This is late, very very late. I am afraid the primarily self imposed workload of lightning lab is making extra-curricular activities such as this blog, very difficult to maintain.
Week 6 was a voyage of discovery with internal tensions in our MTech Group rising as we realised that our communications were breaking down. Our weekly planning meetings were not driving sufficient progress, and our morning meetings were becoming overly long without creating clarification. When we started Lightning lab we set up a Trello board to contain (and constrain) our tasks. It is now a very large board with many tasks, multicoloured labelling for task types, deadlines, embedded information and documents. Tasks are being added more quickly than we can complete them and this has led to a confusion of priorities.
By the end of week 6 we were forced to meet with Charlie and Geoff to get an outside perspective on our priorities in our last 6 weeks of Lightning Lab. As always the advice was good, and Charlie agreed to sit in our next planning meeting to help us sort out our current priorities, and see if there was a better way to manage our tasks in the future.
What we learned was that we were not alone. Lightning Lab groups will be subjected to pressures of time and resources that will challenge any group or organisational system. We have re-prioritised our tasks by working backwards. We know what we need on Demo Day. From there we work backward through our tasks to now. If a task is not on that trajectory somewhere then we put it into a list called “deferred” on our Trello board. Even then we rank that list from top to bottom in case we get extra resource or time.
As it happens, one of our Lab Techs here, Kate, has been of enormous help in doing research that we might not have otherwise got to. One of the fortunate principles of Lightning Lab Chch is that lab techs are paid in gold stars.
Monday we started with a call to Melissa Clark Reynolds. She is the entrepreneur who launched Mini Monos and has spent a lot of time mentoring and guiding New Zealand startups ever since. Dan Khan recommended contacting her. She gave us some valuable advice about not waiting for outcomes from ACC but to proceed with the stats we have. We can always replace assumptions with facts if our models are ok. Later that afternoon we listened to Anna Guenther from Pledge Me who spoke on equity crowd funding. The last formal item of the day was Show and Tell. The groups showed their websites. Since mine was just this blog I didn’t show ours, I talked a bit about what we were up to and what we had been doing with the software.
We had a great call with Richard Little, the CTO at Rex Bionics. They are treating Traumatic Spinal Cord injury a little differently. Rather than a wheelchair they have developed a supportive exoskeleton to support the user while walking. Its impressive tech and Richard was able to give us some valuable insights and contacts in the US market. Later we meet again with Burwood researcher, Jo Nunnerley where we sought some clarification of the process that tetraplegic patients go through in their early hospital stay.
We worked quite consistently on our presentations but we also followed up on an opportunity with a prospective partner in China. Its very early days for this opportunity but we are always interested in finding out what interest there may be in global markets.
The Trello board grew again with the tasks accomplished dwarfed by the tasks added. Sorting out our sales model and anticipated revenues is becoming an urgent priority with our advisory board expecting to have some clarification by the end of September.
Brett Holland spoke today on financial modelling. It was a story about story telling, how your financial documents tell the story of your enterprise. A comforting, and disturbing thought quote from that talk was
“You are much more likely to be struck by lightning than have your financial model be right”
We also ducked over to EPIC (about a block away) to hear a talk from Wendy Kennedy on business lessons from top sports organisations. After that we had a lab lunch and a chance to talk at length with other Lightning Lab companies and later that afternoon we got some one on one time with Brett Holland. This was useful in sorting out our own financial models, which are likely to be different to most of the companies here because of the nature of our product.
Friday started with our meeting with Geoff and Charlie about our priorities. We did some preparation for a ministerial visit on October 6th and I worked on sorting out more frame rate issues in our simulator. We also demonstrated to minister Mark Mitchell. He seemed impressed with our tech, and our plans.
The week, as always, finished with a Good, Bad and Ugly session.
Good: We demonstrated to a minister
Bad: We didn’t have a wheelchair controller connected so he had to drive the simulator with a XBox controller and we don’t have all the motion sickness kinks worked out.
Ugly: He looked a little ill afterwards.
The unofficial celebrations for reaching the midpoint. Seth from property plot organised pizza and music.