Posts in Startups

What I learnt from meeting a Billionaire:

 

Simon Tefula meets Aliko Dangote

 

Simon Tefula meets Aliko Dangote

I recently met one of the richest people in world, Aliko Dangote, some say he’s the richest Black person on the planet. When I asked him what words of wisdom he had for young people such as myself, he said ‘…just be patient and continue to work hard…young people today want to have overnight success but it takes time…” This made me reflect upon the fact we live in a world where most people want instant results. We are the click generation, we swipe for love, opt for surgery in order to lose weight instead of hitting the treadmill. Very fewl are willing to wait for anything. Jezz Bezos Founder of Amazon once said it takes about 10 years to become an overnight success. It took Dangote 30 years to get to amass his level of wealth.

 

Learning to be patient is something that I’ve had to learn along my startup journey because things never happen quite as you plan, it can and has been frustrating however I’m committed to moving my startup ideas forward. Regardless of the setbacks I’m committed to making progress even if it means by just 1 centimetre every single every day. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day so if things do not go according to plan always remember that ‘Slow motion is better no motion.’

The Story of how I developed an app: PART 1: What is TRENDiPEOPLE? & How it All Started:

 

 

 

                                                                                 How it all Started:

In the next series of posts called ‘How I developed an app’ I’m going tell the story of how I fought tooth and nail and never gave on a dream of developing an app/mobile platform that actually solves a problem, empowers people and makes the world a better place. I will ge into the detail of how I was successfully able to build a team, secure partnerships, develop the prototype plus live updates of the day to day grind and hustle of developing a tech startup.

In an old post (What is TRENDiPEOPLE), I wrote about how I came up with idea for TRENDiPEOPLE. However I now have to admit that at the time of writing that post, I was being economical with the truth. At that moment in time, I was not yet comfortable enough to reveal everything because I was still in the process of refining the idea plus I wrongly believed that keeping the idea a ‘secret’ would give me an advantage however I was wrong. In a later post, I will write about the issues with keeping ideas a ‘secret’ particularly with reference to tech startups and in the context of Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs). The time has now come for me to reveal all. As we all know in the world of startups, times, things and people change. The only thing that is constant in the startup world is change.

By way of a quick recap, I came up with the idea for TRENDiPEOPLE in 2010.  At the time I realised that the fashion and beauty industry in particular the media in its current state mainly promoted and to this day still promotes a negative & distorted image of beauty. I believe that everyone is a unique and beautiful individual. I wanted to do something that empowers people. The initial idea was a simple website that enabled anyone to upload and tag brands plus items that they were wearing. In doing this I wanted to create an equal playing field where anyone could kick-start a real time trending fashion look. Essentially the platform was meant to be a place where anyone could kick-start and discover real time global trending fashion. However there were two massive issues with that idea. In 2011 the costs of developing social platforms was extremely expensive, having only just completed university at the time it was a challenge to secure funding for the idea. Despite that I was actually able to develop a prototype which we tested however I decided to park the idea due to the enormous costs that were required to make it work. There was also the potential challenge of developing a viable revenue model. The main source of revenue was meant to be advertising, however as we all know, in order to make any sort of decent advertising revenue, you need to have a massive audience. The biggest challenge is two fold. Firstly how do you develop that audience and secondly how do you fund and sustain the operation while building the audience and more critically before you become profitable. I decided to park the idea for a while.

Fast forward 2013-2014 I lived in Cardiff City for about a year. During that time I had a massive Afro & beard. At the time, the nearest black barber shop was 45 minutes away from where I lived. Meaning that a round trip plus time taken waiting for and having a haircut and beard trim would be on average around two to two and a half hours. This was obviously an inconvenience that I could do without. One day as I was wondering around the shops in Cardiff City centre I bumped into another ‘brother’ i.e. black dude with a sleek hair cut. I stopped and asked him where he got his hair cut. He then proceeded to give me a number for a mobile barber that would make his way to my place. When I rang this mobile barber, he turned out to live only a couple of streets down from me. He was at my place in less than 10 minutes and in less than 30 minutes he had got my fro and beard looking sharp.

Light Bulb moment.

