year if you have long term ambitions to be a consultant. So that’s one strategy: talent spotting to support a twenty year planning horizon.

I think the consulting model is going to become more pervasive. There is a great book by Michael Malone called “The Future Arrived Yesterday” (which was initially titled the “Protean Corporation”) where he looks at employment relationships becoming much shorter term and more contingent. So I think there will be a lot more people working as consultants.

I started this firm in 2003 in the middle of what was nuclear winter in Silicon Valley. Total employment in Silicon Valley has yet to recover to the number of jobs that we had here in 2001. It was very hard.

Our first two clients were consultants who were trying to make  mortgage payments to hold onto their houses. It was an interesting time–kind of like the Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times.”

I realized a few years in, if I can actually make it in this climate I could probably do OK when things turn around. The fact that I made it through that and it’s ten years later taught me that it was important to have a long term vision and willingness to see it through.

You need to think about how you are going to plan acorns, whether it’s with relationships or with capabilities that you develop.

More on the unevenly distributed future from Rob Rodin in “Free, Perfect, and Now

The problem is that, in reality, the future can be hard to recognize. It’s not evenly distributed; it’s hidden in corners. While there is no shortage of clues, they are buried beneath a crush of information. Radical adaptation to shifting customer demand is the first law of business survival today, but how can you learn what you need to know in order to anticipate those shifts?

h/t to Brian Dear for this citation. I blogged about Rodin’s book in “Tangible Costs, Time, and Pricing to Value.‘ I was fortunate to have Rob Rodin on a panel at the 1995 Design Automation Conference that addressed “The Impact of the World Wide Web on Electronic Design and EDA.” He talked about several the principles he was using to transform Marshall to leverage the Web, his experiences there formed the basis for “Free, Perfect, and Now.”

Pictures from 2013 Inside 3D Printing Conference

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in Events

I saw some very cool stuff at the Inside 3D Printing Conference yesterday. Here are some pictures of a few of my favorites.

paper 3d printingtoys

A scale model from MCOR paper 3D printers.  There was lots of toys. This one is from fabbster.

But not everything was hard and stiff – check out this personalized rubber shoe sole.

shoe 3d printingrubber 3d printing

There was lots of medical devices printed on professional grade printers. Examples from Afinia and netfabb booths.

Hip Replacement Spine

My favorite – electric guitar –

electric guitar

Okay this was not printed a home computer, this printer from 3D Systems was priced at $300k.

I saw some exciting software and tools. Having trouble drawing? 3D Systems’ recent acquisition,  SensAble can help.


About Inside 3D Printing Conference: Inside 3D Printing is the largest professional 3D printing and additive manufacturing event worldwide. Inside 3D Printing provides exhibitors with a schedule of trade shows and companion conferences in major cities all around the world over a calendar year. As a conference attendee, you’ll explore the business applications of 3D printing through conference sessions led by industry experts, demonstrations of the latest 3D printers and services, and programming for designers, artists, and makers. Join us on our world tour and see how 3D printing is revolutionizing industries including manufacturing, jewelry, medicine, architecture, aerospace, and more.

Peter Cohan: Discovery Conversations Enable Effective Product Differentiation

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Events, skmurphy, Workshop

Peter Cohan has a very insightful new article out, “Stunningly Awful vs. Truly Terrific Competitive Differentiation – What, When, and How“, that outlines how to use discovery conversations to enable effective product differentiation.  What follows are some excerpts with additional commentary but the entire article is worth reading.

Don’t Miss “Capturing Intellectual Property” Silicon Valley Workshop Oct-19-2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Legal Issues, skmurphy, Workshop

Register for  “How to Invent” for free Udemy course at

“How To Invent” is a step-by-step guide for non-inventors to start inventing. It is organized as  screencast lectures, practice sessions, and quizzes. It  offers process for capturing on paper key ideas in your head that you want to document as intellectual property and possibly protect as inventions by patenting them. This on-line workshop is a great way to learn more about Bill Meade insights and teaching style.

Don’t Miss Bill Meade’s Hands On Silicon Valley Workshop

He is also offering a live workshop “Capturing Intellectual Property” in Sunnyvale, CA on Sat-October-19-2013. Bill normally only offers private workshops for larger firms but this one is open to anyone with ideas that they want to document. This hands-on workshop will cover:

  • What is intellectual property (IP)
  • The forms and functions of legal IP protections
  • The IP system and its functioning (on one slide)
  • Capturing an invention
  • Checking the invention for enablement
  • How to capture invention if you work in a big company

Who should attend:

  1. Engineers who have never filled out an invention disclosure form.
  2. Section managers/Scrum Masters who are interested in learning what types and quantities of IP they should be seeing from their product development efforts.
  3. Patent agents and attorneys who are not “seeing enough” IP from their project teams and would like to capture more.

