Why did we found a startup? We could keep talking about changing the world, but let’s be honest.
We wanted to be those people smiling in the sun, grabbing a coffee at Starbucks on their way to coworking, and raising huge rounds.
Surprisingly, the reverse of the coin appeared to be not that fancy. Today’s story is about this flip side, the challenges we’ve come across so far, and the ways to cope with them, Draivn style.
Draivn, startup ,
open mobility, challenge
When we just started working on Draivn, we got ourselves ready for an obstacle race and that we are not sprinters to cover the distance fast. In other words, we knew that entering one of the most conservative niches from scratch was extremely hard, but we couldn’t predict how hard it would be.
Plus, we knew very little of how motor insurance works, its problems, and the market players. But many things seemed so crystal clear to us. We were some inverted Socrates, saying “The less I know, the more I realize I know everything.” Imagine this:
✅ Every new discovery looks like the last piece of the puzzle;
✅ The world is full of pleasant surprises;
✅ The way ahead looks straight and downhill.
Those were exciting times filled with optimism, but not for long. The deeper we dug into motor insurance, the harder walls we hit. And though the breakpoint was finally there, it was a challenge to switch from sweet ignorance and expectations to cold reality.
When you know little about the subject, it’s impossible to predict how things will eventually go, no matter how hard you try or prepare. That’s just the fundamental truth you must accept. And the only thing you can do about it is to get ready that the cold reality will break your expectations.
Expectations vs. cold reality
Take a reality check. Being a founder at the outset means no cash flow for a long time and sub-market income a bit later. Stay strong and resilient.
From day 1, we realized how slow and conservative the market is. That’s why we made an allowance for insurers’ speed, and it was a huge one. Even with this, we appeared to be unprepared for how long it will take us to put the project into motion. And after a year, we are still surprised by the time a big insurance company needs to make a decision.
If you are building an enterprise product, prepare yourself for not meeting your initial time estimates, especially when you deal with such conservative business as insurance. Just accept this fact, and may it not bother you.
Hey, fast decisions! Long time no see
When you are obsessed with an idea and go over it 2000 times in your head, you are dead certain that any sober person should undoubtedly follow you to bring this idea to life. But in fact, far from everyone can do it. And it’s particularly true when your start-up is limited in funding, track record, and resources. Even friends and family that support your crazy ideas are not always ready to sacrifice their time and opportunities for your project today, no matter how great it may be tomorrow.
Be 100% open to your early-stage team and make sure they are aware of the hard times ahead. And if, despite all the eventual challenges, these people are still with you, keep them tight, because they are the most valuable asset you’ve gained.
(Don’t) “Let my people go”
At Draivn, we address a very specific niche – commercial fleet insurance – and solve the problem that is not yet topical on the market. Moreover, the platform’s business logic and concept are something the insurers have never faced before. As a result, Draivn looked too complicated for some potential customers and seems some “classic telematics solution” for others.
That’s why our biggest challenge was to deliver the idea to the right audience in the right form.
When you come up with an innovative idea, make sure it’s new and there is a demand for it. No matter how long it takes, figure out the best and simplest way to deliver it:
✅ If a presentation doesn’t work, make a scheme.
✅ If the scheme doesn’t work, make a video,
✅ If the video doesn’t work, sing a song.
Delivering idea with DHL, not Aliexpress Standard
For IT people like us, the product’s success is predefined by its unique, rich, and stable functionality that solves a particular problem of a client. Again, not everyone follows this philosophy – take the conservative insurance sector as an example.
In our case, the lack of industry connections, network, and track record outweighed the unique product. As all these components of success were missing when we started from scratch, it was one of the biggest challenges for our company so far.
The product and technology are sometimes not as important as your image and presence within the industry. That’s why, if you start from scratch as we did, get ready to build up the industry presence and track record. And find proper industry experts to support you in this meticulous work.
It’s the most common challenge for any start-up and we can’t but mention it.
The stumbling blocks of every start-up are funding, traction, and execution. And in most cases, at least one of these ingredients is missing, affecting the other two left. At Draivn, we knew it to own cost.
1️⃣ When you lack funding, the execution becomes slow, preventing you from traction.
“I need a ready-make turn-key solution. Get back when you are fully done.” © The Customer
2️⃣When you miss traction, the execution may become a waste of resources, and the funding is hardly available.
“I need to see commercial traction. Get back when you have customers that pay you.” © The Investor
Without funding, you can’t deliver and gain traction. While without traction, it’s difficult to get funding. That’s what we call the chicken and egg challenge.
Avoid “The chicken and the egg challenge,” trying to get either funding or traction. In case you’re stuck here, go for execution.
While having a big picture in your mind, deliver the simplest version of the product and put it to the test with your customers. Find the prospects who love what you do and build relations with them. After the first signs of traction, it would be easier to reach out for growth funding.
Failure or better to say failures are the biggest and most dangerous challenge on the way. Everyone is afraid of it, as it’s commonly associated with the endgame and eventually leads to it.
You may try avoiding failure, but we see it as a compulsory part of the process. It must and will be in place, no matter the stage of your project and the resources you possess.Draivn suggests
Change your attitude. Don’t try to avoid failures, but be constantly ready and seek them. Because the more failures you face, the stronger and more experienced you become, which makes you closer to the goal.
In the end, this very post is composed of failures that only made us stronger. With all the accumulated strength, we are ready for some mind-blowing combos in 2022. Follow us
now to miss them!