We made it — with time to spare!
If you really want it, there is always a way
I can hardly believe it. It worked! End of May I set out on a journey to save my company, Seed Nordic, from almost certain bankruptcy. We had no customer pipeline. No potential revenue. We had 3 months of cash whereof 2 were summer. I knew that even if we landed a project in June, we would probably deliver it in August, invoice in September and get paid in October. I was looking at laying off staff, and not taking any salary over summer. It was not looking good.
But last week everything turned. I mentioned in the previous post that I met this company on Tuesday. Well, Wednesday they attend our event, and Thursday I presented our proposal. We’ve fine tuned the details over the weekend, and yesterday I got a gentlemans agreement that we’re ready to go. I’ve been longing to write this article since Thursday, but we’ve been in negotiations and I didn’t want to write to early. But we celebrated… On Thursday! and on Friday ;)
The project starts today!
It’s the perfect project. Basically this newly merged company wants to launch a new product in Q4. It’s a product that doesn’t exist in the Swedish market, so before investing in development, they want to prove that there is customer demand. What segment should we target? Do they really have this problem? How do we explain the product so they understand? What is the value proposition?
Classic startup case. We have an idea, now let’s go validate. So we pitched the startup approach. Over the next five weeks we’ll define a concept, build a prototype and test it with real customers. We’ll learn from their responses, and iterate until we’ve validated (or invalidated) that they want it. From idea to validated prototype in 5 weeks!
So we start today. By end of week I expect the first rough version concept (design and text) and prototype (clickable web-app) to be done. During the week I plan to have several customer and expert interviews. Next week we’ll start showing the prototype to customers, and by end of June we should have a pretty good idea of where we stand.
Also, by end of June I’ll be able to send an invoice. An invoice that will give us 4 more months to live. It will take us from September to December. Allow us to continue with our internal startup(s), and sell/deliver the next project. We’ve already built up a strong pipeline, and with a reference case like this I convinced we’ll land lots of exciting customers.
Put shortly: We made it! We’re not going bankrupt!
On Thursday, after having met the client, I went to a summer party at SUP46. SUP46 is the largest startup hub in Stockholm, and I met lots of startups who all seemed to have the same problem. They’re all working on an exciting idea. They’ve started building something, but they’re not quite there yet. They’re bootstrapping (eating noodles, and drinking free beer at startup events), and looking for seed funding. Three different people mentioned they were looking for 500KSEK. Just to get through the next few months…
I realised I’m not alone. All these people are in the same situation as me. It was a room full of entrepreneurs, all at the verge of bankruptcy. All chasing their dream, but not knowing where the next paycheque will come from. When you ask them how they’re doing they all put on a confident smile and say: “Great, we’re only moment from success.” But nobody knows. They were all as lost as I was.
So I realised this blog series is not about me or about Seed Nordic. It’s about everyone out there betting on their dreams. It’s about all you startup entrepreneurs wanting to change the world. All you artists wanting to express yourself, and all you brave people leaving the 9 to 5, to follow your heart.
We’re all vulnerable. There are good days and bad days, and there are no guarantees. But stick with it. Your dream is worth fighting for. If you really want it, there is always a way. It might not be the way you expected, so experiment. For me, this time it was the blog. For you it will probably be something else. Get creative! But never give up.
I’m thankful for everyone who’s supported me through this. Mom, Dad. Johan, Josefina, Elin. Nils, Navid, Ashkan, Alex and Jesper. My colleagues. The 3000 people who read this blog. The people who commented, and the people who reached out to help. I am fortunate to have you.
As for the blog series, I promised I’d write until we were bankrupt or safe. So I guess this is the end of the series. But I’ve enjoyed writing and I hope to continue in some form or another. Make sure to join my mailing list and I’ll keep you informed if I post anything. If you want to read the earlier posts, you’ll find the rest of the series here.
Thanks you all for reading!