Success Ain’t Easy

“And yet I smile. There will be no fantasies of failure this day.”
– King Ezekiel, The Walking Dead

Chris and I spent a good year and a half building Maple in secret before we released it. We worked countless hours debating what Maple should do, exactly, and then I designed databases, wrote code, tested code, and re-wrote code. We then changed our ideas of what Maple should do, exactly, and I re-wrote code, re-tested code, and re-wrote code again.

After the first year of development we had finished everything we had planned on (and more), but we also realized we wanted Maple to be even more before we shared her with the world. So, we dug in our heels and debated some more, designed some more, coded some more, tested some more, and re-coded even more. When we finally released Maple at the end of last summer it felt like a great achievement, a détente of sorts. We were done! We did it!! Mission Accomplished!!!

Proud of what we had done, we sat back on our laurels and prepared to reap our glory as users signed up in droves and we rocketed to the top of every “Must Have App in 2017” list.

Except that’s not what happened.

Our preliminary invite-only BETA period brought us lots of positive responses but fewer users than we had hoped for. Going with the flow, we decided to go public sooner than planned and try to bring in more users that way. Maple’s public launch was another great victory – a few well-placed search ads here and there and within a few months we had 10 times as many users as we started with. It had taken a little more effort than we had expected, but we were on our way to viral success! We made it!! We did it!!! We were done!!!!

Except, not yet.

To paraphrase fellow entrepreneur Gwen Hurt from @ShoeCrazyWine, the adage “build it and they will come” isn’t quite right. After you build it you have to take it to them.

We had built it, told a few people about it and rejoiced in their response, but as we learned, making Maple THE universal platform for personal growth means a lot more work ahead of us. We’ve got to keep getting the word out; we’ve got to bring in customers one by one; we’ve got to hit the road and drum up awareness of the product we worked so hard to build and are so proud of.

Realizing that we weren’t magically going to go viral was a hard pill for me to swallow. I exhausted everything I had in building Maple, and I had to dig deep to find any effort to pour into this new phase of entrepreneurship. I’m still struggling with it – every day is a new challenge; every day I have to remind myself of our successes, look past our failures, and remember why we started building Maple in the first place. We aren’t doing this for fun, we’re doing it to make the world a better place. In order to do that, we’ve got to let the world know we exist.

And so, we trudge onwards; still debating, designing, coding, and recoding, but also working the sales, marketing, promotions, and brand development angles, all while preparing for our first round of investment.

As it turns out: success is hard.

Success takes talent, hard work, a good idea, and a whole lot of luck. But there’s also a societal notion that success is an event, a finality, a terminus to all those things you did to get yourself there. We talk about people who have “made it”. We talk about people as if they are either successful or they aren’t. But success isn’t an event, it’s a path to nowhere. You know you’re on The Path to Success when you can mark successful milestones along the way, but the expectation that there’s a place to get to when you know you’ve “made it” is misleading.

In a way, what we’ve done to build Maple and the journey our users are on are one and the same. Personal Growth is also a path without a finish line. We are doing our best for ourselves when we explore what it means for us to be alive, and what we can do to better enjoy life. None of it is easy. As they say, if it was easy it wouldn’t be called work. But they also say that work pays off. Not in the end, for we’re never finished growing and learning, but the payoff happens along the way.

How are you experiencing success?  Tell us @MeetMaple.  #MapleStories

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Scott Waletzko is the managing partner responsible for all things technical at R. Alliance, including the design and development of Maple.

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