Before I begin writing about specific concepts that entrepreneurs can apply to their business, I first want to share with you how my company, Ripple, started because it highlights the importance of putting your doubts aside and just starting.
We as people all have dreams about what we want to do with our lives but only a small percentage actually follow through with following their dreams. The main reason, as I have stated before, is because of the fear of the unknown and believing that you don't know enough to get started. By sharing how my company started I hope you realize that you don't need to know everything to start, it is much more valuable to put your thoughts to actions and just do it.
So here's our story:
The day is Thursday October 6th, 2016. If that sounds like a random date to you, well, you are probably right, but for Madison Yocum and I that marks the beginning of our journey. Our journey of starting our own business. Inspiration had struck us both after watching a private screening of the new movie Design Disruptors and we both new what we wanted to do next. We wanted to do what those people did. We wanted to create something that would change the world and while we barely knew anything about the process we wanted to jump right in and so, we did.
Now fast forward to the present day and it's almost scary to think of how much we have grown over the past seven months. We started as a team of two naive design students with a crazy idea, to a multidisciplinary team of four with real funding, a five year financial plan, elevator pitch, customer data and more of those things a real startup should have. But before we jump ahead to the present day let's go back to the beginning and talk about our first few months of complete and utter chaos.
Following our moment of inspiration back in October, we recruited our other design friend, Alex Kim to begin brainstorming what we were going to create. While we had no idea what we were really doing at the time, we like to think that we got at least one part right; create a business based on value, not money. Since day one we had never been in this for just the money because quite frankly it just didn't feel right. We wanted to change the world for the better, make people's lives easier and increase everyone's quality of life, not just our own. With this mindset we then spent a long Sunday afternoon throwing around ideas until we eventually came to what can be considered the first iteration of Ripple, an Uber for chores.
Luckily we got the next step of the process right because if we didn't things would be a lot different. We went out and talked to real customers, well at least one real customer. We had set up a meeting with one of our previous professors and once we got together, we spent a good 30 minutes just trying to explain to him what we were trying to do. Remember at this point in time we still had no idea what a business plan, value proposition, pitch deck, or even elevator pitch was. We were just mindlessly trying to explain to him how awesome our idea was and luckily our professor was patient and eventually understood what we were trying to build.
I'll sum up his thoughts in a few words; "It wasn't worth creating at all." He went on to explain a lot of holes in our initial concept and they were all with good reason. While it was a bit of a disappointment to hear our idea get shot down we knew it was better to hear this right away versus spending months building a product and then realizing that no one would actually use it. It was at this point that we performed our first of many pivots.
We liked the idea of creating an Uber of something and after more brainstorming we thought, "Well why don't we create an Uber for learning?" The idea of having a connected local network where people could request a mentor and be taught what they wanted, when they wanted it was something that even our professor was getting excited about and with that, we knew we were heading in the right direction.
Even though we barely knew anything about startups we went for it and followed our passions and by doing so we have set ourselves up for success. We have become recognized at our university as one of the top startups in their program and we have been selected for an elite incubator program with investment money and the opportunity to pitch to investors in the area.
We put our doubts to the side and just started and we have seen great success as a result. I encourage you to do the same.