Tag Archives: app

Falling back in love with my product

19 Feb

images

It’s been a long year. I’ve learnt a lot. I’ve had the trials and tribulations, I’ve faced having to give up on my dream, and I’ve really come to find what start-up stress can be.

Over the last six months my mentors at Accelerate Cambridge have pushed me hard – marketing, team building, raising finance, developing sales pipelines, market segmentation, partnerships and product development – something I will be forever grateful for.

Thanks to them I’ve been able to concentrate on not only creating an amazing product, but at the same time a sustainable business. A lot of people believe that if a product is incredible then there’s no need for a business. I’ve found this to not be true. Creating value propositions, promotional documents, websites, sales structures and pitches – these all help you to identify, reach and streamline the purchasing experience for the customer, helping them from “Oh I’ve never heard of this!” to “This product is awesome”.

Without defining your customer, how you will find them, how they will find you, how you will make enough money to keep improving the product, etc – much less people will be able to enjoy what you create.

That being said the last two weeks I’ve been slowly realising how I’d gradually been falling out of love with my product Rize – (app integrating therapeutic concepts into interactive exercises to support mental well-being). My thoughts have been engrossed for months in deadlines, strategies, timelines and milestones. I had barely spent any time appreciating the quality of what I was creating for myself (beyond thinking “What would the user think of this?”).

Now, we have reached the big milestone – The launch of Rize is at hand! Rize will be ready on iPhone, Android, Tablet and iPad for the 5th March..just a few weeks away. I’ve had a small bit of space to think. At first I panicked – thinking I should be filling this space in my brain with sales, marketing, strategies for maximising downloads – and although believe me I’m filling a lot of my time with this still I’ve found that these parts of work just won’t fit in the space I’m describing.

So I took the advice of my ever patient girlfriend and tried this relaxing thing all the kids are talking about. I started to reflect on every thing I’ve achieved (and admittedly began to stress over everything I haven’t).

The most important thing is that I’ve come back to looking at my product – the app – and have started congratulating myself on getting here. I’m now starting to get great feedback from the beta testers of Rize. Through the talks I’ve been giving to large audiences people have reached out to me and suggested potential partnerships with existing health platforms. I’ve even been invited to pitch Rize to the Duke of Edinburgh at an event called ‘Pitch at the Palace’! We’ve been featured in Cambridge News and the Huffington Post and our twitter followers increase steadily by the day.

I may not have started to generate revenue yet – I don’t have an apartment of my own like I had hoped for, I’m still considering the sainsburys meal deal as the treat of the week, but I’ve still come a long way. For that I’m proud.

And into the future I plan to walk forwards, hand in hand with my new tool for mental well-being. And together we will see what the world has in store for us.

[Rize will be available on all major iOS and Android platforms on 5th March. In order to stay up to date and be the first ones to download it please follow us on twitter: @rizenow]

Advertisements

Impatience!

8 Sep

Hi all,

This is going to be more of a frustrated rant more than a piece of writing that will add any value to the lives of people reading this..unless they like to oversee a good old rant!

images

For the last three days I’ve been mainly confined to my bedroom with boxes of orange juice and tissues. I complained yesterday to my girlfriend that I’d been out of work for the last two days..she patiently explained to me that it is what a lot of people tend to call a ‘weekend’.

Anyway it’s now Monday and I plan to be back into the office tomorrow..taking it slightly easier from now on so I stop running myself into the ground like this every few months.

In bed today I’ve been watching a few documentaries on start-ups:

Nothing to lose – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4g_Hq2pwao
Start up kids – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2279353/

 

During the second of these I began to feel a building frustration and impatience. I think it’s a feeling I’ve been keeping down for a long time. After a year now it’s starting to rise. I keep feeling like I’m playing a game on a really old computer with slow internet…whenever I press a button (or make a business/product decision) I have to wait weeks, or months for the result.

This is the painful part of having a startup where you are having to bootstrap and cannot create the product yourself..you must wait. And it sucks.

The way I’m trying to remedy this is by focusing on preparing the next steps – i.e. the next product development costs, monetisation strategies.

