It has been exactly six months since Lanre and I began building Revaise, a solution that aims to help team members grow through constructive peer reviews. I dare say it’s been a journey.
Just as we embraced the idea of building in public, I would also like to share some of my experiences while building Revaise. Building Revaise with the intention of selling it as a product meant we had to answer some really hard questions about the business. I wasn’t naive; I knew this moment would come—but was I really prepared?
For the sake of brevity, I cannot share all of my experiences in this article, even though some of them could be helpful for those looking to start a business. If this article does good numbers, I plan to continue it as a series. Without further ado, here is my journey.
The one where we get VC attention
Very early on with Revaise, during the design phase, we initiated our own form of advertising. We spread the gospel of Revaise on LinkedIn, Product Hunt, and to a few people we knew. Our goal was simply to create some buzz and we didn’t expect a significant response. At most, we hoped to improve our SEO and search engine rankings.
As you can probably tell, contrary to our beliefs, the outcome of our small and zero-cost advertising campaign was quite significant. We received loads of emails from a Venture Capitalist (VC) firm, an accelerator, and a few individuals interested in partnering with us. (Maybe not loads of emails, about five, but at the time, this was a huge win)
At this point, we were not looking to raise funds. We decided to bootstrap until there was an apparent need to get capital, so we made our intentions clear to the necessary parties at the beginning. Although, we were fine with keeping the relationship until the time was right.
As a new founder, I wasn’t sure if this was a common occurrence, especially with VC firms—both were notable ones from the United States and had made significant seed investments in our region.
However, I like to think it was a blessing from God at the time. The attention was exactly what we needed to fuel our goals and let us know that we were building something valuable.
The one where we get a racist comment
Fast forward four months into building with Revaise, and we have received enormous love from people who have come across our product. Although not all of them are converting to users, they love the idea and give us feedback (not all pleasant) on how we can improve. We’re ecstatic!
On January 22nd, 2023, we received an email from Ireland providing feedback on Revaise. The feedback was regarding a video that admittedly had awful audio. The email said the video was “an incoherent mumble - similar to a tree full of chimps attempting to communicate in English…”.
After reading the feedback, I felt a mix of emotions because I was unsure about the tone. To clarify, I reached out to my co-founder because if I know anything about my English, it’s stellar—written and spoken.
We exchanged ideas about his feedback during our conversation, learnt a few things, and moved on. The main outcome was that we needed to fix our audio. Additionally, his comment was mean and uncalled for. However, his feedback made for a good story.
This was my first experience with racism, and I don’t know if I have the right to feel accomplished, but I did. Actually, it’s my story, so I think I do.
For what it’s worth, I still think Dublin is a beautiful city.
The one where we answer hard questions
With a background in software engineering, I believe I have decent experience in answering difficult questions. However, no course, article, or book I had read prepared me for the daunting questions I would be asked. Without a shadow of a doubt, it was a different kind of “difficult”.
We received questions from senior entrepreneurs, VC representatives, and even our users during a usability testing procedure. While I was never left dumbfounded, some of these questions were unanticipated, leaving me unsure of how appropriately I had answered them.
The lesson learnt from here was to create a document for all their questions and how best I’ll answer them if they are asked again in the future.
It also made me aware that I needed to understand my business market more. While I can’t say I fully comprehend it now, I have certainly made progress in the past six months and am looking to continue growing at an even faster rate moving forward (aiming for 10x growth).
As a budding entrepreneur, I’ve learned that experience is truly the best teacher—and boy, have the past six months been one heck of a crash course!
Most workdays for me have been the weekend, and I’m grateful for our amazing users and the outpouring of support from our community that make it worthwhile. Here’s to the next six months—may they be just as enlightening, but with a few more leisurely Saturdays thrown in!