The story of ADiki goes something like this.
I can't remember the exact date that it all started but it started out with my good friend, Nikhil, sent me an email while at work about a company called OpenAd.net and the email said something like "man I have had this idea for so long and see someone is doing it" So I naturally responded well do something about it and I will work with you on it. Well I did not expect what exactly he did.
Nikhil applied to a well known incubator called the Austin Technology Incubator that stems from the IC^2 institute of the University of Texas. Well this particular incubator gets hundreds if not thousands of applicants a year to come and pitch their idea to the Incubator for acceptance into their program. Well Nikhil wrote and filled out a stellar application and we were selected to go pitch to ATI in about two months. Well, that is a big rush to see that an idea has potential. So we diligently worked on Adiki, at the time it was called Creative Outsourced but will be referred to as Adiki from now on.
For two months straight till the day of the big presentation we worked night and day on the event. Using every waking available hour to work on a business plan that we could present to ATI in hopes of getting in. Prior to pitching to ATI we consulted with some great people on how to develop this model we are trying to create. Considering that ADiki is a social networking site for creatives to collaborate, showcase, and monetize their creative content. With the ultimate goal being to allow for creatives to create their own virtual ad agencies to respond to RFP's (requests for proposals) via the ADiki marketplace. While at the same enabling for advertisers to connect to creatives in creative collaborative work sessions online via the ADiki portal.
We spoke to web people, advertising people, creative professionals, junior creatives, business owners in order to get a full scope of all we needed to incorporate into the ADiki model. Well the big day came, on Nov 2 I think of 2007 and we felt great about it. We were like, great we are going to get selected and everything is going to be great. Well we heard back in about two weeks that we were not selected for the very reasons we went to them in the first place; experience, guidance on the economic model (which it has completely changed since then), and that it was an internet site based company.
At the time we pretty much just had an idea and a business plan with a very big market to cover. So we consulted some more on refining the business model, learned a thing or two about working with investors and finding a co-creator developer to come on board with us. I could write quite a bit about both topics but I will make it short and sweet.
Investor lesson #1:
If someone is hesistant or resistant to signing a NDA (non-disclousre agreement), walk away. lol Sounds pretty logically but hey when you are eager to quickly get your venture off the ground, you pretty much compromise on a few rule of thumbs here and there. We were working with these investors by the name of Business Ether who talked us up and seemed very excited and yada yada yada. Well we tried a few times to get an NDA signed before meeting with them and going in full detail of what we see ADiki becoming. So because of who we thought they were, we met with them. We first thought it was going to only be two people but it turned out to be 7 of their investors or something like that and we broke off into groups to learn more about the venture. They still didn't sign the NDA, even though they said they would have it at the meeting, which they didn't. Anyways after the meeting they made us an offer for some ridiculous line of credit and we were like HA no. Who knows if they are moving forward on everything we told them, if they are great. Because it has evolved into something way better and we will crush them if they stick to the old model.
Developer Lesson #1
Stick to someone who speaks your language fluently and efficiently and who is experienced in the technology that you need to implement. We searched for months to find a co-creator developer to bring on board in exchange for equity who we could work with on building the ADiki vision. After many interview, I believe around 12, we met a level 4 architect from Dell who was here on a H-1 Visa and was working mad hours for Dell. Well we got to know him and felt that he would be a great fit. But after time, we learned another valuable lesson. First you cant contract or bring in a foreigner as a owner of a company while on a H-1 visa and its not a good idea to bring on someone who is swamped with work and who lastlly but most importantly is not experienced in what you need to make. In our case a social networking site.
After about 4 months of waiting around for this developer to create something that we could see online, which by this time we had nothing to look at. We decided to pull the trigger and just cut the relationship and continue looking for someone.
We then met someone experienced in building social networking sites. This guy was great in the development part, and we think we got a deal on getting it built. But this leads to lessons two and three of working with a developer on a start up
Developer Lesson #2
Keep the design in mind from the get go. Now that we have an extremely robust site of funcationality, we are now looking for someone who can work with the source code we have and make it look pretty. Would have been much less costly and easier if the design was in place from the get go, lesson learned.
Developer Lesson #3
Go with experience. Although you may find someone brillant and can learn anything, save yourself the time and hassle and just go with someone knowing what they are doing. You dont want to waste time and pay for someone to get educated on what you need done.
Anyways we found this developer to make the core functionality we need, this is around July 0f 2008. We couldnt find any investors from friends or family except from one person. We were advised to change our name, which we did, draw up an operations agreement to divvy up ownership which we did, and build a demo workable site which we did and we would get some start up funds. Well we pulled the trigger and got the demo site built with funds from savings and credit. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
We got our demo site built and quickly developed relationships with local ad agencies and universities because by this time the ADiki model evolved to being a social networking site for junior creatives, students studying creative sequences in school, to have a place to showcase their portfolios for possible internships and jobs while getting mentored by experienced creative ad professionals and potentially monetize their content at the same time. We opened up talks with two local universities and have spoken with some ad agencies about using the service.
Its getting late so I am going to cut this short but I am going to edit this and add to the story as times goes by