i can’t stop
Two and a half months ago, I was flying home to Detroit and my first startup not really going anywhere. One week ago, I was sleeping on a friends couch in Oakland with dwindling savings, eating one meal a day and had no product ready for customers.
Today, I have initial funding committed and an MVP of a product with customers clamoring for access to VUE– an automated mobile feedback and user engagement tool – the project I did for the 2014 LAUNCH Hackathon.
Over the last 11 months, I have been hard at work learning how to start a company from scratch and made many mistakes with my first startup, Annotree. We built a beautiful product, but it wasn’t something customers were really looking for – yet I still kept pushing through to make it work.
This journey has been rough so far, but things are finally looking up. A great quote I recently read said “Raising your first funding is like running a 10k and the prize being an Iron Man.”
I can’t wait to start my Iron Man.
Biggest takeaways I’ve learned so far:
1. Always be prepared. Luck is real, but you have to be ready when the right opportunity puts itself in front of you. I spent the last 4 months talking to customers and discovering problems around understanding users. My first startup, Annotree, was trying to solve a problem, but wasn’t providing a great solution. I had no money or resources to build the product due to my free time being spent working multiple side gigs in order to pay rent. The LAUNCH Hackathon came up, however, and was the perfect opportunity to put it all on the line and build the first version of the product before my savings ran out.
2. Leverage your network. This would not be possible without all the people I’ve met along the way – especially Patrick Stapleton, the other programmer I worked with during the Hackathon. I can’t explain how close this idea came to not happening. I told Patrick my idea and requested his help. He thought it was impossible to build in a weekend and didn’t even sign up for the Hackathon until one hour before the deadline. On top of that, we didn’t even start the project until half way through the Hackathon – building the entire thing in only 23 hours.
There’s still a TON of work to do to execute and keep myself afloat, but wins like this help keep me alive and working hard.
Last words: keep bustling and never give up. You never know when you might finally hit on something.
Follow me on twitter! @blaurenceclark