TSW #13: Diana Poudel
Tell us a couple of words about yourself and your life in technology.
I am a 32 year old mom and entrepreneur and I have been interested about computers and IT already more than half of my lifetime – around 17 year. I guess that the first and a very important landmark for me was Nõo Grammar School where I learned to program and where I met lot of people who were really passionate towards everything related to technology. After graduating high school I continued my studies at the university. Since I discovered that I’m also interested in business and marketing, I spent the next 10 years swinging between technology and business. But somehow they didn’t quite fit well together in my life.
It started to change in the end of 2010 when in my head started to form an idea about a site for babysitters and parents. After several months thinking and researching I found myself in Garage48 Public Service event in the end of February 2011.
Tell us about your connection with Garage48 events.
I heard about this event for the first time in the end of 2010 when a friend of mine told me to participate after I had told him that I have an idea but not enough programming skills to execute it by myself. So if it was announced that next Garage48 will take place in Tallinn and will be dedicated to Public Services then it was a clear sign that I have to participate. And so I did! It was a really good decision that brought me many new skills, knowledge and friends.
By now I’ve participated in three Garage48 events and I think that it is a really good way to spend your weekend – you can step out from the routine and challenge yourself in ways that you’re unable to do at your daily job.
What were your fears and hopes when you first participated in Garage48? Why did you participate?
To be honest, I didn’t had any fears at this moment as I had no idea what to expect. My only hope was that I will find people who will help me launch a website that could help many parents in Estonia.
What is the most valuable experience you gained from participating in Garage48?
I learned how it’s possible to plan, develop, test and execute a web service during 48 hours. An extra bonus was that at the moment we gave the presentation, we had already 30+ real babysitters in the database (and I had no previous contacts). It was only a day later when the first family found a nanny through our service. I learned how to focus on the most important core functionality and also how to manage team of eight people who neither know each other nor have any idea about the area for what they need to develop a working solution.
I had my 30th birthday one day after the event and I can say that participating in Garage48 was probably the most intensive learning experience for me during my twenties ;)
Any advice for women who are considering taking part in Garage48, but not really sure whether they have something to offer?
I don’t think gender is relevant at Garage48. To know the roles of participants and understanding whether you fit in one of these roles is more important.
Developers: programmers who help to build the solution. If you have good knowledge about a programming language then believe me – the need is much bigger than the offering ;)
Designers: You know how to use Photoshop? That’s all you need to say – your gender, age, political views or religion doesn’t matter to anyone if you know how to make things look really nice.
Marketer: This is a tricky part in Garage48. Sometimes it’s a lot of work to find real customers, sometimes it’s more of a supportive work (FB page, Twitter etc) and planning for future. But all Garage48 participants know that there can be a really good piece of a program on the internet but without real users it is nothing.
Project Manager: This role is most challenging but at the same time also the best – if you manage to get the team and execute the idea then you feel like a Cinderella in a pumpkin chariot :D But getting the team is the most trickiest part – you need to have an idea and a quite good understanding of the market and good presentation skills.
There is of course the opportunity to be a project manager without your own idea and I have done it once but it is a hard path – if you as a project manager need to start coming up with a project idea during the 48 hours then the outcome can suffer.
How has your life changed after participating in the Garage48 event?
It has changed quite a lot. I love my project and it has brought me many interesting contacts in start-up world and outside of it. I have started to learn new things in IT field and I know that even if I will in some point retire from my current project, then I still want to stay in customer web area. It gives me the opportunity to combine IT, marketing and project management and there is never too much routine.
What would you say will have the most influence on the start-up world in the next coming 5 years?
Hard to say as 5 years is a long run it start-up world. But I see every day that there are new web services that offer one concrete solution for a problem. Even in our small project we use at least 4-5 different outsourced solutions.
I guess that in the near future there will be enough resources on the internet that you can combine with minimum knowledge of IT area and make your own prototype to put your idea to test. At the same time it means that getting customer attention becomes harder and so marketing budget will be the biggest cost for a new start-up.
There are also signs that if older generation (30+) is quite loyal to services that they use, then younger generations want to test everything and it means that keeping your customers will be more difficult.
But I believe that if you make a solution for a real problem then you don’t need to worry too much. Just keep in your mind that:
1. Executing IT start-up is a marathon – don’t hope that you go viral overnight. It takes a lot of time, energy and patience to grow your customer base.
2. Don’t try to solve all the world’s problems – if you don’t have unlimited financial resources then I suggest take one small piece of a problem and offer a solution for that. If you already have happy customers, big mailing list and a better marketing budget, then it is time to grow bigger.
3. Use your service – if you don’t need your service yourself then why you think that others would use it? Or if you don’t have a problem yourself, then why you think that you know how to solve it?
Who or what inspires you?
There are lot of things what can inspire but my two biggest supporters and inspirations are my 6 year old twins who teach me how to see the world from different angle, how to not give up if things don’t work out the first time and how to ask simple questions with difficult answers.