Creating something from nothing
Mentee Founded n.3
The last entry was about the arrival to Zlín and the market research we did, before jumping to work. Today it’s about the first shapes, the first argument and how we came up with the name for the app.
Mentee Founded, our publicly shared diary, lets you take a peek behind the scenes of Mentee, an app for sharing skills and meeting new people. It’s written honestly, openly and straight from mind to paper.
Reading this for the first time? Start from the beginning.
Welcome to Mentee Founded! We are just getting started.
Fortunately, it was the start of September, the school hasn’t started yet, and we had no jobs.
So we just went ahead and spent all our time working on Mentee. Working 16 to 18 hours per day became our norm. We were working even when we were eating. When we went shopping for necessities, we discussed ideas and scribbled notes on our phones.
We ran out of paper, so we started using Google Drive. Soon, our folder there started growing at an alarming rate.
We found an excellent way to come up with important innovations.
In the beginning, we had some vague definition of what we want to create. We wrote down the first solution, no matter how complicated it was.
Then we started cutting out the unnecessary fluff — useless words and phrases, complicated explanations… etc.
Our goal was simple — make it as short and straightforward as possible without reducing the functionality.
Gradually, we found some patterns in the way we work.
We started with brainstorming — basically just throwing every idea imaginable at the problem. The more ideas, the better.
Then we crossed off the really horrible ideas.
Next, we explained our ideas to each other. Both to be on the same page and to better understand the concept by simplifying it.
Then we argued — many times we both came with a solution, but we could only pick one. So we started throwing arguments at each other, fighting over those ideas.
The most important thing about these little fights was that the objective wasn’t my idea wins, it was the best idea wins.
There was no ego, just a desire to find the best solution.
We continued our battle, producing a huge amount of drawings and scribbled notes. We drank more and more tea, up until we found a good solution.
Sometimes it was one of the ideas. Sometimes it was both, morphed into Frankenstein’s monster of a solution. Also, sometimes we ditched both ideas and started the process again.
When we decided on an idea, we wrote it down and continued working on it, slowly tweaking it from the chaotic and underdeveloped into simple and suitable.
A perfect example of this whole process was the way to display skills and users in the Mentee app. We started with a complicated “algorithm” written on a few pages. We then spend the next five hours explaining, arguing and tweaking.
In the end, we were able to shrink it into a small table with 4x4 cells, without losing any of the function or the meaning.
It’s one of the most critical pieces of information, that dictates the way the Mentee app works. It stayed the same even after we later discussed it with developers. Those five exhausting hours had paid off.
Coming up with the name for our app was another time-consuming fun-filled activity.
We spent over six hours brainstorming and googling available domains.
Mentee, the name we came up with, comes from the fact, that a mentee is an apprentice of a mentor.
In our app, everybody is both the mentor and the mentee. You both learn from others and teach others.
During this brainstorming marathon, we also came up with the name for our signature drink. We named it Mentea.
It’s mostly just cold-brewed black tea, but drinking a lot of it (we prepared it in 5-litre container, every night) allowed us to stay awake and work.
Healthy? Maybe not, but when you’re burning as we were, your priorities are different.
Next entry is about the difficulties of starting a business, and how we overcame them. It’s also a bit about our learning process. Make sure you won't miss it by following Mentee.
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