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The Founders Journey

Podcast transcript

Hello, and welcome to the first episode of creativity decoded, my name is Data and I’m the founder and CEO of Sngbrd. A mobile social network that aims to be the world’s largest talent discovery platform. This podcast is intended to understand what the creative process is and what is normal during this process. It was created for users of our platform and all professionals who consider themselves to be creators and are curious about what is normal during this process. Over the course of this podcast series, I would interview entrepreneurs, professionals in the creative space, investors and executives with the aim of getting insight into planning, creating and managing a creative project and processes. I include entrepreneurship in this because I believe there is nothing more symbolic to creation than starting a company.

Before I get into this week’s episode, I just want to give an update on where things are with Sngbrd.

Sngbrd started as a university Masters project about 6 months ago and through this journey, I have gone through extensive brainstorming in the idea stage to customer validation and presenting the project at TedX innovation lab. I have had positive experiences as well as challenges that I could not have predicted or planned for. At this point in the prelaunch process, I have gone from creating more prototypes than any project should need. To struggling with selecting the right development team and dealing with the anxiety that is associated with no control of what is delivered. The app was supposed to have been sent to the apple app store a week ago and we are still in the process of doing that. I am hoping to be live at the end of this week.

This speaks to why I created this podcast. I intended on sharing my experience starting this company and speaking to other founders and experts to get insight on what their experiences have been like. This podcast aims to Share what situations to avoid and navigate through the unknown. I believe there is a lot to learn when people share experiences and I am hoping this platform helps with that. Sngbrd was made to help music creators build a fanbase and access opportunities as well as navigate the process of creating music people love. As a founder, I share a lot with this group. There is no guide on turning ideas into reality, what steps are required to make them real and since I don’t believe in luck, I aim to gather information that would help people build the right strategy. I recently made a rookie mistake that anyone about to launch a product should avoid. I shared the release date of our app without making sure the development team was sure they would deliver on this date. I have been apologizing since. Apart from being a startup, it is also a Masters project and every experience is literally a new lesson.  So, thank you for being patient and I believe we would be launching a product you would love soon.

And now, back to this week’s episode in Sngbrd’s creativity decoded: The founders journey.

 

Where do good business ideas come from and how do you know if you have one? Over the last 6 months I have battled with the dilemma of a good idea versus a good business idea. My startup is only 6 months old but the idea of what it has become is much older. The origin comes from the belief that there should be an easier way to discover talent. I have obsessed about this for a long time. Until recently, I was sure the right person would do something about this cataclysmic problem. It didn’t happen, so I am the founder and CEO of Sngbrd. Since this was a problem and not a business, I had to transform the problem into an idea. A problem is a good starting point but it should be broken down into idea form. Then I had to make that idea a good business idea. A business idea needs to be structured into a startup. All startups should follow a formula, a structured narrative that turns it into a concept that employees, investors and customers can comprehend. It starts with an elevator pitch, and after months of back and forth mine is “Sngbrd is a mobile social network that aims to be the world’s largest talent discovery platform”.

Entrepreneurship is more a psychological struggle than it is a physical, financial or technological one. There is no manual that tells you the best way to put out a fire and you are constantly putting out fires. And worse, all fires on this journey are unique. No one has had your experience and for this reason, who you seek counsel from in challenging times would determine how issues get resolved and if they do. Also, make sure to invest time into getting an advisory board as early in the process as possible. People you trust, respect and are smarter and more experienced in life and in your industry than you are. Entrepreneurship from my experience so far seems to have little to do with the idea. A good business idea helps, but planning, strategy and stamina are better factors in determining success. A good idea should be the starting point but it is the most irrelevant aspect of this journey. I view ideas as a road that leads to a destination. And how this rode is travelled is influenced by the mode of transportation, the map, people and resources available. This collective of resources would determine if you get there and in what condition. The idea or road is the path or industry you have chosen to travel on. The mode of travel is your plan and strategy. The people that travel with you are cofounder(s), employees, investors and strategic partners. 

