Happy Birthday... to us!
Updated: Sep 24, 2018
This week marks the first anniversary of Kidictive. It is hard to believe that the tiny wisp of an idea that popped into the world last September would capture our hearts like it has. Our little venture has already started stretching it's wings and has brought us both joy and angst as it tries to take it's first steps into the world.
As founders, the last year has been filled with so many challenges and celebrations, it would impossible to share with you everything that we have learned along the way but we though we would share a few things that were at the top of our list.
1. Team first
Above and beyond, our biggest learning has been that 'Team' trumps all. Laura and I couldn't be better suited as partners but, as much as we hoped that to be true in the early days, we were only able to validate that gut feeling over the course of time and the ability to work through challenges together. If statistically, half of marriages fail - partnerships are at even greater risk.
From day one, we made sure we took care of those awkward conversations. Like dating, we talked about money, values, commitment and how to resolve conflict. We talked through how we would balance our venture with our family commitments and we discussed 'what would happen if...' including breakups and exit plans.
When we disagreed or things were out of balance, we found ways to reconnect and be supportive of each others perspective or current challenges. Over time, our friendship has grown, as has our mutual appreciation of our individual and collective strengths.
Looking forward - Our next challenge is to learn how to transition from our partnership model to an employer model as we have others now joining us on our pursuit of success. Transparency, inclusion, honesty and support will help guide our relationships with our new team members.
2. Trust ourselves
Even after successful careers in the corporate world, when Kidictive's success suddenly depended entirely on the decisions and actions the two of us were taking, it was easy to second guess ourselves. We knew what we were capable of, but we also knew that we knew very little about starting up our own business.
"You miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take"
Yup, it is cliche but, hey - we're Canadian and if the wisdom of Walter Gretzky can inspire a legend like Wayne, we could place some trust in it too. It was back in March and we had spent the past few weeks in an 'on-again, off-again' decision on whether to complete a grant application. There were a ton of companies that seemed a lot more qualified than we were and we kept questioning whether we were just wasting our time on paperwork when we could be building.
Thankfully, we realized that if we didn't already have the words to complete the grant application, then we probably didn't have our value proposition figured out, we didn't have our research done, we hadn't figured out our go-to-market strategy and we definitely didn't have clue on how much it was going to cost to make it happen. So, we dug in and after a couple of weeks of extra effort and late nights, we pulled together a solid business plan and a beautiful grant submission.
The process of taking a step back from blindly doing and inject some thoughtful planning at the right time, solidified our purpose and set us on a foundation of confidence that has continued to carry us forward. (And, guess what? A couple of months later we got a call - funding that helped get our project off the ground!)
3. Build a community
Even having each other, entrepreneurship can be a lonely road. With resources limited to just the two of us, we needed help. Finding our community has provided us a place to be with our 'peeps'.
Whether it is co-working space, being with like-minded individuals or having access to training and expert resources, support provided through our community agencies like Haltech Regional Innovation Centre and the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) , and organizations such as Silicon Halton and Interactive Ontario, have given us the sense of being part of something bigger while still have the flexibility of working independently as a start up. We were surprised at the amount of resources available to help support the growth of our venture.
4. Learn new skills
The best (and most challenging) part of starting our own business is that we needed to know how to do a lot of things. We discovered that being a 'Jill of All Trades' was so much better than being an expert at one. And what doesn't come naturally, being open to learning is key.
In today's world of user generated content, you can pretty much figure out how to do anything through a blog or a YouTube post. We have built adoption and cash flow models through shared excel templates, figured out a ton of cool graphic design tricks through Adobe tutorials and some very talented photo editors, we figured out the pros and cons of native vs. hybrid apps and are slowing knitting together a social media strategy with 'For Dummies', platform best practices, research data and some really good expert blogs.
Understanding the tradeoffs between hiring talent and figuring things out ourselves is important too and we keep ourselves in check, making sure we aren't going down a rabbit hole and over investing our effort in the wrong places.
But, there is nothing better than being able to take a look back and see that what we have built is ours, and we couldn't be prouder!
Here's to Year Two!