So April 2015 my cofounder Mitchell and I left Silicon Valley to start a mobile startup in Seattle, I left my job as the Lead Mobile Designer @PayPal and Mitchell quit his job as an iOS dev with Ashe+AOL so we could both follow our passions of building a company (SF was so expensive, we only had savings, and nothing worth pitching to VCs yet, plus the startup ecosystem can get distracting). PS I met my cofounder Mitchell on twitter in Sept 2014, we both got lucky because we laugh at the same dumb shit, and feel the same about life, I guess you could say we’ve become good friends through this startup experience, we are kinda like brothers from anotha mutha.
We had been busy on an app that we lost momentum on before even launching when left the valley called Mymentor (education+vine). We needed a product, something we felt passionate about, something that we could relate with, what problems do we have?…. I remember waking up one Sunday morning in April and telling Mitchell we needed to build this app called Founderfox right now, it solved a huge pain point for us personally, and it was inspiring, so we did, we started that day, and 2 months later we launched it on Product Hunt. We had a great day, we “won” the day on PH, and saw over 5,000 downloads in that first 2 days, we also ended up getting featured by Apple 3 weeks later, and we received some press too. All of this opened so many new doors for us, we had people reaching out to us from all over the world.
We got an Acquisition offer in our first month by Startups.co. The offer was good, but the timing was not right, we just started our startup and we both wanted to see what we could do with it. The day before we flew to San Francisco to meet with Startups.co and talk about an acquisition, we got a seed investment offer through our own app Founderfox by a local investor in Washington for $400K, everything was so surreal and crazy I was on a high,(startup rollercoaster) but we both knew the real work was about to begin.
We took the funding, and partnered with this angel, he allowed us to just build all kinds of apps, and see what sticks, then if something got some traction we would invest our f/t resources in turning that app into real businesses. Well guess what?… that’s a grind and a hard fucking model but we learned so much, so fast, and honestly we made so many mistakes, but if we had to do it all over again, wow! would things be different. We started cranking out beautifully designed iOS apps every 3 months, and getting press, and initial traction but nothing too serious, typically 15–20K users in the first month.(we would get into the top 100 in the Free apps listing), we have always be entertaining acquisition offers during these times as well, but still not interested yet. (Key Alert: Listen to offers but don’t get bogged down with them, it’s too distracting, lots of big companies just like to kick tires).
We’ve basically been in the most grueling, hands on startup class for over a year, and we learned everything with trial and error, we had no mentorship, no hand holding, no free intros, the only thing we got was what we earned. I wouldn’t have had it any other way, hand holding would’ve made us lazy, and ungrateful. We found so many ways to do things out of pure want, and willingness to win, it’s crazy what you can do when you truly want something. We are now a battle tested team, with real scars and war stories, we have all this amazing startup experience, combined with passion, fire and hustle; We work everyday, sometimes I forget what day it is because Friday, and weekends haven’t mattered in over a year now. (We have a ton of fun working, always laughing, eating or deep in focus with EDM).
We have stopped the mass app building model, it’s too tiring and we don’t have the resources to continue, plus it’s really hard to focus when you’re building a new app every 3 months. We need focus in a big way, we need to take all our experience and laser point it at one idea and go all in on that, we know we will be the best if we just focus. We found our new focus, it’s called DUSK . This new product is going to become the fiber of our company, it’s going to help build our culture and it’s going to tell an amazing story. I will tell you all about DUSK when the time is right, we’ve already tested it with 200 people, but doing public beta testing the first week of September, we plan to launch when things cool off from Apple iOS10 public release in September. We are ready to move into an office, we have 3 new world class hires ready to help us scale, and we have an awesome plan to win.
We need an investor who will partner with us, who can help us win, show loyalty during hard times, laugh with us during good times, give us brutal feedback, challenge me personally to be the best CEO, and someone we can call anytime to talk about product or things we are stuck on. (Sick whiteboard drawing skills not required)
Come build something amazing with us!
Kori Handy (Twitter)
Level up your reading game by joining Hacker Noon now!