Startups and the Overnight Success

With less than two months left before we launch the Feed Me restaurant app, I've been doing a lot of reading. At 5 a.m. when I wake up and can't get back to sleep, and start thinking about user acquisition strategies and whether AdMob will pay enough for me to pay back the loans I took to develop the mobile app for Android and iOS simultaneously (and subsequently the voices of potential investors repeatedly asking why I didn't bootstrap it with a Chief Technology Officer/developer), that's when I read.

And the most recent things on my bedside table are The Lean Startup and Rework. And while there's lots of inspiration to be derived from these books, I've been frowning a lot, especially in Rework, which sometimes feels like It's contradicting itself: Launch your product before it's done, don't worry if you don't have a plan. Just do it! And other chapters saying Hold on there! Think this through a little. Do it all yourself! Make sure you launch something awesome. 

It's scary for an entrepreneur – to be both inspired and cautioned in just a few pages. So you need to take what helps and forget the rest. Which is why one chapter I just read in Rework sticks out for me. It's about the fact that the overnight success isn't usually the overnight success. You just didn't know it. The same thing was highlighted by the musician Passenger on his interview on CBC's Q the other week. So it's not exclusive to business. Musicians, artists and anyone else who struggled and then broke through a barrier deals with it too.

All that to say that this app has been a long time coming. I started writing restaurant reviews maybe eight years ago. For fun. For websites. For myself. And to make other people laugh/eat better/avoid bad restaurants. 

Then a couple of years ago came a hackathon. And with it, an earnest team of young developers who, unfortunately, had too much on their plates school-wise to make a go of it with me. 

So I financed an MVP myself. I hired a local company who did a great job and, unfortunately, left me with an un-updatable iOS build. Swift came for iOS, which meant that whoever took over the development would basically need to start from scratch. And the MVP was iOS-only. What about all the Android users hungry for better food "at the swipe of a finger"?

I was lucky in that I could handle app and website content, which otherwise would cost a fortune. I could (learn to) write a business plan (check out the Futurpreneur Online Business Plan Writer if you, like me, spent an entire summer saying you were going to write a business plan and being stumped as to how to do that). I could spend all my free time at YES Montreal with a business coach. I could network at D3 and meet a social media consultant who'd advise me on what the heck to do with Instagram.  

I had a vision, but how much time did I have? I wondered. It had been years and I still had nothing on the Apple or Google Play store. 

I also know that the Feed Me app isn't a great success – yet. So it's not the time for the team to look back at how far we've come, as we sip biodynamic Cognac by a roaring fire. Instead, I'm roasting marshmallows in the oven and slipping them onto homemade gluten free graham crackers. Because all my money is going to my developers. 

And that's okay. In fact, that's great! I love marshmallows. (After we launch, you'll be able to read my review of Marius et Fanny Chocolatier.)

But I tasted this Cognac once at the Grande Dégustation in Montreal, and it's making me dream big. One sip. I'd never buy a bottle. Do you know how much that stuff costs? I could add a couple of new features to the Feed Me app for that kind of money, for goodness sake. 

I'd like to think, though, that this is the first step in the right direction. I'm throwing caution to the wind, ignoring all the scary, overly optimistic things in Lean Startup and Rework, and concentrating on creating a good app. A fun app. One where people wouldn't even know they were craving marshmallows until the blueberry cubes at Marius and Fanny appeared on-screen. 

So here's to marshmallows and maybe a little success. Because that'd be nice.