Bill Meade is an intellectual property consultant at BasicIP.   In addition to capturing inventions, Bill has substantial experience in disclosure evaluation, IP portfolio management, business side of litigating patents, and licensing patents. He is the former patent portfolio manger for HP’s LaserJet group, has run over 200 invention workshops across US and around world. Bill has a Ph.D. in marketing and has taught college courses since 1990.

Register NowSaturday, October 19, 2013
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM (PDT)
Sunnyvale, CA

I interviewed Bill on “Inventors and IP Management” in 2010 for the EE Times “Entrepreneurial Engineer” column.

Working For Equity CEO Panel Returns to Silicon Valley Code Camp 2013

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, Founder Story, Silicon Valley, skmurphy

We are reprising our “Working for Equity” CEO Panel for the fourth year at the 2013 Silicon Valley Code Camp. Here is the current write-up, we will be adding panelists’ bios in a few days.

Many of us in Silicon Valley seek either to found or to be an early employee at a technology startup. If you aspire to create a startup come take part in a conversation with four startup founders about what’s really involved in leaving your day job and striking out on your own or with partners. The startup founders range from serial entrepreneurs to first-time CEOs, they will share their vision, drive and passion as they discuss the nuts and bolts of following their dreams to building something that will change the world.

Please Register for Silicon Valley Code Camp and indicate your interest in the session, this determines the size of room we will be in. We have had some great discussions not only among the panelists but with the audience–more than half the time for the session is allocated to questions from the audience–so please let us know if you plan attend so we will have room for you. There is also a Mobile Session Viewer And Planner.

While I think our panel is one of the better reasons to attend Code Camp there are another 232 sessions offered by experts and practitioners that cover a broad range of topics of interest to software engineers. Code Camp takes place all day Saturday October 5 and Sunday October 6 on the Foothill College campus at 12345 El Monte Rd, Los Altos Hills, CA. The “Working for Equity” panel takes place on Saturday October Oct 5 at 1:45.

For more information on earlier “Working for Equity Sessions” see

Audio: Paul Spaan’s Briefing on 3D Printing at May 24 2013 Bootstrapper Breakfast

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Audio, Events

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.Paul Spaan worked as a mechanical engineer for more than two decades at major Silicon Valley technology firms before launching Spaan Enterprises to explore his long term interest in 3D printing. On Friday May 24, he shared lessons learned from the installation and bringup of two 3D printers and some examples of prototypes he has designed and printed  at the Bootstrapper Breakfast in Mountain View.

Here is the edited audio from the session that also captures many of the audience questions:

It’s also available for download directly : SpaanBB130524b

3D Printing Definition and Timeline

Paul provided the following definition and timeline:

3D printing–also known as additive manufacturing or positive manufacturing–is a process of making a three dimensional solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model.

  • 70’s Stereo Lithography (SLA) laser cured liquid photo polymer (3D Systems / NYSE:DDD)
  • 80’s Fusion Deposition Modeling (FDM) melting plastic filament (Stratasys Inc / NASDAQ:SSYS)
  • 80’s Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) for metal, ceramics, or plastics, etc…
  • 90’s Rapid Prototyping service bureaus became available: Raychem,Quickparts, SolidConcepts, etc…
  • 2007 Reprap homegrown (FDM) “self-replicating” printer hits open source maker  movement (See RepRap Family Tree)
  • 2012 consumer level printers hit the mainstream media
  • 2013 MakerBot makes the Today Show, 3D Systems “Cube” sold at Staples.

Related Articles and Blog Posts


Set Your PowerPoints on Stun

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Demos, Events, skmurphy

Q: I didn’t get any questions at the end of a recent demo. The audience was quiet and respectful and our point of contact said “It’s an interesting product, you’ve given us a lot to think about.” But it’s been two weeks and I haven’t had any response to my two follow up e-mails and a voicemail.

A: It’s very likely that they felt your product was not a fit with their needs and being polite was the fastest way to get you out of the room. Avoid the temptation to demo to early by first getting agreement on what the key business is that they are looking for help on and then clarifying what are two or three capabilities they believe they need to address their needs. A crisp presentation that demonstrates those capabilities–and only those capabilities–should lead to a longer conversation.

Q: I didn’t get any questions during a recent demo, and two of the key audience members spent a lot of time e-mailing on a tablet or texting on a phone. What can I do when a prospects starts to multi-task?

A: If you have a whiteboard or flip chart ask them to sketch an answer to a question. If you open with a very brief intro that confirms their critical business issue and the capabilities they are looking for it’s less likely they will tune you out.

