The year was 2013. We were just getting started and it felt like we were already being stopped in our tracks. Google had just announced a new product offering called Google Helpouts. And suddenly, it seemed no one was interested in hearing about what we had to say.
“There’s no way you can compete against Google. You should try something else.” Comments like these grew everyday. To say I was concerned after hearing such comments was an understatement. But we truly believed we offered something different that colleges and students alike were looking for. So, despite concern that our fledgling startup could be going toe-to-toe with one of the biggest names in tech, we decided to venture forward.
One of the hardest things to do when beginning your startup is balance the feedback and ideas of the various potential investors and others with what your own instincts. You will find that there will be tons of advice that gives you reasons to ponder — and perhaps even iterate. But ultimately, it is up to you to make the right decision. It’s not an easy task, and there are no really simple methods to do it right. I’ve seen entrepreneurs miss the target on both sides. Some have tried to desperately to change with each new piece of advice that they struggle to remain in a position long enough to find a market. Others have refused to budge despite the consensus of feedback from multiple parties. What you must do is find the middle-ground, and stick to that.
Fast-forward to today. Upswing is still a startup, but we have thousands of students who have been able to benefit from Upswing. We have been able to keep several students from dropping out of college, and we have great customer reviews from nearly all of our users.
So what happened with Google Helpouts?