Allen Hirashiki gave a briefing at the Tue-Oct-17 Bootstrappper Breakfast in Sunnyvale on team and project management practices he had found effective in keeping the Mindframers bootstrapping team together and moving forward on the design of a complex wearable device. Here is the description for the breakfast and a handout that Allen provided to summarize his advice.

Allen Hirashiki: How To Keep Bootstrapping Team Together and Moving Forward

In the MVP development phase for a team bootstrapping a product it can be difficult to keep the team motivated and moving forward. Allen Hirashki will share some lessons learned on shared accountability, morale, and joint planning he has learned boostrapping Mindframers (http://mindframers.com/), a new wearable device startup.

This hardware product has a related smartphone app and charging station and has a team that includes electrical, mechanical, and software engineer as well as sales and business development folks experienced in medical device sales. Allen will talk about how to was able to attract a talented group of team members by aligning around a mission to help people manage situational stress (e.g. public speaking, taking tests, and visiting the dentist).

Allen Hirashiki has more than two decades of experience in as a mechanical and thermal engineering manager and cross-functional hardware team leader. He has held engineering and senior leadership positions at Ericsson, Fabric 7, and Cisco. He has a bachelor degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly Pomona. For the last decade he was a volunteer EMT, First Aid Provider, and with the Bay Area Chapter of the American Red Cross. He holds several patents for innovations in backplane and enclosure design for high performance networking equipment.

Handout: How To Keep Bootstrapping Team Together and Moving Forward

Bootstrappers Breakfast – October 17, 2017 Allen Hirashiki – President, MindFramers Inc.

Startup Team Tips

  1. Establish Communication – weekly meetings
    1. Face-to-face during planning (Liquidspace rental conference room $20/hr)
    2. Video conference during execution (Zoom $15/mo)
    3. Email agendas (day before)
    4. Listen to dissenting ideas but make timely decisions based on unbiased criteria
  2. Share information – easily accessible documentation repository
    1. Online spreadsheet tool (Smartsheet $14/mo)
    2. Company documents, bills of materials, project schedules
  3. Fill knowledge gaps –
    1. Advisors (financial, sales, industrial design, software UX, marketing, public relations)
  4. Get Commitment –
    1. Realistic equity plan (save 25% for employees)
    2. Incorporation (S-corp for tax deductions by founders ?C-corp for funding)
    3. Patents (provisionals defer cost of claim challenges for a year)
    4. Weekly meetings (attend when needed based on stage of development)
  5. Provide Motivation –
    1. Share the big picture (marketing and sales plans)
    2. Clear understanding of roles
  6. Convey Confidence –
    1. Share knowledge from advisors
    2. Show progress in other areas
    3. Have real contingency plans

Summary

Key motivator – team members need to feel respected

  • As trusted part of team
  • For their contribution of time, money, effort
  • To make it easier to commit
    • Communication
    • Confidence their time, effort and money isn’t wasted
    • Show progress (in areas outside current focus)
    • They have a voice, but understand decisions are based on criteria
    • Efforts will be rewarded

More tips