It’s no secret that building a startup is a tough and risky mission. In November 2019, Roi, Eitan, and I cheerfully signed up for this challenge but we didn’t know that a once-in-a-century crisis was yet to come.
This is the story of anecdotes’ birth.
As the three of us had worked in the cyber security area for 10+ years, we wanted to do something different and established a basic value which we wanted to use as a guide for whatever we decided to do:
“Use technology to create something meaningful and positive“
We weren’t afraid of exploring different markets and came to the conclusion that there was a real gap in the travel industry, which could be solved with innovative technology to make a positive impact on the travellers of the world, aka, all of us.
It took us 3 month of bootstrapping to develop an almost-MVP and we onboarded two design partners. At that point, we were in the process of raising the seed round and started out every pitch by describing the infinite market size of the travel industry. We felt like we had figured out the right path for building our startup.
One of my favorite practices for software architectures is “fail fast”. I find it a great guide, not only for software engineers, but also for entrepreneurs trying to find their way.
In February 2020, the flights in and out of Europe were canceled (for the first time*) one after the other, with an immediate impact on the entire travel industry. It took us 2 weeks of daily discussions with potential customers to realize that we wouldn’t be able to close any deals in that market in 2020 and therefore it would be nearly impossible to raise a dime for our journey. And just like that, 4 months of dreams and hard work came to an abrupt end.
We weren’t blind; we knew it would be even harder to build a startup from scratch. But we decided to give it another chance before giving up on our dream of creating something meaningful and joining established corporations.
Let me describe the situation:
In light of the circumstances, the strategy we chose was slightly different this time; we came up with a list of constraints, values, and areas in which we had proven experience. Then we decided to do a distributed ideation process (since each one of us was at home) with a daily meeting to improve, optimize, and narrow the ideas funnel.
The guidelines were:
1. “Use technology to create something meaningful and positive”
2. “Look for a process that’s broken, not just missing features“
3. “Leverage our vast experience in B2B and cloud/IT/SaaS technologies“
This distributed ideation process proved effective and eventually we were able to zero-in on the super annoying process of InfoSec Compliance (“Is this how it really happens EVERYWHERE??”). At first, we figured it was too boring for us, but after a few days, it turned out to be the ultimate desert in terms of innovation, and thus, was a perfect fit for our guidelines—so we decided to step up to the challenge.
The well-known challenge of raising the first $Ms for a startup only gets harder in times of global crisis—and COVID-19 is the worst. But we believed in ourselves and heard (over Zoom) from enterprises around the world how frustrating and acute this problem was.
Surprisingly, it took only 2 month to validate the problem, sharpen the proposed solution, and get the first term sheet for our seed round. We even had the honor of choosing VCs and leaders from the industry as investors who we felt confident would help us build anecdotes and bring value in every possible aspect.
We hadn’t met any of our investors in-person until 2 months after the money was in the bank! The entire process was conducted via Zoom, and as challenging as we thought it would be, it turned out that once we adapted to the new Zoom meeting flow and its limitations, it actually had plenty of advantages. We became super efficient, with 3-5 important calls a day to potential customers and investors.
Perhaps, if you don't fail fast, you’re doing something right….
In July 2020, after 8 months of bootstrapping, a massive change to the way we live and work, and incredible trust from our investors, anecdotes was up and running.
Following the rollercoaster that started in the beginning of 2020, the first 6 months at anecdotes were nothing short of amazing:
Trying to build your own startup? Don’t hesitate to reach out, my founders network helped me a lot and I’ll be happy to assist and share my hard-learned insights.