I have been maintaining this blog for around six months now. I started it just before I quit my job and after I had decided to start my own company. It was a place for me to record my entrepreneurial journey. That is basically all I had in mind at the time. That's a rather open charter, and I think I can do better now.
Truth be told, my journey has gotten a whole lot more concrete in the past six months. I now have a concrete product (RecordBox) that I am working on, I have a more concrete idea of 'success', and I am more familiar with most of the aspects of building a business.
So I think that this is a good time to draw a line in the sand and publicly state what I hope to accomplish with RecordBox and what I want to do with this blog. This will add accountability as well as lend structure to my professional activities and blogging.
I will begin with where I am at present, state where I want to be in October 2012, share the raison d'etre for this blog, and then summarize the kinds of posts you are likely to see here going forward. Thanks in advance for reading!
Where I am now
Here is a one-sentence summary of RecordBox: RecordBox is a virtual notebook for music students which simplifies the creation, storage, organization, and annotation of educational music recordings.
Being able to completely define the purpose of the product in 20 words is something I could not have done six months ago, and I count it as progress.
I have released a basic first version of the product and I am using it myself. In my last post I reflected on this release and what my plans were for it. I am also working on an iPhone app. Once it is ready I will have a basic end-to-end solution in place.
Being a music student I have a rather good network of potential users who are personally known to me. I will release RecordBox to these people incrementally and build off that feedback.
This is a good summary of where I am and what I plan to do from here. But where do I hope to be in a year?
In October 2012, success for RecordBox will mean..
- .. having paying customers.
- .. being cash-flow positive after factoring in costs of operation and the living expenses of a minimal existence in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- .. being a registered LLC.
- .. having minimal technical debt. For instance, I should have automated testing in place, decent monitoring, good analytics, and other such things which tend to get overlooked in the mad initial rush to release and gain traction.
- .. having a customer support setup which makes it easy for people to get in touch. The system should also enable timely and helpful responses to customer queries as well. Some options are: support forums, contracting out support, direct email, etc.
- .. executing on a strategy for customer acquisition. There should also be a way of measuring the effectiveness of the said strategy. Some acquisition strategy options are: maintaining a blog, partnering with music education sites, partnering with music teachers and music schools, using social media intelligently, etc.
- .. being in a position to hire a co-founder. RecordBox can't be a one-man operation forever. At present I don't have the cash nor the momentum to attract people. That needs to change.
Why blog the journey?
So that is where I want to get to. This blog will serve as a record and reflection of my activities as I try to get there. Why maintain such a blog? After all, it is time consuming and will not directly contribute to the success of RecordBox. That said, here is why I think it is worth it:
- I enjoy writing and would like to improve.
- Entrepreneurship is difficult. There is plenty of uncertainty and most decisions are made with insufficient information. Further, the fruits of the decisions are often only realized way down the line. This blog will serve as a record of my decisions, along with their surrounding context, at the time they were made. This gives me the opportunity to evaluate these decisions with the benefit of hindsight and hence LEARN from the whole experience.
- If RecordBox is a success, then this blog will be a good resource for other people who wish to begin the entrepreneurial journey and who are starting from scratch.
- If RecordBox is a failure, then at least it will be a well documented failure thanks to this blog. The product itself is the tip of the iceberg. This blog is a glimpse at the 90% which is underwater. Making that 90% more visible will likely be useful for future endeavors.
- It will be fun to look at my older posts and have a good laugh at my naivety.
The types of posts to expect on this blog
As I go about building RecordBox, I will write about my experiences along the following themes:
- Technology: I enjoy building things and will be doing all the tech for RecordBox for the foreseeable future. The technical topics on this blog will mostly center around Ruby On Rails, IOS development, and the Amazon cloud because that is what RecordBox is using at present. I will write about solutions which I find particularly interesting, resources I find particularly useful, etc.
- Design: I am designing the User Experience and User Interface for both the website and the iPhone app. This is a fairly new world for me and I quite enjoy it. I will share my take on some of the design decisions made, and also the lessons learned from those decisions.
- Business and Marketing: Acquiring customers, building revenue streams, developing partnerships, managing costs, etc. are things I don't know much about. But as the product matures and becomes a company these will be the most important activities for the future success of RecordBox. I will record my experiments and lessons learned here.
- Strategy and vision: I am sure that my high level strategy and my long term vision for RecordBox will continually evolve as I gain experience. I will use this blog to record mutations in strategy and vision as they occur.
- Reflections: I like to reflect on my own personal experience and growth as I continue on the journey. I will occasionally post my reflections here.
Thanks for reading
This is a 'special' blog post in that it is about the blog itself and what I plan to do with it. I feel that articulating these things in depth helps bring cohesion to the content and also helps people decide whether it is for them or not. If you have any thoughts on this topic, I would love to hear them. Thanks for reading!