A Technology Startup’s Journey – A Progress Report

Nearly six months ago, I interviewed a young man, Brian Clark, who decided to quit his first job out of the University of Michigan to pursue his dreams in entrepreneurship in San Francisco.

That particular blog post, was one of the most popular blogs I wrote last year.

Since that time, I’ve been wondering how Brian’s doing as he’s embarking on his path to entrepreneurship by growing a business from scratch.

If you’re thinking about launching a business—whether fresh out of college or as a result of a career transition–I would encourage you to read on and take note of Clark’s key learnings and what his team is doing to focus on strategic and systemic growth.

His varied experiences are truly practical and balance his classroom education with what he’s learning on a daily basis—in the real world.

Since we’ve last talked, how’s it going?

The business is moving along, but we’re making adjustments to allow for future success.  Starting a tech business can be very tricky.  In the developer tools space, being able to provide value to other companies where they are willing to pay for your product can take a little while to nail the exact solution for the problem you are solving.

You launched your online, technology nearly a year ago.  Are you beginning to experience growth?

We were growing at first but looking at where the future of that direction was going to be we decided that it wasn’t where we wanted to take the company and it wouldn’t lead to the path of best success so we’re taking a step back and changing directions before we focus on growth again.

What challenges have you had to overcome?

The business has been an up and down experience so far.  A lot of challenges arise along the way that you don’t expect to come into play. Things that affect the business that are out of your control that have nothing to do with the business, as well as things you think you’re doing right that end up being completely wrong.

In the last 6 months of operation we’ve gone through a few iterations, built out what we thought was right but ended up being wrong.

Any key learnings since you’ve started this venture?

Validate the very first core part of your product.  Make sure your central value proposition is solving a very painful problem for enough of a set of people that when your solution becomes available, they are clamoring to pay for and get their hands on your solution.

What we ended up doing was instead of validating our core product and getting it in users hands, we added feature on top of feature hoping it would start to take. And while we got a little bit of traction, it wasn’t the right move.

You need and must validate your problem, customers, and market before you even begin to build out a full fledged technical solution, as sometimes your initial hypothesis may not be completely wrong, but isn’t as bad of a problem as you thought it was.

Do you have any regrets leaving corporate to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams?

Absolutely nothing, except maybe not saving up more money when I had a full time job.  MAJOR learning on taking on debt to buy things and living frivolously. Something I have toned back on immensely.

What are your long-term prospects and plans for growing the business?

Long term prospects I’m very excited about the new way we’re approaching developing and growing the business.  We’re identifying a very specific customer base, analyzing the current marketplace for the problem we want to solve (improving the user experience in mobile applications), finding a specific problem that a number of mobile application users have, then solving that very specific problem that when they implement our solution, our solution can demonstrate value in growing their applications revenues and usage, therefore them being very willing to pay for our solution.

All the while from there a good term a friend told me was “find your mars” meaning, what’s that over-arching 10+ year goal you want to accomplish with your business, and work back to what specifically today do I need to execute on to get there.