Hackernoon logoStartup born after a year on just $4,500 by@russellbarnard

Startup born after a year on just $4,500

Russell Barnard Hacker Noon profile picture

Russell Barnard

Co Founder & CEO snappd.tv | Product focused | Cricket Fan | Have a cat called Frodo

My journey from full-time employee to startup founder

Where to begin..

Please help me to spot the errors we made along the way 😅
As long as you learn from things right?..

Let’s rewind — It’s October 2015 and the summer is almost over my project Webfolio is doing alright, it made it onto Product Hunt and the user numbers were ticking over, things were okay but it was a free product.

As it continued to “grow” and after a walk with my co-founder (and fiancée) through an Edinburgh thunderstorm all the while getting splashed by crazy drivers we decided to jump into this startup thing full time.

At the time we had a lovely holiday planned for Cancùn which we had to ruthlessly kick to the curb in order to scrap together as much “runway” 🤔 as possible — with returning flat deposits and final paychecks we had just about $4,500 to last us….

(October — December) So our initial plan was to keep growing Webfolio and look to monetise it via paid accounts and a recruitment section — both of these did not quite work for a couple of reasons:

1- Retention

Looking back now it seems simple. We were focusing too much on users registering but not checking in detail the time spent on the site and how many Webfolios that were ultimately made.

There are a number of things we could have done to improve this but were we to do this again I would have stripped back on the features and even just had the first launch as a chrome extension with easier sharing options to build on existing user habits.

2 — Recruitment Agencies

Our second pain point came with Webfolio Connect our service to connect developers (found via Github’s API) to recruiters, the dataset was just too small to work with recruiters. If we were to do this again I would have focused on being a service companies could use directly to search and hire developers.

Okay let’s change the tone, this was all a great learning curve in communicating with both users (developers) and potential customers (recruiters). At the heart of Webfolio Connect is an email sending system which I think still has the potential to shake up email. More on that another day!

Let’s fast forward to the start of 2016 now & I remember strongly starting to use Snapchat and using it A LOT mainly for the stories. Around this time lots of channels slowly started to appear such as Startup TV along with people like Mark Suster & Justin Wu and a few other early “adopters”.

As time went on this feeling went from “this is great content to watch” and “this is great! it’s really helpful” to “wait a minute this is great and should not be lost!”.

Wait a minute this content is great & should not be lost!

So it was time for another co-founder walk, this time to the interesting surroundings of Braintree Public Gardens the least “startup scene” in the world 😜.

Just to update you, when trying to burn as little as runway as possible you need to avoid as many costs as you can, so we had to move in with my parents — which for most people is not really an issue but during this time they were renovating their kitchen to the extent that no cooking was possible. You must also consider that there were 7 people in a house designed for 4 and we moved from Edinburgh (a place with a decent amount of startup events) to Braintree (a place with 0 startup events).

So it was a bit of a squeeze!

Even so — during this walk we came up with the initial idea for Snappd and right away started drawing basic wireframes.

So there it was — Snappd an app for users to save their past Snapchat stories (not to forget Periscope streams, Instagram stories & much more) to grow their audience and monetise or “the home of vertical video” how does that sound?

Then it was decision time. Where can this go? Is it okay to stop working on Webfolio? The money is running out! — we can’t really bootstrap this now?

I firmly believe if you are going to make a project switch like this you have to do it 100% — Even more so when you have a small team!

After looking into the growth of vertical video and being content creators on Snapchat ourselves we just knew that making the switch to focus completely and 100% on Snappd was the right move to make! So we did.

Fast forward to now and TADA 🎉 we have just started beta testing (On iOS 📱) — If you want to get involved either as a creator or a viewer add your email address here and I’ll be in touch!

To complete this story — the answer is yes the money has completely run out now but with Snappd we managed to raise $…….. (to be continued!)

Are you a storyteller! I’m starting a podcast exploring what makes an engaging story. Would you like to be involved? Reach out (Twitter @russellbarnard or [email protected]) — Find out more here

I’m co founder of Snappd we are creating the home of vertical video coming soon to iOS


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