Do more, be better

The reality of bootstrapping

by Jessica on 26 September 2012, filed under Working It Out

This is our first post in a little while, but don’t be fooled into thinking that things are slowing down. We are a bit like a duck (as my Grandma used to say), it doesn’t look like much is going on, but we are paddling like dickens beneath the surface.

We started the year on a very positive note, getting into the finals of the BNZ start-up Alley at Webstock. We took a lot away from the experience including two important realisations:

(1) The way we had been talking about Luumin wasn’t connecting with everybody. It was clear that we needed to get people to that “a-ha!” moment faster.

(2) We need to reach proof of concept, where people are willing to pay for the product, ASAP.

On our return we decided to do some new pitches of the Luumin concept to some people in the industry who we respected a great deal; people who have been working in their own start-ups for many years. We received some brutally honest feedback and this helped us see, with much greater clarity, how we could better present our offering to investors and customers. The advice we got was invaluable and has lead to some pretty major revelations for us. At the core we are on the same mission we set out on originally – but how we will execute this has become much clearer.

The other challenge we’ve faced down this year is the reality of bootstrapping. We are fortunate that we are all part of a successful web company so we all have steady incomes and can pay our rent while working on the Luumin project. But working full time (or more), while trying to build a product and start a new company after hours can at times seem like an impossible task. It’s a double–edged sword. We have had a really successful year this year with Gravitate going from strength to strength. But it has meant our progress with Luumin has felt slower than we would have hoped.

One important reminder we’ve had in recent months is that the best way to refine a product and work out the kinks is to use it yourself – relentlessly! Beta user feedback is essential, but in the early days, when user numbers are low, you may not get full and honest feedback. If you are truly dependent on the product yourself you’ll pretty quickly know whether you’ve got something worth selling.

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