This is a short series on my journey from “Hey, this might be a neat idea” to “Look what we just did.” (Hopefully, anyway. There’s always a solid chance that I fail gloriously and publicly.) Here’s Part 1 (with a greater explanation), Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, and Part 9.
five months in >>>
I think about Tyler’s words — celebrating the highs and holding tight during the lows — every single day. Zach, Alayna, Jessie, and I recently got back from a trip to California to meet with hundreds of food brands and pitch them on Gumshoe. It’s a big trade expo and I like going because almost all of my clients exhibit there, and it’s a great way for me to see them all in one place.
Zach’s company exhibited, Alayna also pitched around for Scratch or Sniff, and Jessie had some contacts to meet, as well, so we played double duty. It was a lot of walking, talking, and late nights, but we managed to schedule in an amazing dinner in Laguna Beach and a few rooftop hot tub dips.
That whole trip felt like a win. But the weeks after are feeling a little bit like getting by a tow truck repeatedly. A couple Fridays ago, I tucked the kids in bed, flopped down on my couch, pulled a blanket over my face and mildly melodramatically declared that I could not, absolutely could not force myself to do anything but stare at the pattern on the blanket and feel my own breath on my own face oh God whatttt am I even doiiiing with my liiiiiiiiiife.
We’re running into issue after issue with the app, and sometimes I think someone else can just handle it, but that person is me. I need to handle it. Figure it out. Fix it. I guess there really is something to be said for just working for another person.
I have a call with Zach, who sounds irritated on the other end. I told him about my Friday night blanket and hot breath crisis.
“I’ve got 99 problems and this app is like 87 of them.”
As the CEO of a Boulder startup, Zach’s not immune to his own couch crises.
“UH can we at least schedule it so we don’t have breakdowns on the same week? Can we stagger them?” he asks me.
A freaking racerback, you guys.
There are a lot of moving parts, and I feel like I’m having a difficult time tracking them.
(Problem No. 1): We’re asking for a lot of information from brands. We have three questions for each allergen. Here’s an example with sesame.
1) Does this product contain sesame? 2) If not, is this product manufactured in a facility that processes sesame? 3) If so, can you tell me what the risk of cross-contamination is? For example, is it on the same lines or just the same facility, but separate lines. And if on the same lines, do you wash your machines between each product?
Those three questions for 12 allergens. Maybe not a big deal if you’re a startup with three SKUs who can say something like “Our facility is free of milk, egg, fish, shellfish, corn, and mustard. The three granola bars we make contain peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, and coconut. They’re produced on the same lines with soy and wheat, but we wash machines between each product.”
But for brands with more SKUs? And SKUs with highly varying ingredients? This is a few hours of investment, and our questions are sounding tedious. We don’t want them to hate us. Between this and (Problem No.2), an issue with our API (I’ll not bore you with all the technical details), I’ve spent the whole month s w e a t i n g.
It’s been a month since I first downloaded my app, and I’m frustrated that I feel like we haven’t made good progress. Not only that, the “beta launch” date I had in mind is not happening. This is a big deal to no one but me, but it still feels like I’ve failed.
Still have to focus on some wins, though.
We’ve added two new advisors to our team. One is Dr. Carlson, a local pediatrician who is coming on board as a medical advisor. The other is Tom, who has been the project manager for lots of apps and websites and just won his first Emmy for an app. This feels good for a couple reasons — we gain a little gravitas in both areas — medical and tech, and when I look at our team roster, it feels like a solid group of people that are way smarter than me.
(Problem No. 3) Alayna and I are at the bank, looking over the Gumshoe account.
“We need more money.”