“From Struggle to Success” The sky’s the limit
As I like to say entrepreneurship can take many shapes and forms. There are no restrictions, when it comes to your ideas. As people like to say “ the sky’s the limit.” The following story is about two great entrepreneurs, one from Holland and the other one from Turkey, who started their journey together.
1. What is your idea/ business about? How the idea was born?
Muhit is an online platform where citizens and local governments come together to collaboratively improve our living environment. Everyone can submit ideas for their neighborhood, browse and support other ideas, and follow the development of these ideas through comments by their “muhtars” and local governments, which can join the Muhit network on a voluntary basis. This way, people can share constructive ideas and contribute to the shaping of public opinion online. With Muhit we really want to emphasize the value of constructive criticism, as politics offline can be discouraging, and provide collective data on what we truly need in our cities.
We have been working together with a small team of urban planners, a designer and a developer over the past 6 months to make the project a reality. Perhaps this would grow into an NGO or a similar non-profit organization.
2. Tell me about yourself and your team?
Sera has a background in political science and urban research, and has been involved in multiple non-profit initiatives and organizations in Istanbul and internationally. Daniel has a background in architecture and urbanism and is looking for the overlap between digital and physical design. They share a passion for making and reading cities, and ‘bottom-up’ crowd sourced solutions.
3. What are the main struggles that you have experienced?
One of the main challenges, when working on non-profit ideas, is to find the time and motivation in a diverse group of people to push for rather idealistic goals for more collaboration in an increasingly polarizing society. If there is no primary commercial interest but a more idealistic one, it becomes hard to keep people involved on that basis. Also, because of our small budget we have been relying a lot on people helping out in their spare time, instead of committing fully to the project, which makes dedication very important to get something like this off the ground.
4. How did you solve your problems?
For ourselves it is easy to stay motivated on the basis of the belief that we’re building something worthwhile. It often comes down to accepting the pace as it is, slow as it may be. One of the decisions we have made is that we would take an ‘agile’ approach, building out a first very simple version of the platform, instead of aiming for the moon directly. The result is amazing; even though the full potential of the platform hasn’t even begun to shine through, already people’s reactions towards the idea are very inspiring.
5. If you had a chance what would you do in differently?
We would have pushed for a more concentrated building period, because we developed the idea about a year ago. It might have been nice to spend a sprint-like period of let’s say a month building out the core platform with a small but dedicated team. After that the phase of carefully iterating on this base can be much more spread out.
6. What was the best advice you got and what was the worst?
Difficult to answer; I guess people have left us relatively free in how we approached the project. Much came down to intrinsic motivation instead of people trying to steer us in the right –or wrong – direction. But we have been collaboratively working with the NGO Istanbul Hepimizin, who is working with local governors (muhtars) to strengthen local democracy in Turkey. They have been very supportive in term of getting the muhtars involved.
7. What will be your advice to the other entrepreneurs
Define two things very clearly:
1) What are your values, what is your end goal and how can you get there?
2) What is the most barebones, simple version of this that could help you achieve this goal? Only by starting out a super simple version of your product, gaining feedback, and start building and iterating based on that, you can refine your product in the right direction – but it is also essential to always be able to paint a future picture of what the aim is. This is one of the toughest but also one of the most important balances in building such a product.
If you want to learn more about the company, you are more than welcome to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you enjoyed reading this story and if you want to share your own great story, please contact us at: email@example.com
July 22, 2016