It's so easy sometimes to just forget about doing things like this and engaging with the public. This is because there's so much other stuff going on at Robotify right now that it's so difficult to find the time. That said, we are going to start blogging again but before we start properly blogging I thought it would be weird if you didn't know what we are up to. So here goes.
As some of you may know earlier this year we launched our first ever product - Robotify Alpha. This was exciting, we got coverage in the Irish Times and we were making serious progress. All the months of hard work building this thing and it had finally come to fruition. Orders in small numbers came through and courses were popular.
I don't think I have ever felt so much responsibility on my shoulders. One would think that getting a stripe notification telling you that you have just received an order worth €70 and having an article written about you in the Irish Times would make you feel amazing and excited. I found that people around me like friends and family were buzzing for us, all the while we were feeling tremendous pressure and anxiety. For the first time in the history of Robotify our heads were on the line. WE HAD TO DELIVER.
Moving on from the initial stages of having to deliver these products I begun to reflect on why I felt so anxious and uncomfortable and I finally realised what was going on. Honestly, the product was not what we expected. I know in my heart of hearts I was not happy with it and neither was Evan. It was our first product, our 'Alpha'. I wasn't comfortable with what we were delivering to our customers - it wasn't our vision. After a few courses and some orders we took our product off the market. It was time to assess our options and make some key decisions.
Honestly once we had moved on from Alpha it was almost a barren wasteland. We were left with an idea which once was going to be Robotify's success story that had for all intents and purposes failed. We were pretty void of all motivation and there was discussions between both myself and Evan over the future of the company - should we just leave it?
We knew we needed to make a decision sooner rather than later because if we didn't we would just be wasting our time. After a lot of soul searching and philosophical thinking we made the decision. We are sticking with Robotify. We are going to give everything to make this business work.
This was key decision number one.
Once we had decided to stick with it we needed a new idea - something that suited us and we knew we could roll with. We had some thoughts but nothing concrete. This is where John O'Connell and Josephine Lynch come into the picture. As you may know we have had tenancy in DCU Alpha for the last 6 or so months. In March earlier this year we bumped into John and Josephine. Two incredibly kind and helpful people who run CW Applied Tech in Clare. CW Applied manufacture hardware and are huge supporters of hardware based ideas.
After chatting with them a few times they decided to organise an ideation session in DCU Alpha one Saturday morning where with the help of Terence Bowden of DCU Alpha we were joined by a number of experts and some of our target market to discuss what we do and try get help and generate ideas. By the end of it - we had our next idea. It was big.
Doing this was our second key decision.
I suppose the final key decision we made which has governed our activity over recent months was applying for a DCU run accelerator program called UStart where students can develop their business ideas being guided in the DCU Ryan Academy by industry experts and people that have a passion for start ups and building them from the ground up (cheers to Shane, Eoghan and Roisin). We applied - suffice to say it was an incredibly good idea. We were accepted and that takes us up to where we are now.
So, what's happening right now?
At the moment both myself and Evan are working hard on building out our newest product (#ProjectRed). We are building something that has not been done before and combining robots and gaming and code learning and hardware like nobody has ever seen it. We are constantly working hard and with the help of our new developer Sean, we will be ready to soft-launch in November.
Every week we are learning more and more in UStart 17 in the DCU Ryan Academy. We learn about finance, funding, scaling, sales, planning, pitching and product building. They have been an amazing support and we really are progressing as a company and as individuals.
So don't worry, we aren't dead. We are just working hard with our heads down. Building the business to scale and trying to bootstrap to a completed product by November on a shoe string budget is hard but we can do it. I have faith in our three man team and in Robotify.
The one thing that kept us going in the times of bleak reality is our mission - to empower, to create and to nurture. Passed that, nothing matters. Not even the bottom line.
Oh - we won the DCU President's Award for Innovation for Students also so that was pretty awesome (photo above).