I work at Osom. I used to say “I’m starting a company”, but these days I’m not starting, I’m working. So what’s the difference?
About a year ago, I met with Anton Johansson, at the time CMO at Twingly. We had lunch and talked about how much we loved startups and discussed the exciting companies emerging in Sweden. I had quit my job at Videoplaza just before that and was now looking for a new passion fire up my engine. Then we said goodbye.
A month later two Twingly guys popped up in Stockholm, Anton and Marcus. They wanted to start a company. I had never met Marcus before, but after meeting som 100+ devs in my life, I quickly realized that this guy was the real deal. We had a founding team, but what should we do? I joked about the founding of HP anecdote from Good to Great, where Hewlett and Packard in their original business plan stated who the founders were but had no idea on what the product should be or who the customer was.
We dug deep into what we knew, the trends of e-commerce and social, to find what we should build with our company. Eventually we found a personal need for a smooth, mobile classified ads service with focus on inspirational and social shopping. The idea of Osom spired and our level of excitement rose by the minute! We had fallen in love with the features and social behaviour of Instagram so this came be the foundation of our tool.
We talked about features, started making wireframes, threw away some bad ideas we had the week before and started playing around with a backend model. At the same time we started meeting with great people we know to toss the idea around and get feedback. We got great advice on how customer acquisition from the launch of Avito in Russia, great feedback on product UX from Spotify and great industry insights from leading classified sites executives. The honeymoon was over, and this was the wakeup call. This is much bigger and harder than we realized. I’ve heard this from entrepreneurs all the time and now I said it myself.
Focus. We needed to ship an awesome product and we needed lots of buyers and sellers. There’s a chicken and egg problem with marketplaces, that we needed to solve. We focused on getting sellers onboard. Still, this was a general idea and we needed to pin it down to a niche tribe of customers to start or spend a billion dollars on marketing. That’s not the startup way. To go big, you need to start small. After some analyzing we basically choose fashion and vintage enthusiasts which has a strong social community.
Ok, we had an idea and a founding team. We needed a name. We tried a great variety of names with embarrassing candidates like “Funk dunk”, “Papski” and “Nine Camels”. Yeah. I know… Then “Osom” came along. It grew on us and stuck. Yay! But wait! WTF? There is already an app in the App store with the name Osom. It’s some vague social media reputation thingie. Did we change the name? No. We choose another name in the App store. It’s more important to have a sticky name than a perfect domain name or app name.
So, how did we build the app? No one in our team was fluent in Objective-C at first. If we were to build an iOS app, we needed more people. I got in touch with Markus and Christoffer from a common connection (who I owe a beer). Both working with cutting edge iOS and Web development at Modern Times Group – Viasat. It was a great meeting and somehow I convinced them to meet with Anton and Marcus. The chemistry was there. After a couple of beers we had one of the best startup teams in Sweden and could start building a product for real!
Lot’s of things happend during the fall of 2012. We registered the company Osom AB, The Osom app lauched as a prototype. Anton pitched the idea at Pirate summit in Köln and won a price. We started putting people on the waiting list for the app to be launched at getosom.com.
Osom successfully launched in the app in App Store, April 2013.
And this is where the starting part ends.
Nowadays, I’m working at Osom. I’m doing customer acquisition, partnerships and managing our product development. I’m talking to users on a daily basis, feeling their agony and happiness. We are actually growing faster than I originally anticipated, but we have much more work to too.
It’s going to be a hell of a ride.