We have all heard that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.
For me this first step on my long and winding road appeared to be a no brainer. I knew what I wanted I just did not realise how hard it was to achieve and what it would take.
I made the wrong decisions, I hired the wrong people, I failed continually and let me tell you it hurts to fail but never gave up because that hurts far more. I’m sure it’s been a mix of stubborn, stupid and driven or an obsessive compulsive disorder.
That simple little idea to change the world becomes a personal mental issue as you fall over, stand up, fall over and stand up again hopefully learning something with every scrape and scratch.
My first mistake was to dive in and start building, I knew what I wanted to achieve, I can code, what could go wrong?, In a way it was not really a mistake, it made me realise the complexity of what I wanted to do. I realised that I had set myself a rather larger and complex vision than I expected that I eventually broke down into smaller goals and then broke them down into even smaller tasks and goals.
Some of the issues I have hit caused me delays of months. My biggest piece of advice is plan everything you can, in the end you will realise that your detailed plan is really a skeleton that you will build on continually.
Finding the right team, I think this is the greatest hurdle of all. It took me a lot of time and money to go through many different processes to get a team that had the right skills, that gelled and believed in the goal.
Inexperience and bad decisions in the beginning cost me time and money, neither of which I could afford. I chose the wrong platform, I wanted to build quickly and, as we all know, there are no shortcuts.
I chose the wrong people and it hurt me badly, I wanted to hire seasoned professionals and it cost me a lot of money. I came to realise that experience and passion parted company for these people a long time ago. I thought I wanted a gun for hire but found that there was no passion, it’s mostly about money, the next challenge mixed with a liberal dose of ego.
No one is more passionate than the founder and as a founder building an MVP, you need a team to reflect their enthusiasm for your goals.
I wanted people that believed in the vision, people that wanted to be involved and would stick around. This is and was a truly monumental ask and like all things that you have to do to see your dream through, you need to find the people that fit, the ones that fit with your dreams and goals.
I had Voxxi 1.0 up and running and I had test clients, it all looked good. This was my first big ‘yes‘ moment but it came with issues I have not foreseen and eventually fell into an ‘oh’ moment followed by many moments involving other words.
The build was complex, fix one issue and it caused another, it was a chase your tail process. The UI/UX was ok but much like others in the same field and nothing special, no point of difference.
The on-boarding was continually tweaked and was sort of cool but did not make up for all the other issues. I kept thinking back to the first mistake I made and that was the platform and my compromises until finally I realises that this was not the thing I have envisioned, it was not my dream anymore and it was dragging me in the wrong direction and I could see that this compromised version was never going to go anywhere so I sat back and had a think about it and realised I could not go on with this project anymore so I closed Voxxi down.
This was heartbreaking, I can’t tell you how much it hurt to have to close down something that I had put so much time and effort into but I could see that I had chosen the wrong path to achieve the outcome I wanted and it was going to be a disaster if I continued which meant I had to kill it.
I think I moped around for 3 days, totally lost trying not to think about how I had fallen on my face and all the reasons why but it’s hard not to think about this, its like breaking up from a relationship where you didn’t want to but had to. I may have drowned my sorrows a few times wallowing in my own self pity.
Day 4 came and after the hangover died down an idea just popped into my head, I guess its the advantage of not thinking about a problem you want to solve, the harder you try to hang onto the current status quo the more you are hitting your head against a brick wall. By accepting that Voxxi was over, I was free of it, the stress and pressure was gone, which left the part of my brain that I was not trying to kill with alcohol, free to do what it loves to do, i.e. find something else to become fanatical about.
I love these moments, my heart jumped with the possibility of a new relationship, it’s the phoenix rising from the ashes, focus comes into play (with a touch of fuzziness around the edges) and I got my smile back.
The birth of Voxxi 2.0
Voxxi 2.0 had to be done the right way, no compromise or deviation on my goals and to build a team with the right people for the right reasons.
Having re-invigorated myself I had to find the first person to join the team. Months went by while I looked for the right person and finally found what I thought was someone who would fit the bill. We started off slowly, working together building the toolset that is now part of Voxxi and it was going well but ’employee #1′ received notice that he had been granted a full scholarship to the University of Taiwan and could not turn it down, I agreed and wished him all the best while wondered if I was standing in the deep end of the cesspool.
Luckily employee #1 lined me up with someone with the right skills and it wasn’t long before we had recruited a small team that worked together well.
The downside, yep, there is always something isn’t there, was that we where doing this as a side hustle, we all had jobs but the team were young and single, so we worked together in the evenings.
The team understood the concept from the start and enthusiasm was high. and here is the down side … because it was a part time project eventually the enthusiasm gave way to it being a job and slowly the team fell apart. (I thing the girlfriends and boyfriends thing kicked in for some of the team also)
We had built the structure, the toolkit but it still had a way to go and I was on my own again and running out of money.
I stared looking for funding, talking to people about the concept and the goals and I found that when I talked to young tech savy people they understood the concept and that it was a big undertaking to take on and of course they had neither time nor money.
When I talked to less tech savy people I found that they couldn’t fully grasp the concept and all wanted to see an MVP, and in the case of investors, a deck and an MVP with several pints of blood.
I finally scratched together some funding from the most unlikely source and I was back to building a team again.
A startup is a lot like a game of Snakes and Ladders, you work your way forward slowly and hope you fall on the ladders rather than the snakes.
I had fallen down so many times and hit so many brick walls that I would just leave it alone for a day or so and find that I couldn’t give in. It would have been far worst to me mentally to quit than to face the problems and deal with them.
Somewhere in all this I decided to give up drinking alcohol (yep, really) and further down the track I started practicing yoga. I was not getting any younger and this, for a better word, obsession, was becoming a bigger part of my life.
Armed with a bit more knowledge than when I started, I went about planning the final parts to make Voxxi a reality. it would only be a Minimal Viable product (MVP) but I would have achieved the first part of my overall goal.
It has been a long turbulent road to get this far and with the release of Voxxi I feel I have achieved the hard stuff but I’m not fooling myself, the work has just begun but I look forward to the upcoming challenges (lol … I say that now)
Please come and give Voxxi a try, it has a few short comings and we are continually improving it and I really value feedback.