I saw something pretty awesome the other day. I was pitching at an event held at Fishburners – the co-working space we run AirShare from. Alongside a few other businesses, I was gasbagging about AirShare to a relatively intimate audience in one of the function/board rooms. After I had closed my pitch, the next business which was scheduled to speak was a group of 2; Emily and Shaw. Emily runs an online education business and Shaw is a coding wizard who has built security infrastructure for online banking. Basically, two very well-equipped individuals with significant prowess in their respective companies. Together, they presented an idea which was born no more than 2 weeks prior.
The premise of the idea they pitched was a creative way to utilise QR codes in multivariate environments. The uses included but were not limited to opting into databases and receiving access to content e.g. lecture slides – directly to your phone. After finding inspiration, Emily brought the idea back to the co-working space and naturally sought fellow Fishburner resident, Shaw. Being a gun on the tech side of things, he went away for the weekend and came back with a functional MVP [minimum viable product] on Monday, which they interactively demonstrated in the pitch on Friday.
The audience response to the demonstration was especially positive and a number of people signed up on the spot. One of the more cashed up fellows even offered investment for them to scale. For a project which was given such little thought, it was great to watch the reaction from the audience. In a sense, it proved that even simple straightforward tech can be wildly effective if its put behind some good lids and a creative idea.
But even moreso, it made me further appreciate the value of co-working spaces. You go into work and operate alongside a hatful of entrepreneurs possessing varying skills and experience. Some early stage – some killing it in global markets. There’s always something going on and always someone who is willing to help out when problems arise and offer sage advice.
We were lucky enough to be provided with a spot at the Fishburners in Brisbane City for a few months during the Horizons Accelerator on the back end of 2018. Amongst all the mentorship we got from the program, we found ourselves dreading the thought of a Fishburners departure. So this week we met with the Fishburners GM for QLD and reinstated for the first quarter of 2019. Woohoo!
Anyone who knows Brisbane knows the Queen Street Mall Hungry Jacks, which is a literal stones throw from The Capital – where Fishburners is based. The ground level is home to the Brisbane Visitor Information Centre and the historical Regent Theatre. Level 2 and 3 houses the main Fishburners workspaces. We generally stick to the awesome 2nd level with the coffee machine and free-to-roam vibe – it’s essentially one huge open room with some dedicated closed off sections for meetings and functions. When coding is giving us curry, we’ll venture up to level 3 and annoy one of techies who eat, breath and excrete programming.
Located on level 5 is the open-air rooftop balcony where all the important stuff happens (table tennis, drinks etc). Depending on the time of day, it’s either a peaceful humble abode, or a party – both equally important! It’s generally where I’ll head off if I need to make calls, practice speeches or have a few Friday night bevs.
Upon reflection on the train of thought I’ve just blurted out onto a page – I’m thinking it might read somewhat like an Fishburners advertisement. I assure you it’s not. I’m very fortunate to be in the position I’m in and grateful for the wealth of knowledge and energy I’ve absorbed over the last few months. I realise that environment plays an important part into how productively I function. Perhaps I’m just super stoked that we’re back here in the new year.
It’s 9:30 on a Wednesday night now so I’m going to wrap this up and head home. Before I sign off, I think it’s worthwhile to iterate the importance of testing/pitching a minimum viable product to people. Everyone has good ideas – 99% don’t follow through, and a good majority spend too much time ‘perfecting’ the product before launching.
Even we spent months in 2018 trying to make an incredible app with functionality through the wazoo without doing any testing of the problem we were solving to begin with. Other than hypothetical pats on the back, we had no idea whether it would provide any value to anyone. And that was even knowing full well the importance of a testing an MVP. So coming into the Horizons Accelerator in October, we did away with all the progress we had made and just published the bare bones of something we thought would ‘just do’. It took a relatively short time to set up and now every week we’re actioning on shortfalls we experience to present a better product.
Reid Hoffman [Linkedin Founder] famously coined the idea that if you are not embarrased by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. In the case of Emily and Shaw – they would’ve spent close to no money and only a few hours to put together something which would demonstrate it’s utility. They whipped up a quick pitch and got instant feedback. Luckily for them, it was positive – and they received direct validation. Not everyone is so lucky, however it’s a great way to know whether you’re onto a winner.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for listening (reading?) to me jibber-jabber. I’ll probably post something in the coming week related to the closing sentiments with commentary on our very short evolution here at AirShare.