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Tag Archive: Harrisonburg

Ideas Are Just That: Part 3

We’ve been sharing a series of blog posts and videos here and here about how an idea is just that: an idea, and how there are some basic, critical things a high-potential start-up technology company founder must do in order to make any idea worth having and building upon. As I said in my first post, the fact is, most ideas suck. So a founder needs to be sure this idea is worth making it the most important thing in her life for the next months or years.

My third suggestion for the immediate post-idea step is: Focus obsessively on creating a minimally viable product.

Don’t get caught up in the romance of the wonderfulness or inevitability of your idea, the greatness of your team, or the exuberant free feeling of having decided to jump in with both feet. The fact is, you haven’t yet accomplished the whole reason for doing this in the first place, which is selling something to people who want to buy what you have to sell. The excitement is going to wear off and then it’ll be time to get to work. If you don’t get to work immediately, you probably will have lost your opportunity.

It is all about speed.

Too many startups begin with an idea for a product that they think people want. When it isn’t resonating with customers, it is often because the founders never spoke to prospective customers and determined whether or not the product was interesting. When customers ultimately communicate, through their indifference, that they don’t care about the product, the startup fails.
The truly most important question you need to start asking yourself is the following. It’s the first thing you should ask yourself even before you swing your legs off the edge if the bed to get up on the first morning after to you come up with your great idea.

“Should this product be built?”

And then, soon thereafter, maybe before you brush your teeth, you need to ask “Can we build a sustainable business around your product?’
At this point it’s really only about two things: a first product that you know the world needs, and a plan for how first product can actually get customers. The team needs to be focused brutally on these things. Let the customers be your source of accountability.

The new company should be focused on quickly developing a minimally viable product and then learning as much as possible about its weaknesses and opportunities for improvement. Iteration upon iterations, pulling your hair out from anxiety that you’ll never get it right, near-all-nighters and lost weekends — all of that fun stuff. The point is to do all of this on the front end, quickly, and always being in dialogue with the customer, not stuck in an echo chamber of a founder team that may be overly enamored with the original concept.

When a founder focuses on figuring out the right thing to build—the thing customers want and will pay for—she need not spend months developing a prototype or waiting for a beta launch to change the company’s direction. Instead, she can adapt her plan incrementally, inch by inch, minute by minute, moving fast, boxing out the competition.

A couple of years ago I spent three days in the James Madison University’s Icehouse facility with about 24 entrepreneurs who had agreed to lock themselves in and spend that whole weekend developing companies based on pitches that they made on the first night. These people , for the most part, had never met each other. Groups coalesced around about eight ideas big and small. Through the weekend there was a compressed process of honing the original idea and creating a business plan and readying the product or service for the launch. I remember several of the teams were stumped by this question: Will customers want this? Only one of the groups spent the first night doing customer demand research – one group had thought to do this out of eight. That may be somewhat reflective about what real companies do when they go out into the real world. I hope not.

The founding team members need to relish being sponges for crucial information gleaned from the only people that matter: potential customers. This is never more true than at inception and in the earliest weeks and months.

Watch for our next post on “Ideas are just that.” Meanwhile, if you have any questions about startup steps or business law, just reach out to me or any of our Virginia business lawyers.

Client Conversations

Just prior to the holidays, we stopped by to see Randy Seitz, CEO of our long-term Harrisonburg client Blueline, to check in and get his opinion on what is important to his company in working with their law firm. This short video includes the things we talked about. Call or email me if you want more details.

We’re Helping at First Fridays…This Friday

GreeneHurlocker is proud to sponsor a special First Fridays Downtown event this Friday, April 5 put on by its landlord, the Arts Council of the Valley (ACV), in GreeneHurlocker’s building at 311 S. Main St., Harrisonburg VA. ACV is kicking off National Poetry Month Friday from 5:00-8:00 PM, with a presentation and readings by Virginia’s Poet Laureate, Dr. Henry Hart. You’ll also experience A Cup of Sun, paintings by Kim Juda Souder, and Inspired by Nature, works by Robert Bersson.

First Fridays is one of the reasons GreeneHurlocker is so happy to be in downtown Harrisonburg. Stop in for a beverage, to say “Hi,” see our offices, hear some great poetry and see some wonderful art. For details call our Harrisonburg partner, Jared Burden.

UPDATE: The event had the highest attendance in recent memory, about 230 people attended and enjoyed the artwork, networking and the chance to hear and talk with Virginia’s Poet Laureate Dr. Henry Hart. Pictures below.

