Thursday, January 22, 2015

My experience with startups (my own and others)

My startups

I have been trying to recall on how many startups I have been involved. But as sometimes memory can be tricky I am going to do the exercise of writing it down that way I won't forget. I haven't make any money with any of them on both founded or worked not a substancial among anyway  but it has been definitely fun.

Here it goes.

The first one. 

When I was 19 myself and some people that I studied with while I was doing my bachelor degree in Colombia got together to start a software development company. The company sells products to other companies to support their operations as well as custom software. At that time I just wanted to be independent, I didn't want to have a boss, I wanted to do my own thing. 

I started as the CEO of the company after 2 months we demoted ourselves to project engineers to be more "credible". We thought that as such a young age was better for customers to see us more at their own level, I guess that was the reason. After 8 months we got investment I resigned from CEO because I didn't want to have as much responsibly as I had at that moment in Colombia the CEO is legally responsible for whatever the company does, no one actually knew why I did it no that they cared but one of my life goals was to live abroad at some point and that was in my way. After that I became the R+D Manager just a title not really in practice, I used to sale our products, do development mainly in the projects that I was managing or had sold. After a while that role name didn't fit at least in my head. As a result I changed to new business manager, some of my partners didn't like it but the business cards were already on production nothing to do there.

From there, there is not much to say was selling the products and at the end I opened the office in Bogota and left the company 5 years after I had founded it to pursue my dream to go and live abroad and study my master in business. 3 years after I sold my shares to my business partners for not much and moved on.

The second one

A guy approached us while I was working with my first startup, he wanted to partner with us on his interesting idea, he was not technical then he needed some people to get his product together. The idea was to be able to send sms through a website for free and sell advertising in the website and sms that people were receiving. 

We developed and launched the product in Colombia, after just four months ir was getting traction but we didn't have money to support it. As a result we have to close it down. By that time the website attracted 30.000 people and its growth was exponential. But nothing to do the sales didn't take off and do the cost to maintain it was a lot and we didn't have the muscle to maintain it.

The third one

A guy in Singapore contacted me to work in an idea that he had. The idea was an app to seal deals (a Groupon copycat) when he was running out of money at he offer me 20% in change for development but I didn't interest me at all. The thing didn't go anywhere.

The fourth one 

I started to work in the UK with a company his owner at that time my boss. Offer me to participate with him in a venture to develop together an app that was supposed to use the Facebook Graph API to replicate Facebook but giving users the opportunity to personalise the app skin. We signed an agreement to work together started the development but that was it.

The fifth one

It looked like at that time the Groupon like apps were the thing. I am saying that because I got a job offer in a town called Bristol to work in another Groupon like app. In there I had a interesting opportunity to have access to a million user based I didn't think it twice and left London and went to work there. I have some share options there but they don't really meant much to me. I left the company after having rebuilt the app from scratch and there was not much to do anymore. The company was sold to Vodafone a while after.

The sixth one

This one was a last minute hotel app with interesting backing. Again share options but no really interesting really. The thing that interest me the most was to have the possibility to live in Spain. I went to live and work in Madrid for 9 months it was an interesting experience but that's it. At some point the company was sold to Groupon.

The seventh one

Another Groupon like app with millions in backing where I got less than 1% in exchange for development. It was a really interesting opportunity but again the company didn't last.

The eighth one

I am still working on this one. I am the CTO we are doing some work for other people as well as creating our own products the future will tell what it is going to happen with this one but it is looking good.

The ninth one

I really love startups as a result myself and my wife got together to offer consultancy services to small companies and potential startups not such in IT but also in strategy. Right now I am helping my wife to develop a product of her own and helping friends with startups of their own it has potential but I need more time.

To sum up the only thing that I can say really is that entrepreneurs are not made they are born. I don't like to work for other people. I don't need people to tell me what I need to do because I know what to do. I was born an entrepreneur it is my lifestyle and as long my heart is beating I will be one no matter what entrepreneurship is my addiction.

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