30 Oct The Start-Up Phase
We had started the company, but we quickly found out that there was a lot of administrative work. Something we had not anticipated would come so early. We therefore joined different “meet-ups” and courses at Skape and had meetings with Ipark to get educated in how to run a start-up business. We showed them our products and were excited to see their reactions, but they were not impressed. They asked us questions about our “business plan, business model and marketing strategy” things we had no experience in dealing with. We saw that this was people who thought that a product did not count for anything without a clear strategy.
At the beginning of April we saw a poster for Venture Cup, Scandinavia’s largest business plan competition for students. Something that sounded spot on for Future Home, maybe we could learn about some of the phrases we had heard about at the meet ups.
We signed up and within three days we had prepared our business plan: A seven-page booklet, of which 90 % was used to explain our amazing system. The remaining ten percent was spent on pricing strategy and marketing, which was on the shorter side. Luckily we had a good enough presentation that we managed a second place in the competition and a spot in the regional finals in Bergen, despite the lack of a business plan. We also got a front page article in the economy section of Stavanger Aftenblad.
From April 5th to 7th Startup Weekend 2013 was arranged. A place where enthusiastic people could get together to start businesses. Here we pitched Future Home to get us in touch with people in finance, business development and marketing. Here we were joined by Sigbjørn, a friend of Odd Eivind, with master in business management. He had earlier been involved in startup companies during a stay in the US and had experience with the preparation of business plans and business models.
During the event we also found out how to distinguish us from our competitors. Until now the smart home market had only been for people with large fortunes or with an interest in new technology. We would make smart homes available for everyone. We thus put up our business plan and model around the idea to make it easy.
On April 27, the stage was set for regional finals in Venture Cup. Despite very hard competition from participants from the rest of Southern and Western Norway, our idea was good enough to see us walking away with the first prize and a spot in the national finals in Trondheim in October. We were ecstatic, especially when we thought a month back in time and our finance section of the business plan only contained the quote: “get rich or die trying.” With the summer holidays approaching we saw that this was the time to implement some of our new ideas.
We were using our work from October 2012 to January 2013 as a base, but we would now make it even more ambitious. The system now had to be able to run on a smaller unit than before, and we realized that we would need more people with programming experience to do this. In addition there was a need for a place where we could work, equipment and servers, all which would require some capital that we until now had been able to do without. With limited time and budget, we tried to recruit flexible students from UiS and NTNU with job ads in the students email.
On June 3rd we started the online project we chose to call “Do It Yourself Smarthome”. We were able to recruit three programmers who were talented and motivated students from our ads, and thus everything was ready to go. That is, everything except access to capital. Amazingly this problem was resolved the next day with, the granting of an application we had submitted to Innovation Norway two weeks earlier. Innovation Norway saved the summer for us with their fast response time which allowed us to get started.
After beeing in contact with Ipark since the regional Venture Cup final in April, Future Home were taken into the incubator program at Ipark. Ipark have experience with startup companies and therefore could provide us with useful expertise in the development of the Future Home. The Future Home rocket was preparing for launch.