Welcome to part two of my first year retrospective. Be sure to checkout the first version here. Otherwise prepare to dive into, part two of the retrospective!
Congratulations — It’s An App
January was a torrent of feedback, final tweaks, the big final squeeze of what we can achieve in the shortest time possible.
It was time for the first release. The first actual download of the app onto our phone as a true app.
After just over two months, from development start to finish, we had our app.
We had made incredible progress, we could now show the app off and ramp up our conversations with potential investors.
At this point we are now running ahead of schedule, which meant it was perfect for us to step back and really dive into bug testing. Across different devices and different setups we found 133 bugs that we could squish to make the app even more reliable before we took it to the first investors.
While this bug bash process was happening, we saw the benefit in expanding the offering. This is where we reintroduced insights and portfolio analytics.
In the mock-ups you can see we still had the concept of a settings page until very late in development.
On February 2nd we invited our first 30 customers to download the app.
Our customers jumped onto the app and the feedback started to roll in. Whether it was face to face meetings or text messages that they sent while they browsed.
The feedback was fantastic, a range of improvements and enhancements we could make. Most importantly of all, there were no bugs or issues. All in all, they liked it.
With the confidence of our beta testing behind us, we scheduled the development work to add enhancements, but we saw no reason to hide the app from the world. It was time.
If You Love Something, Set It Free
Monday, 11th of February 2019, 11:45am. The email goes out saying the app is live and available to download.
With delayed reporting by Apple and Google, our knowledge of who was downloading the app was limited. We know they got the email, we know they clicked the link. Did the download work? Are they using it right now? Is the server seeing any activity?
In our excitement to launch we didn’t put in place anything to keep track of the use of the app. We had to wait to hear from the customers or wait for the delayed app store reports.
It was a tense afternoon and we had booked out all our time to handle any questions or comments. After the first hour we realised that there wasn’t going to be a massive deluge of questions and responses. Also, most people were just eating lunch.
The rest of the day was spent calling friends and ex-coworkers to see what they thought and checking whether they had downloaded the app.
Live and available, the app was in the public eye.
Building on the momentum of the release we rolled out some final features and polish from the beta feedback, before tightening up our understanding of Google and Apple reporting so that we knew what was going on.
What we pictured as a groundbreaking moment where balloons would fall from the sky, was fairly muted and “business as usual”.
Armed with an app, available to download on iOS and Android. It was time for the next major proof point, raising external funds.
It was time to meet with investors, find out our options, and raise our first ever investment. Up until this point we had been ‘bootstrapped’, we hadn’t taken any investment at all, even from friends and family. Getting the app out the door and a product created from nothing in such a short space of time was incredible to us, would anyone else feel the same way?
We had a few options in front of us, we could find a VC, find one or two Angels, or we could crowdfund. To add even more complexity to the decision, we could mix and match.
For our first ever raise, it was a lot to take in.
While speaking with Crowdcube they recommend we join their CrowdBoost program ran by Virgin Startup. It was a seven week program that would take our pitch documents and purpose from zero to hero.
This program was no slouch, non-stop homework and constant testing and iterations of our documents. The more we learnt, the more we settled on crowdfunding being the right route for us.
One thing unique to crowdfunding, you need a snazzy video, and we aren’t snazzy guys. This meant bringing in some old friends to help us film our first ever pitch video.
We spent a full day filming in WeWork, each of us recording ourselves talking through a script, filming some B-reel and letting the filming studio put together a cut for us.
With the video produced and photos taken. It was time raise our profile.
Pitch It To Me
Leading up to the crowdfunding campaign we had a lot to do. Investors to attract, documents to sign, and customers to attract.
It was time for us to get out there and start shouting about our app.
We attended over 30 different pitching events, talking to both customers and investors alike. When we weren’t pitching we were hunting down partnerships. While that was going on, we were having one to one chats with VCs and Angels who could act as our lead investment.
The app was being maintained and we were fixing bugs, but it was time to pitch and that was the number one focus.
From Master Investor, to small rooms of private investors, we were all pitching and promoting the product.
Figuring this wasn’t complicated enough, it was time for an office move. We worked best together and we needed to be laser focused. The two small rooms wasn’t cutting it, it was time for an upgrade.
The team moved into RISE by Barclays, getting ourselves an office with room to grow and a few house plants (they are thriving as much as we are, Truman has a green thumb!)
With space to expand and crowdfunding underway, all we had to do was close the round.
And what a close it was.
I can’t describe to you the month of crowdfunding — we set out a plan and stuck to it. It was absolutely relentless, we had to deliver on each day, make sure we stuck to the plan, while changing any other plans and work or at home, to make sure that we gave this everything it needed to succeed.
We had all the right elements, it was just down to us making it happen. After months of non-stop action, the intensity had increased again.
The Future’s Bright — The Future’s Teal?
July 2019. Still buzzing from the success of our fund raising, it was time to turn our attention to both our investment promises and the future of the company.
The delay between raising money and it arriving in the bank account gave up a brief moment to pat ourselves on the back and to have a think about what tomorrow would hold.
The first thing on the agenda was to figure out what happens next.
We had three big areas of focus, marketing, operations, and technology. Thankfully with three co-founders we managed to find a logical way to divide up this work.
It was time for Genuine Impact 2.0. It was time for the real deal, we had the funding, we have the lessons learnt, and we have the customers. Let’s go back to the drawing board to give the app a complete overhaul.
It was time for a new specification, for a new MoSCoW.
We now have a design document 67 pages long covering everything from the logo and branding, to a complete redesign of the app’s navigation and features, as well as a 40 page development document about how to make this work on our backend.
This wasn’t just an evolution, this was going back to what the customers wanted to see all those months ago. Now we can focus on making our customers happy, and giving them the tools they need.
Months of documenting and whiteboarding ideas has lead us to a position where we can kick off development.
Communication Is Key
With so much going on and everyone focused on making the next version of the app, it’s easy to forget we are expanding too.
While on the hunt for an in-house developer we were setting up our HR processes, making sure we could onboard our first employee.
But our first hire wasn’t a developer. It was Alex.
This has been a massive boon for the company, being able to get a specialist in the company who can really understand our marketing and our customers.
As huge believers in hiring people better than you, it’s been incredible to see that in practice.
At this point I’ve written a lot and pretty much gotten up to speed to where we are today, you are now living this part of the retrospective.
This is very much my view of what I’ve been up to and experiencing, it’s been an incredible process and it’s going to get even more exciting.
There is so much to show you and lots I’ve had to cut out (shocking to think this is the shorter version.) I can’t wait to share what is coming next, and I hope it makes a Genuine Impact!