Some time ago I wrote that we were in the final 20 of Startup Fest - one of the biggest events on Polish startup scene. Although you can have some heated discussions on the topic of this so called "polish scene", I can say one thing about SF with full certainty. It was amazing!
We did not win, but taking responsibility and without needless coquetry I proclaim that: we did not expect to win. We did not count on it and it was not the reason we came. The most important elements for us were the mentoring sessions. We treated Startup Fest as an occasion to look at our project from a distance and receive feedback from people with experience in the industry. Big names, success stories, immense knowledge and experience. Many ( on the site I counted 38 ) mentors, specialised in the fields of new technology, mobile, social media, PR, media, investment, sales, business strategy etc.
This is, I think, the only occasion to get such detailed and comprehensive feedback. We got what we wanted, and for that we thank you with all our hearts. Even though the sessions that lasted only around 20 minutes each left us a bit wanting, we absorbed as much as we could. Just like most of the mentors we came to the event well prepared. They tested Windu, we analyzed the market, looked into marketing indicators and wrote down some questions. As a result we were able to get the most specifics out of the conversations. It was hard, intensive, firing on all cylinders.
Main prize - 50 000 zł for development and a 150 000 zł marketing campaign. Worth the effort! :) (fot. Krystian Szczęsny, źródło StartupFest)
Today I can write that on March 27 and 28 we faced our competitors and mentors, but even better, ourselves. What was the hardest thing? Looking at our own project from a distance. Obviously, if you are working on something for the better part of your life, you lose objectivity and sobriety of judgment. During the last two days we were forced to leave ourselves and look at Windu through the cold eyes of an observer that judged both us and our product.
Mentoring session. (fot. Krystian Szczęsny, źródło StartupFest)
It was hard - defense is the natural reaction to hard questions. During the first few conversations we fell into a trap, which gets most creators: instead of analyzing the critique, we defended our project; instead of taking in various suggestion on what to change, we tried to convince the mentor that our solutions are the right ones; instead of listening - we talked. Of course there were also good sides of such an approach - a few times our need to protect our ideas reassured us about some of the decisions we have made. It helped us find arguments, for things that before we only felt were right. In a few other cases - when we managed to open up to critique - many of the suggestions proved to be an inspiration, some of which resulted in solutions that we will be implementing very soon!
The winner: Ecologic and those that recieved distinctions : MySpiroo i Prześwietl.pl. Wielkie gratulacje! :) (fot. Krystian Szczęsny, źródło StartupFest)
Of course there was also the competition and what competition it was! If you are reading this - thank you for all the behind the scenes conversations, tips, warning and inspirations. It was fantastic that we were in a position to be each other’s mentors. As the organizers claimed the level of the projects, the experience and preparation of the teams was astounding. This makes me even happier that we could take part in this event.
Thursdays after party at Trzy Kolory. Networking and many conversations - not only about projects :)
So that it's not all roses - we returned home with... a headache (and I do not only mean the after party on Thursday that took place in Trzy Kolory, although that did takes its toll). Simply put, the amount of information we absorbed during those two days was too much. As I mentioned during our conclusive presentation - we received some hefty homework. Now, we have to carefully analyse everything we have learned and select what can help us to further develop Windu. Not all opinions were cohesive, with some being outright contradictory. That is understandable, every mentor walked a different road to get where he is, has different views on development that he will present as the correct ones. A great example of this was our question concerning entering new markets.
The answers we recieved:
1)"first Poland, then try where ever you can"
2)"forget Poland, look for other markets - analyze each of them separately, then add new ones"
3)"forget Poland, look for other markets - as a test enter several of them, then decide which to stay in"
Of course, it's so obvious!
Why am I writing this? It's because speaking to other teams we realised the fact that it is very easy to focus on one opinion and take it as the only proper one, simply because it comes from a reputable source. In psychology we call this effect “obedience to authority” and believe me it is very easy to fall into this trap. Especially when we have worked on a project long enough to understand how much needs to be fixed - and at the same time not long enough to be certain that we can accomplish something. It such a situation we accept every suggestion, and are ready to run to the nearest computer and implement the necessary changes. That is why after returning from Agro we did nothing. Absolutely nothing. Right now we are busy testing a few hypothesis and analyzing a few ideas that we got during SF. There is still a long road ahead before they are realized and I think this is the right moment to stop for a while and focus on perfecting our strategy.
What's next? Hand on heart, I don't know. We know that we are not changing course; we know that what we have chosen is, in general, good - now we only have to work out the details. We will continue developing Windu CMS in box form, for developers and agencies. There is a need for a good product such as this. We are also continually working on a simple creator - we are discussing its form and our marketing strategy. We are also continually working on a simple creator - we are discussing its form and our marketing strategy. We have a few other ideas, alternative directions with potential, but...All in good time:) For now we simply have to sit down, rein in our big dreams and work hard. Meanwhile I leave with the new Windu 3. Wait for further news - we will keep you informed about the changes we make.
Anna Karcz-Czajkowska, Windu.org
PS. All pictures come from the Startup Fest fanpage. If there more show up in the future I will add them! :)