People look at me like I’m crazy

18 Dec

When I first decided to dive head into the world of entrepreneurship I knew it would turn some heads, and like anyone with an innovative idea I predicted a lot of people wouldn’t ‘get’ what I was trying to do, but the main aspect people don’t seem to ‘get’ now is me – my work, focused lifestyle..even some of my fellow entrepreneurs are gently nudging me to look at my life choices.

Now that I’ve grasped your curiosity I should probably put a pay per click ad here or an offer for a free podcast on how to become an entrepreneur in return for your email addresses…maybe next time.

The reason I am surprising a larger and larger percentage of people is my choice to continue with my start-up – Rize – that has not made any significant amounts of money in 15 months….15 months!

As a student I even made more than this handing out fliers for club nights.

So why am I doing this? Why am I carrying on? 25 and 26 is passing me by as I pinpoint focus solving one problem that has still shown little evidence of effectiveness, sustainability,and reward. I’m writing this blog entry from my bed where I have another cold I picked up from over working myself.

I often get the question now “Why are you doing this?” with a variety of different facial expressions somewhere along a spectrum of pained contemplation and confusion. People look at me like I’m crazy. I’ve hit £0 in the bank account for the first time in two years, I have no ‘breakthrough’ product, and doubt is coming from all sides. So what am I doing still hanging on with Rize through pain, doubt, disappointment, colds, lonely long days, long nights…and since when did sainsbury’s meal deals become a damn treat??

I always like putting things in bullet points, so here they are. My succinct reason I’m going through this crap:

Purpose: Creating a start-up where the deep ingrained concept is in-line with your personal beliefs and aspirations gives you purpose, fact (P>0.05ish). My three requirements for undergoing these hards times are threefold: Learn, help others, make money. I’m two of three right now.

Leadership: I’m not talking about those god awful stockphotos you see of those pearly white Clark Kentss in a board room smiling at an assertively-dressed brunette you get from typing ‘leadership’ into google images. I’ve been to a great deal of conference on mental health, health tech, and NHS innovation. I know for a fact that the UK needs a new way to engage people so that they can feel empowered and learn to support their general and mental health. I know that there are desperate, still early calls for technology to fix this. Whether I fail or succeed, going into the future I will have had experience at the front line of trying to provide health technology solutions, and in that way I believe I am leading the way for a lot of mental health tech startups in the future.

Belief: Plain and simple I want this product. I want to use Rize in my daily life to help me, and through market research I know other people do too. Bringing such a concept and content-heavy, digital product to reality is a clunky road as we go through bootstrap development and iteration, and I see frustration from those testing the newest builds of the Rize app, and I see it in the mirror every morning but I believe, I know that the problem I’m trying to solve exists..it’s just a matter of defining and refining the solution over, and over (and over and over).

The learning process: I came here to learn. That’s it. I wanted to learn to take an idea/dream and make it into reality. Because this is what I have craved from 15 – 23 years old. I lacked self-confidence and found it so hard to ever get what I want from life. My brain was filled with self-deprecation rather than subjectivity, problem solving, and tangible, constructive ideas to bring me closer to my goals..well I barely had goals if I’m being honest! And I am learning this in a lot of ways. In a less profound way I’m learning an incredible amount about starting a real business –  market research, communication, product development, managing teams, partnerships, sales, fund raising, negotiations, networking, user testing, accounts, tax, legal, and a lot more.

The reward I still believe exists: The health tech market is growing and the amount of people using their smartphone is on the rise. Mental health issues are increasing at an alarming rate in the UK and US – affecting our personal lives, our workplaces, and our country as a whole. Two more rewards exist for me – money (once Rize is ready for the hard sale) and more importantly I will be helping a lot of people, which if you download Rize V4 next month you’ll learn how this can +vely impact your well-being.

– I get to go to free swanky party’s at least once a year and drink all of their booze: A few night’s ago I was honoured by an invitation from Sir Paul Judge, Founder of the Cambridge Judge Business School to a Christmas party at his penthouse apartment by the river Thames in London with my fellow cohorts from Accelerate Cambridge. I got to meet a lot of interesting and definitely very intelligent people..and of course it was an OK view..

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He gave us all a great speech on entrepreneurship. What stood out for me is the emphasis he placed on an encompassing and balanced lifestyle. “Life is a lot like juggling” he began “with five different juggling balls. Work (or money), family, friends, health and spirit”. He went on to describe work as the least important one not to drop (not what I had expected such a successful entrepreneur to say at all). “The others are slightly more fragile and can be more easily broken and harder to put back together. Work can be put down and picked up, but the others are to be cherished” – I don’t think this was word for word what he said…as I said I had already drunken quite a lot of his booze – but the sentiment of the speech was honest, clear, and no less than inspirational – a fantastic reminder to all of us that our work and money is far from everything.

The support: I have a handful of mentors at Accelerate Cambridge who believe in me and my start-up. They may not agree with some of my decisions but like a good parent they let me run off into the playground, learn through play, shout encouragement and warnings at me, and always have something reasurring to say when I scrape my knee. I have my family, girlfriend and some awesome fellow entrepreneurs who simply help me to sit for a minute, remember how to smile and laugh (no more than a minute though) and get back to work! And those who look at me like I’m crazy remind me that if I’m getting a response from this many people then I’m doing something right. And of course a great deal of you reading this have helped – with testing, feedback, encouraging messages. You are all an integral part of this journey, so thank you.

Rize V4 – our milestone product has been delayed for 1-2 weeks by iTunes. It will now be available for iPhone early in the new year. This is one I think will take off very well and we’ll start to get a lot of paying customers…I’m very excited!

I want to provide Rize for android, and so do a lot of android users. It will prove essential to make Rize multi-platform if i am to develop this into a sustainable business. As I said I’m down to £0 now, living off lentils and garden wildlife, so:

I’ve decided to set-up a crowd funding campaign to raise £5000 – this will pay for development for android, iPad and tablet so that with V5 Rize will be able to reach the vast majority of the population and I can begin my sales to large businesses for employee well-being programmes.

So make an Xmas dream come true and support a start-up looking to make a difference in the world. Contribute as little as £10 and receive some Rize goodies!  and of course please make sure you share it with your networks!

Ah and twitter..follow us on twitter to keep up with the latest breakthroughs! @rizenow

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Happy Xmas everyone, and try putting down one of those juggling balls for at least a few days this holiday to focus on the rest (I think you know which one to put down 😉  ).

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