Legislative Post-Session Discussion in Harrisonburg

Chamber Post-Legislative Breakfast 2019On April 8, our Harrisonburg partner Jared Burden will join in sponsoring the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber of Commerce and Shenandoah Valley Technology Council’s Post Legislative Breakfast with legislators and business leaders discussing the laws, budget actions and plans made at the recent General Assembly session. The discussion starts at 7:30 a.m. and we hope, if you’re interested, you’ll register with the Chamber here.

If you have questions about the event, contact the Chamber. If you want to know more about our Harrisonburg practices or need to discuss a legal issue, just get in touch with Jared, or any of our business lawyers.

Great Client, Great Coverage

The Washington Post’s coverage on Sunday of our good client Shenandoah Growers of Harrisonburg affirms their rise from a small, family-owned herb farm to a national leader in flavor-forward produce selling in 23,000 stores, including 16 of the country’s top 20 food retailers. Take a look at this profile in the Washington Post Business section last Friday. The company’s process innovations and tight focus made them a great subject for the Post and an ideal client for our OPENgc legal expertise. Relentless innovation and a profound understanding of the market are the main reasons they have been successful — and among the many reasons we have been glad to serve as their general counsel for several years

If you have any questions about the services we provide to entrepreneurial and growing businesses, contact Jared Burden or any of our Virginia business lawyers.

Good Times and Great Fellowship in Harrisonburg

Thank you! Harrisonburg partner Jared Burden and the whole GreeneHurlocker firm are grateful for the great attendance of our business clients and colleagues at our “Top Five Risks When You Sign A Contract” session with our friend Tom Mendez of McGriff Insurance Services yesterday afternoon in our offices in the Smith House. And the after-party, our Open House celebrating the successes of our first year of our Harrisonburg office, was incredible fun and filled the art gallery downstairs. We are pleased to report that all those who attended shared our Holiday spirit and wishes for a prosperous New Year were frequent and heartfelt. We can’t wait for another time to get together, so watch for our next seminar announcement in the New Year. You can see the fun for yourself below.

Jared Burden Opens New GreeneHurlocker Harrisonburg Office

Eric Hurlocker welcomes Jared Burden to the firm.

Eric Hurlocker welcomes Jared Burden to the firm.

We’ve expanded our footprint by bringing on a new partner, Jared Burden, based in Harrisonburg to open the firm’s second Virginia office as of January 9, says co-managing partner Eric Hurlocker.

“Our expansion into the Valley and the I-81 corridor with the addition of a talented lawyer like Jared are examples of GreeneHurlocker’s client-driven strategy at work,” says Brian Greene, co-managing partner.

“We will be able to provide clients with greater depth and reach of representation in matters relating to corporate, business, project development, and commercial real estate, among others,” he concludes.

“Jared adds a seasoned practitioner to the firm’s business and corporate law practice and also brings the firm a strong commercial real estate attorney.  He represents sophisticated and diverse business clients that dovetail nicely with our clients.  He’s an exceptional fit for our firm,” says Eric Hurlocker.

Burden will oversee the opening and ongoing operations of GreeneHurlocker’s Shenandoah Valley office, the firm’s first office outside of Richmond. He is a graduate of Duke University and UVA Law School.

Burden brings more than 27 years of experience as a corporate lawyer encompassing acquisitions, joint ventures, venture capital, and thousands of contracts of all sizes and types.   Burden’s commercial real estate practice is based in experience both as an attorney and as an executive with a DC-area retail real estate development company.

Additionally, through Burden’s innovative OPENgc service, GreeneHurlocker will be providing outside general counsel services to businesses in a custom-designed program for a flat fee.

“The fixed fee general counsel service is one of the many unique offerings that Jared brings to the firm. This will be a key value proposition for our clients in emerging markets,” says Eric.

“While I enjoyed practicing law in large law firms in Washington, DC and San Francisco, I’m most proud of the success of the solo law practice I founded here in Harrisonburg in 2015,” Jared explains.

“It leads perfectly to joining GreeneHurlocker, because the firm is a dynamic practice that is focused, as I am, on growth-stage businesses in innovative industries,” he says.

GreeneHurlocker’s Harrisonburg, VA office is located at The Hub, 128 W. Bruce St. in downtown Harrisonburg, VA, across the street from the Ice House and minutes from James Madison University.