Founder Institute: How To Launch In 10 Steps With Less Than $2,000

For any entrepreneur, the challenge of taking an idea to launch can be a daunting and expensive journey. Fortunately, Adeo Ressi, founder of TheFunded and startup accelerator, Founder Institute, has a ten step plan.

While there is no foolproof recipe for every launch, Ressi says his template will help any tech entrepreneur get a business off the ground for less than $2,000. The program, which Ressi recently presented at the Founder Institute’s Boston location, is a bare bones guide to securing your startup’s online identity, enhancing your appearance of legitimacy (through low-cost but well designed logos and marketing materials), understanding your startup’s priorities and target consumer, and finally, getting it to the point of a rough web launch.

Given that the presentation occasionally offers very specific advice (for example, step 3 centers on the use of 99designs for your logo), the ten step plan will hardly work for everyone. However, I imagine many young entrepreneurs can mine this tip sheet for some valuable advice on how to save a few extra pennies here and there on the road to launch — pennies that can later mean the difference between success and failure.

Below is a bullet point summary of Ressi’s ten steps to launch. The video above significantly elaborates on these points.

1. Get your domain and e-mail working: “When you register your name, you should register the misspellings as a .com, you should register the primary and the .net or .org or it will be sold back to you for thousands of dollars later…”
Approximate cost: $160

2. Produce some mock-ups: “You want to show the key functionality that you’re trying to bring to the marketplace…You just need three sort of pivotal experience screens that will demonstrate your core idea or three…mock-ups of the physical product…you’re trying to capture how it will be done.”
Approximate cost: Free

3. Logo and materials: “Get a good looking logo so at least you look legitimate…” says Ressi who recommends 99designs. After you pick the winning design, “you contact him [the designer] offline, you say I want you to do my business cards, I want you to do my Power Point backup and I want you to do my mock-ups. Now for not so much money you’re getting everything you need to appear somewhat legitimate to the world.”
Approximate cost: $750

4. Pitch deck: “You always want to have a pitch deck, even if it’s bad…you need something to start with to go on that refining path.”
Approximate cost: Free

5. Create a landing page: Ressi recommends, which is a drag and drop landing page.
Approximate cost: $60/year after free trial

6. Create a company blog: “I recommend doing…it keeps it in a consistent place as your company scales…You want to be posting on your blog, at this phase, one or two times a week.”
Approximate cost: Free

7. Test marketing: “First thing I strongly recommend is immediately test marketing using Facebook and Google ads. Not so much for the value of driving people to your bullsh*t website, but to understand what messages resonate with your target audience and then so you can then refine your marketing messages.”
Approximate cost: $250

8. Survey customers: “So now you’ve got these leads coming in, survey them… you want to understand, the demographics, who are they. You want to clarify what the pain points, like why did they sign up, were they just stupid and duped into it or did they really feel that something was valuable and what was it that they find most valuable.”
Approximate cost: $200

9. Create a sticky note roadmap: Write all of your company’s features on separate sticky notes and then group them in logical buckets. “What I do, is I put on the left side I put the most important group and then at the top, the most important features. So on the top left is the most important thing I have to do…When you have that roadmap in front of you, you can sort of visualize the one thing that flows through everything and usually there’s an unknown around that.”
Approximate cost: $100

10. Ghetto launch. Test the unknown. “Whatever you can find that can test out your core stuff that’s free…Identify the metrics, collect the data and validate…”
Approximate cost: $250

Below are two more Founder Institute videos, the first one is on establishing your startup’s vision and the second explores the challenge of researching your idea. If you would like to officially enroll in the Ressi academy (aka his startup accelerator, Founder Institute) you can apply for one of eight locations online.