Venture Stories

Building Ascend From 0 to 1


Tips for First-Time Entrepreneurs

  1. Talk to users early and often.
  2. Smaller teams can be more efficient than a bigger one.
  3. Note-taking and building an assignment system saves time.
  4. Making clear decisions early leads to faster progression.

Startup Learnings Ascend

Building our very own onboarding platform and first venture, Ascend, forced us to stretch our comfort zones, which led us to some profound key learnings and takeaways. As an HR Business Partner, I never thought that I would have landed in the position to be an Entrepreneur-in-Residence myself at Moon, but anything is possible here! Bold thinking leads to bold experiments, which Ascend was for our entire HR team. And as we look back together over our experience building Ascend, there are some key lessons we learned and wanted to share in hopes that it might be helpful for you, too.

Talk to Users Early and Often

We used the design tool Figma to build out a scrappy user journey for early prototyping, and used that to create an experience for our first user to test and give us direct feedback. This first experiment was extremely useful and provided details which are still included in today's build. We all agreed as a team that gaining feedback from others is something that we could have done even earlier and more frequently. It’s also not about the quantity of users who you interview, but the quality of information that you receive from their feedback.


Smaller Teams Can Be More Efficient Than a Bigger One

Originally we had started as a small team of five, but as the idea started to progress, so did the number of people joining our weekly calls. That number peaked at more than ten people joining our ideation sessions, team syncs, and working days. While we do believe it's important to include a diverse set of perspectives, we came to realize that “too many cooks in the kitchen” can lead to uncertainty, indecisiveness, and slow progression. Our team decided to scale down the core team back to five, which allowed us to work quicker, make decisions sooner, and meet our deadlines on time.  

Note-Taking and Building an Assignment System Saves Time

Once we established our core team, our engineer Wilson started taking up-to-date notes, tracking our tasks and to-do’s between each meeting. This gave the team an easy reference when completing tasks and trying to remember what we discussed prior to each meeting. This also became a general record keeping protocol that we established moving forward to make sure all ideas and thoughts were well accounted for and never lost.

Making Clear Decisions Early Leads to Faster Progression

Building something from zero-to-one certainly is not easy. Taking an idea from words, brainstorming sessions, and off-shoot discussions to an actual viable working product takes time and requires detailed decision-making. We ask our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence to think big and make hard decisions, so why wouldn’t we ask the same of ourselves? The truth of the matter is, it’s much easier to talk about making hard decisions until you’re actually faced with them firsthand. However, when we ourselves were faced with those moments, we had to trust ourselves to make those tough decisions in order to keep the project moving forward towards success.

While these four takeaways have been huge learning experiences, there will be new challenges to face and hurdles to overcome as we venture towards different stages in the build process. With this, we’ll continue to learn and discover new things each week working on Ascend. This entire experience has allowed us to have a better glimpse into the everyday lives of our Entrepreneurs-in-Residence here at Moon. Their undertaking isn't one for the faint of heart, but through our story, we hope you realize that anyone can create something from nothing.

Be sure to follow along here to learn more about Ascend!

Monique Riley 
HR Business Partner

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