Crunch Mode Blog - A State of Mind by Developers at D2Soft Technologies

Like us on Facebook The Story, San Francisco's Investors Encounter, Great Roadmap Ahead

Today, I feel like sharing a bit about the Nimbb's story.  Maybe this will help some startups out there to keep on believing.

Just recently, it's been two years that the Nimbb API was first introduced in Alpha.  I still remember releasing it without knowing if this would be used at all.  I never saw anything like it before and I could not say if there was a need for a webcam video recording API.  (Side note: actually, I saw Seesmic released as a kind of Twitter video service, but it was a different idea, and a bad one, as they eventually closed -- read my post Is Monetizing Video on the Internet Just a Dream?).

Living in Montreal, I continued developing Nimbb as a part-time project.  I had a lot of ideas for Nimbb and I could see the potential.  After turning the site into Beta, I added subscriptions for the API.  When I think about it, it was kind of crazy: I wasn't doing any marketing, I had hardly any users and the product was still not that stable and missing a lot of features.

To my surprise, I had my first customer within a few weeks (remember: I wasn't doing any advertisement).  I was amazed that this customer actually purchased my highest priced plan.  At the time, it was $99 per month.  I knew I was up to something.

Of course, Nimbb was a one-man project.  I could not yet quit my day job to pursue what I was really enjoying doing.  So for the following months, I continued working hard at night to add new features to Nimbb.  Each month, I would get more customers sign-in on to Nimbb.  I was seeing a slow but continuous grow of revenues.

In May of 2010, I decided to take a month off to think about life.  It had been my dream to visit San Francisco for years, so I bought a train ticket and spent three and half days going from Montreal to San Francicso on Amtrak.  It was a crazy idea, but an amazing journey!

Of course, I loved the city.  I spent a full month just visiting everything there was to see (Golden Gate bridge, Golden Gate Park, Alcatraz, Fisherman's Warf, Coit Tower, Union Square, etc.).  I actually even lost some weight by walking every day, going up and down hills!

Eventually, I spent some more weeks in San Francisco and met the people of the startup scene.  I was attending a lot of conferences and events.  It was expensive, but at the same time I could see what I wanted to do for a living.  I wanted to build my company.

So I started looking at investors there in SF.  I heard that it wasn't easy; it's true.  I was lucky enough to be sitting at the right place at the right moment, meeting some guys that knew investors.  I got a few appointments.

Generally speaking, I'm someone with great confidence and I'm always ready to talk about my projects with great passion.  Of course, I can be wrong and I'm happy to accept the criticism when it's constructive and based on facts.  But what I can't stand is an investor telling me how I should do my things after talking for only 5 minutes.  You know what I'm talking about if you ever tried to meet some ;)

Side note back in Montreal about the first investors I met before my trips to San Francisco.  I was in a room with 3 of them.  I had my laptop, showing off Nimbb.  After only 3 minutes, one of them started to cut me off at every sentence I was saying.  He was telling me that I was doing things wrong, that my service was not "social" enough, not enough Twitter stuff in it.  I turned red after 30 minutes of that game and ended the conversation pretty fast.  Of course, they would not invest in Nimbb, I would later learn.  Yet, the investor felt bad (I guess), so he managed to get me a ticket to a big conference in SF.  At least that.

But back to the investors in San Francisco.  I was attending events there and I tried to show Nimbb to any investor I could lay my eyes on.  I had this investor that told me that "$300k is nothing".  Wow, the future was looking very bright and I could feel the money already!

I first met a few investors outside of the TechCrunch's Disrupt conference. Funny, but I didn't actually own any ticket to the conference; I was just standing outside with my laptop, intercepting randomly people while they were taking a smoke.  I met some other entrepreneurs there (like Sam Hickmann, see his french video post about Nimbb).  I found some people really blown away by my product.  It was a great start.  But no real result as yet.

I also remember trying the PayPal X's conference 5 minutes pitch.  I was lucky to try it twice.  So I met two venture capitalists.  I managed to show and explain Nimbb in less than 3 minutes.  The 2 other minutes, the VCs were telling me that I should build this site or that site using my technology.  For example, they would have a great interest in seeing a video job site or a video dating site.  Of course, this is a very narrow vision; they could not see the big picture.

I didn't mind my PayPal X failure.  I managed to get an appointment with some angel investor down in Palo Alto.  After renting a car, I drove for an hour to get there on time.  They were actually two.  I spent a full hour talking with them.  They showed some interest, but like the other investors, they were not "getting it".  After thanking them for listening to me, I headed back to my hotel in San Francisco.

That's when things were clear in my head: I would move on, full time on my project, without investor.  At least, I would no longer contact investors.  From now, they would have to contact me.  I was losing precious time trying to convince them in a product they never even tried.

Funny thing: that's when I got for the first time and investor calling me to meet.  We met in a coffee shop and that's when I learned that he was not actually an investor, but he knew one.  The situation was kind of too complex for me, so it didn't follow up.

But from that point, I knew one thing: being bootstrapped is not a bad thing at all.  Actually, it's even better, if you can make it.  I have now been working fulltime on Nimbb for the past months and things are looking great.  I have incredible plans for Nimbb.  Recently, I launched the Corporate subscription after customers' feedbacks.  Businesses are ready to pay what Nimbb is worth.  And that's a good thing that investors didn't see it.

I intend to remove the Beta tag on Nimbb in a few weeks (maybe even sooner).  I'm also working on adding a customer page to the site so that you can see some of my clients.  Nimbb has a great future and I'm really excited about it.

I'll be able to say in a few months if this was worth all the hard work during more than 2 years.  But so far, it looks like it.  Will I have investors one day?  Maybe.  But I'm in no hurry.

If you have a startup and you have a great product that you believe in: work hard and don't give up.  If investors can't see the potential, your customers will see it.

My story is far from over, it's just the beginning.  And yours too!

Thanks for reading this lengthy post.  Let me know if I should write a follow-up of it in a few months (use my Contact form).