After 3 years of development, 18 months of writing, and a seeming lifetime of editing, revising, and fine-tuning, it is finally time to commit to being done. Our book The Titanic Effect: Successfully Navigating the Uncertainties that Sink Most Startups is complete and going to design.
By “clicking to send” the final document to the publisher and design team, we are committing to being done with writing. It is actually quite an agonizing and unnerving step! But we hope that whatever blemishes or inconsistencies remain will be graciously ignored or accepted by our readers.
Given the stage of transition, we thought we would share a brief overview of our journey as we created this work.
Phase 1: Ideation and Concept Development. The project began more than three years ago with the Innovation Showcase in Indianapolis. Subsequent presentations to The Startup Ladies, VisionTech Angels, and others affirmed proof of concept: We had learning components that resonated with audiences of entrepreneurs and investors. These included a number of elements:
1. Entrepreneurs and their supporters bought into the concept that navigating uncertainty is the primary challenge of a startup
2. Technical debt could be meaningfully expanded to other categories of “hidden debts” such as human and marketing elements of a startup
3. The Titanic served as a good metaphor for failure from a series of small decisions
4. Entrepreneurs and investors were interested in understanding how to identify, manage, and measure hidden debts that could limit a startup’s potential, or even sink it.
Phase 2: Validation and Business Model.Armed with this proof of concept, we moved to the next phase—how do we communicate this more broadly and hopefully affect larger numbers of startups? We settled on writing a book, and then developing support material to be distributed online. In addition to our students and an academic audience, we hoped to reach a broader market of entrepreneurs, investors and other supporters, as well as the general reader with an interest in business and history. To sell the concept, we had to pitch not just the basic concept, but develop a core chapter and outline of the whole narrative. We got great feedback from many of you—friends, colleagues, family members, and others in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. We were fortunate to identify our publishing partner Morgan James, based in New York, during this phase.
Phase 3: Development and Production. Yep, now came time to actually write the dang book! This took 18 months. My great co-authors Kim Saxton and Michael Cloran are knowledgeable, capable, motivated, and hardworking…but we are all busy, overcommitted, and strong-willed. We had some “founder debt,” one of the icebergs of hidden debt we discuss in the book, of our own. But we persevered and got through it, in part due to the awesome work of our editor Amanda Cross (a Kelley alum, btw). We also had great feedback on our core concepts and how we were communicating them, again from many of you. We understand that about 90% of books never get completed by their authors. We are thankful for the support and encouragement that got us into the 10% that do.
Oh, and as a part of Phase 3, we did settle on the final title and cover:
Phase 4: Production, distribution, and marketing. So now that we have completed the actual writing, the final phase kicks in. We were surprised to learn that not only does design for production take 2-3 months—the process to get into bookstores takes an additional 7 months or more! So our official release date in bookstores is June 11, 2019. But before then, we will have a pre-release version available in late 2018, and an e-book version in March/April. In the meantime, we are likely to run a Kickstarter and build support through social media and other communications that show the bookstores and distribution channels what a great and supportive community we belong to.
On September 10, 2018, we “clicked to send.” The book is now in design for production. We plan to share many additional updates, parts of the story, Titanic tidbits, and tips for navigating uncertainty in coming months. We hope you will stay tuned…