CRMthis.com hits deadpool
Today, I decided to resign from CRMthis.com, another startup idea by me. We had a team. We built the API and the back-end very quickly for the Minimum Viable Product (MVP), but the front-end never arrived. We were targeting to beat Buffer's 7-week product to revenue milestone. And we could have done it! We had two partners on board. But it only takes one team member in a startup team to kill it. And this is the second time it happened to me. First time, I managed to keep it going for 18 months before I found a way forward. I was not prepared to do the same this time round.
StartUp Team Dynamics
A startup needs a driver. At early stage, its about driving, rather than leading. And I was that person. You also need a team of one or more who could build the product, initially the MVP, but have the capability to continue developing. We had two developers (in fact 3!). The back-end developer was a well seasoned tech entrepreneur with two successful exits. He knew his stuff! He brought one of his employees and together they built the API and back-end using latest technologies in record time. Yeap, we have node.js, backbone.js, Riak (NoSQL) and all the other sexy technologies.
We had a Rookie for the front-end, who struggled to keep up. Weeks went by without progress, and then turned into months. We had great team dialogue at the beginning. Things started to really slow down, where team members stopped responding to emails, and time was not spent on developing. Signs of a dead startup started to appear many months ago!
I could have fired the Rookie and found a replacement. But the whole idea of trying to find another front-end developer became too daunting. So I finally decided enough is enough and resigned today.
This is a very controversial subject. We agreed not to discuss equity split until the product was launched, and we understood how much time each of us would commit to continue. We trusted each other. Trust is a real vital component for the startup team. Just to give some idea about team backgrounds:
1. Me - already had two companies running, but was fully capable of taking the third one on, as it complemented edocr.com
2. Back-end Developer - He also ran a very early stage techstartup
3. Front-end Developer - Was employed full time
There were no salaries involved and we did not need any funding. Backend Developer paid the bills for AWS services, which was kept at a bare minimum.
What was the idea behind CRMthis.com?
We were trying to address few issues, mainly:
1. edocr.com captures document leads. We have integrated with salesforce.com to export leads, but was not keen to integrate with every CRM on the planet.
2. CRMthis.com would have integrated with edocr.com and CRMs, so that leads from edocr.com could be exported to any CRM via CRMthis.com
3. It will also integrate with other social networks from the famous four (facebook, linkedin, twitter and google plus) to minor ones, so that contacts can be exported to CRM seamlessly.
4. It will allow your contacts to be sorted before exporting to CRMs. It gave you the ability to segregate personal and business contacts, so that business contacts can be exported.
5. It would also integrate with Non CRMs such as Zendesk.
6. It would integrate with your address books, and sync your contacts across all your apps.
In a nutshell, we were developing Plaxo 2.0. The main focus being, "manage your lists once and for all, and stay in sync". It had the opportunity to grow fast as a SaaS product, and would have been very attractive to investors.
So what now?
In my email of resignation, I gave unconditional rights to my team members to continue, except with holding the rights to the domain name. Whilst I have not heard from them, I doubt they will continue. Remember, you need a driver. My team members were not as passionate as me with CRMthis. Whilst they saw it as a good opportunity to be involved and did not want to miss the opportunity, they were never going to take part without a driver.
edocr.com would be keen to develop a less functionality rich CRMthis some point in time.
I was fortune enough to meet Martin and Shaf yesterday and discuss about their new startup. I saw the passion in them. We never had that level of passion in CRMthis. I knew we will continue to struggle, even if I manage to get to MVP. It was something I knew for a long time, but refused to acknowledge, until yesterday. So it was time to say sayonara!