Rob Fitzpatrick

Founder of dex.io. I write, speak, and facilitate workshops. Leancamp fellow and YC alum. Based in London.

  • Today // Building Dex.io. If you're a speaker or just have something to say, we'll help you get on stage to say it. If you're an event organiser, we'll help you find and book the rising stars.
  • 2012 // Bet my last £10k that I could build & launch profitable tech products before going bankrupt (turns out I couldn't). Formed a group of founders who provide curriculum support to accelerators including Springboard and Entrepreneur First. Spoke on early stage startup blunders at HackFwd, Pirate Summit, HN London, Pioneer's Festival, TNW and more.
  • 2010-2011 // Shut down Habit & Minivid. Renovated a warehouse into a co-working space called Nevada Rob's. Built Nvana, used by universities to distribute £200k to student startups. Built the first online Business Model Canvas tool. Personal blog reached 250k monthly uniques. Helped Leancamp scale to a dozen countries. Led General Assembly's expansion into London.
  • 2007-2010 // Built Minivid and Habit Stream, went through YC, raised funding in the US & UK. Customers included Sony, MTV & Aardman. I coded and led sales.
  • 2006 // Graduated as College of Computing undergraduate of the year & president of the Computational Media program at Georgia Tech.

Read what I write

The very best way to stay in the loop is to subscribe to my blog by email:

Next best is to subscribe via RSS.

I also share my blog posts and videos (plus any articles which make me think) as @robfitz on twitter.

Finally, my youtube channel has videos about startups and bootstrapping. They are more off-the-cuff than my blog. You can also subscribe to that.

Contact

I respond most quickly to tweets at @robfitz. That's the preferred way to reach me and also the most reliable and fastest.

But if email is required, I'm rob@thestartuptoolkit.com.

How I can help

While the lion's share of my time goes to Dex.io, I always love getting involved with teaching entrepreneurship, whether directly to founders or via investors and support programs.

Testimonials & feedback on my workshops

I loved Rob. Really. I have gone to loads of these things and he was incredible because he brought in real/solid/tangible experience without the "I am a god" tone. And the amazing part was he made it easy. He was approachable, flexible and entertaining. Very likeable, very out there.

Rob. Fantastic. Your wealth of knowledge is amazing. Love your sense of humour. I would not hesitate to take the course again just to absorb more of Rob.

He really really inspired me and I think he made the experience so worth while.

I think you're the best startup teacher I've ever seen (and I've been to A. LOT. of events). Nothing but insanely positive feedback from students so far - if you want to run another course, just let me know. Even if not, I'm seriously tempted to just work on packaging your wisdom up into an e-course.

I'll run workshops or speak

I like working with the portfolio companies of accelerators, internal innovation teams, and students. My most popular workshops are:

  • Sales & custdev for techies 30min-3hrs
  • Programming for non-programers 6hrs
  • Lean startup strategy 30min-3hrs
  • Business model innovation 1-3hrs
  • Adventures in failure 10-90min

I strive to keep them buzzword-free, hands-on, and full of practical tools and novel case studies.

You can see some of my talks at Dex.io.

Accelerators: Help your founders waste fewer weeks

Have your teams ever come out of mentoring conversations more confused than they started? That's because they've mashed all the advice together into a single idea. They need idea detox.

I work with half a dozen accelerator & support programs via foundercentric, helping with curriculum design and to catch moments where founders are about to waste weeks.

Let's talk through what you're putting together.

Corporations: Revamp internal innovation via the startup lens

Internal innovation is hard to foster but easy to kill. Our primary goal is to stop killing good ideas, which we'll do by looking at your business' constraints and the four big levers of innovation hygeine: budgeting, reporting, ownership, and speed.

You know your business better than anyone, so we can't tell you what to do. Instead, we'll look at what's working in the startup world and collaborate on figuring out which bits could move the needle for you.

Stuff I've built

I like building stuff. Here are the projects and companies I've shipped recently. The longest took about 3 years and the quickest was 6 hours. With the exception of Leancamp, I was either the co-founder or founder for these. I also did some consulting gigs (most notably helping General Assembly expand into the UK) which I'm not listing here since they aren't mine.

