Founder Diary — Week 7

The old saying goes, never go to the supermarket when hungry. Well likewise I think never try to hire when understaffed. Both lead to poor choices.

Cold introductions, much like blind dates rarely ever go well. This week I had a UI/UX designer who had been in contact via AngelList, he sent through his CV, portfolio and had (after several rounds of rescheduling) finally made time for a call.

So far, so good. Portfolio was good (not great) but we are, like many startups, in urgent need of expanding our in-house team. So I had persevered and the date was on 16:30.

I knew within 30 seconds of our Skype call starting that this wasn’t going to work. Rather than simply shooting himself in the foot, he rather decided to start hacking away at himself with a meat cleaver. A far bloodier, and foolish way to commit interview suicide you would be hard pushed to find.

The remainder of the 5 minute call were painful, and I should have saved myself the 270 seconds that I could have put to greater use cleaning the office white board.

Friday 12th February

Sandows Cold Brew

When you back a startup whether you are a major investor or a minor player, you have an obligation to do whatever you can to champion their mission.

It may seem foolish but you should be using their product as widely as possible, experiencing the consumer journey and where relevant providing solution based feedback & insight to the Founders.

My first major non-tech investment of 2015 was in the awesome Sandows. Not ony is their product incredible, but they have great leadership & curb appeal. Whenever I am seen drinking a bottle it always creates a great deal of intrigue. Especially when the Dubai Police think its whiskey and try to arrest me!

I managed to set up a few meetings with business associates who are in the hotel and retail trade and busting to get their hands on the product. Now that Sandows has extended its shelf life to 12 months at ambient temperature; international (and most importantly Middle East) export is soon to follow.

Sunday 14th February

I am not a huge fan of V Day, in fact I abhor the commercial crap, the overpriced menu’s combined with the dogmatic, compulsory ‘fun’ & ‘love’ that surrounds it. It is the date when men around the world start the day with “you have a lie in luv, I will sort the kids breakfast, it’s valentines day” as if by some magical wafting of a wand, that will restore the other 364 days a year, that mum’s are up at the ‘crack of sparrows’ fixing, sorting and making for the entire family.

That said I did manage to sort some awesome Tulips and surprise Cleo with an impromptu visit from Dubai to celebrate what seemed like the first day of spring in the UK. Now that’s a reason to truly celebrate.

Monday 15th February

My adventure to London from Birmingham was accompanied by the brilliant Barbara Cochrane, speaking her no bullshit, ‘from the hip’ leadership advice to some Googlers over one of their lunchtime leadership sessions. Many people think that the best perk at Google is the canteen, in my mind it would be hanging out with BC and their ‘Talks at Google’ series.

Tuesday 16th February

Workshop Coffee Dbl. Macciatto was on point too

It’s great to be able to reach out to experienced business leaders for a spot of advice, industry musings or just to chew the fat. This week I was able to catch up with Kevin Jenkins, CEO of Visa UK & Ireland. For a business leader who has such a tight schedule, it was hugely beneficial of him to give up part of his week to lend his support and insight to me personally, and the wider EdAid mission.

Love was clearly still in the air at Workshop Coffee.

Wednesday 17th February

Thanks to Innovate Finance we had the chance to showcase EdAid at their Financial Inclusion event hosted in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland in the City.

What was really pertinent in our product showcase, and discussions with other FinTech firms, big banks, government representatives & financial charities is ‘who our target audience is?’ and how we can rise to the challenge and support the underbanked. Historically, the Financial Services industry has claimed to be completely comprenhensive yet their real focus was on the 1% wealthiest in society. So it was great to hear such positive feedback on EdAid’s approach to crowdfunding future generations to better themselves.

Backing the 99%

We have built EdAid to level the playing field for talented, ambitious students to access affordable higher education, & showcase their potential to future employers.

It also helps to work with brilliant people to achieve this mission and it was great to be on the road with Zosia Górska & @BenToomer to get in amongst our peer group and really champion EdAid.

If nothing else we were clearly the smartest, fastest and brightest team on display. #PowerPose

Thursday 18th February

Today was a day designing and mocking up a few minor tweaks to the homepage. I am sure all you experienced design & product managers will tell me this is nuts, and last minute changes are a strict no-no. However, as I am currrently designer in chief (as well as chief dishwasher) I guess I have executive authority to mess about last minute.

I have limited my focus to two areas HomePage & About Us. Simply put they were not communicating effectively what we wanted to. Building upon my theme last week of being more accurate, I guess this coming week as we gear up for launch we must be razor focussed around being understood, even without saying anything.

So the next few days will pull together version of the site and product updates will be shared asap.

Have a great weekend.

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