I ’ ve been building my own startup together with 2 friends and will use our history as an example. We are working on Prezly in our spare time, in weekends and evenings. From left to right my partners are: Gijs Nelissen, our code ninja. He runs his own development firm digitalbase and is a presales consultant for Dataflow, one of the biggest IT companies in Belgium. Jesse Wynants is our product man. The visionary. He spearheads Lifelabs, the innovation division of Belgian advertising agency Boondoggle. And the right one is me. My name is Frederik Vincx. I ’ m the designer and frontend developer. During the day I work as a creative at advertising agency Famous.
Our story started three years ago, during the summer of 2008, when Jesse was on a holiday in Zanzibar. There, he had his idea for our project.
Jesse came home and convinced me to do this new project. We had studied multimedia together, and had done 2 failed projects already after graduating. We had learned from our mistakes, and with a strong belief in the idea we opened our floating laptops and we started coding.
.. And kept coding during our spare hours.
.. And kept coding and designing. Refining our product. Building the marketing site. Building the backend. Putting in many more features that we thought were essential.
In summer 2009, one year after our first talks about the project we had a working prototype that we felt comfortable about showing to people.
Jesse presented it to his own company Boondogle. An advertising agency. Seeing Boondoggle struggle with press releases was one of the inspirations for our project. Boondoggle liked our solution and wanted to be our first client.
Time for celebration.
This first client confirmed that we were onto something. We wanted to move faster now to refine our project and to make it bigger. We ’ d both read the 4 hr workweek and decided to use ofshore developers to help us work faster. We invested in a Mongolean team to create a big extra feature.
You can guess what we did in 2010. We developed some more. Along the way some other advertising agencies saw what Boondoggle was doing and they became clients too. Good times!
In the summer of 2010 we felt that we couldn ’ t do all that coding be ourselves anymore. We arent real programmers. So we searched and found Gijs Nelissen. A great developer and systems architect that is specialised in the programming framework that we had chosen.
Gijs joined the team. And yes, we started coding with three now. Gijs took the first weeks mocking us and our buggy code that was so 2008. We spent a long time refactoring our complete site, making it more stable and much faster.
That took a while. Some new clients joined, steadily. But it turned 2011 and we took a good look at how things were going. We had a product that we thought was great. We had an early adopter userbase of many Belgian advertising agencies. But we noticed that it clients didn ’ t come as fast as we wanted.
So a few months back we made the desision to change things. From now on, Jesse would stop coding and focus on sales. From now on his focus is on clients and Gijs and I focus on our product.
This is were we are now. After three years we have paying clients. Because we dont pay ourselves we are making a profit. A small one. We ’ re working dilligently now to aquire customers and all our sales and marketing efforts are paying up.
User Experience design for startups
AGIL How do weE UX make it?LEAN Are we making the right thing? UX