Tag Archives: dedication

Falling back in love with my product

19 Feb

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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]

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!

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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!

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…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.

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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!