Session Two
Cubberley Community Center, Palo Alto
July 27th - August 9th, 2016

Session 2 of Launch Camp 2016 brought seven students from all accross the Bay Area to Palo Alto, where they founded three businesses, impacted hundreds of customers and built the confidence to boldly create value for others without fear of failure.

"All the skills we learned are so useful, not only in getting your business of the ground but in life as well. I would totally recommend this camp to anyone with tons of ideas or none at all."

Nat P.

"This was the most fun camp I've done. I learned a lot, but not in a school way"

Geeta G.

"Going to the same streets where I'm normally a buyer, but now as a seller, was a really cool experience"

Andrew G.

Day 1

Exploring as an entrepreneur, selling to strangers.

We started the day with an introduction to the Effectual Reasoning philosophy of entrepreneurship. Effectuation scholars argue that founding a successful business is like exploring the wildnerness. They found that the successful entrepreneurs they studied were not distinguished by their capital, ideas, or risk seeking behavior, but rather by a bias towards action. Through repeated experiments, mostly failures, their subjects came to know what obstacles and prizes existed in their market, built a resource pool, and eventually discovered valuable products. Launch Camp focuses on action over planning. We guide students through a terrain unlike anything they've explored before, starting on day 1, when they sell a pre made product to strangers in Downtown Palo Alto.

Working in pairs students sold wooden postcards - a product from session 1. After selling for 50 minutes, some teams were able to make over $60 and in total the group sold 16 cards. We debriefed over lunch at Pizza My heart before students returned to University Ave to talk with local business owners and build a network they could use in their indepedent projects starting on day 2.

Day 2

Launching a business, finding your first customer.

The morning of the second day focused on action oriented ideation. Students listed resources which they had immediate access to including their skills, equipment and network. Then, starting from these resources they planned out products which they could execute on by the end of the day. Together the group discussed ideas and each student chose one to independently pursue for one hour. During that hour the students gathered feedback from three people, made three changes to their product and got their first pre-sale. Students presented the results of their hour-long exploration to their peers and then formed teams of up to three, around shared interests.

The afternoon was a sprint to create a prototype and acquire a paying customer. Every team had an initial prototype by the end of the day and two teams had received interest in a bulk order from local stores.

Meet the teams:

Sweet and Melty

Healthy treats, made easy.

Sweet and Melty sells high quality, healthy, baking mixes packaged in decorative jars.

Tria Treats

Make your tart into art.

Tria's Treats sells handcrafted wooden gift boxes for pastries and other baked goods.

Birch Bottle

Bottles with flair.

Birch Bottle sells glass bottles wrapped in beatiful wooden sleeves, printed with a custom design.

Day 3

Gathering feedback, seeking rejection

An entrepreneur know's whether they are selling to enough people based on the number of rejections she receives. By day three most of our teams had begun selling their products to local businesses, and were learning a lot about what not to do. However each team powered through rejection, updating their pitch with each call or email, until they found at least two businesses interested in a purchase or sample.

Teams also started working on their websites and pushed to finish their first sellable product - perfecting their manufacturing process along the way.

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Day 4

Launching website, following up with businesses

During day four students finalized the layout and content of their websites, honing their pitch as they went. Teams used part of their budget to create a website with a custom domain and checkout on Squarespace. They created pages for each of their products, a landing page, then added their own photos, their team logo and connected their site to Stripe to accept payment.

Company Sites:

Tria Treats | Sweet and Melty | Birch Bottles

Students also continued to develop their products in our Makerspace and visited more local businesses to show off their new samples. At the end of the day we had a visit from Jon Mckay, creator of Tessel. He talked about his life as CEO of a startup, from raising money, to hiring and finally shutting down his company.

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Day 5

Online marketing, creating personas

On day five students began their online marketing efforts - sharing their websites on social media and other sites their users were likely to visit. They also continued to call and visit local stores with their samples.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Chris Gallello, ex Program Manager at Microsoft and Imgur, who is currently creating a Design Tool called Purple. He led a design thinking workshop, focused on helping students create user personas. Student then used their new personas to hone their pitches and future product plans.

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Day 6

Customer feedback and retention

During day 6 teams focused on getting feedback from their early customers and implementing visible changes based on that feedback. Students also gave out free samples in downtown Palo Alto and gathered testimonials from their customers to add to their website. They also started physical advertising, putting up flyers around Cubberley and downtown.

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Day 7

Fullfilling orders, improving processes

For day 7 teams stayed at Cubberley all day to focus on fullfilling their first few online orders. Tria Treats manufactured five boxes, while testing different manufacturing techniques. Sweet and Melty worked on creating more mason jars after selling four on day 6. Birch Bottles stained their bottle sleeve, at the request of a customer at Share Tea.

In the afternoon we spent some time with Lindsay Gordon, a guest mentor who runs her own career counseling business. Lindsay talked about how she never wanted to be a entrepreneur, but fell in to it while pursuing her passion - helping others achieve their goals. She ran an exercise to help students identify their strengths and passions and develop self awareness to help them with college and job decisions.

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Day 8

Final Sales, product pivots and improvements

Day 8 was the last day available for selling products in person. Students spent the morning in downtown Mountain View, selling to shops and pedestrians. Sweet and Melty sold all but one of their Mason Jars, and gave out three plates of free samples. Birch Bottles got feedback on a proposed design for a new product - a phone case to help beginners play Pokemon Go.

In the afternoon students focused on designing and manufacturing new products. One student worked on laser cutting canvas paintings, while another manufactured his Pokemon Go phone case. Students that didn't want to pivot worked on changes to their existing products.

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Day 9

Presentations, reflections

Day 9 was the last day we spent at Cubberley. We were visited by Steve Roseman, an independent glass blower from San Francisco. Steve presented his story, from business development at Hewlett Packard to his own electric bike company to his current work selling glass. Following Steve's presentation students presented their own businesses to him and their peers. The presentations weren't pitches, instead they focused on reflection. Students talked what the things they tried describing what worked, what didn't work, and what they would do differently.

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Day 10

Entrepreneurship scavenger hunt in downtown San Francisco

We spent day 10 in San Francisco. Students worked on teams to complete a scavenger hunt testing the skills they had developed in the last two weeks. Teams got business ideas from strangers, created and sold handmade products using only materials on hand, marketed fake startups and more.

The day ended at Chiradelli Chocolates on Market Street, where students were rewarded for their hard work with ice cream, sized depending on the number of scavenger hunt items they completed.

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