It was at this time that I noticed that there was a problem which needed to be solved. This is when the idea for TRENDiPEOPLE was resuscitated. That problem being that there are plenty of people with skills in beauty and fashion i.e. Hairstylists, Barbers, Makeup Artists/Beauticians, Nail Artists & Fashion stylists. They have skills however in most cases do not own a saloon and/or do not have a job moreover they need a way to find clients and earn revenue. On the other hand, there are clients like myself and other busy professionals that would love the convenience of having these sort of services on demand.  In a nutshell as of today, TRENDiPEOPLE is an on-demand app for Finding & Booking Mobile Freelance Fashion, Hair, Nail, Beauty, Stylists that come to you. This is done based on location and reviews. The updated idea is still consistent with our original founding values. We believe in empowering people,  simplifying things and making the world a better place.  We promise to remain true to those values as we continue to evolve and grow. The first version of the platform will be launching in 4 weeks. If you have any skills in fashion and beauty or have any friends that do and would like to set off with us on an exciting journey then lease help us spread the word. Leave us with your email address here (www.trendipeople.com) and we’ll contact you as soon we are ready so that you can test and give us feedback of how we can make TRENDiPEOPLE better for you.

In Part two I will explore how I was able to build a team and the resources required to get the Mininum Viable Product(The First Version) of the platform out of the door.

Yours (i) truly,

Simon Tefula 

Focus on building followers

Following, followers, Followed:

Vitaly’s audition on Britain’s got talent is pretty much exactly how things tend to pan out in the entrepreneurship world. When you have an idea that you’re trying to execute, you’ll always get ‘experts & consultants’ standing in your way, looking sceptical and doubtful, giving you that look that says ‘so you think you’ve got what it takes, so you think you’re the best thing since sliced bread, we’ve seen it all before…’ However as an entrepreneur, you just have to focus on impressing and capturing the imagination and attention of your target audience. That’s all that matters. Because once you’ve been able to acquire a massive following, once you’ve got the traction/momentum, then all the experts will come on board. The majority of investors will make you offers. Having traction and a growing following is the difference between success and failure. How many times have we seen or heard of startup companies backed by experts and well funded however they end up failing because they cannot gain that initial traction. Moral of the story is ignore the naysayers and focus on building a following. I’m currently in the process of building traction/following. Look out for a post on my experiences of building a following.

The road to success is always under construction

agile-methodolody_695x260

Success means different things to different people. In the context of this post, I will refer to success in the context of career and personal development.

Agile Development:

In software development there’s a concept known as the ‘Agile Development Cycle.’ (See diagram above). This is normally used in the process of developing a new piece of software, a mobile app or website. Those involved in this process usually follow these steps. The first part of it is to plan extensively, then to design a prototype, build the prototype, test the prototype, review and then launch the prototype to the general target audience. This process is great because it focuses on constantly making small incremental modifications/improvements that take into consideration analysis and learnings from previous steps. For as long as the product i.e. website, mobile app or software is openly available to users/customers, the agile methodology/process never ceases. It’s on going. It’s constant. This is the reason we all constantly receive notifications prompting us to update our apps/software to the latest ‘improved’ versions.

Life lessons

go-your-own-road-by-erik-johansson

This model provides a great methodology applicable to individual/personal development. You constantly have to plan for what you need to achieve out of your life, this could include goals in terms of career, health, financial, education, relationships etc. What is required is designing a strategy, building a way, testing, reviewing and eventually launching yourself into it. Say for example you are interested in pursuing a specific career path as a Lawyer or Doctor. You have to plan extensively before you embark on such a path. You have to plan which college/university you will attend. Then when you get to university, you’ve got to design or choose the specific optional subjects or a major in your chosen area of study. This process goes on until you become a qualified professional. However even while you’re qualified and in a ‘stable career,’ in order to maintain your qualified professional status and climb up the ‘career ladder’ you need to plan, design, build, test, review and launch for the role or office that you aspire to hold. This means that there’s a constant need to train & develop yourself while in the job in order to keep up with the latest practices in that specific field of work. Hence the reason why The road to success is always under construction.’ Every decision you make requires you to go through this agile development process. The time spent on each specific step will vary depending on a number of different factors that you deem important to your own pursuits. Moral of the story is to get into the habit of planing, designing, building, testing, reviewing and launching. That’s how one is able to constantly reinvent themselves time and time again. No one can afford to remain static or dormant. As one of the greatest scientists – Charles Darwin once said, “…it’s not the strongest that survive the longest, but those that can adapt to change’

If you need any help designing or developing a web or mobile product using the agile mobile development method then please feel free to get in touch here or check us out over at Refined Creatives to see what we can do for you. You might also be interest in some of our Entrepreneur Training Workshops that we run for those with ideas that they wish to turn into a business. 

Why I’m sick & tired of hearing people say “…that was your idea…”

“… that was my idea(s)…” Oh really?

How many times have you heard someone utter this phrase, “…(fill in blank – name of idea) was my idea…” If I had a penny for every time that I’ve heard that phrase, I’d probably be a gazzillionaire by now.

