Mike Neumegen is a Kiwi who has recently jumped on the entrepreneurial train by founding New Zealand-based Cloud Cannon which turns a static website into a Dropbox based CMS.
One of my philosophies in life is to get a little bit better at something everyday. As an entrepreneur you have to be a jack-of-all trades so continuous self improvement is really important. Put yourself in situations that force you to improve. You could spend the day learning to program, join a toastmasters club or start your own business.
A lot of our success has come out of what we don’t do. Having a minimalist approach in every decision has guided us towards a focused product that only solves one problem for a specific audience. There’s two of us working on Cloud Cannon so we have to be as efficient with our time and resources as possible.
I was working as a web developer and found myself becoming more interested in why and how people use applications rather than the technical details of how they worked. At this point I decided to quit my job, read every business and marketing book I could get my hands on and start my own business. It’s been a roller coaster ride so far but it’s all worth it when you see people using something you’ve created.
Cloud Cannon is completely bootstrapped by George (Co-Founder) and I. Bootstrapping has taught us to be frugal. Reading marketing blogs (The KissMetrics blog is excellent), using local advisors, or being covered by blogs are ways we make use of the free resources around us.
We started off with a small number of friends testing Cloud Cannon who gave us valuable feedback. When it came time to acquire users outside our own social group, we struggled. We had no idea of how to reach our audience, we tried the “Shotgun approach” by posting on Reddit and Hacker News but were left disheartened by the uptake. Eventually after being covered on TechCrunch we had an influx of users that we could talk to which gave us a deep understanding of how our audience thinks, what they want and how to reach them.
Our customers are awesome, they’re vocal about our product, they let us know what can be improved and they’re building some really cool stuff on our platform, so we do everything we can to make our customer’s day. Whether it’s answering support emails promptly, implementing and pushing a feature that was only requested yesterday, or just emailing a customer to tell them how cool their website is, I think it all contributes to creating a passionate user base who can’t help but tell other people about the product.
We both work from home offices and make use of Google Hangouts & Trello to communicate. We’re new on the scene so we’re still discovering our culture and core values. One thing that has kept us going through rough times is we both just want to make applications people love. Having some of the fantastic feedback we’ve had gives us all the drive we need.
The majority of my time is spent talking to customers which is great but a little bit different from what I’m used to (Usually I’m talking to databases and API’s). We always opt for cloud tools whenever possible; we’re big fans of Dropbox, UserVoice, Amazon Web Services, Trello and Google Hangouts.
Dunedin is a small enough city that all the start up companies know each other. It’s a fantastic community to be apart of as everyone wants you to succeed and will help out where they can. A great deal of my business thinking is influenced by The Lean Startup so I guess I’m part of that community too.
A few years ago when I was broke, I could only dream of having a successful startup. I bought a can of peaches and decided I would open it when I’d “made it”. Now, I have that rusty can sitting by my desk. I don’t know what “making it” actually means or whether I have to actually eat the peaches once I’ve opened it but it’s a nice way of reminding myself to stay humble.