Today marks our first anniversary. It’s been a full year since we began the journey that ultimately became inqiri. It has been an interesting year with lots of ups and downs, but here we are, having survived our first year.
Anniversaries are always a good time to reflect on the year gone by, take stock of your present situation, and look forward to the year ahead. This blog post will focus on those three themes.
We started talking about the inqiri concept in December of last year, and after several discussions, some research on the market and potential competition, and some introspection on the risk and challenges of working in a startup, we began the inqiri journey in earnest. Our first discussions took place in and around 12/12/12 (and we have since formally agreed on this as the official start date). We spent the next several weeks really exercising the concept and trying to refine questions around technical feasibility, viability of the business model, and potential market demand. Effectively, “will this work?”
As we moved into 2013, we found that is does work and works even better than expected. We began architecting the inqiri solution in February and by March we were actively engaged in the development process. Development produced some early results with functions like the sliders and highlighted the overall inqiri process. It wasn’t pretty, but it worked.
We spent a fair amount of time working on the underlying algorithms that drive the inqiri process and allow us to capture the collective intelligence of the participants and the synthetic intelligence that powers the recommendation engine. By summer we had developed the foundation, the end-to-end inqiri process, and the underlying “intelligence.” What we needed was a sharp looking user interface.
In July we had a golden opportunity to participate on an MIT Media Lab video session and use that platform as a launching pad for our Alpha release. The only problem was that our Alpha release wasn’t finished!!! The result was our first “Hackfest” or as we all remember, the “Alpha Hackfest.” We spent an entire weekend, working until the wee hours of the morning, to pull together the UI and finish the Alpha version. It was a significant accomplishment and took everyone on the team putting in a lot of time and effort, but along with being long hours, it was a lot of fun. By the end of the hackfest, I knew that not only did we have an awesome solution, but we also have a great team.
With the MIT event as an Alpha launch for inqiri, we turned our focus on refinements for our official launch at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco. This was our opportunity to show the inqiri solution at a major startup event and it became the driving focus for the team. We spent a lot of time incorporating feedback from the Alpha version, working on enhancements, and making sure that we were ready to launch at TechCrunch.
We went to TechCrunch and had a fantastic launch. People we met from around the world were intrigued by the inqiri solution and the potential for improving decision-making with collective intelligence. All the positive feedback was quite motivating and helped to reassure us that we were on the right track. We came out of TechCrunch with a number of new contacts, potential clients, and at least one Venture Capital company that was interested in speaking with us further. Very exciting and very successful.
Since TechCrunch we have been pursuing multiple relationships with customers and investors. On the customer front we have engaged with a large, nationally recognized company that is interested in applying the inqiri solution to market research activities. We have been told that we have a solution that addresses a gap in the market research space and that we are able to derive unique insights into customer behavior with inqiri. We are thrilled to be working with this client to refine the inqiri solution to better suit the needs of market research and expect that we will have a market research focused offering early next year.
Pursuing external investment is a common theme for startups and we are no exception. We have had a couple of initial discussions with private equity investors and the process is unfolding. Being all new to us it is a bit challenging, but we are learning as we go. One thing we are being told is that we have a unique offering and, although it takes some time to fully grasp the potential power of the inqiri solution, everyone we speak with uniformly agrees – “You’ve really got something here!”
With additional funding, growing customer relationships, and continued development on the inqiri solution, we expect next year to be quite busy, and quite exciting. We will drive forward on our marketing and sales plans, look to build business relationships with a variety of partners, who will help with market penetration, and as the saying goes, “sell, sell, sell.”
Everyone on the team is enthusiastic about the road ahead, and we are preparing to take a brief break over the holidays, recharge our engines, and come back ready to tackle the challenges of our second year in business. We have accomplished a great deal over the last year, developed the first version of the inqiri solution, created a company to take the concept and develop it into a viable business, and gathered together an outstanding team of professionals that will make us successful. We look forward to the next year with confidence that we will overcome any challenges, make progress towards our goals, and enjoy the process of building a powerful solution and a successful company.