Launch Youniversity was born on the Atlanta Beltline on May 21, 2015. I remember because it was my birthday and I was spending the morning with Jeff and Shane to talk about our goals and development plans.
In these conversations, we often talked about opportunities to invest in others. As we walked off our breakfast, I suggested we find a way to make a difference in a way that would scale. We sensed that some might find this valuable, but we really had no idea how to go about it. So, we decided to take an innovation process that Shane and I had used at Chick-fil-A and apply it to this opportunity. Here’s how it played out…
We had to identify who we thought might want our help. How would we describe our audience? What do they need? What can we offer that could be helpful?
Based on previous experiences, we felt that we could leverage our collective experience (launching products, experiences and even churches) to help those who were probably younger than us, wanted to be difference-makers, but were still trying to figure out how to make their ideas a reality.
We ideated around two questions here: Who and How? Jim Collins encourages us to consider first who and then what. We did that, and that’s how Kevin Jennings became part of the team. Jeff knew Kevin had experience helping folks like Dave Ramsey and Tony Robbins share their content, so he set up a lunch meeting. Not only did we find that Kevin had serious credentials, but as a millennial, he totally embraced our desire to help folks in his age range.
Next, he helped us explore how we might reach our audience. We settled in on a podcast as a means to start, knowing that access would be easy and free for those who were interested. We felt it would be a fun way to share stories and tips from successful launchers we knew.
Prototyping is a means of developing a minimally-viable version of your product just to see if it has any potential. For us, that meant putting together a series of talks on “Launching” that we shared at a recurring Friday morning gathering at Roam, a favorite Atlanta co-working chain. We gave three talks to an audience of approximately 50-75 each time. Based on the feedback we collected, we sensed that there were folks who would find our content helpful.
To validate that we could come up with content, we reached out to friends who had experience launching things, and simply asked if they would be willing to share their story. When folks like David Butler, Sid Mashburn, Ford Fry, Eryn Eddy and Jeff Shinabarger agreed, we were convinced we could make this work if we were willing to put in the time and effort.
In September 2016, we launched our first podcast, but not until we had several months of podcasts recorded and ready to go. Jeff likes to say that we “help you turn your idea into reality and sustain it.” If we were going to sustain Launch Youniversity, we certainly couldn’t live week-to-week trying to get a podcast recorded. So, we worked to stockpile interviews, build a landing page, develop a basic marketing plan, and then let it fly.
We told everyone we knew to download the podcast, actually listen, give us feedback, and spread the word. We aren’t quite a year in yet, but we think we are going to make it. We even decided to move from releasing a new podcast every two weeks to doing so weekly (which I now realize requires twice as much content!). Our audience is growing. And, we are working on some new tools we hope to begin releasing in the 4th quarter of 2017.
Have you used The Launch Sequence to launch your own idea or project? We’d love to hear about it! Share your story with us here.