It was a cold winter Thursday (November 27), I was having a cigarette on my balcony, accompanied with a glass of old fashioned whiskey in my hands and I was in doubt whether till would participate in Startup Weekend Eindhoven next day.
Shortly before I had discovered that my original entrepreneurial idea, for which I planned to go to Startup Weekend, already existed and a competitor just launched publicly.
With the necessary disappointment and sadness, I was wondering if I should still participate if the idea was not new and there was already a competitor. But did I really have anything to lose? The experience itself could be positive anyway!?
So after the necessary (internal) pep talk I got myself back up on my feet. Early Friday morning I worked on an alternative idea and practiced my pitch a dozen times.
“Social logistics; package delivered by traveling people”
That was it. And it was enough, the pitch went well and my idea called PickThisUp was one of the ten ideas that would be worked on during the weekend. With a team of four men and women I had an intense but wonderful experience. The weekend left so much impressions, I couldn’t let go. I had given myself a week to get back ‘to usual’. But after a week, I was still thrilled of energy; my head was filled with thoughts and I was daydreaming about the startup.
But did I really dare to take the step and go for the startup? This was a bridge too far for me, such a difficult and complex choice to make just based on gut feeling. So I prepared a comprehensive matrix to weigh all the variables and to make this (long) term choice somewhat good and objectively. I’ve discussed all upsides and downsides with my partner and we got to one conclusion: PickThisUp is a great opportunity!
I resigned from my fun (80K) consultancy job, looted my MBA (study) savings account and rented an office in the center of Zwolle. The energy and daydreaming didn´t diminish. In fact it was hard to find some spare time, not doing PickThisUp.
What I remember most from that first step? The look in the eyes of your friends when you´re telling them about this new step, the stares of your colleagues when you say goodbye. You’ll see a hazy look in their eyes of what sometimes seems confusion, doubt or pity…
4 months later; what an experience!
Never knew that one decision that Thursday night right before the weekend of SW Eindhoven would have had such an impact. After travelling to many cities and all over the country to build the right team we started at February 1st, with 3 full-timers and one of the original Startup Weekend part-time team members. Also still under advice & guidance of one of our great mentors: Xen Buijs.
After this cool experience of Startup Weekend, although early, we set the goal to become part of one of the major accelerator programs available in the Netherlands as soon as possible.
After we got turned down by two accelerators, and many interviews after, we are now part of the Pressure Cooker program UtrechtInc.
But where do you go after a successful Startup Weekend? Well that’s easy, if you get good advice & guidance: try to get everything in your BMC validated. Validate your ideas with customers. Think of Eric Ries’ LEAN style and Steve Blank’s ‘get out of the building!’
Meanwhile we featured in two great articles in SPROUT, are building a prototype which has to prove itself in May and will be launched in beta with the necessary publicity around June 1st. Social logistics is a beautiful concept, but our biggest challenge is a big and powerful network of users from day one.
Are we there yet? No, not by far! Indeed, we’re taking small steps every month, but one step forward is often followed by three steps back. Hard work. How does our Startup proceed? I truly have no idea, but I can image it will take more hard work, but also the necessary quantity of whiskey, cigarettes and daydreaming…