It's easy to see the appeal of having your own business: you can set your own hours, you get to collect all of the money, and you can do things your way. You see movies like The Social Network, and you watch television shows like Dragon's Den/Shark Tank,where there are bidding wars for the weirdest ideas, and having your own start up seems very appealing. Instagram sold to a pre-IPO Facebook for one billion dollars, after a short time on the market. It seems like the most ideal situation all around, right?
Having your own start-up is the exact opposite of that.
If I pitched to you that you would be working 12-18 hour days doing everything from hand-stuffing envelopes to writing every last bit of copy for a website with hundreds of thousands of pages (including really exciting things like error messages) to having everyone, including your own family, critique your site on a regular basis (and having a technical fault when pitching to a well-known investor), would you still see the glamour in it? Would it still be attractive?
For myself and my co-founder, Elliott, it is and we're going to take you through what it's like for us as we progress through the minefield that is getting funded and growing our business.
While it's true that most people have a few great ideas in them, not everyone enjoys the humility-building exercise which is getting your startup off the ground. It takes a lot of planning, an obscene amount of documentation, more appointments than a doctor's office, and a saintlike amount of patience.
We had our idea (an event planning tool which eliminates the need for that dreaded e-mail chain), but we needed to take it somewhere.
So, what's the actual first step once you've had your big idea?
Our first hurdle was taking a working prototype of the site, (called by Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup a "minimum viable product.") and showing it to anyone we knew in tech who would look at it. This was the first hoop most people will go through; it's what Seth Godin regularly refers to as "sell one first." We had to get someone with deep business and technical knowledge to listen to our pitch, ask questions, and buy into the idea, or else we were going to go back to the drawing board.
Once we got positive feedback from some of the toughest customers around, we felt comfortable enough to proceed. (It should be noted that we got plenty of negative feedback on various elements, but not one person we talked to said that they didn't see where the idea was going.) "It's straightforward, and I have suffered from this problem before," was the typical feedback we received.
This was an huge accomplishment for us, but one which just opened up another can of worms, which he will tackle in our next post: "Now what happens?" In the coming weeks, we're going to take you behind the curtain of our company and show you how we made it to specific milestones, and how we navigated snags.
Karen Geier is the Co-Founder of Shyndyg, a spontaneous, social event planning tool which allows your guests to vote on the date, time, and place of your party.