Today we celebrate our 56th day as a startup! We took a trip to our favorite coffee shop and looked back at what we’ve achieved so far, and were actually quite impressed.
Uniteable started out with one goal, to help teams turn their conversations into actions. Nearly two months in, we have a landing page, an email list, a blog (with content!), a functional RESTful API built on Laravel 5.1, and the beginnings of a slick front-end app built on Backbone.js.
We’ve learnt quite a few things in this short space of time, and I wanted to share some of the valuable lessons our journey has taught us.
Teamwork is a Beautiful Thing
I spent a great deal of time working on my own. I built my first startup from the spare bedroom, handling the coding, design, and marketing all myself. Now, seven startups later, I have a team working together on the same project and it’s pretty awesome.
When you have others in your team, it allows for a lot more creativity. Things you might never have thought of suddenly come up in conversations and then become features that would never have made it into the app had it just been one person.
In the same way, ideas that you thought were amazing, might get shot down in a team meeting because the other two feel it’s never going to catch on. Then you’ve just saved yourself weeks of development time not building it.
Teamwork can be great for the startup, but it’s also great for community too. We just set up an old N64 in our little lounge space, so that when we are sick and tired of coding we can just boot up Mario Party 3 and pretend we’re 7 years old again.
We’re all growing together and learning lots of things about building apps and launching startups. We share everything, so the marketing guy knows lots about why Laravel is preferred over Lumen, and the front-end developer knows lots about CAC, content marketing and Google Analytics.
Be Lean, Be Agile
We are a lean startup. Very lean in fact. But a lean startup isn’t just about keeping the burn rate down, it’s about keeping your development roadmap super agile.
We originally thought it would be a good idea to plan every aspect of the early phase of our startup, from our content marketing plans to our development roadmap. However, we soon learnt that, due to good communication, effective team meetings (sometimes twice a day), and because we use such agile development frameworks (such as Laravel), we didn't need to do this as much as we thought – and it’s better this way.
Had we planned everything out from the beginning, we’d probably be building something that our market would have no interest in, or something we just don’t like any more. Our understanding of how teams communicate every day is constantly evolving because we are doing it every day!
We now work on weekly sprints where we decide what we are going to achieve this week, and then look back at the end of the week at what we have accomplished. If we don’t like where things are heading, or we feel that the focus has to change to something else then we adapt quickly. This is working really well for us and has helped us be very productive.
Know Your User
Form the beginning, we set out to know the problems our (potential) users were experiencing when they communicated with their teams and how we would address their problems with our app. We wanted to build something that offered real value to teams, not just something that solved our specific problems. Market research is critical.
We wanted to build something that offered real value to teams
We have had the luxury of being seed funded from day one, which allowed us to spend time gaining these insights before we even touched the design of the product. By executing market research early on, we were able to make definite plans of what the app would look like, and though it did change over time (being lean and agile), the fundamentals of the product remain the same today - an app that helps teams turn their conversations into actions or goals.
Had we not spent time getting to know our customers; having coffee with them, going to their offices, meeting their team members and holding workshops, our product would probably look very different for the worse.
Take Your Time
We recently had a pretty productive morning wired in (listening to our tunes and coding) and we accomplished a good bit. We knew after it would be a good idea to just stop and do something completely different to stay motivated instead of barreling forward into more tasks, so we went to Target together.
We spent a fair bit of time in the car stuck in traffic listening to 90s hip-hop, walking around Target, and finally getting back to set up the N64 to find out that we didn’t have the right screwdriver, the TV had a huge dent in it, and the controllers were broken. Part of me wanted to say ‘what a waste of an afternoon, where was the productivity in that?!’, but then I thought how much fun and laughter we actually had that afternoon.
Growing together as a team goes beyond meeting work goals and hitting numbers. It's about relationship and learning to function together outside of a task list. This sets us up to succeed as a team as things become more and more demanding.
Growing together as a team goes beyond meeting work goals and hitting numbers
The Next 56 Days
So over the next 56 days we will probably experience some more real hard graft as we build the first version of our product and release it to our beta testers (by the way, have you signed up?). But I’m also excited as we also get to know our local community, and build something that they will use and love.
Uniteable is bringing teams together, starting with our own.