Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I love what I’m involved in building. I’m passionate about people, knowledge, and learning and can’t believe I get to contribute to this space! Every day someone new downloads Neuwly and I like to think we give them a small window into the knowledge and talents of people anywhere.
I honestly believe people are more inspirational than they think and that they should build their personal brands to connect those who they can inspire. When I’m inspired, my life in every aspect becomes better. I become a better dad, husband, business partner, friend, and human. If Neuwly can help connect more people to that inspiration and we can help millions of people become better as a result I’d be THRILLED! People are amazing and I hope we can build something for them to share their own amazing.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
A little history! Here we go. The idea came over 5 years ago as a sensor to track movement and allow competition without borders in sports but morphed several times from there.
We first set out to create a simple bucket list tracker where you could add things to your bucket list, follow friends, encourage them along the way and we’d help you achieve these bucket list items as well as track them. It was an absolutely beautiful product we built but unfortunately, we missed the mark slightly. Although I was devastated it turned out to be a great learning experience and prepped me for the next step in this journey.
Our vision had always been to advance the world through life’s new experiences and the net product we tackled would still achieve that vision - a platform to discover and buy experiences around the world with a social layer that would allow for unique discovery from friends/followers. We launched the product in November of 2019 and as we started getting traction, COVID hit and the tourism industry we planned on changing was suddenly gone! We had to pivot knowing that all the big companies were going to swoop in and take any business that remained out there.
Sticking with our vision and the times, we set our sights on taking the product to a virtual approach. This wasn’t something we saw as a “timely” pivot, but a pivot that will be important for the now and later because of the approach we planned on taking. So, here we are, hoping that the third time is a charm, right!? Since launching just over 1 month ago we’ve been validated with the product and market seeing many people list and share events, knowledge, and motivational lives! People are participating, giving feedback and we’re actually using a product daily, which we’re in love with!
For me, my living is still made building and selling watches with my other company but I’m able to scale that back while I work my butt off to show the world Neuwly.
I love what I get to do daily!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I think it’s always easiest to build a product for yourself with the assumption that if it’s something you like there are more people out there who will like it as well. I’m a HUGE fan of learning from others and our platform is just that so I’m very passionate about how we’re building it.
Our design process is SUPER SIMPLE! Ask what the problem is and how can we solve it through design. In our case, we brainstorm and create designs until it all makes sense for the now and future usually with planned iterations based on usage.
Here’s the secret design tool we use: Keynote. Literally, the easiest way to create product designs for dummies like us. We’re able to quickly mockup ideas, how they look, how they work, then present them for feedback. Who would have known that the free apps Apple gives are so powerful!
Describe the process of launching the business.
It’s been a WILD ride. Friends and family who believe in us have given us the ability to build Neuwly over the years. I and my cofounder don’t make a dime and are fortunate that we can put a lot of hours every day into building it. We know it’ll pay off and are passionate about the space so we keep at it. Most overnight successes are 5-10 years of hard work, right?
I’m super happy to have investors who really believe in the vision and trust my decision-making. They’re very hands-off but always ready to offer advice, unique perspectives, and encouragement.
EVERY single time I’ve launched a business it’s the people who I worked with in the past who have supported me. When I launched NOVO watches I had 3 friends waiting at my door for the launch email. When it came out they knocked, came in, and bought watches! When I proposed this new business to friends they were ready to give me money to make it happen. It’s extremely humbling and I’m grateful that people trust in my ability to execute.
GET A GREAT PARTNER! Entrepreneurship is a wild ride and I believe having a partner can help tremendously. Greg my cofounder is a star and there’s no way we’d be where we are without our collab. I actually believe we have some magic when we collaborate and am excited to see where that leads.
Be patient. VERY RARELY do things just work out. It takes effort, thinking, hard work, decision making over and over to get to where you need to. And that target is always moving so the ability for a partnership to see the moving target is vital. Be humble and work hard.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We’re very new so I’m not sure I have the expertise to tell you how to retain customers but attracting them has been fun! Through DMs and News, we’ve been able to reach a fair number of people in the first month. We had 308 new downloads which for us is awesome. Thanks to everyone who downloaded Neuwly Live already!
For social media, we’re still figuring that out. We know who we are, but are still working on the best way to give that to the world.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We have been open for just over a month and have earned USD 100. Since we’re in Canada that’s like $130!
