If you’re considering starting a software company, I’ve given a handful of talks that might be helpful…
Market Timing is Your Friend
Start with this talk that highlights the importance of market timing. When is it a good time to get into a market? When is it a bad time? How should you market your product and how should you price it? All of these subjects are discussed in this video:
Product is King
It’s a lot easier to build a successful company when you have an insanely great product. This talk focuses on the importance of product excellence and the 5 common things behind some of the most successful products:
Speaking of building a great product, it’s important to know how to get things done. If you have a team of people who all need to coordinate to ship a product, you might find this intro to Agile and Scrum video helpful:
Handful of Lessons Learned
Building a product is hard, there are always compromises. Should you build Feature A that customers are asking for or Feature B that helps expand your market?
No self-respecting entrepreneur wants to focus on finances, but without some fundamental knowledge of finances, you will fail.
Then, there’s marketing…how do you get people to know about your product in a sea of products?
These and other lessons I’ve learned from building 3 software companies and 5 successful products are discussed in this video:
Give Your Team a Stake
And if you do build a successful software company, you’ll want to give your team members a stake in the game. The most common path is to provide team members stock options. This video explains what stock options are all about:
If you have questions or comments, feel free to direct them to me on Twitter: @hamids
Originally published December 15, 2008 on ShipSoftwareOnTime.com blog. This post is my way of preserving my past writings that I care about.
If you have been following this blog, you already know that Axosoft is embracing SCRUM in a big way. We have adopted SCRUM into our own development efforts and we have also made it a top-priority to have full SCRUM support in OnTime 2009 (due out in Q1 of 2009 and currently in beta).
But as our own customer survey showed, even though SCRUM is the top agile development method, it is in use by only 12% of software development teams. So if SCRUM is so great, why is it not more widely adopted? There are several potential answers to that question:
There isn’t a single good source of information on SCRUM.
The few videos that do talk about SCRUM are either extremely long, obnoxious, boring or vague. In some cases, all of the above!
SCRUM classes are expensive. A two-day class generally runs in the neighborhood of $1800.
There is far too much talk and unnecessary debate about chickens, pigs and other minor details!
The few sources of information that do exist generally push their own products, tools or services.
With that information in mind, I felt that the software community could use a brief crash-course that covers the core concepts of SCRUM without any product, tools or services being promoted to distract the viewer. So I set out to create a video that would introduce SCRUM in under 10 minutes. It turns out, this is not such an easy task.
The SCRUM Script
I started writing the script in a style that might be familiar to a lot of boring college professors:
A product backlog is a list of features…a sprint is like a milestone…blah blah blah
Even as I wrote the script, I thought the script was bad, but I wanted to get something on paper as a starting point. I then shared the script with one of my partners in crime, Angelo Coppola. He immediately blasted it. He ripped into it calling it “boring”, “vague” and “obnoxious.” Wait a second! Those descriptions sounded vaguely familiar. I already knew what Angelo was telling me: a total re-write had to be done. But before re-writing the script, I went to our conference room white board and I created a storyboard of what I wanted in the visuals:
As you can see, I was meant to be an artist! I must have missed my true calling somewhere along the line. With the new visuals in hand (or I should say in my iPhone), I went back to re-writing the script. I brought in Derek Harju, our resident flash artist at Axosoft, asking him to take my storyboard and bring it to life! Pretty easy, right?
In the new script, I decided to introduce concepts and visuals simultaneously. In a previous video I made on a political topic, the impact of bringing in visuals and words together at the same time seemed to work well. So the script changed from a boring “a product backlog is blah blah blah…” to something like this:
In SCRUM you work with THESE [show a product backlog], which is then broken down into THESE [show a release backlog]…and so on.
This time, I felt the script was much stronger and Angelo agreed. So it was on to the visuals.
The SCRUM Visuals
Over the next several weeks, Derek went to work to bring the visuals to life. From the beginning, Derek’s work was great. Here are a couple of the earlier samples:
The early illustrations were good, but they weren’t great. So with each iteration of the visuals, we would make minor adjustments. I would say “the people are too flat” and Derek would make 3D people, Angelo would say “the box is ugly” and would photoshop a potential box. Then Derek would take it and run with it. Eventually, after countless meetings and having way too many dreams about how to illustrate SCRUM, we were finally down the right path. The end results became this:
Derek had done an amazing job with the visuals and animations. By now, Derek was probably having nightmares with my voice and the background music as he was listening to it for 8 hours a day! After he finished the visuals, I wasn’t happy with the script again. There were too many unfunny jokes and minor vocal mistakes in the recording. So I went back to GarageBand, which is an absolutely amazing product, to finalize the audio:
After a bunch of minor tweaks to the script and a few dozen more takes, the audio was finally done. I handed it over to Derek to finalize the Flash.
Making an HD Movie
To our pleasant surprise and complete amazement, a week before we finalized the SCRUM video, YouTube started hosting HD-quality videos at 1280 x 720 resolution. The HD Videos on YouTube were stunning and we wanted to be a part of it! The timing couldn’t have been better as the illustrations in our video look very bad at YouTube’s traditional 320 x 200 resolution. We had worked too hard on this video to let the fuzziness of low-quality video kill it, so we were extremely excited to host it in HD.
After getting the final video from Derek, there were still a couple of minor timing-related issues that Flash was throwing at us during the rendering process. iMovie to the rescue:
With less than 10 minutes of tweaking things in iMovie, the video that we had worked on for nearly 5 weeks was now complete. It was time to upload it to YouTube and wait for the HD quality video to show up.
SCRUM in 10 Minutes in HD
About 2 hours after uploading the video to YouTube, the HD version emerged and it was amazing. To have this video hosted in HD, something that would have been impossible just 1 week before, was an exciting feeling. Here is a link to the end result:
Note: This is an updated video from the original
Within 2 days of the video being on YouTube, it had already risen to the #1 search result in YouTube for the word “SCRUM” and it has made all sorts of top “honors” lists in YouTube’s Science & Technology category. The reviews so far have been excellent and the feedback via email directly to me has been overwhelmingly positive.
So, there you have it…5 weeks of work by 3 people at Axosoft to make this video.
I hope you enjoy it and pass it on.
Update (written on 7/19/2015):
In late 2011, after having the original Scrum in Under 10 Minutes video up for nearly 3 years and more than 700,000 views, I decided it was time to update the video with modifications to the script and a major upgrade to the visuals. With the help of our resident in-house videographer, and one of the most talented artists I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, Shane Rymer, we set out to update the video. The video posted above is the updated version which was released on February 20th, 2012. As of this writing, the new version of the video has had more than 1.1 Million Views! That’s nearly 1.8 Million combined views of the Scrum in Under 10 Minutes Videos.
Over the nearly 7 years the video has been out, I have received thousands of emails from people who have just wanted to thank me for having learned Scrum concepts in such a short time. Many wanted to write and say they learned more in 10 minutes than even a 2-day class they had taken on Scrum. It’s an incredible feeling to get those emails!
And, of course, if you ever want tools to help you implement Scrum (or Kanban or really any software development methodology), Axosoft is the way to go. 🙂