It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, and Swapfish has undergone a partial tweaking of the model. I won’t reveal what we have in the works just yet, but, it disrupts an entire industry– very exciting!
Earlier this week I was sitting in a Starbucks in Boston and had asked the woman next to me if she could glance at a few versions of a product page we were working on and tell me her thoughts. She was in her late fifties and was a pharmaceutical research consultant. She had previously been working on a crossword puzzle before I tried to engage her in conversation. I expected a brief exchange and then us to go back to what we were working on. What followed instead was a huge motivator…she began asking me about the company and spent probably 20 minutes asking me questions on how it works and telling me how much she needed it right now with the bag of clothes sitting in her trunk. We stopped talking for awhile, and then she did something really great. As she went to leave, she broke the silence by pulling out a small notepad and pen, and said “I’m really sorry for interrupting you again, but I want to make sure I write this down so I remember to sign up when I get home and tell my daughters about it so they can save their stuff. What is the name of the site again?”
She probably has no idea how much of an impact that had, but it was big. Doing scripted market and user testing is one thing, but, having someone fall in love with the idea enough to take the time to ask about it a second time, write it down, and then offer to share it is a feeling that never gets old. Plus, now we have another reason to hit our launch date…Maureen the pharmaceutical research consultant from Boston needs to clean out her closet. I promised we’d help.
Encouragement comes in the most unlikely places sometimes, but I’m thankful for it.
This song is about making it as a country star, but, it also seems strange fitting for what I am feeling building the company. Plus, I really like it.
Sugarland: Baby Girl
It’s 4:04am and I likely should be sleeping. However, I am wrapping up emails, putting together a partnership packet and wondering when in the next 24 hours I am going to research and finish the paper I have due for class on Friday. The crazy thing? I am unbelievably happy. There is a sense of sheer joy that comes from building something that is yours, from taking a vision and making it tangible and accessible to other people and impacting their lives in a new way that is unrivaled by possibly anything else.
I was talking with another fellow entrepreneur a few days ago, and we both mentioned how we viewed company building as art, rather than work. He said “some people are painters, some are composers, I’m a builder. I create companies.” I think that’s a great insight; it explains how something can be simultaneously the most difficult and most enjoyable thing I have ever done.
And now back to work.
I just arrived back in Boston on late Monday night from spending nearly a week back home in Central IL with my family. It is a town surrounded by cornfields on nearly all sides, and defined by churches, baseball diamonds, and community centers. I have only been away for three years, yet I am amazed now when I go back the little things I notice that come with living in a small midwestern town.
For instance, when I was out shopping with my mom and sister, a woman came out of the dressing room and asked my fashion advice. Within three minutes, I learned she had two teenage boys, always wished for girls, and was told growing up she should never wear yellow because of her blonde hair color. After living in Boston for three years now, that amount of self-disclosure reinforced to me the human desire for connection and the importance of relationships, even among strangers. I loved it! And, btw, she was right, yellow wasn’t the best choice…I told her to go with the bright pink instead to contrast her skin tone. She followed my advice (I think).
Being back home always reminds me why I am working so hard on Swapfish, and why all the sleepless nights, missed classes, and overdoses on Dr. Pepper and Starbuck’s are worth it. Because so many families, especially in the midwest, are working so hard just trying to make ends meet. I have so much admiration for the bargain shoppers, garage-sale aficionados, and coupon-cutters. It’s time there was a way for these moms to save money while still providing safe and quality items for their child. It is my dream at Swapfish to make life easier, and a bit better, so perhaps rather than downgrading their phone plan to pay for new toys, or forgoing new clothes to buy a coat for their child, young families can stretch their dollars just a little further.