Another entrepreneur in the family

My wife, Emma, seems to have caught the entrepreneurial bug from me at last. Her new venture, Birthcalm, is offering ante-natal classes in Hypnobirthing in and around Cambridge, Ely and Huntingdon. After having such a successful Hypnobirthing experience with the home birth of our daughter, Emma has decided to teach the method to other expectant parents in classes held on evenings and weekends and as a 'proper doctor' she is ideally suited to it!

I'm also enjoying trying to turn the experience I have at starting and promoting new software companies into practical help and advice for her launching a totally different kind of business. It seems so far that there are remarkably close parallels.

With a software startup you want to launch as early as possible to start generating that crucial feedback from customers, the first batch of which will almost certainly be friends and family (e.g. for a consumer web application) or come from your existing industry contacts if you're making a B2B business. This happens partly because because its easier to make customers out of people you already have a relationship with, but also because these people are the easiest to extract feedback from and that's what you should really be after at this stage of the game. With Birthcalm, we're following the same pattern, starting off at the end of this month with a course for friends that will hopefully enable Emma to collect some valuable feedback that will help to shape the style and content of the course for the next iteration.

We also talk a lot in the startup world about getting involved with the community and building relationships between your product offering and the wider ecosystem in which it lives. For example, at Psonar, we see upcoming, unsigned acts as crucial to the development of the music industry and are active in supporting them through events such as Psonar Presents, and the b-side project. Equally, my wife is active in the local community of mothers and mothers-to-be. She runs a very successful toddler music group in a neighbouring village and is involved in organising children's events for our church.

I'm very interested to see how some of the other aspects of lean and agile software startups translate into a more conventional kind of small business and will report back here as things progress. If anyone has similar experiences or stories to tell I'd love to here them in the comments...