This is the beginning of the Forcepreneur journal. Here I will document my journey of starting a Salesforce company. The posts are intended to be informative, entertaining but also a place for me to vent out, so please don't be surprised by a lot of f**ck, sh*t and other expletives. If you have any feedback, I would be glad to listen to it. And so it begins...
What am I doing?
I am building SkillProof, an aptitude testing service for salesforce professionals. Being in the ecosystem for the last eight odd years, I realised that there is no way for us professionals to showcase our skills. Not everyone is an open-source contributor or a regular Dreamforce / conference speaker.
Similarly for hiring managers / tech leads: Certificates and Trailhead badges/points are a good way to ensure that the candidate has the required knowledge; But there is no way to check if the candidate is able to apply that knowledge to a given task. In fact, there are a lot of companies (<100 licences) who don’t have any in-house Salesforce expertise and rely on consulting partners to assist them in building internal teams.
It would be fair to say that they lack the knowledge to know which questions to ask in an (Salesforce) interview. This is the gap we are trying to fill. Also, every company who has someone in-house, has a very limited set of questions / challenges for candidates. We are hoping to help these people by providing a catalogue full of challenges which they can then mix together and test different aspects of candidate’s Salesforce knowledge.
Knowledge without application is Meaningless.
You will hear more about SkillProof in the upcoming posts. Besides this, I also host 2 podcasts:
- Forcepreneur: A podcast about entrepreneurship in Salesforce ecosystem focused on sharing journeys of entrepreneurs from background and identities. Less than 50% of guest identify as males.
- WirSindOhana: An ode to my second home, Germany. It’s a german language podcast focused on the DACH Salesforce ecosystem. I wouldn’t be able to do this without my co-hosts Caro, Christian, Daniel and Szandor.
I also create a free job-board called BlazeNewTrail; Unfortunately, it did not take-off as expected. If you have ideas (and motivation) to revive it, please get in touch :)
Oh, and I also co-lead the Berlin Salesforce Developer group since 2014. This is where I met my co-founder Sebastian. I missed our meeting :(
Going forward, when I mention we, then it’s me and Sebastian. He keeps a low profile. He is a true german (IT) engineer; He dismantles big problems into tiniest possible chunks and then puts them together so everything works like clockwork.
Our founding philosophy is very simple, build it the traditional old-school way but with modern tools.
If you are starting a company, I highly recommend to read The Lean Product Playbook. The basic idea of the lean methodology is: Before you start to build anything, you should test if there is a need / market for the product. This can be done via survey or wireframes or even mock products.
I skipped creating a survey but rather built a very hacky POC in a week (also coz I wanted to see if it is even possible, programmers itch). I then showed it to a few people whom I trust and everyone unanimously said it was something to be explored.
Once it was clear that there is something, we did not quit our jobs and jumped on the startup bandwagon. We both cut down on our lifestyles / expenses, set goals (also for money), took part-time projects to earn & save and dedicated the rest of the time in developing the Minimum Viable Product.
Our vision is to create a solid company with sound financials, which is self-sustainable, where everyone works max 32h/week but gets proper pay (Chuck Liddell is doing this at Valence), where having a “personal day” is not frowned upon, where mindfulness and sustainability is in the DNA of the company, where we actually contribute to the society in more than just salaries & taxes.
Our wish it to grow with the company and enjoy the whole experience right from discussing the founders agreement to hopefully one-day be able to pay our rent & monthly expenses. That is our goal. We believe in setting small goals and keep iterating as we go.
We have decided to bootstrap and not look for any seed funding or accelerators. We believe there is a time and place for VC money and it should be avoided as long as possible.
External money brings added expectations. We want to be successful but also enjoy the process. It’s a marathon not a sprint for us.
Where are we in our journey?
I would say right at the beginning of the race. We believe we have a decent product and right now we are trying to find the elusive product-market fit. How is it going to be used? Who is going to use it? Who is going to benefit from it? What will it cost? Value proposition? These are few of the questions that we are looking to answer in the next weeks.
We are testing with a bunch of companies who are different in needs and sizes which is great for us. The feedback so far has been good. If you are starting a company, try to find those initial customer’s who
a) belong to different target group so that you get all kind of feedback
b) are knowledgable / experts in your field so that you can trust their feedback
c) want to see you succeed and are okay with a few hiccups. There is nothing worse than an initial customer who is always complaining and sucks all your energy in making you fix the last pixel while ignoring the rest of the screen.
I would say we are on the right path. Sebastian is working full-time on SkillProof starting this month. We have some great plans which I will share in the upcoming posts.
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