I already wrote about the very beginning of Hyperion Data, but if it weren’t for a single email the adventure would have ended with contracting.
My partner and I got an email in May 2019 from someone at THHI, connecting us with a representative from Amazon. That representative was looking to help another non-profit digitize the Point In Time (PIT) count. They wanted to talk to us.
We told them that we were interested. I did some research before the meeting. It turns out about 400 organizations conduct the PIT count, many more than I would have thought. What’s more, a company was already out there with a product specifically for the PIT count and they had about 50 of these organizations as customers! Unfortunately, their prices weren’t listed.
We met digitally with the representative from Amazon and (surprisingly) members from two different non-profits, both looking for software for the PIT count.
I used the meeting as an opportunity to learn more about their problem. Why not go with the existing product from the other company? What’s their current workflow? When would they need to decide what they would use for the 2020 PIT count? One of the non-profits was using the existing product, so I asked them how much they were paying. You can’t get information you don’t ask for.
We learned that many organizations were paying this company close to 15k per year, and that many were unhappy. They felt gouged by the prices but without any options. They were disappointed by the reliability of the product and the quality of the support.
After that meeting, I decided I would build a software product for the PIT count and try to sell it. I’d been saving money since the start of my career waiting for an opportunity. This looked like it.
It would be a lot of work. We didn’t own the source code that we built before, so this would be a new product from scratch. That previous product was tailored to that specific non-profit, anyway. To do this right, I would have to set up meetings with many potential customers to learn about the common problems and workflows around the PIT count.
I told my partner what I was thinking, and he agreed.
I scheduled follow-up meetings with both non-profits and about a month and a half later quit my job to start working on the product fulltime. First thing on the agenda: start talking to leads.