If there was programming, sales, or business to be done, I will have done a good share of it. If it involves design, somebody else did it -- probably Devin or Laurence.

Dex.io active

Dex.io helps public speakers spread their message and get more speaking gigs.

It's my primary focus and is teaching me that there's always more to learn.

Foundercentric active

Foundercentric is a group of founder-teachers we put together to help with internal innovation, accelerator curriculum design, and workshops for new founders.

It taught me about survivorship bias and the shortcomings of traditional startup advice.

HN Alerts passive

HNAlerts sends you a text message whenever your site is submitted to Hacker News or Reddit, and another if it reaches the front page.

It taught me that it's very possible to be too niche (although the people who love it really love it).

Custdev Cards completed

Custdev Cards are a series of quick tips about how to talk to customers. Click the cards to flick through them.

It taught me that shipping one-day projects is actually possible if you have the right collaborators.

What to Write passive

What to Write is a simple idea generation workshop for bloggers who aren't sure what to write about.

It taught me that twitter can't close a viral loop.

Fire & Forget completed

Fire & Forget is a rhythm space shooter and the first full game I made. We lost the IGF, but at least we were picked as game of the year by one judge.

It taught me that games are hard and good artists are priceless.

Nvana defunct

Nvana was an judging platform for student business plan competitions. It was used to award about £200k to student businesses.

It taught me that you don't need to solve the entire workflow, just the main pain.

The Mom Test Book active

We all know we're supposed to talk to customers, but it's easy to screw up. This book tells you how to do it right.

It taught me that I love writing and that print on demand is super awesome.

Leancamp active

Leancamp is a community led, non-profit unconference. I'm not the founder (that's @saintsal), but have had a hand in scaling it to 12 countries.

It taught me that you can make something bigger by giving it away.

The Startup Toolkit active

The Startup Toolkit is my personal blog where I write about startup stuff. In its best month it did 250k uniques. In a typical month it does 20k. The advertising revenue just about buys me a cup of coffee per week (bling bling).

It teaches me about content marketing and the value of a loving audience.

Events Ldn defunct

EventsLdn was a hackathon project which combines digital signage and a mobile app to recommend nearby professional events. It took 6 hours to build and won £2k.

It taught me that life's easier if you ask the problem-owner what they need and harder if you let a flaky channel partner control your fate.

Nevada Rob's completed

Nevada Rob's was a light industrial warehouse I turned into London's [s]crappiest startup co-working space. It was my first profitable business and paid for my life until I realised it was driving me nuts.

It taught me that strong dealflow & personality can make up for a lot of product problems.

Startup canvas passive

I built the first digital version of the Business Model Canvas. I've since decided this was a Bad Idea™ and that the tangibility of paper is irreplacable.

It taught me that it doesn't matter how many people say nice things about your product if you can't crack retention.

Duel active

Duel is a strategy card game where you mine resources and use them to build weapons and fight manly duels. Very tongue-in-cheek. Coming soon to a kickstarter near you (the game's finished, but print runs 'aint cheap).

It taught me that physical products are hard.

Habit Stream defunct

Habit Stream gave brands a curation & broadcast layer on top of twitter & blogs, used by MTV and others.

It taught me about enterprise sales and all manner of cashflow problems.

Minivid defunct

Minivid was a animation toy designed for teens and white-labelled by brands like Sony and Roxy. We ended up doing something like $250k in revenue off what started as a silly 4-hour prototype.

It taught me that simple is okay.

10k GBP completed

The Bootstrap Challenge was a lifecasting experiment where I publicized my dwindling bank balance and attempts to build profitable tech products. I lost, but the process led me to dex.io and foundercentric, both of which I'm excited about.

It taught me that, when it comes to learning, doing trumps thinking every time.

Biz model vids completed

I made a dozen videos about the business model canvas, detailing interesting case studies and talking through some of the canvas' finer points.

It reminded me that goofy is good. The startup world has too much serious business.

The Animator defunct

Animator was a free, simplified, online competitor to Adobe's Flash. After months of grueling work and a very impressive prototype, we never launched it.

It taught me that pre-launch complicated is bad.