I’ve also started working on an online course – ’30 days of mental well-being’ – publishing on Udemy. This is probably what made me ill – I set a deadline of two months to complete the course and man has it been hard – creating lecture slides, recording audio’s, video instructions, interviews, quizzes, and text. It was all going well, and ahead of schedule and then I realised that my microphone had malfunctioned in recording 13 of the lectures! That made me really angry with myself. So I’ve taken these sick days to not think about it and try and come back to it tomorrow with a fresh head. I hope some of you guys will check it out when it’s ready! I’ll be posting it on my website – http://www.rizenow.com.

Speaking of the website – I decided to describe my personal journey from depression to start up in  video on my website, so feel free to take a look 🙂

 

So how about all of you…anyone else find similarmfrustrations in their work/relationships/lives?

 

 

 

From sofa to start-up

3 Jun

I’ve been asked to write a guest blog for the Cambridge Accelerator Program about my journey so far, so I decided to write it here first, as it’s where I feel natural writing about this kind of stuff.

So “From sofa to start-up”

It was a year ago, two days from today that I decided to quit my job as a Research Scientists and jump into the unknown. I had a passion, an idea, and if I do say so myself, a hell of a lot of balls. I had always admired my Dad (a Physicist) for being able to take ideas out of his head, make them, test them, and make them useful. I wanted to do the same, but in a different arena.

I began my entrepreneurial journey with three ‘awesome’ ideas..they would all be ground-breaking. I would have them made perfectly first go round with some of the best professionals working alongside me for free because they believed in my ideas. Of course, in mere seconds after my products were released into the market, people would forget everything about civilised society and give up any forms of reason just to get their hands on my products!

Image

…I was very fortunate to be knocked down to reality relatively quickly by those who I now respect thoroughly. I was told to concentrate on one of my ideas, get a team, and get on with making something, instead of getting drunk and telling everyone I was already giving tips to Bill Gates in my time off.

The idea I decided to put all of my concentration into was an app – a gamified app that could help people suffering from mild-moderate anxiety/depression. I found a Designer and a Programmer who could make the app, and would be willing to come in for sweat equity. I found a counsellor who liked the idea and would give us advice on how to make this a successful tool. I decided I would make it a game where the user controlled an animal avatar and found out information and practiced therapeutic exercises, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness. It would be amazing, and we would call it ‘Life Pets’.

Why would this be amazing? Because I said it would.

It was at this point that I was welcomed onto the Cambridge Accelerator Program. I was offered mentorship, seminars on business and entrepreneurship, and potential seed grant funding later on. The Director, Hanadi Jabado, had me immediately test what I had of my concept with potential users. Those I interviewed – mainly counsellors, mental health professionals, and contacts I knew had suffered from depression – provided the feedback I didn’t want to hear. They thought it seemed good, but they wouldn’t use it, because it seemed too childish and complicated. It was the feedback I had needed to hear – that I’d been creating the concept just for myself, and not my future customers.

Over the last nine months I have continually developed my concept and tested it, getting bigger every time. At the start I used concept art of some of the important screens, and walk the user through the app journey. Now, I am beta testing my prototype on iphone, and thanks to the incredible feedback I got from this I am able to create my first product that I will be putting on the iTunes store for the public revel in.

In between the time I joined the accelerator and now a lot has changed. I’ve lost and gained team members, faced rejections and difficult feedback. I’ve rebranded to Remap, and pivoted around so many times I feel like a ballerina. I’ve celebrated in the smallest details, and always got up one more time than I’ve fallen down. 

Now, in one month’s time I will have my first product in the market. Remap – A gamified app that integrates therapeutic concepts to help users to track and develop their mental well-being through a series of engaging and interactive exercises.

I’ve gained support from the London Institute of Psychiatry, Mindtech (NHS), and a group of sixty counsellors in the Cambridgeshire areas. 

It may not become an overnight success, but I will learn from each attempt, and every time it will get better.

