There should be a drum roll, a symphony written specifically for the unveiling of a new business, and fireworks. Definitely fireworks. Launching a startup should be something I’m used to, since I’ve been setting up new businesses for decades. But this is a very different story, a new chapter and a massive adventure that has had me breathless for 18 weeks. Wow, I even have that sick excited feeling in the pit of my stomach right now as I’m writing. #gulpdifficultyswallowing.
I’m going to share some of the journey of my new startup business up to launch day. Conception to launch is 18 weeks of nail biting moments, fantasy dreams, weird desires, work and friend conflicts, family and business dramas. I think my hands have been shaking the entire time. Of course I am simultaneously launching 2 businesses with 2 others on the drawing board and let’s not forget the existing business – my day job that pays the bills!
Start Up Details
Let’s get the facts out of the way. I have co created an APP! It’s called cofounda www.cofounda.com. App Store and Android Market release. It’s basically dating for business – a platform to connect people, skills & ideas.
My co creators and developer partners are boys/men whatever, they are fun. I am the oldest and the shortest. I’m the only female. I thought it would be a bit tough and rough but it’s been fun. I am with 3 male versions of me – weird and soothing at the same time. Dan & Jarrod – our partner developers, are based in Queensland so we have the whole long distance thing happening there, and my other co creator is Mat Beeche from www.shoestringstartups.com.au
So 18 weeks ago, Mat & I had an idea. It blossomed into cofounda, it got developed, designed and built. It then got tested, pre launched and now launched. It has to go to the US & the UK. And it has to work. No pressure folks for the café owner. Just another day at the office…..
Café Vs APP?
Speaking of cafes, what is a café owner doing in the tech/app world? Well, there have been some special moments in the last 18 weeks when I have asked myself, no YELLED at myself the same thing. Especially about 3 minutes before the launch presentation. At first it was a fun idea – “oh wow, we should build this app Mat!” Then it started to become reality. Funny thing reality, in business you have to put your money where your mouth is.
At some point it has to stop being in development phase and it has to start being in real life business phase. The stage where you can’t hide anymore, the stage where you have to show and tell. The stage where those exciting cash flow predicting projections meet the fork in the road and you have to pound the pavement and get those bottoms on seats.
Shiny New & Nervous
Only there are no seats and this is not my field of expertise. Sure I have opened and built loads of businesses, some have even done wellJ. But this is NOT an area I know and I’m scared. Scared that as a food retailer I wont be able to deliver what the business needs because its not food! Scared that my instinct is wrong and in fact not only will I fail but EVERYBODY is going to know it. Ok, we get it right? I’m scared. Haven’t been like this since my second business in the eighties. One or all of my partners weren’t even born yet….
I have been learning along the way, sometimes there have been naïve moments, some have been more along the lines of “I have no idea what everyone is talking about”. The experience I have gathered is more than just an APP build, I got to do something I have been threatening myself to do for years – put my decades of business experience to the test. I created something from nothing. It wasn’t a shell of a shop waiting for a fit out.
Others may copy it, love it or hate it. But I made it. I did what I started out to do. I didn’t do it alone, I’m not doing it alone, but I have jumped outside of my very comfortable comfort zone and I have risked everything to try something new. I believe the big corporate world refers to it as diversification. Hey, I’m just a café owner who wants to take over the world. One coffee and an App at a time.
[Angela Vithoulkas is the Founder of VIVO Cafe Group and Business Guru Blogger for Women in Focus]