A Startup Birth

From Ideas to Napkins…

Episode IV

A new hope…

So a few years back now I started a squat (dental parlance for a startup) in a high profile medical district of London.
Just 3 empty rooms and no clients!
So I figured, that’s ok I’ll just use my self-proclaimed marketing skills and people will come flocking, after all why wouldn’t they?? I had ordered suede sofas, a glass fronted refreshments cooler and a ceiling mounted widescreen TV for Pete’s sake! Surely that would be enough to encourage an orderly queue to present itself outside my door on day 1?
Not so much!…

In all seriousness I was perplexed, a well respected US marketer had come up with the name and concept for the bespoke clinic, the work which was being produced was top class (primarily due to the fact I shipped it all from London to NYC to be created by one of the world’s leading ceramists) and yet still no Primark-like (c)rush as I opened the clinic??!

Here was the problem, I had this great product but nobody knew about it! Sound familiar?
So I started SEO optimisation on our very nicely designed website but it quickly became clear that the corporate, long established players had much deeper pockets than I did so that would at best achieve a modest return over a long period.

This just did not seem fair to me, and this is key to the story, I had in my opinion a far superior product to these bigger players but I did not have the budget to let the general public know about it — those poor buggers!

(btw this is the end of the dental startup story and the beginning of the your10 startup story. You will be pleased to learn that over time I was able to build up the the squat, attracting a high profile clientele in order to ultimately sell the business— that was the easy part compared to what was to follow ;)

So as I was sitting on the train home one evening I thought to myself there should really be a site where users can showcase the products which they think are the best, regardless of a brand’s size or SEO budget. Where the little fellas could sit comfortably beside the big boys.
A place which focuses on product, is pro-brand, where users can access Expert opinions from guys who have tested all the options and know all the angles, and while we are at it why not let the brands join in the conversation and tell us what they believe are the best products from within their own ranges?

Hmmm… sounded like a good idea, so as I began sketching it out, my mind wandered to a conversation that tickled me from a few years previously. A friend of mine had been visiting a couple who had recently returned from a 3 month travel expedition to Asia. After dinner, as they drank their wine the conversation naturally moved to this most recent jaunt and with impending doom the impressively thick photo album of their travels was ceremoniously introduced to the dinner table. Faced with what looked like could be an all-night page turner my friend sighed and exclaimed bluntly “Guys , just show me your best 10!”

That really resonated with me because there is just so much content out there now:
the internet has become one giant, expanding vortex of a ‘Travel Album’
So my mission became…
“Just show me your best 10!”

Now think about that for a second, let’s say someone did select the 10 things they are most passionate about, the things they would recommend the most highly, these would be the items they actively want to spend their hard-earned money on and by default represent their own individual lifestyles.

That is a pretty powerful concept!
That would yield incredibly valuable insights!!
I’ll come back later and add something else which deserves !!!

This was really interesting to me, if there was a way to incorporate an element of trust into this genesis of an idea then I think we could really have something.

But what is trust? Well it means a lot of different things to different people. There are many professional review sites out there which offer long form, in-depth, detailed reviews and these are perfect for people who love to pour over the details in erm.. detail.
What I was more interested in was the fact that within the wider population some people trust expert reviews, some people trust their favourite brands (eg. they will only buy Apple or Nike), some people trust their friends and some people just want to hear from people who already have bought and used a particular product and love it enough to recommend it.
Now you might trust one of these influences, some, or all of them to different degrees and that is for you to decide.

However you would feel safe in the knowledge that each user, be it Joe Public, Anne Expert or ‘Russell’ Brand(sorry), had to undergo a forced economy of choice while making their selections.

A typical user profile on Your10

By limiting the number of items which could visually represent themselves, their lifestyle, expertise or inventory to only 10 selections, we could guarantee they were fully engaged and passionate about the items chosen.

So ultimately, I decided to prototype a platform (overused word alert!) which brought together meaningful, relevant recommendations from users, experts and brands.
These would be short form, image heavy recommendations for the type of user, like me, who would think “Wow that looks really cool, it obviously does the job as people are recommending it — I’ll have that!”

Example of a curated product page

Today the incarnation of this idea can be seen at your10.com, it is still early days and we have much to improve upon.
But the idea is there for a fully product centric, 3 sided social platform where users can browse, share and curate their passions.

So if you are interested in, for example, Snowboarding you could be guided to the best equipment by an expert who has tested all the options, a friend who has just spent a season on the piste or a brand releasing a new range of boards.

In a nutshell, there you have it a story of the conceptual birth of an idea born of frustration in another business, taking rise from a napkin on a train to the here and now where we ready to be paraded in front of all of you proud aunts and uncles in the crowdfunding kindergarten.

In order to take your10 to the next level we are due to kick off a crowdfunded campaign on Crowdcube in the first week of July to raise investment so don’t be shy, please do visit us, share and follow our campaign, you may even want to get involved as part of our journey ☺

Justin Glaister