Small, ugly, and indestructible

Now that my MVP has been out for a couple of weeks it’s time to take out my dematerialized pen and scribble down some of my thoughts. It’s fair to say I haven’t kept my promise to myself that I would blog about my entrepreneurial adventures in the past few months. I guess I was just too taken by my project although that’s a lame excuse. I’ll reiterate this promise now and this time I mean it.

The concept that I ended up implementing has little to do with my initial idea. I was planning on creating a revolutionary e-learning platform that would enable people to learn real-world skills such as driving a car or riding a horse. My vision included a 3D interface, advanced graphics, a physics engine and artificial intelligence. Of course I needed to find talented people with whom to collaborate on this ambitious project – and I figured that I could use the power of crowdsourcing to achieve this. I looked at existing platforms and quickly decided that the collaboration site that I was looking for did not yet exist. I needed a place where people could collaborate on real work freely, showcase their talents and establish their skills through an advanced and precise reputation engine.  This is how Seven Days was born.

They say you’re doing it wrong if you’re not ashamed of your MVP. But I do find myself feeling prideful of the work I’ve done so far even though in its current form it’s still a far cry from the ultimate vision that I set out to bring to life. I guess it has a lot to do with some of the initial feedback I’m getting from my mentor and my first clients, brave alpha testers (which is another word for guinea pig) who expressed interest mingled in with varied advice and, let’s be honest, more than a bit of confusion and frustration after some initial forays into actually using the application.

Beyond giving me a todo list, the fact that I’m no longer coding by myself and pitching in abstracto but starting a conversation with actual users confers added motivation to iterate and improve the application. I’m obsessively measuring everything my users are doing – from page clicks to conversion rates – and the little data scientist within me is delighted at the information coming his way.

My approach to startup success is to be small, ugly and indestructible (as per Paul Graham’s famous words). That means living in a minimalistic fashion, eschewing many of the perks I enjoyed in my past life as a consultant. I don’t currently own a car; I’ve cancelled my sports club subscription and severely cut back on social expenses and vacations.  I’d like to say that it’s been difficult to make these sacrifices but it really hasn’t. The feeling of freedom that came with jettisoning some of these material comforts has come as a bit of a surprise.

I’ll leave you for now with a quick shout out to my fellow entrepreneurs – if you’re living the dream and working hard to make something magical happen, give me a sign!

More news from planet startup in coming weeks…

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