By Lou Donnelly-Davey (Founder & CEO, Scrattch)
I had the idea for Scrattch a year ago in the shower one morning – thinking how cool it would be to be able to create an online library full of all my favorite research. At this point, I did not know anything like this existed on the Internet. I had heard of Delicious but was not a user as I was of the opinion that simply bookmarking a site was a job half done.
After doing some research, I discovered a handful of various companies doing various versions of a bookmarking service, none of which were doing what I really wanted. So I starting making plans to get the ball rolling.
I found an amazingly talented developer through a friend who agreed that what I wanted to do was something pretty special. We have since taken on another super talented front-end developer to help us get the user experience right.
Bootstrapping Scrattch has been a definite trial in patience and perseverance. I have exited three other businesses in the past eight years, none of which has taken the time and planning that Scrattch has demanded. In a way, I feel proud of the fact that to date this journey has not been easy. Not being funded at this early stage has presented a few problems but we have made our way through them and are now only two weeks away from a successful launch. All of us have families who reply on us for financial support so the past year has certainly been a juggling act.
I think that if you suffer hardship as an entrepreneur, have to push through despite the obstacles presented and still come out the other end just as passionate, if not more so about your product and your mission, then you are more than likely onto something good.
This belief in what we are doing is not entirely self-indulgent. We have attained two fantastic advisors (Adam Rifkin and Ben Kepes) along the way who have been extremely generous with their time and advice when we have needed it. A simple message or tweet when we have faced a problem or need a quick answer has proven invaluable. The sheer fact that these two high profile guys have reached out and allowed us to be a part of their busy lives is quite remarkable. I am not sure they know just how much we appreciate the time that they have given us so far.
Seed funding in New Zealand is something that is rather illusive unless you are in Biotech or are developing something that will be used by farmers or sheep! We have however entered a handful of high profile New Zealand and Global competitions to raise our profile and have the opportunity to receive professional advice and mentoring.
We managed to make the finals in the ANZ Business Plan Competition and are currently involved in the Unlimited Investment Challenge as finalists, which has seen us attend an amazing 3-day workshop in Auckland with Business Dominoes. I can’t quite put into words just how valuable this experience has been. The workshop had us move from a product focus to one of a valuable market proposition. A subtle yet important shift for us to be able to validate our market presence.
Most recently, we have been announced as finalists in the GEW 50 – something that we are completely thrilled about. To be in the lineup of 50 of the most promising startups worldwide has been a huge honor for us and one that has boosted us in these final few weeks of all nighters!
I didn’t set out to create a product. I set out to solve a problem.
Our launch will see the start of something special in the social curation and archiving space. Our focus from here is to build significant market traction and raise capital to scale the business quickly.
Women 2.0 readers: Have you started up a bootstrapped company? Let us know in the comments.
About the guest blogger: Louise Donnelly-Davey is the founder and CEO of Scrattch, an online platform dedicated to creating context and meaning around internet data. Prior to stepping out on her own, she worked for some of New Zealand’s largest corporations in New Ventures and started her professional career as an intern at the Ministry of Economic Development in their Capital Markets team. Follow her on Twitter at @louiseQTNZ.