Yesterday marked a special day for the Euddle Media Group as we launched our first subsidiary company to the public -- Active22. This milestone, for all that it was worth, was a very (and by that I mean very) long time coming.
Over the course of a year and half, our team laughed, cried, learned, listened, celebrated, built and shared some truly remarkable experiences. Most importantly, however, we survived. We survived a journey that could -- and many a time perhaps even should -- have broken us. The fact that we have gotten to where we are now is a marvel. And while our story has barely begun, we do hope that it can be one of inspiration for young companies around the world.
Startups Are Difficult
There is no getting around it: startups are difficult. It is though, as most of us know, meant to be that way. As a startup, your goal is -- or at least should be -- to try to do things that no one has ever done before. You are working to disrupt markets with the goal of making life better in some capacity for your target audience. Inevitably, mistakes will be made and -- forgive me, but -- you will fail. This may sound disheartening, however, failing is not only part of being a startup, but also an integral part of learning. What is important, therefore, is to make sure that your entire company understands and internalizes that startups are indeed meant to be difficult. Very early on, we made the blunder of promoting and marketing a product that had not yet been tested nor validated. Although what we had built was impressive, we naively overlooked the process of seeking feedback from our potential members. When we eventually decided to do so, we discovered very quickly that the platform was all too overwhelming and, in many respects, lacked focus. The result: we pivoted -- and in doing so failed to deliver and fulfill a promise that we had made to so many. While we could easily have allowed this experience to set us back, we chose instead to learn from it. Testing is now a very large part of our working process -- so much so, that it takes us unusually long to bring any of our products to market.
Stay True To Your Ideals, Even If Your Vision Changes
Startups often find themselves having to alter their approach, products and, in some cases, vision. This can be complicated, especially when time, effort and money have been spent to establish a particular presence. It is important, therefore, for the sake of preventing confusion -- both internally and externally -- to establish a set of founding ideals under which you will always operate. Our mantra at the Euddle Media Group has always been to be bold and different as we aim to help our members live better. Quite recently, our team spent a great deal of time quietly building and testing a location-based marketplace through which members could discover and buy healthy living services (i.e. fitness, dance, spa, beauty) at over 6,000 locations throughout the United States. As we gathered feedback and data, we eventually felt the need to offer a more compelling value proposition, and, at the same time, one that would continue to be meaningful and altogether unique. Active22 was born as we made the decision to re-imagine our approach and build a creative and authentic brand -- with real personality -- that uses a potent combination of commerce and content as a means of incentivizing young women to lead healthy lifestyles. While the scope of the original product certainly changed, our values remained constant. Our company, like yours, will continue to grow. As we do so, it is important never to lose sight of the core ideals established at the very beginning.
The Little Things Are The Big Things
I watch and at one point in my life played a great deal of soccer -- oh, the glory days. During the past few years, a young man named Pep Guardiola has established himself as one of the great (if not greatest) coaches currently in the game. Almost anytime I read or hear about his methods, I am made aware of the same thing: he has an obsessive, almost sickening capacity to pay attention to every detail that concerns the way his teams play. The same concept should apply to any startup that is building a product. Fact: there is no such thing as a perfect product. But that certainly does not mean that a perfect product should not be that towards which you are striving. As we finished building our latest platform, we found ourselves fixated on every part of it's design and functionality. In all honestly, I have lost track of the number of times, particularly over the past month, we worked from and to the early hours of the morning making what may seem to be very small changes and improvements to the look and feel of our site. As we ran several demo sessions leading up to our launch, we were incredibly humbled to receive the same compliment over and over: flow and design. Indeed, building is a time-consuming, exhausting process. But do pay attention to the minute details, for it will all be worth it in the end.
Do Ever Not Give Up
This is a given, but I will state it regardless: IGNORE THE NAYSAYERS. Believe. Focus. With resources, time, and smart, motivated people you can do amazing things. As a startup, time is your most precious asset. With time you can learn, adjust, and figure things out so long you have the courage to do so.
Startups, change the world, it is what you are here for.
Follow Farai Sikipa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@faraisikipa