We wrote the first lines of Fresh Vine full of audacious dreams. Creating meaningful, intuitive, and powerful software. A tool designed to help communities decentralize their leadership and empower volunteers. This would activate resources towards their mission they had never been able to use before. Leaders loved our dream, our goal, and our approach.
That is not what happened.
We’ve had to become far more subtle in our disruptive approach.
It is not that our concepts weren’t valid, or that the software didn’t enable these concepts. It’s that we took to big of a jump. What we didn’t account for was the cultural and organizational distance that we were asking each of our clients to implicitly take with our software. At the end of the day our customers couldn’t use their leadership capital all at once to make this transition they wanted. It had to be more subtle and smooth.
Of all the lessons and challenges we’ve faced as a startup this has been the hardest for me as the founder. It was the passion to decentralize communities that drove my work. To leverage information for leaders to empower well without loosing oversight or accountability. But it wan’t working, we failed to make enough steps between where they entered, and where we wanted to take them.
This transition was rough on me personally. I wondered if the project should continue, or if I should abandon all the work that we did. We chose to pivot by adding “more steps” – making it easier for organizations to start using Fresh Vine. The change was subtle enough that most of our customers likely did not notice.
Yet, whenever you change an underlying assumption that guides your startup, you will loose some clients. Over the span of the next year we lost the majority of our initial customers. We directed our development towards making current features more accessible instead of building new one. This brought us a tighter market fit. The better fit meant an increased in new subscriptions that made up for the churn cause by shift in our development.
Our end goal is the same as always. It was from the experience and feedback of our users and customers that we learned this hard lesson. After many long days and weeks we are more excited about our service then ever before.
These are the hard things no one tells you about when you start. That you cannot know before you’ve journeyed past the sight of where you began. Having the humility to listen, and the confidence to continue is a soul stretching challenge.
The challenge is invigorating.
Photo Credit: Tsahi Levent-Levi