I remember exactly when I had the idea that eventually turned into a startup. It was about 6 pm, I had just finished up my work day in my comfortable corporate job and was heading to the E-commerce class that I was taking for the Master’s degree I was working on part time. On the drive over, I was trying to get in touch with a list of vendors my fiance and I had narrowed down for our upcoming wedding to try and get their availability and price quotes. After failing to get the information I wanted out of any of them, I remember thinking there had to be a better way to find vendors for events before I had to switch my mind to thinking about what I wanted to work on for my class project.
That’s when the light bulb lit. I should create a service that made it easier and more efficient for people planning events to connect with event professionals. Although I didn’t actually end up using that idea for my class project, the idea had grown on me quite a bit over time. The idea was simple, but different and innovative at the same time – create a platform that was a win-win situation for both parties. People planning events would provide some details about their event and what they are looking for and end up with a list of available and interested vendors by price point. Event professionals would have access to new interested customers and could reach out to them directly with a personalized price quote and message to advertise their business. And all of this would be automated and be making me money while my new wife and I would just lounge on the beach (at least that’s what I thought initially).
As good as that sounded, I had no idea where to start…and that was as good of a reason as any not to. I have a background in information systems, but no real experience in developing web applications, nor did I have the money to pay someone to do it. I also didn’t want the risk (and added stress) of leaving my job and trying to find either partners, investors, or a combination of both. I eventually convinced myself to work on it on my own time little by little while keeping my day job. Whenever I came across something I did not know how to do, which was pretty often, I would turn to the internet and learn it. Before I knew it, I had a working piece of software that I was quite proud of. As much as I procrastinated doing things because I didn’t know how, I quickly found out there are so many free online resources from education to tools that allowed me to tackle each roadblock when I would come to it. If you have a question, chances are someone else has already asked and received an answer for it on the web (StackOverflow was a life saver when developing my website).
After I built the platform, I was foolish enough to think the hard part was done and the customers would start pouring in. I learned the hard way that selling the product is just as hard, or sometimes harder when you are working in a very competitive industry like the one I was in. After not having much success, I was ready to give up again. But after looking at how far I had come from not even knowing where to start, I convinced myself that if I could learn how to build something, I could learn how to sell it too. I switched my focus to learning about what it would take for me to reach my customers in a cost-effective way. I read a lot of articles, blogs, and how to guides on everything from search engine optimization to growth hacking. Turns out getting a “do follow” backlink from high authority websites (www.virginia.edu for example) can tremendously help increase your search rankings on Google and other search engine networks. So you probably figured out my ulterior motive for writing this blog post – It is a shameless attempt get a backlink from UVA’s high authority website to boost my search rankings for EventKickstart (at least I am honest right?).
But I hope my article does more than just that and will maybe inspire some of you to finally pursue that idea you have had in the back of your head but never started because it seemed too daunting. Working on my one-man startup has been one of my most rewarding experiences. I’ve learned more in a few months than I have in my job. Even if it doesn’t work out and end up being as successful as I imagine, the experience I gained and skills I developed would still make it worthwhile.
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