The life of a technopreneur startup is full of rejections in all aspects of user acceptance, branding, investment funding, and the list goes on. Why are people complaining in societies and the workplace that there is a serious lack of gratitude and graciousness but aren’t willing to put in some extra effort to adopt what’s necessary to improve their lives and others? Why are organizations and businesses not adopting the approach to know what’s happening at the ground level but keep complaining that staff turnover rate is high? These fundamental social and workplace problems trace back to how gratitude is given and how it should be recorded and shared.
It all started in 2015 when my friends started complaining about lousy bosses and managers that were not appreciating their effort. Many of them kept looking for the right jobs and hoping to get an appreciative manager that truly value their contribution. Honest exit interviews would not change any work culture, and employees keep leaving their job in the hope of searching for the right manager. It was never about the salary for many employees who leave their job but being appreciated and achieving the sense of self-fulfillment at work. The gratitude and recognition cemented the foundation of Graciouz; A tech start-up focused on solving the employees’ issues of gratitude and recognition of achievements at work. So, we started to plan the necessary functions required for these two products in early 2016, hoping that our new tech would help more employees. After the product conceptualization, I began to work on product design and layout and planning the right resources to develop the product.
The initial product design took me two months, and only in July 2016 that software development work had begun. At the early stage, I contracted a developer with the right experience to work on the recording of employees’ gratitude and achievement, both on the backend with dashboard, and the front-end using mobile apps. Fortunately, and unfortunately, I placed all our hopes in one single developer that I was at his mercy and progress of getting the products developed. He was very slow, but I had no choice to suck up to his attitude and momentum. Everything was under his control, and at one instance, he threatened to quit. I had no choice but to pacify him to continue and offered revenue sharing for his effort. He agreed. By November 2016, the developer threw his tantrum again. This time, he couldn’t keep pace with the development and requested that I engaged another front-end developer to assist with the mobile apps’ development. We were using Ionic 1 for our first app at the suggestion of the initial developer, and it was hard to find a trustworthy developer that can keep pace and work with us. Through a recommendation, we found a developer who could help us, and work continues into February 2017, where the first developer decided to throw in the towel. It was an all hell broke loose that the entire tech plan fell apart. I was squashed and smashed. One full year of hard work down the drain without proper continuity and succession, and not to mention those prospects that I was engaging. I had to pull back and reconsider other alternatives. I burned a good part of my savings but ended without a decent working product.
In July 2017, I met a good friend over coffee. Within 20 minutes, I sealed a partnership with them to develop the products in exchange for the equity of my company. Surprisingly, the agreement was negotiated with ease and mutual understanding. Immediately, we started on brainstorming the product requirements over the next few days. It was challenging in the beginning, and progress went like a tango dancing, one step forward and two steps backward. It was annoying but certainly productive. Development work started on Aug 2017, and a few developers were assigned to take on this project. The initial software development progress was good, and we had the backend administrative portal, and the two native mobile apps of Android and iOS. By Oct 2017, the customer review platform was formed and together with the first five products within the Graciouz Product Suite. I was amazed and pleased to see the birth of my baby. However, in Nov 2017, the progress slowed tremendously, and I suffered a reality check.
Some developers refused to continue and were transferred to other projects, while rejections from other shareholders began to raise serious concerns on business survivability and sustainability. How could a technology platform be able to monetize when the software development had yet to complete the initial technical requirements? So, I was left with only two developers to work on the front- and backend platforms. Progress of software development became dimmer with more objections from the other shareholders. At one point, I was told to approach some angel investors to raise some cash to fund software development. But barely six months into the equity arrangement, things changed, and this caught me by surprise, and in contradiction of the equity arrangement.
For the sake of the partnership, I started to prepare an initial coin offering (ICO) in Jan 2018. It was a lot of hard work during the preparation stage, which only by Apr 2018 that I got to launch our ICO plan. To save cost, I had to write our whitepaper, and spend a few thousand dollars on marketing the ICO plan, and this includes a visit to Milan, Italy on May 2018 to meet up with some potential investors. Two trips to Milan, Italy, proved the potential investors were a scam, and I had to call off the ICO plan. These months of ICO preparation caused me more than $10k and wasted more than four months of productive work time. By June 2018, the partnership broke, and I was left with no developers. A second failure in my journey, where I was stuck between software development and unable to properly launch our products to a mass audience. I know I must change our software development model. In August 2018, I got hold of our source code and started my journey in search of good and responsible developers. It wasn’t an easy job to start, and I faced resistance internally for getting hold of our source code. Even the developers involved were unwilling to cooperate with me, but after much convincing work, I was given those codes to begin my next journey.
Soon, I found good developers with the right skills to take us to the next level. Working with different developers were challenging to me, given the lack of understanding of their skill sets and expertise. Moreover, being a non-technical person, it was more challenging to understand the existing source codes and its framework. Each development and checking in of code changes required me to upload these codes to the server for compilation — A manual and tedious task that hounded me for weeks before I could eventually do it with ease. So, it’s been ten months since I embarked on the third phase of our journey, and progress is moving very well. Two painful failures did not dent my spirit to get our products ready. I am glad that by July 2019, I am launching four major products within our platform. (1) Graz.me as the customers’ gratitude for reviews, (2) Graciouz Product Suite as the employees’ gratitude for contribution, creativity, conflict resolution, performance appraisal, feedback, and communication, (3) Graciouz Donations as the societal gratitude for crowdfunding donations, and (4) Servfie as social gratitude for our social media platform. To all other tech startups out there, I sincerely urge you never to give up and press on. Life is never easy, but it's important to stay focus on the destination in mind. All partnerships might never see their fruition, but the most sanity approach is always to handle and manage cash flow. Stop splurging on the unnecessary and keep watch on the cash. With sufficient cash reserve and a low burn rate, success is inevitablely possible.
Graciouz is a tech startup with a focus on delivering gratitude for businesses, products, staffs, and people. Currently, Graciouz has four separate product lines that focus on: -
1. Graz.me (Customers’ Gratitude) – Business, service, & products reviews through Claps
2. Graciouz Product Suite (Employees’ Gratitude) – Measuring teamwork and performance
3. Graciouz Donations (Societal Gratitude) – Charity donation through crowdfunding
4. Servfie (Social Gratitude) – The Graciouz social media platform
Graciouz aims to bring out the goodness in people through our platform and collectively move everyone toward the Graciouz society. For more detail, visit www.graciouz.com