This is a follow up story for Crimibox. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 5 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi! My name is Jimmy Cowe, founder and Chief Murder Officer of the start-up Crimibox. On our webshop, people can discover the thrill of being a real-life detective by ordering and solving murder mysteries. Our clients (we call them detectives) are people ready for a challenging search for justice using all sorts of digital tricks. They’ll use social media and discover clues on the web to catch a cunning killer.
I’ve started this company because I wanted to create something by myself. Be my own boss and share something with the world I could be proud of. The love for justice I got from working at the police. The will to start something of my own is all me.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Business is booming and has kept me quite busy this last yeast. Last time we spoke I still had a day job with the police. Now I’m a fulltime founder at Crimibox. It feels great not having to divide my attention over two jobs. I’m all-in now and loving every minute.
There is no right time. Take the leap. Fear’s not a good guide.
I’ve hired some first full-time employees to help the start-up grown and with them, I’ve created some brand-new murder mysteries.
The holidays are especially busy so we’ve had some long (not so very holy) nights getting everything ready for our detectives. We want to keep working towards more awareness so we can share our criminal mischief with new people, but also want to keep long-time fans on the edge of their seats for what’s next.
There’s a lot in the pipeline that we are beyond excited about. There’s our first English case Missing in Jericho coming out next year, a subscription model for diehard fans and maybe some different sort of mysteries.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
That the human body needs less sleep then you would think is something that surprises me most days. One of the biggest things I found is to keep experimenting. Especially with Facebook Ads. There’s a lot to be gained from tweaking posts, revisiting old ideas, creating new ideas, scratching it and doing it all over again.
The other thing I learned is a good-old classic: always start with the needs and wishes of the customer. And learn to think like your audience.
As a business, you have your own agenda, your own stuff that’s important to you. That stuff is almost never why your product is interesting for a customer. Starting with what the customer wants and why you could give them just that is truly crucial.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
As a founder of a start-up, I’ve learned to always look for answers on that question but at the same time know that those answers might be very different the next day. There are always new opportunities, problems, and big changes just around the corner. The important thing is to actively try and shape the future while still keep your mind and ears open for new opportunities that weren’t on your radar just yet.
That being said, I want Crimibox to keep growing and want to keep evolving. We are gathering a big group of happy detectives in Belgium and the Netherlands but ideally, we would find new customers all over the world. With new English, digital cases we’d like to make sure people everywhere can solve our mysteries.
We also want to keep our Dutch detectives happy. That’s why we’re adding a subscription model next year.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I have not actually. Not much of a reader, if I’m completely honest. I do enjoy the occasional podcast and a variety of youtube videos, however.
Some of my absolute favorites: Jon Loomer (who might as well invented Facebook Advertising), Garry Vaynerchuck (who makes me laugh like a fool as well as offer me dozens of surprising insights) and the podcast How I Build This (that inspires me to leap headfirst and to never keep trying).
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
There really isn’t a secret ingredient, I’m afraid. There are some cliché-answers however that really worked for me. Stay lean and mean is one of them. Always re-evaluate the things you are doing, check if they still work the way you want them to and innovate without losing the heart of your product.
If a tactic fails or a product is not connecting with the customers, you can’t sugarcoat it. Failing really is a big source of information. Why didn’t this work? What could have been done differently?
I always try to have a yes-mentality as well. If customers ask something, if a new cool idea is on the table, if a new chance or partner presents itself, I don’t want to shoot it down out of fear or because it’s not the right time. There is no right time. Take the leap. Fear’s not a good guide.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I hate that I am forced to quote a pop star but: never say never. For the moment we’re not looking for new profiles in our team but a lot of the people we now work with have worked their way into the start-up without me actively searching for them.
I’m always so excited when talking to enthusiastic people with a vision for the start-up. I love people who put themselves out there for things they like and care about. So don’t hesitate to contact me if you are this kind of person. You might be one of those changes that will make me want to take a leap.
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