Failure to Launch

It’s the final day of January 2016. On the first day, I was headstrong, cocksure, and determined to reach the end of the month with a viable business idea that I could spend the next 3 months getting off the ground, and, ideally, a partner.

You may have noticed the velocity of updates through various channels has sputtered out. I can blame 101 things but I only have myself at fault. After the second week of Happy Startup School I began to question my investment in the course. I can see that for those who have never considered making something before, or have never done an online course, this would be a great starting point. I have done many courses, and have spent the past 10 years helping others make things. The course is not for me. That’s not to say it is of no value at all. It has highlighted a few things to me, some of that is things I wouldn’t do, but mostly things I need to do, when I find the right people to do it with me, to go through it with me. The sense of feeling like I was steering in the wrong direction caused me to stall, feeling the same thing I had done before I’d signed up for the course and spoken to Carlos at Happy Startup about – I need someone to interrogate me. If I could do this myself I already would have.

Introspect Vs Introvert

As I have written about already, my energy comes from working with a group of people, helping one another gets me going, and makes me think about things I can’t see because they’re under my nose. This is not a weakness, it is how I get motivated and its why, with a distinct lack of people to go out with, my skateboarding took a nosedive this year, as has my time in the saddle on my motorbike – I like doing things with someone else.

The concern I had with the online course is that I wanted the collaborative experience and a Facebook group (the only form of classroom communication) quickly became a flood of people shouting into the void. I also really hate Facebook (I really do). The only reason I have an account is to be able to show my parents I’m still alive. Not feeling any way of being able to connect with the other classmates meant that my desire and energy of helping some of these individuals do their thing disappeared within a fortnight, I also noticed this correlated with a rapid decline in contribution to the wall feed from the people involved.

My confidence took a further dent after reaching what I thought was a really strong positioning and top level summary of the business purpose, only for two people I respect shooting it down in flames. Their viewpoint was – is – valid. It is going to be incredibly difficult to sell training of any kind into the Marketing Industry because it is completely stuck in the dark ages; my whole reason for wanting to provide this service, and unfortunately a huge barrier to entry as there is very little investment put into marketing teams education post-graduation. Perhaps this answers the questions I have as to why marketing teams are so stuck blindly leading what ‘experts’ in the base areas of SEO, or the new bullshit – content marketing, have to say; often for a price.

Piling on to this feeling that I wasn’t getting the right answers from the right people of how to move forward, I’ve become increasingly focussed on a project I am doing, which, for a change is for social good, not for someone to make mad-money, and that’s it, time is up!

All is not lost

The month is far from a write-off.
Productivity has been high, just in many different areas. I’ve met with a number of potential clients and partners, most recently I spoke with Naveed Akram, the founder of, a company that got some help from the team at Happy Startup last year with the idea of a kind of startup incubator using equity as payment for skills. I got to speak to Naveed about some of the problems I have encountered and had some great suggestions which made me feel, in this final week of January that there’s still some validity in my idea, it just needs refocussing. I’m hoping to talk more with Naveed and some of the companies already onboard in the closed beta.

I signed up to take part in UXCamp Brighton in March. I’m not sure what I am going to contribute yet, but I do have a few ideas, and it will be great opportunity to talk to some more people about my idea – and most importantly, see if we can get something to happen out of it. I’ve not been able to take part in a single one since it started as it has always been at a time when I am abroad, this year it lands nicely the weekend after I return from snowboarding (can’t wait any longer to be in the snow).

I’m doing a really interesting user testing project at the end of February, which may lead to something very different indeed and have been able to confirm my first run of being a TA at Ravensbourne College through March & April. Only a few days scattered through but the module is a really interesting subject and I’m sure I’ll be able to write about that as it happens.

I’ve also been doing a lot of work around the house. Mainly it’s been fault finding our electrics, which I can only assume someone with slightly less knowledge of electrical work installed (they’ve put the light ring in the kitchen in series so it gets darker the further round you go), this weekend I started construction of a garage for the motorbike, finally!

Bike port in progress.

A photo posted by Andy Parker (@theavangelist) on

But the most uplifting experience this month has been working from the HQ of Built By Buffalo. I first spoke to founder Dan Griffiths, several years ago by email after a mutual friend of ours put us in touch believing we had the same sense of humour and opinions on work and life. For whatever reason we never managed to speak to one another properly until a few years ago and over the past year I’ve used Dan as a lightning rod for my thoughts and he’s been a great help. The whole team at Buffalo are damn funny, and even more talented. Being surrounded by a small group of great people every day doing their thing has reminded me a little about how your work day can be. And that, is the most important part of January. Thanks folks.