I just found myself in the beginning of a brand new startup, and I loved it.

So Quipu was just born. A really young startup is just in the opposite side from big, enterprise companies. You have no track record, no financial structure, no long-term plans, no clients, and almost no team. That might sound scary, and it is sometimes, but it is also a great opportunity that differentiates you from these enterprise companies we were talking about.

Just picture them like a big, transoceanic cruise. With a well-set way, not only shifting is really difficult, but decreasing or increasing your speed is painfuly slow. Startups, instead, are like small sailing ships in the middle of the ocean. It’s frightening, of course, but you have the ability to go wherever you want, and this is truly a good thing.

This is where we were. Just three people in the very beginning: a designer that helped us define the first branding, the founder CEO and my partner in the company, and me. We had a nice working application that did the job, but it was not the best in terms of user experience. As it had been an internal tool, it hadn’t been thought that way, but we did know that we wanted for it to be easy to use, with the ultimate goal of making this dull (yet compulsory) job less painful: if you have to do something either way, then do it in the best way possible.

In a bit under three months, just as summer faded away and we went back to autumn again, we had a great application that not only solved the problems of our potential users, but also did it in a friendly way. But this was just the beginning: we were still focused on the product, because the complexity of the problem we were trying to solve is not trivial. When you deal with invoices, amounts, delicate calculations and this kind of things you must be really careful. Besides, we kept adding more and more features that we had in our roadmap, always being thoughtful about our users and listening to them a lot.

Halfway having our product ready to be released to the public, we had been raising a small investment round that would help us survive the first months. We were kind of lucky to just find a group of people that wanted to do the same product that we were already building, and we convinced them to get on board with us as investors instead of just bootstrapping on their own.

As the product grew, we incorporated two more people, one to help me in development with frontend and design, and another one to begin the first baby steps of Quipu marketing-wise. We were exploring ways to grow, which is obviously really hard in the beginning, and even more for SaaS that are just like us: a software that solves a problem that, sometimes, your client-to-be is not too aware of, or is not too convinced about because he doesn’t imagine what good can you do for him. The classic chicken-and-egg problem.

Then 2014 began, and we kept ourselves in the way of building a great product while exploring to who and how could we market it. Another person began working with us as a commercial agent, and we expanded our clients to not only self-service freelances and companies, but also bookkeepers that served as an important hub to attract new customers. Apart from that, we hired a person to take care of customer support and our newly created blog, another commercial agent, and a backend developer to support me.

Months were passing by really fast, and the clients growth got faster and faster. We were pretty happy about how things were going, although we had a lot to do in many fronts. Furthermore, we had a clearer growth strategy, so we found it necessary to get a growth hacker on board to help us do it better and faster, and also an art director to take our brand to the next level.

So a year passed. A whole year devoted to a product that had got from an internal tool to something that a lot of clients chose to manage their financial information, and we were pretty proud about it. We even celebrated it with a pretty big event, and I realized that something that a friend told me some time ago was true: startups years are so intense that they are like seven years in any other kind of companies.

Just like dog years.

Fifth and final episode can be found here (part three is just here).