After finishing my first round of interviews, I came back to the studio and placed a single quote and observation per card. I spread them out to see all the cards at the same time. I began grouping the different data points and slowly, a pattern emerged. The following few images show the process I went through to make sense of the interviews I conducted.
I learned there are three major concerns entrepreneurs seem to have: traction, mentors, and funding. I discovered that when startups want funding from investors, usually, they had to prove they had some sort of traction, and a mentor sometimes proved to be a point of traction early on.
To understand how a portion of the Philadelphia Startup Community communicates about funding, traction, and mentors, I went through the Philly Startup Leader’s Listserv Archive to get a feel for these correspondences. A data visualization software I wrote went through and analyzed word frequencies based upon the months and graphed the percentage of the conversation those words filled up. This type of data visualization is known as a stream graph and is best used to show evolving pieces of data in comparison to other pieces of information within the same dataset.
Mentors lend their credibility to the discovery stage startup, and thus, act as a point of traction. By lending their credibility, it reassures investors that their funds are in safe hands. In turn, funding allows the startup to set up more experiments to test how well their product or service fits in the market. Essentially, it becomes a cycle. In some cases, some amount of traction is needed to get the attention of the mentor, which then permits funds to be raised in order to propel the business even further than before.
I had learned the importance of mentors as a key starting point to the discovery stage startup, and I had chosen to focus on them at this point in my process. However, I needed a larger perspective on how mentors are attained, who they are, where they are, and their level of influence within the ecosystem. This new knowledge about traction, mentors, and funding informed my next step to map the different perspectives I had acquired and create the tangible interview.
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