Founders Factory Funding
I started out only with the desire to create something of my own, rather than a specific idea or even a problem area. The first question I asked myself was ‘What kind of problem do I want to solve?’, which lead me into fintech, more so than a specific product idea.
Once I had settled on a product which helped users with their money on holiday, I struggled with validation. Like we’ve all done, I fell prey to interpreting weak signals (i.e. email sign-ups, verbal commitments) as market or product validation.
We initially built a product based around saving for travel. Once we released Moneycado, we found it really tough to get people excited about this. Saving is not sexy!
I’ve since read deeply on customer discovery, market research, and the jobs-to-be-done theory which have helped me enormously in how I articulate and iterate upon our product. I’d highly recommend Alan Klement’s work in this area.
We re-built the product to focus on solving the pain of getting paid back quickly and easily for expenses on group holidays.
Our target demographic is the 55% of millennials (please excuse the word!) that rate travel as one of their most important life goals. More specifically, it’s the 30% of this group that take 3+ group trips a year.
Since our product links directly to user bank accounts, we get a lot of hesitation and questions about the safety and use of their data, e.g. ‘Are you reading my bank transactions?’. It’s a great signal that we need to be clearer in the on-boarding process about why we’re requesting this link, and why users might benefit from it.
I initially developed the idea on evenings and weekends, in between a full-time job. This gave me the time to put aside some extra cash, and also an extra level of security that I was being pulled towards something with real promise, rather than simply wanting to escape my job!
I found the first year working full-time very difficult. I didn’t pay myself a salary for 12 months, broke up with my co-founder, and aborted two different product builds before properly getting to market. With the benefit of hindsight, I consider it important education as an entrepreneur. Putting together an idea is easy, but executing on an idea and getting to market is very hard.
I had previously worked as a Product Manager for a big bank, with no real entrepreneurial history. This worried me initially, until a good friend gave some sage advice. She said ‘You don’t need to know what you’re doing, you just have to back yourself to figure it out as you go along’. That was the moment my desire crystalised - I certainly didn’t know what I was supposed to do, but I trusted myself to figure it out.
The process of starting a business seems to be looking back and saying “I wish I knew that at the start of the week”...every week for years! The learning curve is ridiculous. Here’s the very first blog I wrote about getting started.
In general, I’m wary of giving general advice. The answer to so many business questions is ‘it depends’, so I suppose my advice would be to be very wary of who you take advice from and for what! Ray Dalio has this wonderful concept of believability-weighted decision-making, which has always stuck with me.
For personal and professional productivity I recommend Notion. It helps me to structure my thought processes, my to-dos, and company goals. It’s also very beautiful!
For work tools, I adore Figma for design, Pollfish and PickFU for customer research, and Dribbble and Behance for design and product inspiration.
In terms of social media, I only use LinkedIn at the moment. The organic reach for posts is fantastic and I’ve made a number of useful professional connections from posting openly about my progress and process. Here’s an example of getting some quick product feedback on LinkedIn last week:
Our short term goal at the moment is acquiring our first 1,000 users. I suspect the first few hundred will be very high-touch - speaking to my first and second degree network about their upcoming trips and selling our app - which will also help me in how I craft marketing messages and refine the on-boarding funnel. Thereafter we’re planning a bunch of great content on how to make the most of group trips (e.g. ski trips, hiking trips, festivals, bucks and hens).
We’re currently looking to raise our pre-seed round of investment, having received some investment earlier in the year in an informal round. The investment will largely be for staff costs - I believe the primary focus at the moment is iterating to find product-market fit - and some set aside for growth experiments.
It's on the Apple Store here.
I mocked up this review to give us a tangible sense of what product success looks like. When we get there, we can think properly what’s next...
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