Neuwly is a very simple company right now with Greg and I running it and developers building out our current and future features.
Also, I’m ecstatic about the future. I honestly think this will be one of my favorite apps. I’m 100% biased but I love the feel, the ability to allow anyone to earn money from their knowledge and ideas, and the opportunity to see the world through others’ eyes.
I’m PASSIONATE about the community. I love to see people get out of their comfort zones, teach others, be inspired, help people, learn new things, visit new places, gain clarity, and ultimately become better together. I love that! I really hope Neuwly becomes the community where people come together to explore ideas and places and leave feeling better than when they came. That’s what I want to build and I’ll do anything to make that happen. I’m in love with the possibilities and if I can make a positive impact on the world it’s worth it. One day we’ll all be gone, but the knowledge we pass on will live on. I want people to maximize their impact.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
This is SUCH a great question. First off; yes I have learned a lot! It’s all helpful and advantageous.
One lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to start small and build as you see how people are using your product. Too many times I’ve built out a product that I think would be best for the world to use but for startups, this forces investment in too many areas. For example, you build software that does 10 things. Of those 10 things, your customers LOVE 3 but the other 7 need work. Now you have to invest in 7 more items and as a startup, this is a bad spot to be in. It’s best to build the foundation of your product that does 1-2 things really well. Get it into customer’s hands, learn how you can make those 1-2 things better and what features they’d love to use THE MOST. Then build that. As you grow with your customers you find your product/market fit better, win over your customers, and ultimately build the best product for the world you’re involved with.
I think we sometimes see polished products like Instagram, Twitter, Uber, etc., and forget they started as something super basic (sharing pics, sending messages to the world, booking a taxi) but have added amazing features as mass adoption grew. Start small, get traction, learn & implement, repeat.
Another lesson I learned is that creativity is king in business. I knew this before but when a pandemic hits the world and wipes out your industry you HAVE to be nimble and creative. I can’t undervalue this ability in founders. Be ready to accept what is happening but prepared to attack from a different angle.
The day is a whirlwind and a personal routine in the morning that sharpens your saw is VITAL. Get us early to learn, exercise, and prepare. Once the world wakes up your time can be stolen very quickly.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I’m a HUGE fan of new tools...which can be good and bad! I’ve used quite a few but have currently landed on Apple’s suite of tools. I spend A LOT of time in my notes app and calendar. I use my calendar to map the day's activities and my notes to keep track of my lists, projects, and things I’m working on. Until recently I only used my calendar for meetings, but time blocking my projects gives me a lot of creative freedom knowing I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing to achieve my goals. I guess it sort of permits me to focus on one thing at a time and work.
For our team tools, the jury is still out. A long time ago we used Wunderlist and fell in love with the design and simplicity. It was, in many ways, really inspiring! Since we’re not fans of Microsoft we didn’t migrate over there once they bought it and now that Wunderlist is shut down we have been looking for something new. The founder of Wunderlist is developing a new Wunderlist called Superlist and we’re excited to see that.
Evernote is a great tool for us to keep track of ideas and organize projects. It might be one of the greatest apps ever built for a lot of reasons but just knowing our reference material is in one place gives us room to capture ideas, explore features, and make notes on these things knowing we can come back and visit them in the future.
Slack is used a little bit but I assume as our team grows we’ll really harness the power of it. We use it to communicate with our developers and I’m a huge fan of the tool.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
For me, Getting Things Done by David Allen has been instrumental in ensuring I have a system to deal with incoming and outgoing tasks. Using his methodology I feel like I can move faster and with confidence through my day-to-day. The one thing in our day-to-day life that’s guaranteed is the onslaught of information which, if not harnessed properly, can easily knock us off course. It’s ok if this happens because it happens to everyone but the key is understanding how to get back on track when we are off the path a little bit. David Allen is a master at teaching this and his books and podcast have been incredible for me.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Turn off your screens, grab a pen and paper, and start drawing how you’re going to turn an idea into a product.
For me, it’s the best way to draw on my own experience and inspiration rather than others’. If I have access to the internet I’m tempted to look for answers rather than rely on my own ideas and imagination. Don’t do it! Trust yourself, make a plan, implement the plan, learn, then repeat.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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