Bunches Q2 Onsite: Day 1 Recap

Brainstorms and bresaola

As a startup, Bunches is "bi-located" in Nashville (HQ) and New York City. We have two remote workers as well outside of those two locations.

A couple of weeks ago the entire Bunches team gathered in person in Nashville for our summer planning session. Here's a peek into our planning, what we did, and how it went. I hope that it's useful for you and your teams!

Logistics

Flights
My co-founder Tome is based in NYC, and helped orchestrate all of the travel for the NYers down to Nashville. They flew in together on the same flight, which made pickup and travel into the city (BNA is roughly 10 minutes outside of Nashville proper) super easy and efficient.

Bunches NYC at way too early in the morning.

Lodging
First of all, we were extremely fortunate to be able to rent an AirBnb that was walking distance from my house in Wedgewood, a neighborhood in Nashville. This made for some fun evenings and quick walks, and didn't cut into productivity time just for things like travel.

Travel Schedule
We tend to stack meetings on Monday, so we planned on everyone flying to Nashville on Tuesday and flying back on Friday. With Nashville and NYC being so close via air, this was very doable, and made for a highly productive week without a ton of travel time.

We made events for each section of the onsite, invited everyone, and put it on the calendar.

Tuesday

Introduction
We couldn't check in to the Airbnb until that afternoon, so we made the decision to work from my place for the day.

Downtime from strategy sessions means work time. Not pictured: Spencer, Joe, Javier, Derek.

Overview & Strategy
In my experience in planning these kinds of things, the goals need to be set up front. So that's what we did. The first thing was to establish the goal for our time together that week. We asked a simple question: how do we extract the most value from our in-person time? As the leader, I tend to be very opinionated on what we need to get done, so I set the goals up front by walking through a doc outlining what we needed to get done and why.

Snippet of the Google Doc I walked through during the outset.

I had prepared this doc ahead of time, where I outlined terms that would be used throughout our time together, shared the overall strategy for the company, and provided a framework for conversations. This made sure that the entire team was on the same page while also building a shared vocabulary for us to talk about the business and our product.

KPIs and Lunch
After providing the company strategy in a "top-down" sort of way, we discussed KPIs for the company over the next 3 months, asking ourselves a very simple question: come September 1st, how do we know we've succeeded across our 5 product surface areas?

We used the 0 → 1 → n framework for this, first determining where a given product or feature or surface area was, where we wanted it to be, and finally how we would know (in a quantitative way) whether or not we had achieved the destination goal.

As an example, we want Bunches (our communities surface area) to go from n to n², as measured by user growth of these communities.

We ordered-in Fatbelly Pretzel via a Uber Eats group order. Amazing sandwiches; highly recommended if you ever find yourself in Nashville.

Once we had discussed each surface area's KPI and quantified a achievable (but aggressive!) goal, we threw up the pen and paper and brainstormed around each goal. This is the fun part.

Product Brainstorm
First rule, much to the chagrin of my co-founder: no devices. Laptops shut. No phones. Only pen & paper. We first wrote each product surface area on top of a sheet of easel paper, and then brainstormed all the things that could be built within that surface area.

These are suggestions from our users (see them here: https://feedback.onbunches.com/) as well as pet projects and feature ideas that we ourselves could come up with.

The goal was to determine what we allocate Build resources to; Build is our term for product + engineering + design + QA.

During this phase of the exercise, it's important to have a "no bad ideas" clause. Write first, edit later. As you can imagine, we filled the sheets pretty quickly, especially for our more mature areas that are past the PMF ("1") phase.

Excuse the handwriting; ideas were coming fast.

And then came editing. I then wrote the pre-decided KPIs atop each sheet, and then we marked the ideas in one of four ways:

  1. Definitely would contribute to the KPI, and we should allocate Build resources. (marked with a green check)

  2. Definitely would not contribute to the KPI and we should not allocate Build resources this summer. (marked with a red X)

  3. Definitely worth a test as a tightly scoped experiment that doesn't involve Build resources (marked with a purple star)

  4. Maybe it would impact, depending on implementation, but hard to run a tightly scoped experiment - would take Build resources (marked with a blue dot)

Dinner
This was our one splurge of the week. We had been extraordinarily frugal with everything else (lodging was $200/night for everyone!), but we wanted to celebrate a couple of milestones that the company had recently crossed (fundraising, product, etc.), so we went out to a hybrid Nashville-NYC spot (just like Bunches): https://www.frankiesnashville.com/.

The antipasti was awesome, with a spread of cheeses, italian cold cuts, and olives for everyone.

We ate some fantastic gnocchi, drank some fantastic wine, and enjoyed fantastic conversation about everything from work to religion to politics to sports to funny stories from our lives.

As a culture, we're both open and accepting and, at least in my opinion, truly enjoy one another's company. Startup life truly is a special thing when you're in the trenches with really smart people that you enjoy working with. I'm very fortunate to lead this crew.

Nightcap
We ended the night with chairs around a fire pit in my backyard, chatting about everything and worrying about nothing. We wrapped up around 2am, knowing that tomorrow we might drag a little (we built that into the schedule!) but that today was well worth it. We were on the same page, aligned around common goals, and making progress on our summer roadmap.


Enjoying this "diary-style" content? Let me know! I primarily hang out on Farcaster these days, so feel free to send me a reply (thinking in public is great!) or shoot me a direct cast there.

Otherwise, thanks for reading! 🙏

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