Cold showers and shivering elephants

Paolo Bongiovanni12 Sep 16

We had our first public demo of Neonce at TechHub Tuesday last week. We dreamed of people carrying us in adoration through the Shoreditch streets and mobbing us to get their hands on the hyper-hipster-uber-cool tool of the century.

Well, maybe we were not that optimistic, but we were hoping for a better outcome than what we got. It was not terrible, the main problem we had is that many people did not understand the product during the three minutes presentation. A cold shower!

We started our search for an initial group of enthusiastic users two weeks ago, testing three traction channels. As for any startup, enthusiastic users are key in creating the best product we can. Well, guess what, it's hard to find them.

I knew rationally it would be hard, yet living through it puts the spotlight on the elephant in the room: emotions, and my emotions are Italian, like me: big. Ten years in Britain help a bit, but my rider had a hard time in keeping the elephant under control.

If you're confused about riders and elephants, I apologise. I'm using an interesting metaphor invented by Jonathan Haidt in The Happiness Hypothesis. The elephant represents our emotional side, while our rational side is the rider. The elephant is not a very tame one and when rider and elephant disagree, the elephant usually wins.

My rider is trying to reassure my big Italian elephant in a few ways:

  1. We have just started our journey in attracting users, you have to expect difficulties in identifying the right traction channel and the right message for it.

  2. We use our product and it works for us. We believe in it and that it transforms teams into idea machines. Now let's see if we can find people who feel the same way.

  3. We always expected and expect that we will have to change significant parts of the product. Getting feedback that tells you what is working and what not is the only way to do that. Demo night was only one of our first steps.

So after the warm bath of having a working prototype after months of design and development, we had a cold shower on the first public demo. The elephant is still shivering a bit from the cold. The rider, while he waits for his stead to settle down, is starting to look at the various paths we have ahead, searching for the final destination: a profitable sustainable business.

If you'd like to help my elephant find his footing, do try our beta of Neonce and give us some feedback: the good, the bad and the ugly! Don't forget we can guide you through the first workshop, so you become familiar with the Neonce method and the user interface. You can email us at to set that up.

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