Kevin Yu, one half of Socedo, tells me that he has an infinite amount of trust in Aseem Badshah, his co-founder. It’s something that I hear so often from startup founders that I actually don’t pay much attention to it. But then, I go over my notes from our interview, and I notice something.
This post was written by Douglas Crets, Community Manager, Microsoft BizSpark.
Kevin Yu (left), and Aseem Badshah (right) run Socedo, one of the companies graduating from the Microsoft Accelerator for Windows Azure, powered by Tech Stars. Socedo is a social media marketing company that helps you get better ROI from Twitter.
And it all started from being a Twitter account that helped developers walk through problems. So, what makes it a startup? Well, trust actually has a lot to do with it. This is something to consider if you are thinking about applying to the next round of this class. Applications close February 1.
If we are watching from the shores out at the stormy sea of entrepreneurship, we know this much:
There is a team
There is funding
There is a product
And there are customers.
And clearly there is a process to forming a team, forming a product, and shipping it to market, but discussions with hundreds of entrepreneurs tells folks that there is something special to a founding team. There is some kind of spiritual or powerful motivating force that makes it all come together.
When you talk to the founders of Socedo, you get the feeling that this force is really familiarity and trust, and when you look at it that way, you begin to see what makes being in an Accelerator so important. Something gels together.
For Socedo, the experience in the Accelerator was like a hyper-compressed version of what Aseem and Kevin already do well: throw ideas together and simultaneously master the business and the engineering aspects of it.
But it takes the encounter. And the first encounter happened when Aseem was doing his MBA at University of Washington, and Kevin was working at Micorosoft, and just decided to drop by UW to see what was happening in the business class presentations day.
Kevin drops by because he thinks, “What are the cool ideas coming out of this?” showing up for possible serendipity is something that is ingrained in how Kevin works. He tells us: “[Solutions] are in your personal networks, keeping in touch with people, and having this relationships over time are advantageous.”
So, we have one ingredient. You may have an idea. You may think what you might want to do, but it really depends on encountering the other aspects of your own idea while meeting each other. Kevin doesn’t tell us much, but we get the feeling that Kevin had a few things in his mind already. Meeting Aseem led to some discussion.
Fast Forward. A lot. They go to Founder’s Insitute with a social media idea.
Facebook launches Timeline. They meet with Adeo Ressi, who tells them that day: ”I wouldn’t say that timeline totally killed you guys, but it made you much less fundable.” That was a diplomatic way of saying, this won’t fly. Try again.
The real advantage was that Kevin had worked on a startup before, and had a relationship with Aseem, so nothing really falls apart at this point.
And Aseem, by nature, just loves the process of putting things together for business. He was ready to work with Kevin again.
“We want to go into a space where we feel passionate and a lot of change, and also, the experience of it. I love it,” says Aseem.
“I have always had this entrepreneurship bug, and I’ve never really worked for someone else. I want a kickass product that everyone loves, but I don’t necessarily think it’s like I’m totally tied to a product itself.”
“It’s like this continuum. The idea starts as something real and granular. You have some pain in your own life and you want to solve it,” he says.
That was interesting. I think this is the other point – identifying with other people. So, you have familiarity with someone else, and trust, and you have an enthusiasm about connecting ideas and building something, but then you also have empathy for others.
Before we are where we are today, Socedo was actually a Twitter account that reached out to developers. Just broadcasting and walking them through problems. Fast forward again. A lot. This is what they have now.
You can’t draw the line really where this stopped being a thing they did, and then became a startup, because all of the muscle fibers and brain cells of how they behave around problems is built into the business that has become Socedo. That’s really where trust comes in, because they are starting out with a road ahead and no map. All they is have each other and the constant feedback from people who are using what they are trying to do. They have to act as one unit, borrowing each other’s talents to complete the fuller picture and present something of clarity to the customer. They really are like a relationship built out of trust, acting cohesively, and taking in that feedback together, so that they can make changes together.
And in a scenario where each customer’s feedback will be different, that’s amazingly important.
Says Kevin: “Both of us greatly value that customer pain point. We used that for the main drive for our features. We bring our own unique experience. The moment you stop listening, you die.”
“If your product becomes irrelevant, there is something wrong with the organization itself. You are not listening, or something,” he says.
So, the basic ideas are these:
You are not building this for yourself, you are building it of yourself for someone else; you have to get rid of your own self-interest in some way. And having a co-founder on your side, and massive amounts of help to aid you is the defining factor between producing something that helps people, and just doing that thing you do.
There will be many – countless—people who come after you to use this product after you are gone, to put it dramatically. If from the very beginning, you build something from your own experience and the experience of others, and if you build enough rigor, and engineering design into your product for it to solve the problems of other people, that will be a real and genuine business.
“I think [this] process is forever.,” says Aseem. “Your ideas are always changing.”
And therein lies the Accelerator. That’s why it exists. It’s a trust machine. It’s the foundation that sits underneath the foundation that the founders build together so that they can exist to help customers exist.
If you want more information this Accelerator, just drop us a note.
Applications close February 1 for the Windows Accelerator, powered by Tech Stars. Belong to something that helps people.