A year ago I remember going to meetings on crutches as I was recovering from a knee operation. It was very hot, however, these were meetings that were worth the sweat. At this time in 2014 we started under the project name Mamawatch.me.
The first business plan was written and as well as product discussions the first five of us also discussed some deeper topics, for example: how can we use this project to help other people? Not just as customers, but even supporting them with money…if we make some one day. We agreed to give away 50% of net profits to children who were “not so lucky” in their life – whether due to disease, family circumstances or something else. Only when I look back do I see that this was one of the crucial moments that formed the team – many people who came across us joined, left…or didn’t even consider joining based on the overall atmosphere and culture which was forming near a chocolate factory in Bratislava.
The year passed by very quickly. It was filled with lots of ups and downs. Ups – like new prototypes, great customer feedback, workshops with our mentors, or even a love that appeared in the team – were the fuel. Downs – like technical issues, lack of money, the failure of CrocoDuo, our test campaign or wrong turns – made us stronger.
Once there were 12 people on board
dedicated to helping as much as they can. Now there are 7 people who form the core team and a few helpers who dedicate the time they can. Everybody who came (even if they left) brought something important and irreplaceable: Lukas brought great ideas about the video before he left for studies in the US. Amir set up the first prototype on bananapi and set the road for the technical development before he moved to another project in Prague. Michal started to set the brand identity of Benjamin Button before he realised he was involved in too many projects. Nela – besides the great b-day cake and cookies she made – brought the name Benjamin Button after she heard the idea for the first time because it reminded her of the movie and novel.
Andrej brought financial planning and some new features for the device, and also started to work on the intelligent software. He left after receiving an offer from his friend’s software company. Martin prepared some great tools for our crowdfunding campaign including mailing lists, strategy, media and PR list. He left to start his own advertising agency. Two of our programmers Andrej and Miso taught me that the best motivation for IT guys is money, indeed.
So who stayed?
I would call them heroes, or maybe fools. I don’t know anyone else who would work on a project without getting paid for so long. I don’t even know whether, if I tell it to my grandkids one day, they will believe it.
Andrej, my classmate from secondary school, and his company eSense Slovakia were the first who believed in button. I can’t even count how many times he came up with great philosophical questions, technical solutions and even marketing ideas. There is no field he would not comment on or cover. He is a true artist and technician in one.
Ivo was an architect with a 3D printing and rapid prototyping company next door. And a fresh father. He got the Bb idea so quickly…and came up with designs that we can hold in our hands so rapidly that I felt like Alice in Wonderland.
Miska was called to help with branding and graphic design. Our promising beginning was interrupted by her not comings to meetings. However, before Christmas she came with work that totally blew our minds. Also she turned out to be very empathic and she would catch the best feedback from the focus groups we did.
Vlado had a rapid start preparing all the documents for software development. Even thought he had to finish his university studies, he was always there if we needed to fix some web bug and he offered some great critical thinking points that helped us to stay on the ground.
Michal helped a lot in putting the PCBs and other hardware together for prototypes, especially those which went for software development.
Miro would probably even risk his life to make b a success, sometimes he couldn’t help more that he already did, but would still love to. He will be a pillar for our production.
Peter joined recently and he made Bb not a Slovak start-up anymore. His comments questions and advice are priceless. He always hits the mark!
Robo is on standby for our quality assurance and production set up. As an engineer in automotive and electronics he comes with some great contacts and ideas.
Boris is also on standby ready for the online sales and affiliate program….in Barcelona.
David helps from time to time with online marketing and social media. He always brings a simple solution to a complicated problem – punk style :-).
During our team meetings we have always had a reason to laugh.
We also imposed some traditions to help with discipline and motivation…and they are funny. Any team member who is late for the meeting must sing. A song of their own choice. Praise the lord some of us remember some folk songs.
But this is not the worst torture we undergo.
All of us have sacrificed something we love until we launch the campaign: Ivo is avoiding McDonalds food, Miso gave up on chocolate and I for example gave up on pistachios! Heeeeeelp!
I wrote this look back blog to say THANK YOU to this amazing team. It is an honor to work with you and to learn from you every day. You are my heroes, and I believe soon you will become heroes to tens of thousands of great parents and happy kids!
A big thanks goes to all of our mentors and stakeholders
for all your help and valuable feedback, we are all humble students of yours: our families, Tomas Baran, Janco Benkovic, Feri Borsik, Jon Bradford, Rasto Brencic, Julo Budaj, Petra Drozdova De-La-Fere, guys from eSense Slovakia, Marian Gazdik, Robo Grencik, Palo Hlubina, Vilo Janac, Andrej Kiska, Katka Kovalcikova, Maja Koczova, Sisa Kusnirova, Tinka Licko, Igor Matlon, Andrej Mosat, Simon Sicko, Lidka Sirotova, Ivo Stefunko, Ludo Srenkel, Vladimir Synek, Rado Tausinger, Michal Pastier, Jan Pop, Christoph Raethke, Viki Reviliak, Mato Rudinsky, Rado Vasina, Peter Vidovic, Alex Wayenberg, Peter Zalesak, Mr. and Mrs. Zathurecky, Dodo Zemla, and many more that I have forgotten to mention.
But we love you anyway :-*