This piece was written for HourlyNerd. To see the original post, visit the HourlyNerd Blog.
One of the best pieces of advice I got when first starting BevSpot was “to constantly make progress, every day.” Now 18 months and 30 employees later, I still fall back on this advice daily. One of the best examples of how this advice served me is the story of meeting my two co-founders, Chidubem Ezeaka (who goes by “Cheezy”) and Alex Lesman.
Building a Tech Company
Before meeting Cheezy and Alex, I was just another wannabe entrepreneur with nothing but a good idea and the strong desire to see it through. Unfortunately, that was all I had. Building a true technology company takes great engineers, which are incredibly hard to find. An idea alone, even if it is a great one, has no real traction on its own, making it is extremely difficult to find talented people to take a meeting, let alone consider working with you. Incorporate the fact that most MIT engineers are inundated by business-school students looking for “coders” to build their products, and the odds of success fall to almost none.
The Basement of Harvard – Learning to Code
BevSpot was just a myth—an idea that I had no ability to build myself, and no partners with which to work on it. I was stuck. This is when I fell back on the advice. If I was to make progress every day, surely I couldn’t just wait around for something that might never happen. It was then that I decided to take action myself and commit the next couple weeks to building a working prototype on my own. After an intensive weekend course, ~150 hours in the basement of Harvard Business School’s Baker Library taking online classes and tutorials, and two weeks of teaching myself how to code, I created a very basic, and pretty terrible prototype of BevSpot.
This was an incredibly valuable experience for me. Not only did it give me a real appreciation for how hard building web applications really is, but it also made it very clear that on my own, I was never going to build anything that people actually used. Learning these two things ultimately led me to meet my co-founders.
Building the BevSpot Team
That week I upgraded to LinkedIn Premium and sent out 30 messages mentioning my prototype to MIT students with top-tier technology internship experience. One of these people was Cheezy, who to this day tells me that the only reason he responded at all was because I had taken the time to build a prototype. This was the primary separating factor I had over all the other inbounds he had received, and to Cheezy, it demonstrated that I was serious.
Within a couple weeks, Cheezy looped in his friend Alex and the three of us officially started BevSpot. Connecting with world-class business partners was the single best event that ever happened for BevSpot, as none of the company’s success to-date would be possible without Cheezy and Alex.
I will likely never write a single line of code again, and that’s certainly for the best. But looking back on the advice I was given, I take pride in knowing that I took control over making my own progress. It wasn’t about skills, it was about drive, and that is what ultimately led to the three of us starting BevSpot. Now as a company, we encounter similarly insurmountable challenges daily, and we always approach them in the same manner—seeking to understand exactly what we can control, and how we can continue to make progress every single day.