Spring Break, Spring Cleaning, and Springing Forward

We’ve set the clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings and winter changes to spring next weekend, but winter sure decided to give us one last punch in the gut this past Sunday. In the Oasis, we lucked out an only got about 2 or 3 inches – we may have had more, but winds from the northwest sustained at about 25 miles per hour blew a couple of inches of snow off into Cedar County. With the sun out yesterday, enough snow melted where there are now parts of the yard where the grass and twigs blown down by thunderstorms the weekend previous are sitting in the backyard. This weekend, the temperature is going to hover in the mid to upper 50s. If you don’t like the weather in Iowa, just wait 5 minutes.

Between the fresh snowfall and Spring Break, the girls and I have just been bumming around the house for most of the week. I’ve had my usual startup and freelancing work to do, so they have actually been playing nicely together… for the most part. Today, the girls are with their uncles and grandma in town, hopefully getting completely worn out while they play in what’s left of the snow. I’m taking the day to do the thinking and some deep work that I can’t do when there are semi-frequent calls for “daddy” from another room.

Now that the marathon of events has finished, I’m beginning the arduous task of cleaning and organizing my home office and the kitchen. Over the last six months, things have been moving so fast that there hasn’t been the time I’ve needed to keep things organized. Papers are sitting on top of the filing cabinets, but haven’t been sorted into the correct folders and drawers. Projects that I started are sitting on my desk and the side table, half finished. My wife had begun to organize the kitchen shortly before she started her “grown up doctor” job in December. Christmas happened, then birthdays, then the event marathon. So, now it’s time to sort, clean, and dispose of things that we either don’t need anymore or are broken or expired. I’ve actually been looking forward to slowing down a bit and getting this cleaning done – maybe I’ll finish some of these projects that have been in limbo since before the kids were born!

In startup news, Cider Finder is moving along well. I just had a phone call with the other founders, and we’re starting to put together the final list of features for the app, so that we can grab some quotes from app developers. Hopefully, there are things that we can do ourselves to cut down the amount of time the app needs to be in production – we’ve already built out a lot of the graphics, and I’ll be moving the landing page over to my server and building it out substantially more. If we need to host the thing on my server, that’s doable as well. We’re still looking into different funding streams, including grants from state economic development and tourism boards. However, if we’re able to get something relatively functional going relatively quickly, we can start bringing on cideries, bars, and restaurants as subscription clients, giving us a bit of capital with which to fund the project. Convincing cider makers, bars, and restaurants to pay up will probably be the hardest part of the entire project, but it’s what we need to move things forward at more than just a snail’s pace.

Sexy Life is also moving along with its product beta test. We are still looking for people to test our product and give us some honest feedback about their experiences with what we have built. We’ve had two couples test out our product so far, and the feedback has skewed relatively positively so far. However, we need at least a dozen more couples to give our product a try before we will feel comfortable selling it to the masses. Hopefully we’ll have an influx of testers after I bombard a few mailing lists and Facebook groups with our pleas for help.

There isn’t too much to report on the Startup Weekend front. Startup Weekend Cedar Rapids was moved to the first weekend in June, so that we could take advantage of the momentum generated at EntreFEST in May. We are including something called “Side Hustle Saturday” for people who already have some sort of startup they’ve started or are still working on something from another Startup Weekend. I wouldn’t mind participating in Side Hustle Saturday, either with Team Sexy Life or Team Cider Finder. However, the guys from Fairfield are coming up to Cedar Rapids from Fairfield to participate in the regular Startup Weekend, and I don’t know how much good the program would be for Sexy Life – we should have launched something by then. I meet with the rest of the organizing team next week, and I hopefully will get more information on the alternate programming for existing startups.

Speaking of Team Cider Finder, the guys from Fairfield are throwing their own Startup Weekend at the very end of September, so it looks like I’m heading to Fairfield for a weekend. Looking at the calendar, their event actually falls the weekend after Denver Startup Week, and I had planned to go into Denver for my yearly “beer-grimage” the weekend before Denver Startup Week. I’d better start making plans for the girls and the animals now if I’m going to be out of town for 10 days at the end of September.

With as busy as the fall gets, Ian and I are going to be getting together to nail down the specifics for the next Startup Weekend Iowa City. We’re going to need to pick one of the weekends that is not a home football Saturday, doesn’t conflict with another Startup Weekend, and doesn’t conflict with Iowa Startup Games. This gives us only a couple of options, one of which is the weekend before Denver Startup Week – personally lobbying against this weekend. The other two that would work are in October, and I’m really hoping that Startup Games hasn’t already taken a weekend. Time is not on our side for this, but I think we can make this happen.

Luckily, the next few weeks are rather calm. The next major events on the horizon are toward the end of April. I’ll be starting the day early on the morning of April 21 with the next Venture School Surge Summit, where Team Sexy Life will be participating in a pitch competition. This means that we need to update our pitch and deck, which have been dormant since we finished Venture School nearly a year ago. Our pitchman also left us, so it’s up to either David or me to give the pitch now. I’m going into Des Moines that evening for the Young Entrepreneur Convention and participating in an elevator pitch competition on April 22. It will be nice to update and refine both the full length and elevator versions of the pitch, since we haven’t really worked on that in quite a long time. I have to give the elevator pitch, but David and I haven’t worked out who is giving the full-length version on Friday. We’ll be working this out in the next week or two and updating the deck, based on who gives the pitch.

It’s amazing how quickly fall and winter moved, and spring is probably going to move just as quickly. Before I know it, the trees will be budding, I’ll be mowing the yard and sneezing, and my older daughter will be having her end-of-year recitals. I don’t know if there’s enough coffee available to be consumed in order to get everything done that needs doing.

That “beer-grimage” at the end of September is the prize. Let’s do this.