So a year has passed since Printchomp came into the world. Suffice it to say it hasn’t been an uneventful year. Calling it an emotional roller coaster ride wouldn’t even properly characterize it. In order to make this startup journey possible, I had to change all facets of my life.
Over a year ago, I sold my house, I began commuting an hour back to Waterloo (as I prepared to move back), and I changed everything and turned things on their head. One would think that changing their entire life in their early 30’s was a natural progression. The backdrop was quite unusual in this case. My wife was in the process of finishing an epic journey of realizing her own dream in become an anesthesiologist. This is no small feat, and took over 13 years of post-secondary education to complete. Between that and watching my daughter grow from a baby to a little girl, this year has been nothing short of busy.
In many ways I had to put aside the trappings of having steady income in order to go after a dream. It was the belief that I had something more in me than just being a cog in a wheel at one organization after another. I knew the journey wouldn’t be easy. Nothing is handed to you.
A year later, I have a company with 10 colleagues. I wouldn’t call them employees; they are more like companions in this epic adventure. Rather like the Lord of the Rings it has been a trek through sometimes-treacherous terrain. Although, I often catch myself admiring the beautiful scenery I know I must keep pushing forward to my goal.
We now have thousands of clients on the system. When I tell people I run my own company they always say must be nice to be your own boss. The thing that many do not realize is that when you have customers you have thousands of bosses. Each one of them must be properly taken care of and addressed. The connection with the customers has been invaluable to shaping the product. Since we launched only 3 months in, there were many things that weren’t fully built out. Features were sparse, but the vision was there and that is what people kept responding to.
Little by little, we began addressing each crucial piece of functionality and made it easier and easier to do seemingly simple tasks. The way that our development team has evolved the site with the number of constraints they have faced over the year is nothing short of amazing – evolving a simple flow into something far more elegant than what we had on the first day of launch. By no means are we done, but when we reflect on then and now, the differences are stark. Slowly but surely, the rough edges are sanded down into a more finished product.
Always with a nose in analytics, I see we keep besting our numbers in a number of areas. I am always pre-occupied to getting our company there faster. I feel an unbelievable responsibility to my family, my fellow Printchompers and the entire company who have bestowed me with their faith and trust to execute on the vision I have set out to achieve.
Looking forward I see a bright future, but it will be earned, not given. Printchomp has a weekly standing meeting on Saturday where we work on building the company; figuring out ways of doing it better and creating something that people want to be associated with. That dedication to our company, vision, and clients is what is going to get us to the next stage.
Entrepreneurs often face self-doubt, hard times and the sense of feeling alone. Going through this process I have gone through it first hand, and have felt the gambit of emotions it is not easy. To all of my fellow entrepreneurs, I say continue to dream but also stay pragmatic.
Looking forward to the next year of Printchomp I am excited by quite a few things:
- Smoothing out our UX – In the coming 3 months our UX is only going to get smoother
- Automation, Automation – We have proven the processes work, now time to make as many of them work on their own without a push of a button
- Building a growth engine – We have experienced amazing growth in traffic and users
- Expanding to new verticals – We are aiming to expand the platform to new areas and verticals. We have already had a significant interest and other areas and it will be exciting to start to play in different markets as the company grows.
- Having a location to call home – Over the past year we have been living in other people’s space. We have been very appreciative to Communitech for giving us a place to hang our hat. This year however we will be moving to our new home.
All in all this has been a great ride, and I only look to continue and grow. We have our foundation, now we can truly start to build upon it. I am truly blessed by my team, their hard work and dedication has helped make this year possible.
Here is an informal checklist of what we accomplished.
- Finalist at the Montreal Startup Festival (for the record we weren’t even entered in the competition)
- Launched in San Francisco at TechCrunch disrupt
- CIX Top 20 Company of the year
- Thousands of clients/users
- Over 650 Printers across the world signed up
- Generating regular revenue from a growing user base
- Official print sponsor to many events including Mesh Marketing and the World sailing competition
- Achieved a strong social reach to nearly 4,000 Facebook and Twitter Followers
- Countless other personal and professional milestones
- Featured in many publications including Techcrunch, National Post, Techvibes and many others.