Our most important takeaway from 2017 - If you're planning on starting your own business, I suggest you read this.
Last year was an absolute roller-coaster.
After half a week of planning for 2018 with the exec team, I think it's appropriate to retrospectively look at our journey through 2017 to evaluate how we got to where we are we are now.
Although the Bot the Builder concept was formed over a coffee in May 2016, the hard slog only started in March of the following year when four young guys decided to leave well-paid and stable jobs to chase a dream.
That dream? It was to add a heap of value to millions of people all around the world by building 'cool stuff.’ More specifically - to increase a business’s efficiency by developing intelligent conversation engines in order to help companies grow while also decreasing their running costs.
By building a solution for the consumer of tomorrow, we knew we could do it.
In March 2017, we knew why we wanted to go into business.
But, we only had a rough idea of how we were going to achieve our why, and what product we were going to create could not be entirely decided by us.
Rather, objectives and pain-points from our customers and partners would determine our product. We received invaluable advice from both advisors and investors which helped structure and develop our business model to where it is today.
So, what was my most important takeaway from 2017?
That Bot the Builder is are not a self made company.
We realised that Bot the Builder is in fact the product of a large network of people who have believed in us and trusted us, who ultimately helped shape our product and our business.
We did not get to where we are now by ourselves, and our continued success will always be attributable to that large network which we have been fortunate enough to attract. And on that note, I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us in some capacity over the last 12 months. Without you, we wouldn't be where we are today.
If you're reading this with the intention of starting your own company, then what I want you to get out of this article is just how many people it takes to get your business from nothing to something - specifically so if you're going down the tech start up route.
Below is a brief look at our story to date with a focus on 2017 - and a quick snapshot of the number of people who have been involved in helping to create Bot the Builder.
At the end of 2016 we were introduced to the person that would become our pre-seed investor. This person took a punt with us, and their investment meant we could attack the market-wide problem in a full-time capacity.
Soon after that, we were connected with a group of entrepreneurs and lawyers who would later become investors and business advisors for our company. They provided invaluable advice and made introductions that have been pivotal to our success. Those introductions led to connections with brilliant people who have since helped to guide us in the world of business. Bootstrapping a tech start up is no easy feat, but these people helped make it possible for Bot the Builder.
Throughout the year we made valuable partnerships with a range of other software companies ranging from dev shops and AI experts, all the way to enterprise integrators. These companies shared the same ethos of 'alone we are good, but together we could be great.' Our partners service very similar customers, so while these partnerships make sense - very few companies are actually open to it. In such a case, Bot the Builder is extremely lucky to be connected and associated with some of New Zealand's finest software experts.
Prior to starting Bot the Builder, each of the founding team had a network of trusted mentors. We were lucky enough to draw on this, and created a technical advisory board specifically catered to our needs. This group of people have played an integral part in both designing our product and making innovative technological enhancements to our product. In addition to our technical advisory board, we also had a network of proven business individuals. I have lost count of the number of people who helped us to structure good business deals, and create introductions which helped open many doors otherwise closed to Bot the Builder.
Due to these connections we have since gone to raise a seed round, which at the time of writing is about to close.
Throughout the year we have been fortunate enough to work with brilliant customers, who have played an integral part in our products’ development. They have always been honest about their business’ specific problems, and at times have even given us ideas on how we could better suit our product to their needs.
Lastly, it was our families that provided us endless support as we collectively decided that this business venture was a good idea. We all left well-paying jobs knowing that if this venture went south, then they might have to be the ones cleaning up the pieces. They knew this of course, and they still supported our collective dream. For that, we are all extremely grateful.
So, how many people need to be thanked and credited for our success?
So the question that you may now ask is:
"Ok, so I understand that I need a large network, but how on earth do I do that?!"
Simple. Do two things:
- Tell people about your idea! There may be no such a thing as a truly unique idea anymore. What is unique though is how you execute that idea, and that execution will ultimately determine whether your idea is successful. If you excite people with your idea, they might just help you to execute it.
- Look to add value to other people and be genuine about it. Provide value with no strings attached. The key here is your intention - you should always act in good faith. Helping others not only makes you feel good, but it also organically grows your network because those people find value in working with you.
For those of you reading this with the intention of starting your own business, then I hope that this article has helped you in one way or another. For those of you reading this who are attributable to our success, we at Bot the Builder would like to give a massive thank you for the role that you played in getting us to where we are today.
May 2018 bring you all extreme success!