No longer just a founder (Week #10)

The second week of the Merlin Beta has been going quite well, I was able to get direct feedback from quite a few users which have been so helpful. There are still some very major bugs, but I’m hoping I can knock those out this next week, oh and I’m now a CEO.

My weekly stats

  • Meditation: 1/7
  • Exercise: 5/7
  • Code Written: Lots
  • Merlin Beta Users: 30
  • Time spent on YT/Video Games: 6 hours
  • Time spent on side projects: 0 hours
  • Time spent reading: 2 hours
  • New metrics coming soon as I’m now using RescueMe to detect what I spend my time on.

What went well (or badly):

Well, this second week of feedback and bugs has been really great. I honestly feel every week the extension gets better and better. I was able to actually hear directly from some clients, both a major outsourcing firm and a large global charity. It’s great to hear both features that they are after or just how bought in they are with the base concept. For both of these, I’m hoping to get the solution to be such a point that both of them couldn’t imagine not using it. Hopefully, I can get there by the end of the month with any luck.

I went to Delaware and all I got was this lousy C-Corp (also I registered online, I just happened to be in Delaware this week too).

We’re also now officially a C-Corp business, registered in Delaware, which means I’m now 100% a CEO. It will also mean I have to do taxes and all that fun stuff but it’s cool that it’s now official. I’ve been a Managing Director of a UK company in the past (both for QuickerApps & VirtualOS), so it’s maybe a little less exciting than others creating their first businesses but still… CEO is a cool title, better than just “unemployed” :).

I’ve also been working on a deck for a large presentation next week (in front of 500+ attendants who all could be potential customers). I’ve had a version of this deck for the past 2 months (pretty much the first thing I did), so it is often annoying in many ways to come back to it. However, each time I feel it dramatically improves, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Having said that I’ll spend most of the next few evenings practising it over and over again. It’s one thing to be in front of a large group presenting for Google, but when you’re presenting a business you’re devoting your next few years of your life to… it’s kinda scary. Although I do now have some very cool business cards to hand out:

See how we use callouts (bubble tutorials) in the cards just like how Merlin works! :)

Having said the above, there were still days that I struggled with motivation. Sometimes I just felt that… why am I doing this? I mean, it’s not the sexiest idea to fix onboarding for (probably large) companies. It’s very easy to think — why aren’t I solving poverty, or oppression or a larger issue in the world. Times like these, the entrepreneurs we often think about are going after these, like Elon Musk solving huge problems. But you have to remember that they do these after they solved problems for businesses (and made a lot of money in the process). Later on, they had the time and resources to work on the high impact businesses we know and love. When it comes to Merlin I still think it’s one of the most interesting challenges that businesses have. It’s also really about the technical challenge and the innovative approach we have for this that makes it enjoyable to work on. I don’t have direct solutions to my motivation problems but as things ramp up more and more I think I’ll have to work or I’ll be losing customers.

What I’ve learned

  • I struggle to take on help when it’s offered: Pride is an issue I think hits many Entrepreneurs, and I’ve discussed it before, but I find it hard when people are offering to help — my first answer is often: “no, I’m fine, but thanks”. I think part of this comes from a desire to be independent. I think this also comes from a belief that it’s a weakness, or more likely, that it detracts from the success if others are involved. I also struggle with this even in my relationship, where my girlfriend has been offering great support & advice yet my default is to say “Don’t worry, I got this”. I want to, in many ways, do this alone, yet have a large number of employees. I’m never going to be able to do this without getting help from friends, family, employees, advisers and customers.
  • Lists, lists, lists: I’ve always enjoyed making to-do lists, whether its time spent planning revision, or whenever I fly I always have a notebook and knock out several pages of planning. This really hit home when a friend listed out 21 pieces of feedback for Merlin, and immediately I went to work fixing as many of these as possible. It was so enjoyable to get back to him the next day with 14 fixes, 4 large bugs I was working on and 3 disagreements. I feel as well that in list form’s they feel less personal, which means I’m less likely to be upset with the feedback (not that I generally get upset but sometimes feedback can be tough to take).
  • Focus on the core more: I’ve been working on additional features, UI changes and some fun side parts to it, but there are some major bugs inside of the core product. One of the reasons is that it’s less ‘sexy’ to fix something that should be working, especially areas where it’s hard to know where the issue is occurring. However, the joy of Merlin is it’s magically simple and ‘just works’ (to steal from Apple). If it breaks once, the trust is gone, especially when you just start. If you turned on the iPad and there were issues the first time you used it you would’ve stopped. Windows machines often fail at this, and as such people just don’t want a windows machine as much. We have to be like Apple to get people to love us in the same way.

This week’s goals

  • Finish implementing better error detection again — 0% (Seems like I’ll keep pushing this off)
  • Get End to End tests ready — 15% (I wasn’t able to get on to this but have hired an expert freelancer to implement this for me ready for next week)
  • Getting my deck in order — 90% (Significantly better deck, mainly from the great feedback my girlfriend has given me — Thanks, Paige)
  • Get 50+ people signed up for the beta —20% (Got a few more but didn’t focus on this as much as I wanted to, will push this again this week)
  • Keep fixing bugs! — 80% (Fixed quite a large number of problems and got a lot of feedback, although there are still quite a few major bugs)

This week’s goals

  • Fix all major bugs: These include losing actions between page changes, detecting page details, showing users what they’ve recorded and a few major UI changes I think are required.
  • Present well at the NAMIC conference: This is the presentation mentioned above. I really feel that if that goes well it could set Merlin up for a great start, especially as we edge towards getting our first paying customers.
  • Get group importing working: One of the big issues for companies when they start using a new system is the setup (or Onboarding if you will…). This includes setting up permissions and setting up new users in a system. We added the ability to Login through Google, Slack, Microsoft & Salesforce, so now I want to be able to import the group’s people already have setup from these and invite users from those groups automatically.

Have a great week everyone, keep hustling and again any comments/suggestions appreciated!

Charles Douglas-Osborn

CEO of MerlinOnboarding

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