Start-up Diary entry #1 | The prototype begins

After starting my IESE MBA, I decided that I want to launch my own web-startup during my MBA. To capture my journey from “wantrepreneur” to entrepreneur  I will write this Startup Diary where I will share my developments from time to time. The diary will have two purposes. Firstly,  anyone interested can follow my developments and decisions I take along the way. Also, I’d love to have comments and suggestions. Secondly it will serve some research purposes as I look back to reflect and learn. This week is my first entry where I will describe some of the things developed during the last couple of weeks.

Several months ago I decided to share my idea with a seasoned entrepreneur and get his feedback on how to move forward. His first tip was to start sharing the idea with people. Initially I was afraid but he assured me of a couple of things:

  1. Noone will steal your idea, especially if it’s known that it is yours. They would get a very bad reputation.
  2. Anyone attempting to steal your idea will have to go through all the iterations you’ve already made.
  3. If you don’t share, you will miss out on valuable feedback and won’t be able to move forward.

Finally, added by me: If someone implements your idea and implements it better and faster then it’s better to find out now than later. For the moment I have started to share the idea in person, sometime in the future I will share it online as well. For now I can tell you that it will be a web app.

First steps

I started my journey by developing a mock-up in PowerPoint. This mock-up showed a series of user interactions with the application and helped me explain it to anyone. A mock-up is basically a series of screen shots. Creating it forces you to think through the application and how users would interact. I then joined a “Find your Co-founder” meetup where I showed the mock-up. I got tons of feedback and ideas from this meetup and most important I found a contact that introduced me to a front-end developer.

Prototyping mayhem

I have known all along that I need a prototype to show to potential investors. That was also one of the reasons to attend the meetup mentioned above. From the meetup I met a front-end developer who was fascinated by the idea and the challenge of building it. After two weeks of him coding and me going through MBA exams on the side we met again. This is the first setback I encountered. The developer had to leave the project. Developing what I am looking for turned out to be more complicated than he had thought. He shared that he couldn’t give the time he thought I need. Him quitting was bad news of course. However the fact that the product I am developing  is more complicated than anticipated, means it will be harder to imitate and add more value to customers. Or at least I believe so. Additionally I need a minimum viable product (MVP) at this stage. Once I find funding I can hire a developer full time to develop a more fancy version. But in this case the developer had a hard time accepting the potential re-development of the application  in 5 months time.

Next steps

This leaves me with the following situation: I would like to develop an MVP a.s.a.p. before I go to Silicon Valley in June where I undoubtedly will meet many amazing people. Second I have no developer and as weeks go by, so does the available time. So I decided not to sit back but to start coding myself, also a good skill to develop for a founder. I started brushing up on coding skills long lost using codeacademy. Then last weekend I pulled an “all nighter” and developed an initial view of the application which was very exciting! Now I just need time to code besides my MBA work to finish an MVP before my valley trip.