Having worked on a fashion-tech startup for around a year, it’s time to simply just add value.
To quickly sum up…
Last year I had an idea as in identified a problem. So, I went to a startup weekend where I worked on it, then pitched it to the MIT Bootcamp at QUT, then in to an Accelerator program and participated in a few other things trying to solve the problem! Anyway, if you want to know more about the journey, please click here here.
So what’s the big deal?
Don’t get me wrong, it has been a great journey and the learnings have been amazing, and those can be applied to more than the current company. But, and there is a but… just like everything else I believe there are always pluses and minuses and the down sides are (to mention a few):
- Everything is happening quickly — not much time for reflection and in the learning process it can easily become about entrepreneurship over the business (as in you need to follow ‘the rules’) — walk and talk like a duck, as someone in my network once expressed it.
- Team and people can take up a lot of time and resources — some say don’t start a business with your best friend but there are also downsides about forming teams, not knowing people well. And then of course, some people might join the journey for a high because there is an opportunity to do so. Some say it’s all about the team whether a startup fails or succeeds, I would rather say it’s about people.
- So, what about the things that went ‘wrong’ testing and so on? I have actually fully changed the business concept since day one and I feel great about it! And to be honest, I think failure (a popular term in this game) is pasè as it’s about learning more than anything else, which is ”FLEARN” (a much better term) that I came across years ago.
Follow your intuition.
Yes, let’s all just follow our intuition or what? So if it worked out, we must have a good intuition and if it didn’t, then what? This one can be tricky, I think. I do think that going with your gut feel can be valuable but at the same time that can be hard. Explaining to people in the entrepreneurship game, and perhaps even investors with the comment, ‘it felt right’ might be questioned! And for good reasons, absolutely. If we aren’t biased by ourselves and our thoughts we could just as well be robots but at the same time I think it’s a balance, because you can get certain things right by following your intuition and gut feeling but justifying it can be harder. In this case following my gut fell after having time to reflect, things happen more organically rather than making things happen after the book and being too square and analytic about it. User innovation and intuition are strong factors and understanding the problem in full, I have found, makes a difference in decision making, and that has become more evident to me when making decisions as a sole founder.
Here some of the highlights from my startup journey, which allow me to add better value overall. Besides some of the points made earlier, there are more to highlight:
Learnings — indeed! And how to apply them and what to think about when starting something whatever it is really…
Connections — knowing who to reach out to in the future and starting to build up relations and knowing who is reliable and supportive.
Exposure — getting your business in front of people and letting people know about your existence speeds things up a little.
Pitching! This is a good universal one, as it’s always good to be able to articulate what it’s all about.
‘The Investment Game’ if it’s legit to call it that!?! There are many startups and businesses out there that never receive investments and some prefer not to as it does come with a package. Partly paperwork, for example, required board meetings and reportings. An interesting business that has bootstrapped is Tanda, worthwhile checking out. Investment can make a big difference though and I’m glad that I have runway for sure.
You can try to force it — but when things happen organically, I think it shows you are in a better place than if it doesn’t ‘just’ happen.
Really, if I just do what kind of works, isn’t that a guide? And if it suits me as the end-user doesn’t that make me the ideal person to work on it as a problem-solving case? Connecting with the problem, and understanding the people it involves, I find, is a huge advantage. And honestly, it’s all great to think in business models, revenue streams and so on but the first step for me to see, is purely to add value — then I believe other positive things comes with it and new things will rise regarding the business side of things. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t think of it but what’s the point doing it early on when traction is much more important. Entrepreneur, Gretta van Riel talks about market product fit rather than product-market fit, which makes so much sense to me. Another sign that I find valuable in my path adding value is when people that you don’t know connect with you and reach out to you about the business, much better than trying to hunt people down who (sometimes) couldn’t be bothered or give a s*** to be frank. If people can connect with what you do, they feel the same pain and understand the problem, that is truly amazing — that simply cannot be forced, I believe.
First time mum, what now then?
Hey, I just became a mum! I wondered how I was going to continue adding value and working while having a baby, and if that doesn’t make you understand time pressure, then I don’t know what does! I definitely use my time differently now compared with earlier and I would normally say that I am quite efficient.
Here are the five top things that it has meant to me work wise as well as privately to some extent (not in any particular order):
- I always ask, is that worthwhile my time? (However, sometimes things just aren’t possible though).
- I have never been better at working from my mobile! (Psst, this post has been written on my phone over several baby naps).
- I don’t have time for people who are fake, bullshitters and/or muck you around (not that I ever had, but…). Not when it comes to getting things done with the business. Don’t get me wrong, I do value that people are different from each other, and indeed that people are different from me, but I don’t have the patience for certain things work wise any more.
- If the setup is right, interns and volunteers are truly amazing and so important. I always want the relationship to be a win-win and I now work with people remotely as well as locally. Those of you out there that I have worked with and now work with, know who you are.
- No TV watching! Yes, I haven’t turned on the TV for months. Luckily, my partner stays updated on news and what happens in the world around us, which is my channel at the moment. That said, we very rarely have time to talk about those things too much anymore.
Thank you for reading so far. As this is my first post on Medium, please let me know what you think and/or you are welcome to reach out to me directly.
If you would like to know what business I’m working on, it’s a fashion-tech business called Fashion Industry Database (FID), which you can check out here: www.fashionindustrydatabase.com.