If you are not sure what business challenge they are looking for help with open with some questions of them about what they are using now, what their current workflow looks like, and where they are looking for help. Diagnose before you prescribe and you should be able to get their attention. If that does not work then you may be a “check in the box” that they have talked to enough vendors (also know as “column fodder” where they can compare your offering to several others including their first choice).

Another alternative for a large group is to offer a menu of features or capabilities and ask for a show of hands to prioritize what you should show first.

If it’s a senior person or decision maker who is tuning you out, you need to engage them. If it’s only one person in a group of five or six and everyone else is engaged I would not be as concerned. They may either be bored (in which case engaging them will help) or worried about another situation (sick child, major service outage, urgent text from their boss) in which case they may need to leave.

We partner with Peter Cohan to bring an open enrollment version of his “Great Demo!” workshop to Silicon Valley several times a year. The next “Great Demo!” workshop is October 9-10, 2013.

Core Seminar & Advanced Topics
October 9 & 10, 2013
Cost: $930 (Before Sep-8: $895)
Eventbrite - Great Demo! Workshop on Oct 9 & 10, 2013

Where: Moorpark Hotel, 4241 Moorpark Ave, San Jose CA 95129

For out of town attendees: The Moorpark is located 400 feet from the Saratoga Ave exit on Hwy 280, about 7 miles from San Jose Airport and 35 miles from San Francisco Airport Hotels Near Great Demo! Workshop

Upcoming MVP Clinics in July and August for Startup Entrepreneurs

Written by Theresa Shafer. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, Events

Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy Inc will be moderating two upcoming MVP Clinics. These are interactive roundtable discussions were entrepreneurs can present where they are with their MVP and hypotheses about customer, problem, solution, and value. The roundtable will explore issues that founders are having in defining and evaluating their MVP.


  • Introductions each attendee describes briefly who they are, their startup, and the issues they want to discuss about their MVP.
  • Five minute briefing and a one page handout on MVP’s
  • We address the issues raised in a roundtable format, clustering them where possible and encouraging questions and suggestions from attendees.

The MVP Clinic facilitator is Sean Murphy, CEO of SKMurphy Inc. and  offers customer development services for technology entrepreneurs. SKMurphy’s focus is on early customers and early revenue for startups. Sean is an early and active member of the Lean Startup group and has been a workshop presenter and mentor at the Lean Startup Conference for the last three years.

Validating Your MVP For B2B Startups at SF Lean Startup Circle Tue-Jun-4

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in 3 Early Customer Stage, Customer Development, Events, Lean Startup, Workshop

We have been invited back the SF Lean Startup Circle to present our “Validating Your MVP and Value Proposition for B2B Startups” workshop on June 4, starting 5:30pm. This interactive workshop will address:

  1. How a B2B startup should think about  message, MVP, and launch.
  2. Understand who buys your product and how they calculate its value and total cost.
  3. Where to find people to validate your MVP.
  4. Systematic approach to validating your MVP and your value proposition.
  5. How to track and measure your efforts.
  6. When to pivot.

When: June 4, 5:30-8:30
Where: Runway, 1355 Market Street, Suite 488, San Francisco, CA
Cost: $60 (or join the volunteer mailing list to get in free.)

Tristan Kromer‘s (@TriKro) vision for the SF Lean Startup Circle is  to offer a testbed for developing workshops for entrepreneurs. So with this iteration we are adding a new module where participants will build a LEGO representation of their business. We believe that this will offer a useful metaphor for analyzing a customer’s business and the value that your MVP offers.

Other LEGO related blog posts:


Paul Spaan Offers 3D Printing Show & Tell Fri-May-24 at Mountain View BB

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Audio, Events, skmurphy

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.Join other entrepreneurs for serious conversations about growing a business based on internal cash flow and organic profit at a Bootstrappers Breakfast®. Paul Spaan, CEO of Spaan Enterprises, will offer a seven minute briefing on “3D Printing For Bootstrappers” and circulate examples of prototype products he has printed. Paul’s briefing will be followed by our regular roundtable discussion format.

When: 9:00am to 10:30am Fri-May-24
Where: Red Rock Coffee, Mtn View (2nd Floor)
Cost: $5 RSVP, $10 at door (order your own coffee downstairs).
Please RSVP

Paul Spaan worked as a mechanical engineer for more than two decades at major Silicon Valley technology firms before launching Spaan Enterprises to explore his long term interest in 3D printing. He will share some lessons learned from the installation and bringup of two 3D printers and bring examples of prototypes he has designed and printed for a seven minute “show and tell” and take part our regular roundtable discussion.

