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10 Things to Host Your Own Road Mapping Discovery Sessions like the Rootstrap Guys

10 Things to Host Your Own Road Mapping Discovery Sessions like the Rootstrap Guys

With celebrity apps launching almost daily and brands like the Kardashians cashing out millions, the mobile market is an enticing space for aspiring entrepreneurs. The only problem most people hit is that they have no idea how to actually build an app, launch on the app store, or do anything related to the app industry. While this may be a daunting realization, you probably guessed right that the Kardashians didn’t do any of this for their apps. So how do you actually get from idea to launched in the App Store?

Ben Lee founded Neon Roots in 2011, and the company has since gone on to work with clients including Spotify, Snoop Dogg, and Epson. Neon Roots charges some clients upwards of $1 million for total app development and launch. After being constantly asked by clients about whether or not this hefty investment would be worth it, he launched Rootstrap.

Rootstrap is a pre-product development workshop by Neon Roots. Lee developed the program to work with clients to flesh out the potential of an app before diving into the more expensive steps. Clients who have gone through Rootstrap have seen a 2,600% (seriously, that’s the number) increase in chances for funding, and their alumni pool includes the likes of Tony Robbins and Snoop. Lee’s profound success led to him being named one of Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 CEO’s Under 30.

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After having a chance to sit down with Lee and talk through some of the best tips for starting a company, launching an app, and overall killing it in life, he summed up many of the core aspects of Rootstrap into these top 10 things you need for mapping out a venture.

1. Lots of whiteboards and markers.

Most people are visual learners and so when you are working out ideas, concepts, and functionality potential the critical first step is writing everything on whiteboards. Keeping track of all of your thought processes will save you loads in the future, as well as adding to the creative environment. Furthermore, anything dealing with design needs to be tangible, so earlier mock-ups ought to be done on your whiteboards. In order to maintain this creative environment of literally throwing ideas at the wall, you need to keep an abundance of resources. Never leave the room. Never get distracted. Having lots of writing space and markers leaves you without an excuse to leave and prevents anyone from not being able to add in notes.

2. Sticky notes to keep track of ideas.

As you begin your brainstorming journey, you will have lots of scribbles on the walls and ton of random thoughts. In order to consolidate everything being thrown out, when an idea has value write it down on a Sticky Note. When the conversation is done you can eventually collect all of the Sticky Notes and have a decent outline of the major takeaways. Adding in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes will allow you to add even more structure to the chaotic process of ideation.

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3. Timer to keep track of time and tell you when to move on to the next thing.

One of the best tips I realized from endless conversations about design and functionality is that there is always a point at which no more productive work gets done. This applies for both meetings and discussions on particular topics. Whether you get distracted, go off topic, or simply arrive at an impasse, you need to be vigilant of your time and never let any one issue take up too much of a meeting. Furthermore, on a professional level, keeping a strict daily calendar and never showing up late or running over on phone call times will be a huge help to keep your life and creative thoughts in order.

4. Snacks to keep your energy up.

Most people have a hard time thinking on an empty stomach and usually, some dope snacks are the perfect thing to get the creative juices flowing. Google pushed forward the concept of companies providing high-quality food with their implementation of imported sashimi chefs and kombucha. This has really turned into a major trend and most employees are expecting similar perks. This means that a good selection of grub is not just pivotal for the quality of your work but also for the quality of your workers.

5. Arbor to document your business model canvas and user story ideas.

It’s 2016. Why are you still using Google Docs, Excel, or sticky notes to document your user stories? Arbor is a full-function feature management tool that streamlines the process of collecting, prioritizing, and executing on user stories and business model ideas. It’s a great tool to have in the ideation phase that takes the hassle out of keeping track of feature ideas.

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6. Get support from related websites and platforms.

There are many websites that can help you during the process of management and hosting right from the beginning (like how to start a blog or make a web publication) to the last step of your root. Take some ideas, learn from other webmasters’ experiences and start new projects.

7. Customer Interviews to have insight on your target audience.

The first rule of decision making when building an app? Don’t make the decisions. You should be getting as much info as possible from your customers, and when it comes to decisions on core functions and design elements, let the customers do the talking. Before (or during) your session, perform some customer interviews to get a sense of what users would want from your app.

8. Competitive Overview for role modeling.

A business that doesn’t understand its competition is a business doomed to failure. Come in with some background research on potential competitors and do a top-level competitive analysis to understand where your app could find its niche in the market.

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9. Pick a Decider and a Facilitator.

Having a democratically-run business sounds great, but true democracies are hard to come by in the real world. Aim for consensus agreements where possible, but have an appointed decider if you get stuck on an issue. You can always go back and change your mind later – the important thing right now is to keep the ideas flowing.

10. A box to throw all your phones in since you won’t be needing those.

Nothing kills creativity like a distraction. Have everyone in the room – seriously, everyone in the room – toss their phones in a bin for the session. This ensures that everyone is focused, dedicated, and giving their all to the road mapping session. That’s the way to get people truly collaborating so you can get the best work out of your team.