Planning and strategy are the maps that guide your journey. The problem with this map for me has been that it goes against every experience I’ve had with maps. Most of the time I am given a map, directions that lead somewhere or instructions on how to do something. For first time entrepreneurs like myself, I get to make the rules. This can be an incredibly scary experience because you are constantly in doubt. You are also fully responsible, if it does not work there is no one to blame but you. Therefore, planning is so important, especially before you begin this journey. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it is impossible to create a perfect plan when you are not sure exactly what the plan would result it. I have come to see the worst type of entrepreneur as one that is endlessly working on a business plan as opposed to working on their company. make sure you are executing something and make sure to be an entrepreneur as opposed to doing entrepreneurship. Make sure to understand the logic of cause and effect. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. During the process of creating a business plan, this would help with understanding what tasks to do and what their effect would be. It helps clarify what tasks are crucial and what don’t add value. This would help you not waste on time on tasks that add nothing to your business. Make sure to have a strong, evidence based plan but to not over plan. Over planning would lead to a downward spiral of inaction. The more you plan, the scarier the journey starts to seem and you begin to unconsciously self-sabotage. At least this was my experience. What seems to work for me is planning then acting. Taking some time to adjust the plan based on what I have learnt from contractors, employees and customers. Planning again with this new evidence, then acting. Adjusting the plan and so on. This loop ensures you are moving forward, accessing the results, then moving forward again. It also helps you build a system that can be reused to speed up the creative process and for a new company having processes and systems in place would make operations move faster.

The final ingredient I feel is crucial during this journey is stamina, the strength to see the journey to the end no matter what comes your way. This is applicable in all life circumstances but it is important on the founder’s journey. The pressure to build out the vision in your head can be mentally exhausting. The realization that the idea is much easier to think up than to execute can discourage the strongest of people from continuing. The strategy I have used for this is to make the journey manageable. Stamina does not have to be persevering through the impossible but acquiring resources that would make the impossible possible. This why the mode of transportation, the map and the people that come along are important. Using a plane for a long-distance journey would make it easier. Having a map that shows the fastest way to get to a destination would leave you less exhausted. Having friends to console you in trying times and help you get over a bumpy road can be reenergizing. All this together strengthen a founder and increases their chance of seeing the journey through.

The best part about the journey analogy, is that for every journey, there should be a destination, and knowing the destination would determine what and who is needed and how long it will take. It also makes you ask a fundamental question to an entrepreneurial goal “Is this journey worth taking and what waits for me at the end”. This would motivate you every time the road gets challenging, it would offer clarity when you are not sure where to turn and it will keep you on the right path forward. And best of all, it would stop you from embarking on a journey that could waste your time.

As I said earlier, this journey has had challenges I would never have predicted and rewards that have made it worth it. This is not for everyone, the pressures of not knowing what fire to put out first or if you have what it takes to put out a fire, can break some of the strongest people. But every passing day leads to a new victory, just the fact that Sngbrd gets a day older is victory. The company gets stronger and its founder gets smarter. I am now aware of the mistakes I have been making and I am sure to make more, so I am slowing down the car to clarify the map, let the right passengers come in and get the resources that would make the journey to being the world’s largest talent discovery platform easier.

In relation to how challenging this journey needs to be comes down to what you believe. This belief would influence if you choose a plane or walk. If you go alone or bring along kind and supportive people. Some of us are accustomed to believing that the best things in life are difficult to get. There is no evidence to prove that this is true. There are many difficult situations that result in nothing good and there are many easy situations that give the best things in life. Don’t get suspicious if the journey gets too easy, it might just be proof you are doing the right thing. That is, if you’re getting results. From my experience, the question of how easy it is supposed to be comes down to a well-planned good idea, making sure you are executing that idea. Ideas are not worth much, the value comes from acting on it and there is nothing worse for creative people than the anxiety from inaction. Surround yourself with smart, competent and capable people. Make sure they are rooting for your success or your success is aligned with theirs, a you win they win situation. Don’t introduce or let anyone introduce doubt or fear into the process, the creative process has to be a inspired process full of hope and possibility. It is one thing to apply constructive criticism, it is another thing to introduce paralyzing thought and conversation. People are everything on this journey, they influence the mode of getting to your goal. They affect how manageable it would be and in many cases, would determine if you get to your destination. So, pick the right people they’ll make execution smarter, better, faster.

 

Thank you for listening and please subscribe to our channel on apple podcast. Leave a comment and please follow us on social media. You can find us on facebook @ sngbrdapp and on twitter @ sngbrdstudios or visit us on our website @ www.sngbrd.com

 

We are hoping Sngbrd would be launched this week on the apple app store for the iphone. So please check social media for updates. Our experience x music competition would announce its first winner on the last day of July and the prize is $250 US dollars. For details on experience x and how it works please listen to our previous podcast. Also tune into next week’s episode: The Innovators Journey as I interview Hannah Zhang as she starts a creative journey in the tech capital of the world. Hannah just moved from Kingston Ontario Canada to Silicon Valley and I am hoping to share her process and what she expects in an environment that is the mecca of creation. Thank you and the world is listening.

 

Emmanuel Akangbou