1,033 days for my first customer.

You read that right. 1,033 days. Today, August 1st 2017 I have my first customer signed up for my product Your Circle. Your Circle was my first job out of college and a project I have pivoted dozens of times, worked hard to keep a float, and a project I have seen competitors fall like flies. With all that being said, I have my first customer. This is pretty cool.

With this milestone hit, I feel it's time to do something I have wanted to do for a while now. Tell you a story. The story of how Your Circle went from an idea no one knew what to do with to its first customer signed up today.

Where this story started.

When I tell the story of how Your Circle got started, I tend to always ask the question...

Have you ever heard of this event called Startup Weekend?

If you have not, Startup Weekend is a volunteer led event held over the course of a weekend. The event starts on a Friday night where all of the participants pitch brand new business ideas. After the pitches are done, you all join teams around those pitched ideas. After you join a team, you have 54 crazy hours to build that business as much as you can by Sunday night when you pitch in front of a panel of judges to compete for prizes. Yeah, it's super intense and a ton of fun. There are Startup Weekends happening every single weekend all over the world. Go to one!

I have participated in about a dozen Startup Weekend events over the past few years now. From all of them, there is still one weekend that is extra special to me. Startup Weekend Iowa City, Iowa 2014. I wrote about that weekend here.

All of the participants of the event that weekend.

At this Startup Weekend, my life changed. No, really. It did.

Friday night was upon me and I was super excited and nervous at the same time. As an introverted college student at this event by myself only knowing a small handful of people, it was an intense feeling upon me. Pitch time came and I was sitting at the edge of my seat listening to all o the ideas. As I was listening, an idea was pitched that drew me in more than I could ever imagine possible.

I remember that night. I remember that pitch. I remember when this stranger named Doug walked up to the front of the room and pitched this idea called me2. An emotional support app for kids ages 7-13. I remember listening to him and everything else around me went mute. I was so focused in on this pitch that I felt nothing else mattered for that 60 seconds. I continuously nodded my head in the belief of this app. Grinned from ear to ear.

When it became time to jump onto teams after all of the pitches were done, I sprinted over to Doug. I remember I tried to get pulled in by a couple of other teams on my way over to him but I didn't pay much attention because I only had 1 project on my mind. When I went up to Doug, I remember him saying, "We already have a developer on the team." With a small bit of panic in my body, I wasn't sure what to do but something inside of me said I needed to stick there so I did. Eventually, I was welcomed with open arms by everyone on the team that night as we got to work.

We worked hard. The entire team was on a sugar high it seemed for the entire weekend fitting in what seemed to be months and months of work into a few days.

Some of the team members were conducting research into young kids and the struggles they go through. Some were calling parents, hot lines, schools, research facilities trying to talk to people to learn more about how we could build a business model around this idea. Myself along with 2-3 others worked around the clock to build an Android app for me2.

Screenshot of the app we built by Sunday night. Kids could post struggles they have in life anonymously as well as have access to a list of hotlines to call if they needed help.

After an extremely hard working weekend, Sunday night came that weekend and it was time to pitch in front of the judges. Doug delivered a touching story on how he came up with this idea for me2. Doug volunteered with young kids at his church where they would have time together to chat. During this time, Doug had the chance to speak with these young people about the struggles they go through as kids. Everything from stubbing their toe, getting chewed out for not cleaning their room, to losing members of their family and getting bullied.

Doug delivering a pitch I still get goosebumps today thinking about.

That weekend, the judges did not choose me2 as the 1st, 2nd or 3rd prize. However, when they delivered the awards to the teams, they gave us something better than any award. They told us that they wanted to give an award to the me2 team because they believed in us so much. They were impressed with the energy we had, the emotion we put into the project, what ultimately our goal for what we wanted to accomplish. They wanted us to continue working on the project as they felt it simply needed to exist in the world. We could not agree more. We also felt it needed to exist.

Thong, Lee, Jordan, Matt, Brad, Isaac, me, Larry, and Doug. The me2 team.

...and with that, I am going to end this post for today. This story is just getting started. We are on day 3 of 1,033, haha!

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The story continues.
Part 2