“Stress is the fertilizer of creativity.”
When we first began concepting LockerDome we constructed an ad-based model which was fully dependent on large chunks of financing, as well as significant scale. And after some moonlighting, off we went. We:
- raised a planned micro round of dough last summer;
- built a tremendous core software system in-house;
- began testing the product with niche markets;
- received sponsorship interest from some big brands;
- and sealed some quality partnerships
Yes, things were moving along quite nicely, then somewhat slower, and then…boom, the market changed too much to ignore it. In fact, it was a phone conversation not too long ago with a fellow entrepreneur that got me thinking really hard about our next steps. He said, “Raising money right now is obviously tough and the problem you are trying to solve will take some time. Find a way to create some staying power.” He was right. It is time to get back to the drawing board to define an adapted model that is better suited to take on this economic storm.
We began re-concepting, but the only problem is that nothing seemed to fit. We discussed everything from premium accounts, to selling sporting goods, to creating to donation pages, to well you get the point-a bunch of ideas that don’t help us today. The common flaw in 90% of our suggestions: they need significant scale to succeed. We were thinking too much like a tech bubble startup and not enough like practical entrepreneurs.
So we wiped the board and started over. We actually listed requirements this time (probably should have done it the first time!). Requirements are:
- Can generate immediate and significant cash; enough to sustain a small team
- Can leverage value we have already built as a company; i.e. our technology
- Can open up quality distribution channels
- Will allow us to operate like a bootstrapped company until the right opportunity occurs for us to scale up resources (true staying power!)
Again, nothing. So we walked away from the problem and cleared our heads. While shooting some hoops, it hit. Yes, one of those extreme moments of clarity. When we brought this new concept to the board the possibilities now felt limitless (and actually met our requirements above). Even better, we decided this approach was both technically possible and a fun technical challenge! Lastly, we bounced the idea off close advisors, investors, potential customers, and others. The response was tremendous.
Now this is one of those moments that I love being a young startup (especially one with an agile development methodology) because 1 week later we’ve successfully and seamlessly been able to apply a complete 180 to our business and development efforts. No red tape. Beautiful.
You’re wondering what this new direction is; sorry, I’m saving the details for another day. That’s not because I value ‘stealth mode’ because I don’t (in fact I hate that term), but it’s simply because I’m tired and I need to knock out a few emails before getting some food and grabbing a nightly nap.
So now we enter a new phase for LockerDome. We have much to learn from these new potential customers. In fact, we undoubtedly have much refining to apply to our offering (price points, product, & perhaps even target), but we’ll get there. It’s fun when you can taste the market. Ok, it’s also fun when you can taste money in the market .
And most importantly, we’ll continue to adapt. That’s how we survive.