Building In Public: Our Second Team Off/Onsite
The Ourspace team kicked off the new year with an in-person offsite (so maybe onsite is more appropriate 🤷) in Barcelona in early January 2023. As a remote-native company, our team spans from Spain to France, Germany, and the UK. And while our everyday work is designed for distributed collaboration, investing in our relationships with each other is key to feeling connected whilst working for a few months in between each offsite.
Our first team offsite was all about getting to know each other, articulating our core values, building the blocks of our brand identity, and preparing for our first launch. As with most early-stage startups, so much has changed since then.
- We announced our $2.5 million pre-seed round.
- We were selected as a 2022 Breakout Startup at Web Summit, and presented Ourspace on the main stage.
- We launched on Product Hunt and opened up our beta.
To say it’s been an action-packed time at Ourspace would be the understatement of the season! Our team enjoyed some much-deserved downtime over the winter holidays, and so we thought it would be great to cultivate some fresh new year energy altogether in the second week of January.
Planning out how to make the most of our time together took a completely different shape than our first offsite. Mostly because we had so many new developments to reflect on - and it’s true what they say about going early stage: It’s an entirely different company every few months.
Where my head was at the turn of the year
The awesome and energizing
- We exceeded the number of companies on our beta waitlist by almost double.
- The core problem space we’re looking to solve (Team and Org Design in dynamic companies) feels more validated than ever.
- Our team is building at a healthy balance of speed and quality.
The cloudy and kinda scary
- It’s clear from our beta so far that we haven’t solved a complete end-to-end use case as well as we need to deliver that magic A-ha! Moment.
- Onboarding at this stage is a complete free-for-all with endless fine-tuning. We have a lot to improve here!
- We were working with higher fidelity prototypes than needed at this stage, which was elongating feedback cycles.
- We onboarded a handful of amazing design partners, but getting access to recurring, granular product feedback is a challenge for folks with such demanding schedules.
- We’re looking to serve Tech Leadership (think Engineering, Product, Design, and Growth) in mid-market companies, but there’s a ton of nuance here depending on company size and other firmographic attributes.
After reflecting on these triumphs and challenges, a few goals must-do’s became clear:
- I needed to synthesize and convey key learnings from dozens of recent customer discovery calls so that the common themes that emerged from those discussions could resonate with the entire team, and not just live in my head.
- We needed to get much more specific and narrow in our definition of an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
- We needed to get more comfortable creating low-fidelity prototypes, and think pencils before pixels.
What our 3 days looked like
Homework and pre-reads
Ahead of the offsite, Mark, Steph, and I prepared a few pre-read materials so that we’d all arrive with shared context. This included:
- Key themes from customer discovery
- A narrower definition of our ICP
- An articulation of macro forces that affect our ICP’s work and expectations
- A look at the competitive landscape
- A review of how our ICP currently solves the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) manually (and where we have the opportunity to make their lives much easier!)
As a rule of thumb, we do our best to share material like a pre-read or Loom video ahead of meetings. This helps everyone formulate their thoughts and come prepared for a discussion. It’s especially helpful to create a more level discussion field no matter where they identify on an introvert<>extrovert scale.
Day 1: Aligning on the Big Picture
We kicked off with a discussion around the pre-read material to make sure we were all aligned.
We then did a deep dive into a hypothesis around something we called “Team Views.” It doesn’t matter what that term means, it’s just what we called a concept that we thought could be helpful for our ICP given all the discovery learnings we’ve garnered. We split into pairs and brainstormed how we would articulate the value proposition of Team Views, and it was awesome to see such a range of ideas on how best to convey value. One thing we all enjoy at this stage is having the chance to impact so many different parts of the business - like our engineers influencing the language we used in GTM materials.
Day 2: Sketching our ideas
Picking up from where we left off on Day 1, we paired up again and jumped into mapping out a user journey for Team Views, as well as a few other concepts. We then dot-voted on the user journey we wanted to dive into for the rest of the offsite, and we chose a classic B2B requirement: Onboarding with a data upload. Our founding designer Laura then led a rapid prototyping workshop based on Sprint! We spent the better part of the afternoon sketching, telling visual stories through more sketching, re-sketching, and sketching some more 😅 Everyone was an artist on Day 2! We had also arranged for an important external push to help us keep a fast pace throughout the day: We had lined up an in-person feedback session with one of our ICPs, who spent 2 hours with us critiquing what we had just sketched out.
We initially had plans to go out for a nice dinner and unwind, but there was just too much feedback to action, and we were feeling like it was much more important to process and apply our learnings! We bailed on the fancy dinner reservation, ordered sushi, and got back to work. Even though it was a long day, we were happy to have implemented so much of that feedback…given what was in store for Day 3.
Day 3: Getting rapid customer feedback
The final day of our offsite kicked off with 3 more in-person feedback sessions with ICPs on the prototype we made the day before. We learned sooo much about how we could improve this flow, and some glaring things that were missing 🙈 Even more, we dismantled some major parts of the Team Views hypothesis that kicked off the offsite just two days prior. It felt great to wrap up the offsite with clarity on what we shouldn’t focus on - which still leaves a ton of ambiguity but helps act as guardrails on our path toward problem<>solution fit.
After a marathon morning of customer discovery, we all worked up an appetite and headed up to the hills around Barcelona for a lovely, sunny calçotada!
What we walked away with
After 3 days together, we each had:
- Clarity on our goals for Q1
- Definition of what to start building the following week (things we had validated through that week’s discovery)
- Direction on what still needed to be worked out (where continued solution discovery was needed)
- Loose ideas on the value we can add around Team Views (where more problem discovery was needed)
- An even narrower ICP definition
- Agreement on changes to a few ways of working
- Always think pencils before pixels
- A relentless focus on finding the right ICP with willingness and availability to share recurring, granular product feedback
- A few guiding principles to ground how we approach discovery and delivery
And the biggest takeaway of all: We have an awesome team, working on a problem we’re all passionate about for different reasons. As long as we stay close to the customers we’re trying to serve, continually adapt our ways of working, and challenge scope/prioritization with our time to only focus on the most important things, we stand a solid chance of delivering that magic A-ha! Moment that’s so elusive at this stage!
We hope this edition of Building in Public is helpful to anyone out there looking for inspiration on how to spend meaningful and learning-packed time with their teams ✨