Finding like minded people
InOrbit needed co-founders who have experienced and believed in the problem as much as I did. We needed to be ready to build something ambitious, against all modern-day approaches, and ready to make a cultural shift in how organisations typically operated.
I started pitching the problem and outlining the opportunity. At first, it was fairly informal and was really a discussion about the idea, this yielded some great conversations but did not find me a co-founder. I wasn't seeing success and soon realised that the idea needed to be tangible, it needed artefacts that could be pointed at.
Taking learnings from launching products and features at Atlassian, there was a realisation that in order for others to grasp the opportunity being described, I needed to create a pitch deck. It had to describe the solution and so the first iteration of InOrbit was born, it was to be a stand-up tool.
Win! After creating the pitch deck and presenting it to Valter Fatia, I had successfully gained a co-founder. For some context, Valter and I worked on the same team at Atlassian and had envisioned the features for Confluence, we were accustomed to each other and had faith that we would work well together.
Valter quickly ramped up and started to evaluate the problem statement, designing the possible solutions and convert them into concepts. Additionally to demonstrate our solution we designed screen flows, data models and a prototype to start validating our assumptions. Valter and I quickly got into a routine and met up on Wednesdays after work, usually at a cafe or food court. The agenda was simple, showcase our achievements and identify our focus for the days ahead.
Showcases were integral to helping the two of us align and most importantly, improve our position on what problems we were trying to solve. Our emphasis on Focus areas kept our scope sane and limited distractions, which were important in enabling us to hit our goals. (This was a realisation that helped us to define what was to be our future iteration of InOrbit, we didn’t realise the importance of this concept Focus during the earlier months of starting.)
Designs, research and testing results are great to convey the solution however we didn’t have a functional product to put into the hands of our buyer market. We quickly realised we needed to either engage a software developer, contract an agency or outsource to a development house to create the first incarnation of InOrbit.
Following considerable discussion, Valter and I agreed that to have the greatest control over the quality of the product, we require a technical founder to join us. After pitching to our network of developers we were able to attract a new technical founder, however, a few months later our newly appointed technical founder came to realise that the commitment to InOrbit took a toll on his young family. Eventually, it was too much and he had decided to part ways. This was a big blow to our startup. Not only did it stop our progress but also caused us to realise that we didn’t manage expectations upfront, furthermore we needed to ensure that we were in a better operational state. This involved a revision of the company structure, how we signed on new partners, how we vest options, overall ownership of the company and how to manage the intellectual property if there was a departure.
We got to work in revising the governing structure for InOrbit and again we are on a hunt for a technical founder. This time we found our new candidate via a LinkedIn blog post. Vincent Lo had written an in-depth piece about his experiences at William Hill and moving to a start-up. (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/moving-overcoming-stigmas-seizing-opportunities-vincent-lo/)
This spoke volumes to me! His openness and ability to overcome the challenges he had faced compelled me to reach out. I needed to speak to him, I wanted to pitch Vincent our idea.
Win! After our pitch, Vincent joined us as our third founder! Valter and I were thrilled at how well the three of us started to build our very own culture. With Vincent joining, there was a revitalisation! Ramen and desserts are now on the menu with our Wednesday catch-ups. Not long after we had our first instance up and started to dogfood our own product!
The impact of having both Vincent and Valter as partners made the long hours and sacrifices worth every minute. There were times where I had questioned if I had made the right choice starting a company whilst working a fulltime job and sacrificing countless days with my young family. It's tough! I've missed out on birthdays, anniversaries, holidays and time with loved ones. What I've realised is that I have found purpose in enabling those around me to succeed and I am thankful to have found Valter and Vincent who share the same passions as I do. To build a great product that solves significant problems and to enable people to succeed.