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Published on September 20, 2018

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

11 Google Chrome Apps and Features to Help You Get More Done with Less Effort

In today’s fast-paced and never-ending busy world, we are overwhelmed by tasks that need to be completed by tight deadlines. With so much technology it is difficult to find the right tools to help boost our efficiency. And, many tools get obsolete so its essential to stay up-to-date to know when you will have to make adjustments to these tools. Independently of where you work, there’s a good chance that you have to be working on a PC or a laptop.

Do you are feel like you do not have enough time, or cannot accomplish much as of late? It is recommended to take a step back and look at the big picture. Also, you want to explore new and innovative ways to improve productivity.

In this article, I outline 11 features and apps within the Chrome browser that can help you do just that.

Minimizing Tabs

Let’s face it we all have more than a dozen tabs opened on our computers. One neat trick to still keep most of them open is to turn them into pinned tabs. On Google Chrome you can right-click the tab and select “Pin Tab” option. This turns the tab into an icon enabling you to continue multitasking.

Pinning a tab anchors the tabs on the left of your toolbar; a great benefit of the “Pin Tab” feature is that you can’t close these tabs accidentally since the “X” disappears after pinning them.

Incognito Mode

Google Chrome is a very easy-to-use and intuitive. But, Google does collect our browsing data; so to remedy this, you can use Incognito Mode. This feature does not keep your browsing or download history. You can enable or access it in three different ways:

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  1. Press Ctrl/Command+shift+N
  2. Select File Menu and choose New Incognito Window
  3. Download extension New Incognito Window

This feature is very handy if you’d rather not have your browsing history stored and utilized for future advertisement or suggested pages.

Save Webpages as PDF Files

Have you ever browsed interesting or important information and then forgot to bookmark or save it in “favorites”, making it impossible to find again? Chances are you have done this on a number of occasions.

Thankfully, there is an easy solution. You can save webpages as PDF files. On your keyboard, press control/command+p and you will be able to save webpages as PDFs.

Open Recently-closed Tabs

Ever had dozens of tabs opened and all of a sudden your browser shuts down? It has probably happened to all of us. You can easily recover all of your tabs using two approaches. Don’t panic if this happens because there is a workaround and solution for it.

One is by pressing Ctrl/CMD+Shift+T.

The other approach is to click on the three vertical dots on your browser and hover over “History”.

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Solve Mathematical Problems

Google’s Chrome browser doesn’t just search for relevant and updated information. It is also capable of performing some mathematical problems. Within the omnibox (Chrome’s address or URL bar), you can perform mathematical exercises.

For example, if you are struggling with percentages you can search 20 percent of x amount and it will instantly provide a result. Pretty handy, right?!

Play Media Files

Are you frequently met with difficulties when playing or watch a video files? Well, once again Chrome comes to the rescue. You can can listen or play videos from all sorts of movie or music files (mp3, mp4, .mov, .mkv, .ogv, .webm, .wav, etc.) by simply dragging the file into the search bar.

In addition, you can view images, PDF files and Microsoft Office files, too.

Navigate Swiftly Between Tabs

With all of those tabs opened comes great navigation responsibilities. Rather than clicking through every tab, you can use shortcut keys like Ctrl+Tab to navigate all of the different tabs. Also, you are able to navigate to the first tab by pressing Ctrl-1, Ctrl-2, and so on. If you want to switch to the very last tab, press Ctrl-9.

Stay Focus(e)d

Computers nowadays have awesome capabilities.

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Sometimes we like to get work done, but let’s face it, we’re all human. We sometimes procrastinate by visiting a website we really like, or maybe take a break with watching a flick on Netflix, a video on YouTube or browsing Facebook.

With Chrome’s StayFocusd extension, you can truly stay focused and get more done in less time.

This extension naturally helps you stay more productive by limiting the amount of time you spend on websites. You can set the time and it will automatically block those sites after a certain period.

Grammarly for Editing

Grammarly is a must have, and it’s really a complete powerhouse. Grammarly helps you check your grammar and spelling for everything you write online.

You can use it professionally or as a student, which will make the editing process much easier and more efficient. Furthermore, it can automatically check for typos when you send an email, type a Tweet, or post a Facebook comment. It’s like having your own personal copyeditor!

Loom

There are times that words in an email or written text in a chat app will just not convey the right meaning.

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There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, the same is true of videos.

With Loom, you can capture, narrate and immediately share video recordings of your screen, which will help coworkers understand issues you are facing, or to easily convey an explanation on screen. Plus, with video you will be able to easily walk people through a process, and you can use it to create simple how-to videos.

Chrome Calendar Extension

No matter what your level of responsibility is at your job, Google Calendar is another essential resource to have at your fingertips.

Specifically, you can have this extension added as an icon in the toolbar of your browser, which I highly recommend. Once you add the extension to your browser, you can check for upcoming events with a single click without leaving your current page.

Final Thoughts

Google Chrome has definitely evolved from its inception. As you can see you have a very powerful tool that comes as a free installation and is loaded with dozens of capabilities. The above listed Chrome apps can resolve some of the most common obstacles to your time management and productivity.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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