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March 20, 2011

So, How Are You Going to Help Out?

By: thejunctioncoil

I’m the first to admit when I’m silly. Usually that brings good results, so let me share a story with you. Some months ago, right after the Any.DO investment, Omer Perchik and I went to the silicon valley to meet face-to-face with some of the investment syndicate,  advisory board members and other valley based people that could help. One of those people was Paul Buchheit who just joined Y Combinator at the time and was kind enough to take an hour to get the pitch and give an opinion.

As we were exiting the building, Paul Graham came up to us and asked us when are our office hours. We were stumped. Neither of us had any clue what are these office hours he was talking about. He asked again. We retreated while mumbling something about not being from around there.

Some Internet education later and we realized what he was talking about. An important part of the Y Combinator program is calendar time where Paul & his partners devote to the startups – brainstorming about product, distribution, users & funding. This, in turn, started a trend where some of the silicon valley eco-system participants just accepted and advised people, at no charge, only to help out.

So, I figured we gotta have this in Israel.

And… I am glad to say that three months after the “Graham incident”, we already had our first office hours session at the junction, where Prasanna Srikhanta came by and gave a talk about the silicon valley culture and provided an insight where could he help these startups. This was followed by sessions with each of the startups that wanted some 1:1 time.

A couple of weeks ago we had our “Secrets of User Experience and Product Design” talk. Micha Porat posted some thoughts about it afterwards. I think the consensus was that you need (much much) more time for such a topic. So, I am proud and happy to say that Noa BichovskyUri Ar and Eyal Shahar all committed to do regular good & bad case studies as open meetups. We’ll have those monthly (thanks! this is awesome)

… but …

Way-way cooler, we will have monthly office hours for the junction members at the time. Yes. Each of these three kick-ass UX people will come by and meet with junction members for 4 hours and help out. No strings attached, no upside required. I love this eco-system.

Your feedback is required: One additional idea that I’m toying with following a discussion with Roy Man (thanks mate!) is to allow top talent to do office hours with the junction startups. The way I envision this, it is like a sort of monthly speed dating with value. Ninja engineers, designers and product people that come in by reference could meet the companies that need such for an hour, hear the pitch, provide feedback, brainstorm and see whether they should start dating. Who knows, maybe we’ll have junction babies.

Tell us what you think of the idea in the comments, and lets work to set this up.

10 Comments

  1. Yaron Samid

    20/03/2011

    LOVE this idea. Lots of “help love” happening between TechAviv members organically but the idea of structuring it with calendar set “office hours” is an awesome idea. I’m in. I wonder if it can extend even beyond The Junction. There isnt a week that goes by that I don’t host a TechAviv startup at the BillGuard office to just help them out, no strings attached. But thats not really scalable. I wonder if more startups could open their doors and do the same for fellow founders. Ori Lahav and the folks at ILTechTalks are doing an amazing job of this. Lots to learn from their early success.

  2. eden

    20/03/2011

    Yaron, thanks! I agree. We need to scale things up. The weekly talks are great, but we really need to get some face time for people, improving on their startups. By doing it in one place, we can split a 4 hours run into 4-8 batches.

    Hopefully (!) the outcome will be even more people that could help others.

  3. Vicky

    20/03/2011

    This sounds great! I can only add that this type of helping culture always existed in the Zell program, which was really always so overwhelming and amazing.
    If anything social media comes up – I’m here!

  4. Tal Shoham

    20/03/2011

    As a one happy Junction member, i love the idea and think it’s invaluable, also for creating a cross-community state of mind that’s tremendously important. Any startup, starting from the Junction startups, that received such “help love” as above said will learn this as a community method from its day 1 and naturally offer “office hours” to fellow founders in the future. Great way to implement these values.
    I think that alongside the need to meet experts like UX or Product, some methodical meetings are relevant as well – face time with strategic advisors/experienced founders/industry leaders/branding&marketing experts that can discuss and comment on the big picture – startup’s milestones,projections, market strategy, etc’. This can lead to “dates” like finding a perfect board member that’s right for your startup, aside from the huge contribution to the young startup’s strategy and mistake-count.
    One final note – I think entrepreneurs receiving all the “love” should write short posts about it right afterwards, even keep it to themselves for a while until they are comfortable with it being published. These can be edited, allocated to content clusters and published – and simply become one hell of a real time, on the go, from the horses mouth, “Startup Nation” insider (i’m stopping now) title that has fantastic value in so many ways.

  5. Jonathan

    20/03/2011

    As a Junction member, I think these are great news.
    As my colleague Tal Shoham, mentioned above, i too think this is invaluable.
    I would also like to offer another concept I find interesting; we could establish ‘roasting’ sessions; product, UX and tech oriented, in which start-ups present their products and the members of the panel ‘roast’ it.
    This is in order to get other insights an inputs of flaws and problematic aspects that may have slipped away from the eyes of the entrepreneurs while in the process of developing their own products.
    This may have real value before the product reaches the end-customers’ hands while saving some potential frustration to those customers.

  6. Omer Kaplan

    20/03/2011

    The speed dating with value idea is awesome. As a product guy that specializes in gamification and marketing for teens I often meet w startups, providing feedback and brainstorm with them a little.

    I’d be more then happy to help out, count me in :D

  7. Ohad pressman

    20/03/2011

    Spot On!

    I’ve had a task titled ‘take calls from tech founders and give free advice an hour a week’ on my list for maybe a year now so I fully relate and think can be instrumental for startups and very fulfilling for the advisors.

  8. Prasanna Srikhanta

    20/03/2011

    I’ll be back in May for more office hours and maybe have a few more people to also help out from the bayarea :)

  9. eden

    20/03/2011

    Tal, let’s do the post idea. Definitely. Id love to host it on this blog. Great idea.

    Jonathan, why wont you organize such as event for members?

    Omer, Ohad, we would be honored to have you both. Taking it offline.

  10. Andrey Shirben

    26/03/2012

    Hey Eden, you can count me in for April ;)

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