First of all, we apologize if we sound a little bit snotty, but it’s for a good reason. We’re very proud to announce we have won not one, but two awards in a single week! After being invited to participate in the Idea Showcase at All About The API in Las Vegas last week and winning the Audience Choice Award, we were notified that we were 1st prize winners of the Intalent / IADB competition, getting $10,000 and a trip to EmTech 2016 in Boston.
We really appreciate gathering first-hand feedback when we are pitching our product, more specifically, we thrive on stage, after all, we are musicians. Furthermore, our sole intention of doing pitches is to get the word out there, gather comments and feedback and iterate on the product. This is why we asked ourselves “Why not?”. We applied to pitch at the Las Vegas conference, thankfully we got accepted and besides being an in-depth technology conference about the potential of API’s and more, it was seamlessly organized.
After doing our pitch, as well as listening to the other company pitches, the judges deliberated and Stereotheque got the vote for Audience Choice Award. The best part of the day came actually in the wee hours of the following morning, when we received an email informing us we were the winners of the Intalent /IADB competition! We were selected among 700 proposals coming from over 20 countries and evaluated by over 50 judges. Definitely happy days for us.
Here’s what we learned in the past action-filled days.
1. Consistency powers through.
Stereotheque was initially conceived about a year and a half ago. Back when I was finishing my master’s degree at The New School. Back then, being the simple idea it was, I got very interesting feedback but little did I know about the work it actually needed to become a full-fledged living product. Time passed, I learned more things, and probably the best thing I was able to achieve was to convince my other co-founders that this idea was good (and crazy) enough to pursue.
Definitely, consistency has been a key ingredient for the idea and the team. And I’m sure it will remain as the common ground for whatever we do thankfully, as the solid team we are, we’ve learned to appreciate how consistency works in multiple ways, for instance, when applying to every single pitch or competition we can get ourselves in and keeping the message consistent and authentic. Here are some words by Gary Vaynerchuk on consistency.
2. Balancing reality and hyperreality.
While in grad school, I read a very interesting essay by the French philosopher Jean Baudrillard. (Disclaimer: not getting philosophical here, so don’t worry). Baudrillard spoke about the hyper real, something the Wachowski brothers took very seriously in The Matrix, but it very much applies to the rollercoaster building a startup can be. The notion of getting traction or buzz is definitely not directly proportional to the growth of the company. See, the reality is that even though we won these two awards, we still have a very long way to go.
Not deying it helps, we are certain we have to step on the gas and deliver on our goals and metrics as fast as possible, because now that we’ve gained a bit of buzz with the awards, the spotlight’s on us and we have to stay focused and deliver. Dream about the hyperreality, and make it your reality, always with the feet on the ground. Fast Company has a great article that talks about saving your startup from the “spotlight effect”. The experience that Yipit had when launching with a huge PR campaign with a few awards under their belts, to simply knowing they had a little over 200 active users.
This Brad Feld quote sums it up pretty good:
“The great entrepreneurs just keep building their companies. They focus relentlessly on their products, their customers, and their people. […] They just keep at it and the very best ones shut out and ignore all the noise.”
3. Stay cashflow positive.
As a bootstrapped startup, we have learned (at times the hard way) to value our cashflow. As time goes by, we learn how to adequately manage our assets and our most valuable resource: Time.
At this moment, staying cashflow positive doesn’t necessarily refer to the cash we’re handling, but how efficient we are with our time and making sure we make results tangible. Something we can read, touch, communicate and hopefully scale. I say this because in the industrial revolution days, efficiency was measured by the number of hours you would spend in the factory doing mechanical work.
In the internet era, there are several forward-thinking minds that are pushing the 4-day workweek. Take Treehouse’s CEO, who says that 4 working days are way more efficient than usual work rhythms. It offers employees a better work-life balance and empowers them to take control on how they manage their time. In this sense, the company tries to stay efficient by providing its workers a flexible work schedule without cutting pay or increasing hours per day. Although this is still new and deserves some beta testing of its own, we are on the same page when it comes to staying cashflow positive, including with our valuable time.
We try to learn exponentially, applying what we learn and becoming testers of our own assumptions. For now, while we continue on our development roadmap, we celebrate our two awards, and embrace the perseverence the entire team has had. Great things ahead!