Sometime, like many of those around me I have doubted what I am doing, and wondered if my vision has been worth a year of my life, and however long in the future. Once I’ve had a cup of tea, I can always, unreservedly say yes.

Image

The vision I created a year ago has taken me on a journey I did not expect. Those who have shared my vision and passion for entrepreneurship, social impact, and following a dream, have helped me to gain incredible skills.

These skills I can use to progress my app further.  I will have these skills with me to help bring my future ideas into a reality, and I will use these insights and abilities to inspire those around me to strive and to succeed in whatever way suits them.

I’m extremely thankful to my incredible mentors, the Cambridge Accelerator Program, all of my dedicated beta testers, and everyone who has played their hand in keeping this going. I look forward to getting your review on iTunes in a month!

Sloths! New startups, pivots, and a few reviews

12 May

I’ve got good things to share today! I have some frustrations to include, but also quite a few good nuggets of information and tools for prospective startups like myself!

This month has seen me facing a few challenges. For Remap (the app I’m developing for mental well-being) I’m looking for a co-founder so I’m giving a presentation at an ‘app programmers’ meetup next week to see if I can find a programmer who can join the team and make the app without costing any money (just equity).

Another interesting place I’ve found, if you’re looking for a co-founder for your enterprise, OR you want to join a start-up check out – http://www.cofounderslab.com/ . A place where you can post or browse entrepreneurial opportunities, usually involving equity. Very exciting place.

On top of this I’ve been checking out this other blog – http://www.gameacademy.com – it’s all about outsourcing all of the work to develop an app game. It’s from there I got inspiration for a side project. I’ve identified that Remap is going to take a long time to get off the ground – a complicated app, and an even more complicated concept.

So to prevent me going crazy with frustration while finding a co-founder for Remap, I’ve decided to create a second app just for fun. A game that I can outsource the work for relatively cheap and feel like I’m finally getting traction with something.

Iiiiiiintroducing

SLOTH HOP

Image

Free download of Sloth Hop here for all android and ios devices! 😀

Google play:  http://tiny.cc/u7ushx Itunes:

If you’re on twitter feel free to follow and share 🙂 – @slothhop.

 

So that’s the icon for the app and I have the same people who did this design working on creating the app this week. I found the designers and developers to do this on – http://www.elance.com. It’s a great website where you post a technical job that needs doing and hundreds of designers/programmers/etc will apply for the job and tell you how much they will charge and how long it will take. I’m getting this app made for £350 in two weeks. It’s a very simple game, same complexity as flappy bird, but different game. Anyway I’m very, very excited.

Why?

It means I can finally get into some sales and marketing. I’ve been in ‘development mode’ for a year now and it’s gotten incredibly boring. I’ve definitely learned an incredible amount, but I need something to keep my energy going and this will be perfect for it.

How am I paying for it? Through my music. I’ve had a lot of gigs recently, so instead of new shoes, I’m making an app this month 😀

So yeh please follow my ol sloth hop venture on twitter, and I’ll announce the release date of this app in the near future.

 

Now back to Remap. So for a long time I’ve stubbornly insisted the next version must include lots of ‘essential’ features, great graphics, and no skimping…even though I can’t afford it, or have anyone to do this for me.

…Then I started reading a book called ‘The lean start-up’

Image

Review – An amazing book that is a fantastic read for anyone….in my opinion it can be applied in so many areas of life – startups, science, even personal lives. The biggest message can be summed up in this picture

Image

Whatever your idea ‘build’ it. Build the most basic version of it possible. Then test it, learn what worked what didn’t, then develop and build a bit more, then measure how good this next build is, learn from it, and build on it again. If things aren’t working then ‘pivot’ and try to build something slightly different to reach your end goal.

So from just reading this I’ve learnt a lot about what I should do. I’ve pivoted slightly with the functionality of the app, and have designed a ‘minimal viable product’ – with only the most basic functions of the app, and I’ve fortunately found an awesome designer/developer from Pakistan on [www.getacoder.com] who is designing this for me for free, and if I like it we create the next version together and I pay him £300 (ridiculously cheap!). While I’m waiting to find my co-founder I believe this is a fantastic path to walk in creating the next basic version, testing it, measure what works and doesn’t, so that the third version can be fantastic.

