A Startup Retrospective

A few weeks ago, I started to pull back work on Vine Trails, and committed to just one day a week.

My co-founder Matt and I weren’t able to keep the same schedules – I was full time, while Matt was only available for a day. At the time I thought it would be better to change my hours to suit his, and have everyone progressing on the same page at the same time. But later, I realised that by agreeing to cut down my hours, I had actually declared that my interest was fading. It just wasn’t for me.

Everyone talks about the fact that you need to be really passionate about your startup idea to succeed, because things will get hard at some point. Your passion is what will drive you through the dip to see the other side. As the weeks progressed, and we learned more things, we adjusted the idea and the focus of the product. But Vine Trails was turning into something I was getting less interested in building.  I was running into barriers, and didn’t possess the drive to break through them.

My original idea was purely travel related – a trip itinerary generator. I wanted to build something that could answer this question:

I have three weeks for a holiday, and I want to go to New Zealand.

What should I do while I’m there?

That’s an enormous problem, and difficult to know where to start. So I decided to cut it down to a really focused vertical that was easy to define: wine tourism. Vine Trails was born.

The thing is, I really like wine. I enjoy travelling to wine regions and tasting wine. I would love if a product like Vine Trails existed already, and I would use it.  But there’s a difference between wanting to use a product, and having the drive to turn an idea into something real. I have friends who like to read about new wine releases, participate in forums, research wine regions, and subscribe to winery mailing lists. For them, that’s just fun and they love reading about it. For me, it would be necessary research rather than something I’d choose to do. When we started putting more focus on Vine Trails appealing to wineries, it just got less interesting to build.

I realised that the data element of the product is what I was passionate about – taking information about their wines and making it available in a new format, or letting people search through it in unusual ways.  I find analysing and visualising data really interesting – and it doesn’t really matter whether that information is about wine, or public transport, or economic growth. Making data accessible is where my interest lies.  I am passionate about data at a completely different level than I am passionate about wine tourism.

Lesson learned.

(Along with other things I learned about startups and team composition.)

Vine Trails still exists, in the capable hands of my co-founder Matt and my husband Niall, two of the biggest wine nerds I know. They’re both working on it part time, which means it will take a little longer to mature, but it’s definitely in the pipeline. I will be pitching in occasionally, but I won’t be the principal driver any more.

In the meantime, if you know anywhere in Sydney looking for data nerds, please drop me a line.

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