3 Top Questions on 90DS

Friday, Jul 9 (2021) | 5 min read

As this 90DS email series is coming to a close, I thought I’d address some questions I’ve received about the delivery, structure, and pricing of the upcoming program.

I’ve added more detail to the main page, but thought it might be helpful to call out 3 of the most commonly asked questions below.

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Q1: I don’t need personalized coaching. I am just interested in the course content. Can I buy just the course (and get a discount)?

A1: The short answer is no. If you’re interested in just the content, you can find most of that already across both my books (Running Lean and Scaling Lean). You can pick up the bundle (and get a Love the Problem t-shirt) for under $50 here. In all fairness, while we have certainly refined the techniques described in the book, most of it is as applicable today as when the books were published.

This program isn’t just about the content.

After running dozens of bootcamps and putting thousands of teams through LEANSTACK, we made a conscious decision not to sell yet another online course, but a unique experience that brings together a battle-tested curriculum (self-paced learning), integrated tools (learn by doing), and external accountability (coaching and community).

Here’s why:

A big problem with online courses (MOOCs) is dismally low completion rates. They hover around 4%! That’s not a typo. More than 96% of people never complete MOOCs.

This number significantly goes up (to over 80%) when courses are delivered in an experiential cohort-based learning (CBL) model.

Our own experiments across dozens of bootcamps back this up.

Think about why universities still exist. All the knowledge they teach is already freely available.

From an outcome perspective, these two are equivalent:

  1. Deliver a low-touch course to 250 teams, or
  2. Deliver a high-touch CBL experience to 12 teams.

Both would result in 10 teams that finish the program.

Option 2 aligns with our thinking from our customer factory manifesto and what we choose to do.

Our goal is transformation.

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Q2: I’m a solo-founder without a team but would like to work on my own project. Can I get a discount on team pricing?

A2: First, while lots of ideas can and do start as solo-projects, once you approach problem/solution fit (the deliverable of this program), you almost always need to assemble a team in order to move fast and capitalize on the opportunity.

Speed + diversity of ideas is key.

So, if you aren’t considering building a team, you should start now because assembling a team always takes longer than you expect.

It’s precisely for this reason that many accelerators won’t accept solo-founders into their program. Paul Graham (Y-Combinator) famously made Drew Houston (Founder of Dropbox) find a co-founder as a precondition to entering their program (even after Dropbox’s demo video went insanely viral).

Rather than turn away solo-founders, we chose to create a team experience where you get the best of all worlds and accelerate your learning by combining.

And this is the more important takeaway: We have found that the best way to learn a new skill (like continuous innovation) is to deconstruct, isolate, and practice the skills you want to develop in a specific order.

And this is the counter-intuitive bit: Because of the psychological baggage that always accompanies early stage products, we have found that founders learn these concepts a whole lot faster when working on a project other than their own and with a complete team.

I covered the learning architecture behind 90DS during the live event which is based on:

  1. Deliberate practice
  2. Psychological safety, and
  3. Perceptual learning.

You can find that section here.

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Q3: I’m just getting started and can’t afford this program right now. (Can I get a discount)?

First, we don’t know your financial situation and don’t believe in pressuring anyone into buying. To make the program as affordable as possible, we support a generous 12-month payment plan with a tuition of $249/mo.

If you simply can’t afford the program, I’d point you to the books above as an alternative way to getting started. If now isn’t a good time, we’ll offer the program again next year.

But, if you’ve decided you can’t afford the program because you’re currently pre-revenue, that is often not the right calculus.

Here’s why:

Most projects start as part-time bootstrapped projects. All of mine (including LEANSTACK) certainly did. The same is true in corporate environments.

The most significant milestone at the earliest stages of an idea is finding problem-solution fit. The biggest risk is taking too long to find it.

While first to market isn’t a competitive advantage, first to product/market fit is. And achieving problem/solution fit is the precursor to achieving product/market fit.

So a better way to value the 90-day Startup program is comparing it to your specific alternative:

  1. Do it yourself (DIY): Most teams take 6-9 months on average to achieve problem/solution fit. We get you there in 3 months. In a startup, you should value your time at $1,000/hr. Here’s why.
  2. Hire a VP of Sales: I shared last time why that isn’t a good idea. Not only are you out $150K/yr in salary, but you probably wouldn’t have the results to show for it either.
  3. Join an accelerator: Most accelerators take 7% equity for a $150K investment in your company. At a $10M valuation, that’s $550K. Even if you risk adjust for startup success rates, that’s $55K.
  4. Hire an advisor: Most startup advisors take 0.5% in equity. At the same valuations, that’s $50K.

You do the math.

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If you’ve got other questions, feel free to comment here or drop me a note directly.

Apply here.

Best.

Ash

P.S. The application deadline for solo participants is next Tuesday, July 13th at midnight CST.

Team participants will have a few more weeks — until Tuesday, August 3rd to get their applications in.