Tag Archives: start up

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?

 

 

 

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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!

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.

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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!

Momentumising once more

13 Sep

Hey guys,

 

Sorry it’s been a while. I just got back from my final holiday in Shcotland – lots of walking, playing music, and letting my work brain rest for a while.

This post will be again tracking and describing the progression of my projects, and probably a little bit of whining on the fact that I am yet to be making enough to buy an aqua jet pack.

I will start on the most recent of my attempts for success. It’s a bit random but stay with me okay?
Have you ever heard of nap pods? They’re basically relaxation chair/pods that are being installed in some workplaces to let employees take naps, or people waiting in airports, etc. I recently watched a film called the internship, based on two guys trying to get internships on the google campus. These nap pods were featured on this film .. and I thought to myself ‘these are going to soon be in pretty high demand’ .. so I dropped an email to the company who retails them, telling them I’d be interested in selling these in the UK for commission. Following a very brief talk with the Managing Director he sent along a commission agreement that details if I sell one of their products I’ll get commission on this. They sell for $8000 a piece, so you can imagine the share I get is pretty good.

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Unfortunately they didn’t send any extra info – no promotional material, and are yet to answer my questions on if there’s any of their products already in the UK I can use for potential customers to ‘try before they buy’. I’ve been waiting two weeks so far and no reply. So although it does seem like a great opportunity I’ll have to just wait to see if they can provide anything to help me sell these.

Aside from this the other projects are coming along very slowly indeed. However, with BlueSkies I now have an intern – an Administration and Strategy Assistant – who’s based in London and is really helpful in managing the social media, outreach to conservation organisations, and is very willing to become Branch Manager if I ever expand to London – which I will be doing in the new year.

The game is going extremely slow. Now that I have a team of four – programmer, designer, therapist – it’s really hard getting everyone to meet up, and because there is no momentum trying to get the initial work done is really hard because we’re yet to come to a consensus on what actually should be done first! I guess this is something I need to decide as the leader  –  consolidate the vision for the first ‘draft’ and delegate for this to happen .. just I’m not used to this so I guess it’ll take time.

The music is going quite well. My acoustic music I’m getting a gig at least once a fortnight. My biggest aim at the moment, along with developing my songs and skills, is to try something I’ve never had the confidence to do before – create a following. So if you have the time please do ‘like’ my music page – https://www.facebook.com/jhmusica?ref=hl – and encourage others to do the same.

The book is also a toughy (reminder – I’m writing a book called ‘Cambridge Success Stories’…I’m running out of success stories that I know of in Cambridge so I’m trying to do some research on businesses that are not only successful but also have an interesting or inspiring story. I’m thinking what I’ll have to start doing is going to networking sessions for entrepreneurs/managers to find more stories.

Anyway that’s about it to bring you all up to speed. This is my second day back to work and it’s a little hard getting the momentum back but it’s really not so bad. It really does feel like I’m having to give a big old boulder a push after allowing its momentum to stop, and I’ve just got to keep pushing for a few days before the work mindset flows again.

Image[This is exactly what I look like when I push boulders]

As is kind of obvious I’m yet to be making more money than can just about pay rent and food (holiday came out of my dwindling savings!). It’s frustrating – I imagined by the time I was 25 I’d already be quite set and doing well for myself. When you’ve got friends doing well around you it can be tough sometimes to wonder why I’ve taken this path. But I know there is a reason for it, and I’m getting to develop and progress and explore the way I want to. I guess it’s just a little tough this way sometimes, and a bit of a gamble. Who knows guys, maybe one day it’ll pay off!

Happy pushing

Persistence is a good key

14 Jun

Alright that’s it that .. last orders for the end of my first week!

Number of hours worked – 40

money made from projects this week – £0

Jaw dropper I know! But that’s how it is and that’s how it’s going to be for quite a while. Fortunately I’ve saved up sufficient money, and I’m spending basically nothing (I’m quite the catch, I know!). These projects are less tuned towards make a quick buck, and more to planting a seed for a big tree: a slow process of developing towards an effective person who is eventually able to create very valuable services/products/etc. I’ve realised if I stick with worrying about money at this time in my life I might very likely end up in a random, possibly half-enjoyable job and still be fairly poor from spending anyway (see Parkinson’s law for more details), maintain some possible security, and probably be happy.

Happy? Secure? Nahh .. I’ve decided to invest my time and energy into personal botany. My vision is that if I slowly develop the skills I want on such an open canvass as entrepreneurship, I’ll be able to become the person I want to be to a larger degree of freedom instead of having a stick up my backside – metaphorically – that makes me develop in the standard career-ladder way. I’m not saying I’m right in this hypothesis; just that I’m giving it a try. Hopefully this experiment will help you guys to see if it is correct or not from your own evaluations.

I’ve just written a list of the main things I’ve accomplished this week. It may not seem like much, but still I’m proud because every one of these things I’ve done, I’ve done through my own initiative, perseverance, and camomile tea. Here’s what I got done (see ‘projects’ for background details):

Project 1 – Social project:

– Created social media sites for BSc

I suggest that everyone goes and likes these pages .. they will make all of your dreams come true

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One of my weaknesses is definitely keeping up with social media. I’ve never done twitter before, and I don’t much see the point in Linkedin as of yet. My facebook has no likes and I’m not sure how to change that. But my aim for this week was to get them up. Maybe next week will be to get 10 likes, or twoots, or linkin vouchers, or whatever it is.
But you see – One step gets done (put up the site), next week it’s get ten connections, next week will be a step up. So long as you can keep progressing, and resting/going easy on yourself when required, your projects will become stronger. If your project takes a knock, take a breath, stand back up, and YOU will be stronger.

