Monday, January 30, 2012

Starting a Tech Company - Week 2 - The Heat is On.

Starting a new tech company in just 21 days - - takes a daytrip to Gloucester and invokes Plan B.

Week 1 was just a blur - mainly because I was still jetlagged having returned from San Francisco - and really not slept well for a few days.

Our mission for Week 2 was to complete the website, and online store and go live on Friday 20th January - which coincided with the January meetup of the #iotLondon internet of things group.

The website had come on in leaps and bounds and by the Sunday night it was then necessary to test the online shop with a few test purchases. I bought a few items - and all seemed to be well, Paypal worked, emails were sent and the shop backend worked perfectly. We now just had to polish up a few pages, add some more up to date content and get it ready for the launch on the Friday.

To incentivise some "friends of Nanode" to help us test the store - we offered free UK shipping up until midnight on the 20th. This worked well and we took more than £500 in this first week of unofficial trading.

The plan was to photograph the product for the online shop pictures, and to produce a series of build guides - explaining to new purchasers how to build their Nanode and WiNode kits. A series of camera problems meant that this didn't happen as quick as intended - and the store had to go live using the old build guides produced by Ian Chilton - not ideal - but at times like this, not a bad Plan B.

Friday came around all to quickly, and we spent the last couple of hours of the afternoon making some flyers to hand out at #iotLondon.

We rushed around to Shoreditch with a big box of stock only to find the pub venue so packed - it was virtually impossible to move - let alone do a presentation. After an hour of chaos - part of the group took off to an office building 2 streets away in Scrutton Street, leaving about half of the attendees in the pub - bemused and confused. The words "piss-up" and "Brewery" could certainly have been useful that night.

Despite awkward circumstances - we managed to do a company plug, and sell nearly £200 of stock, bringing to an end the first week of real trading.

The next job was to find an accountant and get set up with a Limited Company.

Debbie's accountant, came with her full recommendation - only hitch, he was located in Gloucester. So early morning on Monday 23rd, we set off in my Golf to Gloucester to meet her Accountant.

After a three and a half hour meeting - we were all set, and it was agreed that Nanode Ltd would be purchased as an off the peg company from Jordans in Bristol, who sort out the legal paperwork and can turn around a limited company in just a few days.

On the way home in the car, Debbie took a call from a friend, the result of which that we learned that the guy doing our website and store had walked, leaving us with a not quite fully finished site, and the problem of hiring someone else to finish off the detail - and it's never easy picking up someone else's work. Undeterred, we called in a few friends, and we think we have a solution to our immediate problem.

So, this morning at 10:30am - not quite 21 days to the hour after me getting off the plane at Heathrow, we now have a proper limited company, Nanode Ltd, the store is fully stocked, and business is brisk.

Nanode Ltd - forming a Tech Startup Company in 21 days!

From it's early beginnings last March, Project Nanode has grown from strength to strength. It was now time to start a company and open an online store - problem was - we only had 3 weeks to do it in - so no pressure!

What started out as a back-bedroom tabletop operation has now morphed into a fully fledged tech startup company, Nanode Limited - marked by the Certification of Incorporation of a Private Limited Company - 30th January 2012.

Morphing a sole trader operation into a limited company came not without it's own fair share of growing pains - and it didn't help that I had just 3 weeks in the UK before jumping back on a plane and starting a new career in Northern California.

However, it was becoming increasingly important that Nanode had it's own identity, and the safest way to ensure it's success was to separate it's operations from that of my own limited company Arbour Wood Ltd - and set it up on it's own legal standing as Nanode Ltd.

Debbie Davies, who I have worked with on Project Nanode since last August, has been appointed Managing Director, and she will run the sales and marketing and day to day operations out of the London office. I am taking a backroom role as Technical Director - or should that be CTO, and I will be responsible for the technology roadmap- and more long term strategic planning. This can be done remote to London - which is fortunate, because I will be spending significant periods from now on, working abroad.

Parachuting into one of the biggest Tech Communities on the Planet (Silicon Valley) gives me an ideal opportunity to promote Nanode on the West Coast. This role will be done in association with Dirk Swart, and Victor Aprea - who are based on the East Coast - in Ithaca, New York, and are handling US sales and distribution. Between the current "Nanode Team" we cover London, New York, San Francisco and Shenzhen, China time zones. A true global organisation - of just 5 people.

The last 3 weeks have been a buzz. Flying back to London from San Francisco overnight on 8th/9th January - I realised that I would have a challenge on my hands. Firstly, to unwind myself from my position with my current employer, start a company - leave it in capable hands, and then ramp up into my new role as Head of Electronics, with All Power Labs, in Berkeley, California - so that I could hit the ground running by Monday 6th of February.

The first week was a little hectic - made Solomon Grundy's week look a bit dull:

Sunday: Leave Berkeley, BART to SFO international and get a 5pm overnight flight back to London
Monday: Arrive Heathrow 11am, tube to central London, half a day working at Nanode HQ
Tuesday: Go into work - resign by 11pm. Have 2 days to handover current project and tidy my office.
Wednesday: Handover Day - sorting out 18 months of work so that others can pick it up (or can it)
Thursday: I am now officially "between jobs" - go to pub to celebrate
Friday: Full Day working out of Nanode HQ
Saturday: Full Day working out of Nanode HQ
Sunday: Full Day working out of Nanode HQ

If that wasn't exciting enough - the next 2 weeks got even busier!