Paul anticipates that 3D printers that now cost less than $20,000–and in many cases much less than $20,000–will enable new categories of small scale manufacturing businesses in the same way that personal computers and high performance workstations enabled new kinds of information and knowledge processing businesses.

Bring your questions about the business opportunities for bootstrappers that 3D printing is now enabling.

Paul believes that we are in the midst of a price performance transition that will have as significant an impact on product design
and production at small firms as low cost laser and inkjet printers combined with desktop publishing software did for the design and production of product printed content.

Update-Thu-Sep-2 Audio Now Available

Reminder: Successful Consulting Engagements With Startups at IEEE-CNSV Tue-May-21

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Consulting Business, Events, skmurphy

Quick reminder:  I will be moderating a panel on “Successful Consulting Engagements with Startups” at the May 21 IEEE-CNSV meeting. I volunteered to pull this panel together after a long thread on the CNSV e-mail list June about the topic.

I have been fortunate to attract three knowledgeable and experienced engineers to take part in the panel, two are also serial entrepreneurs:

  • Chris Apple, Software Consultant at Apple Enterprises
    Chris Apple founded Apple Enterprises in 1981; he specializes in embedded firmware, control software and application software. He develops the embedded product, the PC control application, the manufacturing and calibration application and even the installer: he takes a concept and makes it a product.
  • Kip Brown, PE, Principal at CMBJR Consulting, Inc.
    Kip Clyde Brown, PE is a Professional Engineer with IC design experience in analog and mixed signal. In addition to his consulting experience he does expert witness work and is an at-large director of IEEE-CNSV. He has also founded three startups and will be able to provide insights from both sides of the table on the topic of startups hiring consultants.
  • Arthur Keller Ph.D., Managing Partner at Minerva Consulting
    Dr. Arthur M. Keller is Managing Partner of Minerva Consulting. Dr. Keller serves as an expert witness on patent infringement cases and as advisor to startups. He has served on the board of several startups, including Persistence Software, where he was Chief Technical Advisor prior to its IPO. He has also co-founded several startups, including Mergent Systems, which was acquired by Commerce One.

The four of us had a dry run on Friday and I learned a lot from the stories and lessons learned that were shared. There were often multiple perspectives on key issues, but each engineer’s opinion was based on three decades of experience  as consultants or entrepreneurs.

We have structured it as a very interactive session both among the panel members and with the audience. Whether you are thinking about doing a consulting engagement with a startup or are in a startup  wrestling with options for how to hire a consultant you will get an overview of how to look at the issues and some practical lessons learned.

Startups often need a consultant’s expertise but their limited resources can make for riskier and more complex fee arrangements than larger companies. A panel of three consultants–two of whom are also serial entrepreneurs who have founded technology startups–will offer their perspective on the practical realities of working for startups. This session will outline important tips and issues to consider if you are exploring investing your time working as a consultant for a startup. The panel will share their rules of thumb and stories from the trenches. Consultants and technology entrepreneurs are invited to take part in a candid discussion.


Holly DeVito on Basic Financial Controls for Bootstrappers Tue-May-21 BB in Sunnyvale

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Events, skmurphy

Compare notes with entrepreneurs who eat problems for breakfast.Join other entrepreneurs for serious conversations about growing a business based on internal cash flow and organic profit at a Bootstrappers Breakfast®. Holly DeVito, CEO of Sum of All Numbers, will offer a seven minute briefing on “Seven Simple Internal Controls Bootstrappers Should Have in Place.” Holly’s briefing will be followed by our regular roundtable discussion format.

When: 7:30am to 9:00am Tue-May-21
Where: Cocos, 1206 Oakmead, Sunnyvale, CA
Cost: $5 RSVP, $10 at  door (plus breakfast off the menu, separate checks).
Please RSVP

Holly DeVito, CEO of Sum of All Numbers, will join us May 21st in Sunnyvale to offer a seven minute briefing on “Seven Simple Internal Controls Bootstrappers Should Have in Place.” She will also share insights from bootstrapping a service business  that needed to establish a trusted advisor relationship and leveraging cloud applications to collaborate more effectively with her clients–offering a specialized expertise while maintaining self-service access to financial records.

Sum of All Numbers provides virtual account management and payroll services to small business owners. Using industry standard cloud applications the firm enables entrepreneurs to concentrate on revenue generation while their business financials are maintained by experts but always available for review.

Holly DeVito founded Sum of All Numbers in 2006 to pursue her passion for serving small business owners. She is a Certified QuickBooks Pro Advisor with more than a decade of experience in property management, financial services, clothing design, and real estate; she also served the CFO for the American Red Cross, Peninsula Chapter. Holly studied International Business Management at Brigham Young University-Hawaii and Utah State University.

Update Tue-May-21: here are three blog posts covering the event

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