Our first six months at Headswap.

How to build a startup week 12 & 13

It has actually been just over six months since we first started discussing and then working on Headswap.

When people say that a good company takes ten years to build, or that it takes 2–3 years to get the flywheel turning before the ‘overnight’ success, it sounds like a long time. But so far it feels incredibly short.

We are starting the new year with a product, a fledgling community of learners and mentors, a clear set of outcomes for the year and a roadmap of how to get there. We have benefited from a network of numerous advisors and the team has grown to 6.

Looking back on the first 6 months there have been some unexpected themes that dominate.

We have prepared a lot of food:

We have walked a lot:

We have drawn a lot of diagrams (this is not so unexpected):

We have read a lot of books (not to mention blog posts and inspirational quotes!):

And we attended many events:

These six months have been critical for maturing the idea, the business, and our relationships. Looking back helps us to see a number of the key principles by which we work together:

  • We very clearly recognise Marlow’s hierarchy of needs. If we want to be effective we need to be well fed and comfortable.
  • We value experience, in fact we are hooked on it. Experiences bond people, develop relationships, open the mind, expand the horizons, revitalise the body etc.
  • Simplify, be clear and communicate well — although some of those diagrams seems to lack simplicity or clarity they are part of the process, promise!
  • We are all learners, constantly curious and always teaching one another new things.
  • We realise that for us to achieve our goal and for change to happen, we need a network of support, a community of teachers, learners, ambassadors and advisors.

The startup world is full of impatient self-help for how to leverage, how to hack growth etc. These are important and exciting, yes. But I think they often downplay one of the most essential requirements of making something new: patience.

A telling anecdote from a Fast Company Magazine piece on Mark Zuckerberg, which has stayed with me this year testifies to this:

When I meet with COO Sheryl Sandberg, she shares a personal story of a family gathering involving the making of s’mores. It captures several of Zuckerberg’s preternatural gifts. “Mark said, ‘I’m going to make a marshmallow,’ “ she tells me in her conference room, which is adorned with a framed drawing of her as Spider-Woman. “I looked at my friend and said, ‘He’s going to make the perfect marshmallow.’ Because he’s going to be the one out of all of us who is going to have the patience. In order to make the right marshmallow, you can’t do it right in the fire, because then it gets burnt. You can’t walk away. You actually have to sit there for five to 10 minutes with the marshmallow above the flame, but not too close, so that it gets completely heated but doesn’t burn. And the only person who’s actually willing to do that is Mark. Because he is that focused and that determined. I’ve never met anyone with more perseverance than Mark Zuckerberg.”

If you are interested in teaching and need the tools to make it happen sign up to our beta test! We want to make your life easier.

Any questions or thoughts? Please get in touch at james.murray@headswap.com, I would love to discuss.