Choosing to be a startup founder is like deciding to ride a roller coaster without a seat belt.
There are plenty of up’s and down’s, you have to be a little bit crazy and chances are you might just fall out.
Over the last few weeks, I have certainly been on that roller-coaster. It’s been the toughest three weeks I have faced since launching Task Pigeon.
But I am finally emerging into the light at the end of the tunnel.
Before I get into the meat of this post it’s worth reflecting on the fact that it would be easier for me NOT to write this blog.
No one but me (and a handful of others around me) know what the last three weeks have been like.
And if I didn’t write about it now most of you would never know the difference.
But public persona’s and what is happening behind the scenes rarely match up. And I’m not one to shy away from telling it how it is.
So where do I start……
First of all, if you don’t know my backstory, I am a 3x Entrepreneur, and perhaps more importantly (for this story at least), a non-technical founder.
Our product was functional, and some people really loved it, but there was a bunch of features I knew we needed to roll out in order to truly be competitive on the global stage.
But then it all started to unravel.
Days turned to weeks, weeks turned to fortnights and fortnights eventually turned to months.
Very little progress was being made.
I want to be clear though. This isn’t about blame. As the CEO of the company, the buck stops with me.
And if it wasn’t for my developer I never would have achieved what I set out to do 6+ months ago. He was very flexible on our contract agreement and afforded me the ability to design and launch a SaaS product to the market in a short amount of time.
For that, I am forever grateful.
But, in hindsight, I either missed the early warning signs or refused to acknowledge them.
While I always knew my developer would eventually have to move onto another role I (wrongly) presumed that this wouldn’t affect progress in the meantime.
Unfortunately, it did.
Bugs in the application took longer to fix, my emails went a day or two extra without a response and each week flowed by without any visible progress.
Eventually, the hammer dropped. My developer had secured a full-time job. And the last few weeks had been filled with job hunting and interviews.
I was genuinely happy for him. I knew this was something he had wanted for a while. And perhaps, somewhat selfishly I thought this could be good news for me too.
With the pressure off him financially it seemed like a win-win. He could keep Task Pigeon ticking over and I wouldn’t be faced with an increase in expenditure if I was forced to hire elsewhere.
A few weeks before all of this, I had even offered him a very generous (his words, not mine) equity share in Task Pigeon (on a 4-year vesting schedule, with 1-year cliff). So it seemed like this was an ideal situation, at least until Task Pigeon generated more money at which point it was my stated intention to increase his monthly payment as a first priority.
Ultimately though, it was not to be. What my developer promised each week and what he was able to deliver widened considerably. We were now at a point where I was counting the weeks without any major improvement on two hands.
Being honest I felt conflicted. Almost like I was trapped between a rock and a hard place. I had become too comfortable with the existing arrangement because it afforded me the best opportunity to keep bootstrapping Task Pigeon.
But if no progress was being made then it didn’t really matter. I was better off paying more for someone who could do the work in one week, instead of taking three or four. Even if it did come at 2 or 3 x the cost.
I have put so much of who I am into Task Pigeon. I live and breathe it every day and I truly believe we have the beginning of Product Market Fit.
So I had to make a decision.
The final week was the hardest. I had wanted to speak with my developer over the phone to discuss the best way forward for both of us.
I knew it would be a tough conversation, but I would much rather have it over the phone than via email.
I asked time and time again for a moment to call. But each request went unanswered. That was until his final email where he said it had all got too much. He couldn’t continue working on Task Pigeon.
In a way, it was a relief. The current situation was untenable and at least his email had brought it all to a conclusion.
We agreed to speak on the weekend, and I was glad we did. It was clear that he truly had the best interests of the company at heart, but just didn’t realise how hard it would be to keep everything in the air.
It was an open and honest conversation and in hindsight, I think we both knew it was one we should have had about 3 or 4 weeks earlier.
In the final week and a half, when communication had been tough, I noticed the writing on the wall and had at least started looking at other potential options.
As a result, I was effectively able to flip the switch and bring on a new team to pick up where we left off and get Task Pigeon back on track.
If you are a customer or user of Task Pigeon I know reading a post like this may cause some uncertainty. But I want to assure you that my new team, which now numbers 1 backend developer and 2 frontend developers are fully committed to the company.
They have already squashed a few annoying bugs that still lurked in the application and have made significant improvements in other areas already. Once we push the latest version of Task Pigeon out, which will now be more responsive and provide an improved user experience, we will rapidly be rolling out a number of new features we have in the pipeline.
While it has certainly been a challenging month my passion for Task Pigeon has been unwavering. While there have been difficult decisions to make I have enjoyed the process of being an entrepreneur and can’t ever see myself doing anything else.
There is still a long way to go, but I can see a clear path to making this succeed.