We're proud to say that December 31, 2015 marks Union Code's first complete year. While we didn't move as quick as a Silicon Valley unicorn bent on world domination, we think that we're right on track. We earned revenue, validated our founding team, and have a direction for the next year.
Starting with the right people and for the right reason is our top priority.
We used consulting to validate our founding team. Early in the year, we took on a few small consulting projects. We used these projects to test how well we worked as a team, because good friends don't necessarily mean good business partners.
We chose the word validate as a nod to Customer Development. In Customer Development, tests are created to validate assumptions about customers and the product. We turned this model around and tested the founding pillars of our company - ourselves. Thanks to consulting, we validated three important assumptions:
- We work well together.
- We enjoy working together.
- We complement each others skills.
We've made a habit of accepting money from customers. An added bonus of our client work is revenue and we're proud to say that we've paid down our incorporation and equipment expenses. But more importantly, we've made a habit of putting a dollar figure on our work.
Charging money is not groundbreaking, but a lot of online products get cold feet when it's time to ask for payment. The fear is that users will abandon your product for a cheap or free alternative. From our client work, we've not only found that this is not true, but our clients have continued to come back for more. We hope that the same is true for our future product!
We've taken our company for a test drive and we liked it. We are a remote team and it works for us. While some larger technology companies oppose it, we think remote work is the future. For the past three years, we've discovered tools and processes that allow us to remotely collaborate effectively. We're now applying many of those learnings to Union Code.
As a remote team, we were able to handle all of our company operations. We signed legal documents, setup a bank account, worked with our accountant, and collaborated on client projects from three remote locations. It was not only doable, but enjoyable!
Throughout the year, we had three team meetups. We used some of the consulting revenue to get together, AirBnb a private space, and work. This time was incredibly productive, helped us set a direction, and then break off to work remotely.
We've failed fast and failed often. This kills us a little inside. We desperately want to sink our teeth into something that we love. Yet, we know that wouldn't happen at the start. The beginning is an opportunity for discovery, which increases the odds of investing our energy in the right direction.
We've talked to many potential customers in many different markets. From Visual Effects to Legal and Osteopaths to Tradesmen, we have listened to their problems and wrapped our heads around how they work. We've created Lean Canvases, made assumptions, and tested with prototypes. Throughout 2015, we made six prototypes - that's one every two months. Often, what appeared as a great idea was quickly grounded in reality by our customer interviews.
Failure is progress.
Failures are a good thing. Similar to scientific research, we use failures as a learning opportunity. Each failure avoids wasting time in the wrong direction, provides clues to the next direction, and narrows our focus.
2016 will start off with a bang! We've scaled back on our consulting and are gearing up for our next prototype release. It's focused on solving a small problem that we have felt. Thankfully, we're not alone and have lined up half a dozen users who have a similar need. With some time and perseverance, we want to see these users become loving customers!
Here's to 2016! 🍾
Photo by PSDgraphics.com