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Spinning many plates and longer nights (Week 21)

Faizan Patankar on 24 November 2020

Time flies. I can't believe it's been over 4 weeks since my last update on building Amygda, a B2B industrial tech company that uses advanced analytics and Machine Learning to reduce equipment downtime.

Or, if you are an investor, that's AI for you.

As they say, don't hate the player, hate the game.

Anyhow, moving on.

The past 4 weeks have been crazy. It's a recurring theme this craziness. Every update I've written I feel the past week has been crazy, only to realise the next week is crazier. And the week after that even crazier.

Essentially, every week is crazy. And relentless.

It's fun though, doing what you really love. So it's bearable.

Headlines for the past 4 weeks

  1. Business development proposal submitted to a potential customer/partner (Biz Dev)
  2. Application to 2 accelerators in growth regions (Partnerships)
  3. Product development acceleration towards MVP (Prod Dev)
  4. And a new team member - you won't guess who! (Ops)

Behind the headlines though, there is a lot that goes on. What you read on this startup blog is 10% of all the small things ongoing. I can share those too, but for the majority of the readers it will be mundane boring things.

Building in public is daunting. It takes a lot to write these blogs. The aim is to share the journey of building a B2B ML/AI startup in the industrial tech sector with everyone and hopefully other aspiring founders who want to see what it is like to build from scratch.

1. OK, that's fine, but tell me more about the new BD proposal

Yeah ok, let's get to the point.

As a startup irrespective of how many other things are ongoing, I am usually doing customer discovery calls. Sometimes you find a good match and other times you get feedback on what you might want to do differently.

It just so happens that someone from my network is involved in an offering that we can complement. So we had a chat, followed up with calls and we are now figuring out how to work together. When there is a good match it's easy for things to align.

Fingers crossed for this one :) (tbh fingers crossed for all the ones)

And as you know, B2B sales cycle are longer than B2C software so it's in motion, and hopefully soon in action.

How many plates will you spin?

So here's the thing, as a startup founder I get pulled in two psycho-directions*.

One which says take 2 or 3 opportunities and focus on them. get them absolutely nailed down. And the other direction which says, buddy, you need to spin a lot of plates to make sure if one drops others are still in the air.

Those plates are opportunities.

And the truth is we are not in a fine-dining restaurant. We are on the ground, trying to be street-smart. We have to find the opportunities that other's haven't noticed yet.

That's why we have a lot of opportunities in the sales pipeline. We are early for most of them, but on track with product development for a couple of opps that are commercially agreed.

I don't know about other founders, but I feel most satisfied when I have more opportunities than I can handle because it helps me constantly push the performance and improve on the previous benchmark.

*By the way, psycho-directions is a made-up word - I define it as being pulled in multiple directions by your own brain, without anyone else giving a f**k about it.

2. Accelerators - don't you have a love/hate relationship with them?

I do, yes.

I really love some accelerators.

And absolutely hate some others.

But there are some accelerators I love, and can't be part of.

So we are looking at very specific accelerators that make sense for us. As a team we have a hard rule, we don't say no to anything without at least looking at it. Because we want to travel a different path to other startups because we find the usual path boring.

We applied to a Maritime accelerator - because Marine is a topic close to my heart and brain. Heart, because my father worked for a shipping company in the Middle East for 35 years. We've always seen calendars or shipping vessels and marvelled at the tech and size of them.

But it's also close to my brain (that's just to appear smart, so self-centred right?) because marine has challenges that previously couldn't be solved feasibly - for example, data transmission cost or how to deploy analytics solutions on-premise (or on a vessel in this case). We want to show how Amygda's solution can help the marine industry and the vessel owners/operators specifically.

The second accelerator is aerospace specific. I know what you are thinking, who in their right mind would apply to an aerospace thing in this pandemic?

Well, we would. And we did.

I mean, the co-founding team comes from an aerospace business (ex Rolls-Royce if you are wondering) and I love the aerospace industry. The accelerator is also Asia based, which is a real-growth region. It was pre-pandemic, and it will be post-pandemic.

If you apply for good accelerators, they are a really good source of partnerships and future distribution. For deep-tech startups, there aren't that many good accelerators. Which means there is generally tough competition. But the application stage is worth it as it helps you understand your own story better.

3. Update on product development (MVP)

This is going well, as some of you will have read from previous blogs, we are looking for a tech lead. That's progressing well. And in the meantime, Shery and I are continuing with product development. For the time being, we've brought on a contractor to help with development bandwidth.

It's actually fun what we are doing, and I would love to share it, but it really isn't something everyone on the team is comfortable sharing.

So, here's the alternative, if you are interested in our tech or want to have a chat then drop me a line on myfirstname [at] amygdalabs.com and I can share more.

4. So tell us about the new member on the team?

Ah, you came on the info, and stayed for the gossip! Nice.

As I said, you won't guess the new member at all.

Here she is, Chief Baby Officer. We were blessed with baby daughter a couple of weeks ago. Which means the days are long, and the nights are even longer.

Since this is our second child, we are slightly more prepared. And generally much more confident. Well, I say we. I really mean my wife is the rock around these things and I look up to her for knowing what to do when.

This was one of things going on in the background whilst all the other aspects were ongoing.

So far this year;

✅ Quit work in the middle of a recession

✅ Start a business in the middle of a pandemic and global downturn

✅ Grow the team from 1 to 4

✅ Sign partnerships with two large enterprise clients

✅ Have a baby

I feel like, the preparation and waiting around time has just come to a close. I've been in motion for long periods this year. Now it's going to be action time.

It sounds more dramatic than it really is.

But hey, it's every bit worth it.

So what's next with Amygda?

There's so much to do. I know the next 6-12 weeks are going to be hard juggling work and personal time. But there are some important things coming ahead.

Clearly, on the customer side, there are lots of discussions and some more will come to fruition. Whilst the ones we signed up with will begin trials in Q1 2021.

Product development is ongoing and this will only ramp up from here. Generally doing it with the customer is a better idea and so there will be lots of feedback and discussions in the middle of product-development.

There's just so much chaos right now. It's unbelievable. And I know it is to be expected, but I am not a fan of chaos.

I like organised chaos over unorganised chaos. However, it doesn't seem to be my choice - it just exists.

The next 4 weeks will also see us put in place the plans for 2021. I am really looking forward to having this done in the team because we rarely get time to look up and see 12 months ahead right now. So even just having this time to look up and talk is fun.

And really, I just want to be ready on 1st Jan. It's like a massive to-do list and all I want to do is wake up, look at it and be ready.

I don't want to be busy. I hate it. I really hate.

I want to be ready. Come what may.

What do you think of this week? Let me know by messaging me on LinkedIn or tweet me @faizanpatankar. I love talking, just mention you read my blog.

If you want to read more...

Why do I openly share all our moves about building an industrial analytics startup?

Building Amygda and a note on VCs

Product dev and lessons in recruiting the first external hire