Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Pedal to the Metal

Two weeks after launching Reading Glue we have been petal to the metal busy.  As of today we have more than 425 users that have created accounts.  I have been flooded with emails and messages each day from teachers that love what we are working on.  I attended the Chicago Digital Learning Symposium yesterday, and received a lot of really great feedback there as well.  It is really easy to sit back and pat yourself on the back after hearing all of this feedback, but I have to remember that most of this feedback is coming from people that are connected to the field of education.  This is not to say that we have not heard from parents who love the product.  I just wish I was hearing more feedback from parents then teachers right now.  I think we all knew that teachers would really dig the overall concept of Reading Glue.  We have always planned on teachers being our largest marketing tool.  The bigger risk is building a large enough market out of parents who actually care to take a hands on approach when it comes to their child's education.  I am still optimistic that I can get non-teacher users to openly talk about what they like and do not like about Reading Glue.  It is really critical that I find out in the next month or two what areas of the site offer the most value to them.  I want to load the system with content before school starts, and really want to hold off developing all that content until we have some solid feedback telling us what works and what does not.

Some other exciting news came this week.  We found out that Reading Glue was selected to be one of the showcasing startups at Tech Cocktail's next event in Chicago.  As part of being selected we are in an online poll that is being held to select Chicago's Hottest Showcasing Startup.  We really need all the votes we can get.  The winner not only gets some extra time to pitch their company on the 25th, but they will also receive an invite to Tech Cocktail Celebrate ( a nationwide startup competition held in October).  All you have to do is check out this link, and scroll down to the bottom where you will see a blue button that says Reading Glue.  Click on us.  Feel free to vote for us from all of your electronic devices.  Even vote for us on your grandma's computer as well.  It would also be awesome to see as many of you as possible stop out to support us on July 25th.  By using this link you can get 20% off your ticket.

This week started off busy, and is ending that way too.  I am finishing up an application for the Impact Engine.  Impact Engine is a 16 week accelerator program that is focused on helping social and environmental for-profit startups.  They provide $25,000 up front investment for 7% equity in your company.  Cash is great and all, but what I think is most attractive about joining their program is the leadership and mentor network that you are connected with.  When you are a first time entrepreneur, like myself, you need all the experienced help you can get.  I think this is especially true when you are tackling a unique customer segment like Reading Glue's.

It is time to stop typing this blog, and time to get back to work on that application.  I have to keep the pedal to the metal and stay focused.  In only two weeks this ride has started to get a little wild.  I expect it to get bat shit crazy real soon.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two Steps Forward

Two months ago I decided to quit my job and work on Reading Glue full time.  I reviewed everything that we learned in problem and solution interviews, and I realized that over the past few months I was building a solution that did not totally match what my customers had told me they needed.  Working on Reading Glue part time at nights had disconnected me from my customers.  I kept building onto a solution without any customer feedback.  The worst part was that I was modifying the solution in order to somehow come up with a revenue model.  I was no longer solving the problem people had expressed to me in the beginning, but making a pile of garbage that I dreamed might be able to make some money.  I scrapped all of my code base, and started building something new.  I started building a product that focused solely on one thing, solving my early adopter's problem in the simplest way possible.

Last night I officially launched Reading Glue.  We focus on improving a child's reading ability through the use of comprehension strategies.  At its core, Reading Glue is a resource for parents to find book and activity ideas that can be used to teach and practice the use of comprehension strategies with their child.  We help close the gap between the classroom and home by showing parents how they can teach and practice reading with their child just like a professional would in the classroom.

The response to Reading Glue has been awesome so far.  It is now time to learn from my users and see how we can deliver the most value while still staying focused on solving their biggest pain point.  We are making a big push by promoting Reading Glue through several summer reading programs.  We will also be applying for the Impact Engine, an accelerator in Chicago that is focused on helping startups addressing societal problems .  Lastly, I will be pitching Reading Glue at the Fox Valley Demo Day in Elgin on June 19.  I am excited to get out there and see where this can go.  There are bound to be a lot more ups and downs, but I feel like I am laser focused on what needs to be done now.  If you are a parent (or know a parent) of a child grades K-5, then we would love for you to try it out.

Reading Glue | Reading strategies that stick.