This week we’ve been at Google Launchpad, a week-long incubator run out of Google Campus here in London. It’s been a week of talks and one-on-one mentoring on everything from User Research to Product to Tech, with some excellent lunches thrown in from some of the capital’s finest up-and-coming eateries.
Here’s our diary of the week, to let you know what we’ve been up to, what we’ve learned, and, while we’re about it, what we’ve eaten.
Day 1 – Idea Validation / Product Definition
The week kicked off with all the startups introducing themselves and getting some initial feedback on their ideas from Amir Shevat and David Katz. David followed that up with a great talk about the lessons he’s learned from the three companies he’s started, and the afternoon was spent in mentorship sessions with the two of them. In our session with Amir, he set us a challenge: to make it easier to upload videos directly to YouTube once you’ve made a soundtrack on our site. Challenge accepted.
Lunch: poncho8 – Burritos at their finest. So good that I had one for dinner too. I think that’s the first time I’ve consumed two burritos in a single day.
Day 2 – UI/UX
Tuesday morning brought with it presentations on both User Experience and User Research, which kept us focused on the user all morning; and in the afternoon we broke off for one-on-one sessions with various experts. We were paired up with Andrew Muir Wood, who talked us through the best way to conduct an interview without asking leading questions – always hard when you know what answers you what to hear.
Of course, interspersed with all of this was our first foray into what would be needed for our upload-to-Youtube button. More on this on Wednesday.
Lunch: Hummus Bros – A pot of hummus, falafel, toppings and sides. Why did no one tell me hummus could be the central asset of a meal? World shaken.
Day 3 – Tech
Wednesday was tech day, and a slew of developers descended on Campus to impart their wisdom. Amir got things going with a talk about analytics and understanding users, after which the room coagulated into pools of different programming languages, from web technologies to back-end coding to Android, with each startup seeking out the developer with the skillset they needed.
We managed to collar Jack Franklin, a Google Developer Expert who has somehow managed to write a book about programming before finishing University. We’d figured out, by this time, that we needed to do three things to get our upload button working:
- Upload the user’s video to our servers (since beforehand it was stored locally in the browser)
- On our servers, combine the user’s video and our generated soundtrack into one composite video
- Upload the completed video to YouTube
Luckily Jack came through for us – he managed to get videos being uploaded to our servers without breaking a sweat. Then, as an afterthought, he found an open source gem that would take care of most of the YouTube API stuff for us. This put Sean, our developer, in a great position to focus on the audio/video amalgamation.
Lunch: Mother Clucker – Fried chicken. In a burger. Enough said.
Day 4 – Pitching / Advanced UI/UX
On Thursday we met Donna Abraham, who took us through how to present the perfect pitch. Unsurprisingly for an expert in pitching, this was perhaps the single best presentation anyone had ever seen. Since Friday would be pitch day, we then went away to work on our pitches, with Donna meeting people one-on-one throughout the afternoon to give some company-specific advice.
The team of UI/UX mentors were back, so we took the opportunity to link up with Andrew again and carry on where we left off discussing User Research. Over the course of an hour, we sketched out Jukedeck’s User Research plan, which we’re embarking on over the next few weeks. I’m pretty confident our research will be immeasurably better having gone over the key methods with Andrew.
To cap off the day, Sean got everything together for our upload-to-YouTube button, which is now functional! It’s not live on our site, as we’ve got some design work to do on it, but it’s great to have the functionality there.
Lunch: Street Food – I can’t find these guys online (a lesson in naming in the Google age). Delicious salmon and asparagus salad, though, if you ever do find them.
Day 5 – Marketing / Demo Day
We’d been selected to pitch at the end-of-week gathering in the afternoon, so most of the morning of the last day was spent preparing for this. But we also managed to fit in a great session talking about marketing with Philipp Beer, discussing everything from launch to user acquisition.
At lunch we headed downstairs for the pitches. After a quick go with Google Glass (which we can confirm is going to change the world), a bunch of us took to the stage one by one to present our startups to a room full of investors, Google employees and anyone else who was interested. Amid some stiff competition from universally excellent pitches, we managed to clinch the trophy, a golden Campus rocket that will be taking pride of place on our mantelpiece.
And that was it – Launchpad was over. Having said that, we hope to stay in touch with Google, the outstanding mentors, and all the startups we met during the week. And we got a great selfie to remember everyone by.
Lunch: Street Food again. We approve.