My 6 Year Takeaway in Entrepreneurship: The Power of Community
It’s been 6 years since I first heard about entrepreneurship and there is one thing I learned about startups: It doesn’t matter how early you are, find your potential customer. Before giving the full thing let me tell you about my story a little.
Hi! My name is Alara. I’m 24 years old and my entrepreneurship journey started back in 2015 when I first started in college and joined the entrepreneurship society of my college, just for career development. I studied hardcore engineering in the Chemical Engineering department and finished college with an additional Mechanical Engineering minor. When I say hardcore, I mean it.
The Entrepreneurship Society
I started on this society and let me tell you there was only 2 person in the club who knew what a startup means, even though I thought the club was named after a wrong meaning we volunteered in a summer Bootcamp on entrepreneurship. That was the time my mind was blown away by the mindset, ideas, money, and many more… There was an alternative way of doing your job with creativity and endless possibilities. You can actually try, fail, pivot, fail and try again as scientists do. 1 year later I learned the hard truth that opposite of scientists, nobody pays you to do so…
The next year, a magical thing happened. Me and the other person that knew what a startup meant, I took a chair in the club. We had society on our hands, hard-working teammates, and very excited classmates. We sat in the incubator of our school one night. No air conditioners were working, the incubator was empty, cold, and dark. We took some decisions. We decided on thinking of this club as a community startup. We crafted our value proposition, our target audience, our services, our sources, etc. It was a long night but even we all were exhausted, the blood in our veins was very warm.
After one year of hardworking, a dedicated team, and a strong community, the incubator had 5 startups. One of those startups was mine. Now here I am, graduated, leaving a sparkling community behind that is working perfectly fine without me, a startup on the table without money and a domain. What’s a girl to do?
The MVP Thing
As a psycho engineer, of course, I started working on a perfect product. Technology lead, cool, and a modern product that will blow all investor’s brains into space. It shouldn’t be so hard to guess from here… We failed. The product was a mess and the technology wasn’t working as we wish. We couldn’t find the dream team without money, we couldn’t build the product as we wanted with a small capital and as investors, we weren’t sure about the product itself.
Then another magical thing happened. We applied and won the biggest price on one of the biggest ideas to product accelerator of the country. That meant something. We had to do some changes because it meant that the idea was worth fighting for but something was not going OK. Using that small seed capital we build up the “not perfect but worth working” team to build an “MVP”. At this stage of the story, it’s easy to guess that we built an MVP and convinced the investors on raising our first round, right? But that is a conference story. It took us an absolute 2 years to build an MVP because we had to pivot, pivot, pivot, and pivot.
MVP is a word that many people think they understand. It looks like the fastest thing you can think of. It should represent your core value and you have to build it quickly. But the product was not a thing you can build quickly and give to people so they can test it. It’s a freaking smart bra to help women on their self-breast examination. How can you build it quickly?
But in that 2 years, while struggling on building the product, we build up another thing without noticing. A community. A community where people ask you about improvements, gave you suggestions, support you when you are down, vote for your product decisions, and come to events you attend, just to see you. I’m not talking about 5,000 people. I’m talking about 100 people. When we saw that we built a community only on Instagram, by only building public we decided on taking this power seriously. Over a month we passed 1000 engaged followers and 300 newsletter subscribers from scratch. We decided on sending them product updates, questions about our prioritization, gifts, and many more.
The best thing we saw along the way was, even though we haven’t launched yet, we started turning our value proposition into a reality. We started on getting messages that because of our posts and reminders, made manually, lead them to take a doctor’s appointment and diagnose their conditions at a very early stage. Doctors started on approaching to thank us for spreading positive and “correct” information about women’s health. Because we weren’t telling people to drink lemon water to cure cancer, we were telling them to be aware of their health so that they have a controlled health plan.
Ask me if I have launched yet, and I say no. Ask me if my product works, and I say I don’t know yet. Ask me if I have validated my idea, and I say I think so. Ask me how, and I say by the community.
What is Triwi and How Can You Help?
Here at Triwi, we work on a smart wear to help women during their breast self-examination. Because breast cancer is a type of cancer that can be cured with an early diagnosis yet the fatality rate is still extremely high at 40%. We asked why and saw that problem is not that early diagnosis is so hard. It’s actually very simple but also very stressful. We want to raise awareness among women not only about the early diagnosis but also about listening to the signal our bodies give to us. We live in a society where a lot of women grow up afraid to touch themselves. So it’s time to reduce the anxiety about our bodies.
What Can You Do?
Currently, we’re in the commercialization stage and trust me, we’re almost there… So the best this you can do is actually to sign up to our list to hear it when we launch and go, get undressed in front of a mirror and start your examination!