Two years ago, my co-founders and I quit our jobs to start a company.
It was scary.
I for one still had thousands of dollars of student debt to pay off and I would be giving up my only source of income and work visa to start this company.
There were risks but it’s what we wanted to do. We wanted the chance to explore and build the ideas that had been swirling in our heads. That opportunity was worth more than any guaranteed paycheck.
The plan was to take on a few web design consulting projects part-time to help pay the bills so we could work on our own product ideas for at least a few hours a day and on weekends.
A few months after starting our company, we heard about a new program starting in our hometown of Montreal called FounderFuel. FounderFuel is an accelerator program, where if you’re accepted, you receive an investment between $25,000-$50,000 to build your business. In our group, ten companies were accepted out of about five hundred that applied. We were one of the ones that got in.
We joined the program mainly because it would allow us to focus on building one thing. One product. One company.
It was here that ooomf was born.
ooomf started as a much different idea from what you see today. We entered the program with a couple ideas of what it could be, but we didn’t know for sure what it was.
It took us until halfway through the 3-month program to land on what we thought was the right concept.
From our time spent consulting in web design and working at design agencies, we were inspired by many products. Some were apps. Some were websites. But all of them were built to solve problems in an elegant way. Unfortunately, sometimes these products had a hard time getting the attention we thought they deserved.
We believed that if a product solved a problem in a smart way, it shouldn’t go unnoticed.
The first version of ooomf was focused on solving this problem. You could think of it as a Kickstarter-like model but for apps.
We started by helping app makers build a following of supporters during the creation process, long before the product hit the App Store shelves. It was a way of putting a face behind the pixels.
Shortly after the program ended, we received a $500,000 investment to build our business.
We were off and running. After a few months and over 20,000 app makers signing on, we started to notice some challenges in our approach. We learned the tools we were building weren’t necessarily the right ones to help app makers get their products found.
It was a hard decision to make but about five months after starting, we had to refocus the company.
In terms of money in the bank, we only had a few months left.
In terms of the right product to build, we didn’t have a clue.
There were many lonely nights paging through our list of “company ideas.” We even tried to make new connections in our brains by matching random companies with random words.
Through our process of rethinking everything we eventually returned to the question of how could we help great products be found?
We thought if we had plans to help someone’s product be more successful, then the best place to start would be to make sure they had built a quality product first.
Maybe we could help by building the products ourselves? But that would only work for a few products being built at a time.
Then we thought, what if we helped connect mobile and web projects that meet a certain standard with skilled designers and developers? We could create a system for vetting mobile and web projects and connect them with the best makers in the world to build exceptional products.
If we eventually wanted to help creators and makers share the stories behind their products, we thought this would be the place to start.
Armed with a Mailchimp newsletter and Wufoo form, the first few connections between people needing a hand with their mobile or website project and skilled designers and developers were made.
Almost everything we did was manual at the start. Running low on resources and time, we only built technology that was essential.
Over the next six months, we clawed our way to connecting over $2 million worth of vetted mobile and web projects with some of the best digital makers in the world.
It kept growing and we started to see the results of the connections made on ooomf. Exceptional products being built. Happy makers and creators. It was taking shape.
A few months later, we secured a two million dollar investment from an outstanding group of investors who supported our vision. In the last month, we’ve connected almost half a million dollars in projects with talented makers who have done work for companies like Google, Path, and Facebook.
After raising this investment and seeing our company evolve from what it used to be, we took a step back and looked at everything we had done. One of things we looked at was our name, ooomf.
We hadn’t really thought about our name deeply since we started building the company two years ago but when we had some time reflect, we felt the name ooomf no longer fully represented where we were headed (not to mention it was hard to spell).
After months of tossing around hundreds of potential names and asking for help from you, we landed on our new name.
As of today, we begin operations under our name Crew.
The ooomf.com domain will remain active but will be forwarded to our new domain pickcrew.com.
Why did we choose the name Crew? You can read more about our process for finding a name here but one of the main reasons we chose the name is we love what the word represents (and that it’s easy to spell).
From the dictionary, “crew” means, “a group of persons involved in a particular kind of work or working together.”
In essence, this is what our company is about – people working together toward the common goal of making something exceptional.
In the past year, we’ve built an early version of a system that helps connect quality projects and professionals together to build exceptional products.
We’ve also always held strong to the philosophy of creating more than we consume. This has led us to build tools like Unsplash, How Much To Make An App, and Launch This Year. We will keep making things that help move the community forward.
Along the way, we try to write about all the things we’re learning with the hope that maybe there’s a few things you can take from our experiences that might help you build your business.
We know there’s still a long way to go and we’re excited to build Crew for many years to come. Most of all, we’re thrilled that you’ve been apart of our journey so far.
Thank you from all of us at Crew. We wouldn’t be anywhere without you.