Wana-Preneurs

The ‘that was my idea‘ claim is normally made by the kind of person that I will refer to as a ‘Wana-preneur i.e. someone that masquerades around as an Entrepreneur of some sort while constantly standing on the sidelines without actually ever taking any risks to start any venture.

Unless I’ve seen some evidence that would prove otherwise, my first response is always, (and this might sound harsh), “no such and such was not your idea, because if it were your idea, then you would and should have taken ownership of the idea. And the way you take ownership of an idea is by actually doing something about it. It’s the simple step of taking action that matters. You pursue it, go after it, research it, talk about it, write about it, build it, test it and the list goes on. Only then can you have some merit to the fact that whatever you’re claiming was indeed your idea. Otherwise you will just sound like a deluded bitter old fool. I have so much more respect for someone that attempts to get an idea off the ground and fails than any loud mouth that is all talk but no action. Peter Thiel in his book Zero to One, explores this in great detail. The hardest part of getting an idea off the ground is going from zero to one, which is basically getting started. This is due to a number of factors. This perhaps explains why although plenty of people constantly talk about all these grand ideas, very few actually ever take any ownership by taking any action. This is perhaps one of the reasons why Patents & Trademarks are granted to those people that submit their applications first. However once you’ve moved from zero to one, accelerating progress is easier at that stage. The famous Levi Roots of Reggae Raggae Sauce was not the first person to come up with a delicious sauce recipe. However he took ownership of the idea and some may say controversially but he took action. Now I’m not saying that it’s easy, however it is the first step.

How to get started.
“…the secret to getting a head is getting started…” – Mark Twain.
                            mark twain
The Actor & TV Show host Steve Harvey, once said that we each have a gift. We all have something that we do extremely well with the least amount of effort. Something that doesn’t actually feel like work, that something in some cases is a hobby. So ask yourself, what’s the thing you do the absolute best with the least amount of effort. Look within yourself not without. Too many people miss out on their gift because they refuse to sign the lease on their gift, especially if you keep looking for it outside of yourself.- Steve Harvey
Perhaps another practical step worth noting is this. Surround yourself with people that are either vigorously working hard and are on their way to achieving their dreams or have already achieved their dreams or are accomplished. Immerse yourself in the culture of action, making progress and success. This will rub off you, it always does.
So go on, take official ownership of that idea(s) in your head by making a move today.

The Difference between a Startup CEO & Corporate CEO

So what’s the difference?

I always say that there’s a huge difference between the definition of a CEO in the Corporate and startup worlds. In the corporate world it just means Chief Executive Officer, we all know what they do.

Chief Everything Officer:

However in the startup business world CEO stands for Chief Everything Officer. You’re literally the Chief working officer, chief motivational officer, chief risk officer, chief flexible officer, chief hustling officer, chief financing officer and the list goes on as if and when required. Although it’s great to be great at one or two core skills, in a startup you’ve pretty much got to be a jack of all trades, you’ve got to be a bit of a dell boy, a grafter, a hustler, a problem solver and generally as adaptive as possible.

You’ve got to demonstrate to present and future employees or team members that at one point you’ve executed or done one of the roles that you are hiring them to do. You will carry more credibility this way. Being Chief Everything Officer also means that you will be working round about 100 hours a week for little or no pay. You’re simply just fuelled by passion. So you’ve got to be honest with yourself, are you cut out for this? Can you handle this? Because it is hard, damn bloody hard. It is chaos. To most ordinary people entrepreneurship seems glamorous and cool but it’s far from it. It’s a crazy roller coaster of emotions. One moment you’re up and next minute you’re down. So far on my entrepreneurship journey I’ve developed a number of skills that I needed simply out of necessity of being a Chief Everything Officer. I’ve become a jack of many trades. I’ve learnt how to design and develop websites in wordpress, I’ve learnt how to design web and mobile user interfaces and experiences. On dozens of occasions I’ve had to interview and hire freelancers to work on various aspects of projects. Then there’s the marketing, financing, project management and so much more. Essentially I’ve learnt how to manage the conception, development and delivery of a digital project.

Can you handle the heat?

I read somewhere once that people who come from dysfunctional homes or backgrounds tend to make the best entrepreneurs because they are used to chaos and unpredictability. They are comfortable with it. Even if they are not, they just know how to adapt in times of uncertainty. So if you don’t like the ‘excitement’ of unpredictability then please keep your 9-5 day job because you won’t be able to hack it. As the saying goes, the grass may look greener on the other side of the fence but you still have to mow it.

 

Yours truly,

Simon.