 

Yeh, good month! Keep your eyes peeled for Sloth hop (my game app) and thanks to everyone who’s always supporting me for Remap and believing in me and my idea..especially my girlfriend who has to listen to these ideas, revelations, and madness 24/7!!

Happy slothing 🙂

Image

 

 

 

I

Finding your feet, again and again (discipline and belief)

16 Jan

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while! I’ve been putting all of my energy solidly into MoodMap, and have finally kicked my self up the bum to write a post here.

I hope you’ve all made some great new year resolutions, and striving to keep at them, whatever they may be. Mine is to keep believing and striving (I now like the word striving).

Before I get into what I’ve been doing, to make sure all new readers are up to date. I’m focusing solely on MoodMap – an interactive and engaging app to help people to flourish in their mental well-being, and providing practises and support to those suffering from mild-moderate anxiety/depression.

I’ve put to rest BlueSkies collaboration (blueskiesc.co.uk) to focus on MoodMap – but to leave on a high note I was invited to lead a 2-hour workshop at the Cambridge Conservation Forum Symposium – using the BlueSkiesc structure for approx. 100 conservation leaders and specialists. It was an AMAZING step up, and feel happy to put it to rest for some time with quite a big accomplishment!

So I took just two days off for holidays over the winter period – Xmas day and NY day – so yes I’m pretty tired and stressed, and want to chuck MoodMap in the bin every other day. I’ve hired a developer to make me a prototype (me doing the design for now to save money). It took a LOT of negotiating over the contract for development, which was a week of a bloody load of stress, but we finally agreed on a price which we’re all happy with and he’s full steam ahead.

Because I’ve realised it will take a LOT of money to get the full app made, I’ve had to just go for a prototype with just one of the features for now, and then use this to go for crowdfunding to raise the rest. So once the crowdfunding profile is up I’ll let all you generous people know 😀

This last month, with a great deal of challenges in costs, contracts, a new co-founder, finding more and more similar products every day, it takes a certain skill, which I’m hoping I’m getting better at — to stand back and admit I’m not on the right path, or I’m going the wrong way, and tweak the direction I’m going in.

This might not sound hard but when it’s you making the decisions, taking the initiative, and ultimately realising you’ve already dedicated 3 months of 50 hour weeks, it can come in blows to realise when you’ve been wasting your time on one area of things, or have wasted a week doing something wrong, etc.

Sometimes it comes to the point where you’re asking yourself what has been the point in doing this? Not a single penny has come in, and things still aren’t progressing fluently, and you want to give up and go back to working under someone else – who can ultimately take responsibility for giving you money, providing you the comfort of telling you what you’re worth, and what needs to be done. And I want to say people working in companies, etc – that’s completely legit and awesome if you enjoy it (don’t want this to turn into some uppity post where I start telling you all that my farts smell better than employed people) – this is to keep my fellow enterprisers motivated – It takes a great deal of discipline, humility, and belief to stumble back onto your feet and realign your sights to the horizon. I think every time one does this they get better at it.

Image

So- what is this post about again? Ah yeh – so recap on MoodMap – It’s been a tough month with a lot of challenges, unsurity, and heads in hand – really not sure this is going to work, and incredibly frustrated that I’m not generating any kind of income (Except music which brings in enough!).

Even though there’s a lot of doubt in the air my mentors (at the Cambridge Accelerator Program), friends, and my girlfriend constantly remind me that even though there’s nothing to show yet I’m learning an incredible amount about team-building, project management, vision, budgeting, contracts, constructive feedback, and resilience.

I’ve moved back from the Cambridge Accelerator Program office back to my old office with some old co-workers (they keep a desk for me :)), so that I can be away from all the noise and fast pace of the ‘entrepreneurial’ world so that I can sit down with a giant to do list and my sights to my better senses of where the horizon may be, and get it done.

Happy stumbling!