Honestly, I come across a lot of people nowadays that want to start a business and that is really great. But a lot of these people (myself included about a year ago) think it is as easy as having an idea that you think is good, getting investment and then sailing off into the sunset on your brand new yacht.
I'm all for the whole sailing off into the sunset on my brand new yacht kinda vibe. It's just that before you can do all that sailing you have got to actually put the hard graft in and build something. However in order to build something you must check one absolutely vital tick box.
If you really want your business to be successful you must UNDERSTAND YOUR CUSTOMER.
On average the human mind thinks between 12,000 – 50,000 thoughts a day. That's roughly 1200 thoughts an hour give or take a few hundred. So chances are that every single day at least one person thinks of what they think will be the next big idea. I mean multiply 50,000 by the approximate population of earth (7,404,976,783) and thats....
370,248,839,150,000 thoughts per day
That is a lot of thoughts to say the very least. However one thing that separates the good ideas from the great ones is what everyone else thinks of it. Sure I can come up with an idea that I THINK is great but EVERYONE ELSE may think its irrelevant. With Robotify we came up with this concept that both myself and Evan agreed may have potential. But we couldn't just leave it at us. We asked ourselves the question who are we selling to? We just didn't know.
So around this time last year we were in a very weird stage. We were going to meetings and looking for investment with about three things to our name. A website, a slide deck and a pretty (admittedly) terrible excuse for an obstacle avoidance robot. We had no box, no content, no software, no clue what we were doing and no clue who our customer was. All we thought was; "Okay so we have a robot and a website, does that make us a business now?". For the record past Evan and Adam no it most certainly does not.
After hitting the same hurdle for months on end we realised there was no chance we were going to get investment. So we took a step back. Stopped thinking so big for a second and started thinking smaller. What could we do to find out about our customers? Well turns out we had the perfect opportunity right at our finger tips the whole time.
Both Evan and I realised the potential to learn by actually running some kind of robotics course using our basic kit and our basic concept. We put together a curriculum, 3D printed some chassis, ordered in parts and did up some leaflets. About 5 months into the school year and we had already started our first Robotify after school camp for the first years in our school. With twenty five kids in our care we soon realised this is not the long term game this business wants to be in. However we also realised what worked and what didn't. We began to see our theories on code-learning come to fruition and our methods actually working. We saw how certain ways of assembling didn't work and we fixed it. We improved and we learned.
After making literally no profit from the whole thing we were left in a pretty harsh place financially. We had no money and we wanted to launch a boxed product? But we decided about three weeks before the leaving cert to actually run a summer camp. Crazy as we were we had another 20 or so kids signed up. Again working for next to nothing the team implemented the changes from the last course. We not only implemented these changes but we saw these changes work. Whether it was replacing the breadboard with a custom PCB or grabbing the kid's attention by making the course content easier, it all worked. Simply put we actually learned from before and took action.
However the summer camp was financially speaking a failure. By the end of it we had no money again. But it is not about money. Now we UNDERSTAND OUR CUSTOMER. We know what works and what doesn't. We know what they like and what they don't. We know how to treat them and how not to treat them. We know that if we had have launched this time last year that there wouldn't be a this year for Robotify.
So now where are we at? The summer camp has been finished a good three weeks now. We have our first ever boxed product (which you can pre-order here cough cough...) the Robotify Alpha Kit. We have a unique new Robotify Dash. But mainly we have made the decision to pivot from a primarily hardware focused B2C standpoint to a more software focused company. While keeping our Alpha kit running we are also working on a top secret project which will be released in due time. But why are we doing this? Simply put, because we can.
We know our customer now and there's nothing holding us up. Sure we have to throw personal funds at it but what kind of business owners would we be if we didn't? We are finally ready to start making a difference and I personally attribute that to the fact that...
WE KNOW OUR CUSTOMER.