24 Oct 2021

Starting out as an entrepreneur

Starting out as an entrepreneur has its charms.

When the idea for Komified popped into my mind in 2017, mobile app development was a whole new world for me. 

Still, the feeling that I could take my beliefs in second language acquisition and turn them into something technological was pulsating for me. I could sense right away that I was in it for the journey and challenge, rather than for fame or sudden wealth. 

So, I felt huge excitement when I drew up a sketch of the homepage for komified.com in a notebook and created simple black and white wireframes of the app on a google doc.

The following wireframes are very basic. I created them in the spring of 2020:

starting out as an entrepreneur

Now, some 18 months later, it’s an eerie feeling to see Komified competing among other English language learning apps both on Google Play and in the App Store

 

Starting out as an entrepreneur is associated with frustration and disappointment – accept it, embrace it, learn from it

One of my biggest issues from the get-go was that I had far too much belief in the concept and methodology behind Komified.

Therefore, I thought that all I had to do was find a designer to create some basic high-fidelity black and white wireframes on an interface design tool, get some feedback and interested users on board and show the entire concept of the app to investors. Additionally, I began to compile a business plan and put down info on a Google Slide in the form of an investor pitch deck.

I also began to approach mobile app development companies, mostly based in Poland and Belarus, to see how much it’d cost to get the final app developed. I planned to present some of these companies’ quotations to investors.

Honestly, I was wasting my time with rip-off merchants while making little progress with the materials and exercises that would actually go into the app. 

In the end, I discovered that getting a fully coded app wasn’t that much more expensive than getting someone to create a high-fidelity clickable prototype. A high-fidelity prototype is a computer-based interactive representation of the product which closely resembles the final design in terms of details and functionality.

 

Stepping things up – hiring a designer to turn my basic sketches into high-fidelity wireframes

So, I began to cooperate with a UI / UX Designer who’s affiliated with a software development company in Gdańsk.

I wanted the designer to take my sketches and include more detail and a simple workflow and interactions (a high-fidelity wireframe) on Figma. The use of colour wasn’t necessary. 

Well, the designer, a project manager from the software company and I all sat down together one day in a shopping centre in the centre of Gdańsk. 

Both of these guys didn’t have listening skills. They just proceeded to talk over each other and over me. 

Anyway, the designer proceeded to create some wireframes on his laptop. It took him four hours to bash out a fair number of the screens I’d planned for this part of the project. Quick worker, I thought.

By the end of the meeting, he had an idea of the workflow.  He said he would send me an email with the final price a day or two later. 

Brace yourself.

His total price for the project was 8,500 PLN (slightly less than €2,000).

Naturally, I smelt a very big rat. He practically finished the job in the cafe in the shopping centre.

Bereft of trust, I complained to the project manager belonging to this software company who recommended this fraud of a man to me. Probably, this manager wanted a slice of my money as well.

 

Watch out for the sharks

This designer reckoned it would take him around 120 hours to do the job. 

Rubbish. 

I didn’t have to be an experienced UX/UI designer to know that it was a ten-hour job – at most. 

The project manager suggested that the designer and I try to settle on a fee of 6,000 PLN. 

Clearly overcome with vanity, embarrassment and a whole host of complexes, the designer proposed a new price of 8,000 PLN.

I was extremely disappointed and irate. 

Nevertheless, I foolishly agreed to the price because I was losing time and didn’t want to have to go through the whole project again with another designer.

However, there was another twist. 

Finally, I came to my senses and called off all ties with this crook.

He then demanded that I pay 1,200 PLN (€260), threatening me to get his “lawyer” involved for a good measure. 

All in all, I got a reasonably complete set of wireframes for €260. 

I made a huge mistake but I got away with it in the end.

120 hours?!

The developer I’m working with now coded the entire app in less than that time.

 

There’s no “right” path to take when starting out as an entrepreneur

It’s still too soon to say whether I’ve made the right decisions in the past eighteen months.

Getting rid of Mr Fraud was undoubtedly the right decision. 

Hiring a respectful human being after Mr Fraud to create a more colourful clickable mockup was probably the right decision (his price was more reasonable):

starting out as an entrepreneur - wireframes and mockups

What else have I done thoughtfully?

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking with Kris – my right-hand man for the past year and a half. Kris is an English language learner, business development management and graphic designer. Indeed, he is the real deal. The voice of reason.

Despite being pleased with some of my decisions, I sometimes wonder whether I could have got more testers for the mockup prototype and app involved. 

My developer spotted some flaws in the mockup designs. Hence, it’s not as if the final app’s based only on my vision. I’m not that stubborn. Nevertheless, I still worry that the lack of noise I created pre-launch might come back to haunt me.

Finally, I occasionally mull over whether I analysed the competition thoroughly enough. Frankly, Komified is far detached from the basic-level exercises and gimmicky gamification that apps like Duolingo churn out.

 

This is a journey like no other

This entrepreneurship lark is a challenge like no other.

At the end of the day, I’m just grafting away.

I’m doing my best to whip an effective marketing plan into shape. 

Well, I really am starting out as an entrepreneur.

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Steve Krajewski