 – Got the website ready:

I’ve filled in all the content, and set up emails for the website. I have no idea what photos to put up for the website. I know it sounds like a small thing but it’s bugged me the whole week and I haven’t got anything done. I’ve gotten to the end of the week so I’m going to stick with what pictures I have and update them when I’ve got inspiration..sometimes it helps to be an imperfectionist to get things done. All I need now is to link the social media and publish the site. So keep your eyes open for blueskiesc.co.uk next week!

– I wrote a formal report for OFI concerning our first event. Awaiting their response.

– Reached out to other conservation organisations to take part in our next events coming up.

– Trying to buy lots of BlueSkies t-shirts to give to people who volunteer their time..turns out that’s very expensive..looks like I might have to start looking for some small funding.

 

Project 2 – Game project

Very little. Because this game is to do with anxiety and depression in the public it means I’m going to need professionals on board for this. This seems like a very big ask.

 – I’ve already contacted one person who seems to have some good content http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/ (there’s a lot of wishy-washy, or just fake ‘life coaching’ things out there to be wary of). She says she’s too busy unfortunately but wished the best of luck. So I’ll continue looking..this is going to be difficult but I will continue trying next week.

 – I’m meeting up with a game/app designer this evening who I get on really well with. He loves the idea and so I think I have a great partner here for the project. We’ll discuss the display and asthetics of the content for him to create.

 – Recruiting a programmer: now this is more difficult. Programmers tend to be pretty well paid, and are less up for accepting shares of a project. I’ve been to numerous events in cambridge to do with gaming and apps. I’ve met some great and talented people but yet to find one who believes enough in the idea to dedicate their time. This week I emailed a few of them..have one potential guy to meet in two weeks but.. The search continues!

 

Project 3 – App project:

This week I wrote up the main content of the app that the users will be reading. I had a meeting with the programmer today and we added it into our basic skeleton draft we have of the app. Now if there are any enthusiasts of iphones here you’ll know that IOS7 is soon to be coming out. There are a couple of features on this that we are planning to use that may be very exciting..however we have to wait a couple of weeks before I can get him onto programming because of this.

 

Project 4 – Personal project (Music):

 – Band gigs: I got one potential gig for us coming up through the phone call I described in the last post. Fortunately the bassist and singer are great at finding gigs. So we have quite a few lined up.

 – Acoustic gigs: Now this is where I’m really proud. If this is your first read of my blog you’ll now see this is a big aspiration of mine – to start making money from my own original music. What I did this week was that I located a pub/bar map of Cambridge on the internet and divided the map into sections. I then called a quarter of all of the pubs and bars in Cambridge (A LOT of pubs) and asked if they were interested in my performing at their venue. I got a lot of positive responses. They said they’d listen to me playing on BBC Cambridge this weekend and then decide after! A really great step for me. I hated cold calling but it paid off in this instance.

Guitar lessons – This is probably what’s going to pay the rent. Put an ad on gumtree and with a lessons agency. If I get three or four a week then I’m all good!

 

Now why did my subject title highlight persistence when I’ve barely talked about this in my post as of yet? Congratulations on reading this far because now you’ll be rewarded.

This week so far, every day, at least 5-10 times, I think to myself “What the hell are you doing man?? You’re not making any money whatsoever..you’re just a bum with a Linkedin profile!” Indeed I am at the moment. But letting this trail of inner conversation go further than this doesn’t help me. I’m looking to develop myself in a new way, and hopefully be successful in doing so.

When I was really down and out; no job, no motivation, no idea what to do, I pretty much thought those thought were ME. I even tried going to a life coach for two sessions to help me sort things out. Now I believe there are a lot of good ones out there who do amazing things for people and are very talented in what they do, and please go out and form your own opinions. My opinion is that there are lot of people out there who get into over charging for a service they learned to ‘sell’ and provide, from an institution that was made by someone else who didn’t really know what they’re doing. There is a big mix of good and bad so if you want to try something like this just take your time and be objective: identify what useful things you get from a session and decide if it’s worth the cost.

Anyway I learned one very valuable thing. When I start having negative thoughts that aren’t helping me, it helps me to become aware of this, and say to myself “what do I want and how am I going to get it?” “what do I want and how am I going to get it?”. It can be very simple “I want to be warm, so I’m going to have a hot drink”, “I’m lonely so I’m going to call someone I care about”, etc. I recommend to everyone try doing that 5 times a day for a week and just see what happens. It was a helpful tool for me, maybe it could help someone else 🙂

My perseverance is in every time I had my thoughts that I’m wasting my time this week, I brought my attention to what I want to get done and how I’m going to do it. This has helped me a lot this week, and I’m sure will be invaluable in this initial process of getting started.

Anyone else with any similar thoughts that take over sometimes and get in the way of what they want in life I wish them the very best of luck, and would like to give a gentle reminder that those thoughts (in my opinion) aren’t you. What is you is something probably a lot wiser, kinder, and stronger. Go ahead and find it.

And with that new wisdom and strength find your path.

Happy exploring!