I’d say it’s pretty hard to take a plunge. It’s even harder to navigate your way through choppy waters that are a mix of highs and lows as you nurture a startup. I had never really tested either idea, and the closest I had been to a startup was having someone stand behind a lectern and tell me about their venture.
However, as of April the 4th, I had an opportunity to get up close and personal with one and see what it really is all about. It all began when my college reiterated the necessity to complete a summer internship before the beginning of the academic year 2016. Fortunately, an old friend came forward in a time of great uncertainty and provided me with an interview for the startup he works for. And that is what led me to Houzify.
Having been accepted as a summer intern for the coming two months, I began my time at Houzify. There, I would meet a group of young people who all had a singular focus; the success of a vision that three men had had almost two years ago. I took a while to get up to speed with my new surroundings – an environment where one did not have any diktats on what could be worn and how the hair was supposed to be cut was honestly alien to me. Oh! Add a flat hierarchy to that list. I went from school to a degree in Business Administration, to job in sales and back to a Master’s programme in Business Administration again. Needless to say, I’ve been a formal shirt and trousers guy for almost the entirety of my life. To say that someone was going to gauge me purely on the basis of how I went about getting my work done was unusual.
The next bit that got me skipping to work happily was the fact that someone was willing to let me touch the content they were putting up on a public platform. I must tell you while I am certain that I can write, I have never been sure if what I was writing was worthy of public consumption. I didn’t have a clue about the language of interior design and my understanding of the language of business isn’t immaculate either. And so I wondered if I would be able to catch on quickly. But now I can tell you I’ve edited content written by people who speak the language and even wrote a piece myself. I would like to think I have learnt a little bit about interior design; it’s a drop in the ocean but hey, at least I got a drop, right? Pearls of wisdom = pearls of design know-how, or something like that?
One of the biggest things I must emphasize upon is the importance everyone at Houzify puts on culture. I love the fact that everyone has lunch together. I remember reading something about how professional footballers are encouraged to eat together before or after training. It’s all about creating an environment of togetherness. I love the fact that I don’t need to punch into work at nine o’clock in the morning, dying for the clock to strike six, so I can punch out and run home. The emphasis is on getting the job done well for when it’s needed, regardless of when you find the time to do it. I spent time reading about design to appropriately edit and create relevant content. I listened in on how we are reaching out to users on both sides of the market. I experienced a genuinely participative environment where discussions to find better ways to engage existing users as well as draw in new ones involved everyone, including interns!
It’s easy to say “Yeah, I need just the one idea! Make it an app and BOOM, in comes the money!” No, you don’t just need the one idea. You need a large amount of patience, energy and drive to turn that idea into an app that’s going to get people to download it. You then have to satisfy them enough to be able to pay people to keep the app working and improving so you remain relevant. Houzify is trying to fill in the proverbial “gap” that every business aims to do in some form. Each day is an array of trails and errors coupled with a drive to keep the things that are working right on the up.
The constantly changing P.O.A. did upset me a little in the first couple of weeks but then I realised that when I left my shirt and trouser in my closet this summer, I forgot to leave the mindset that comes with them. There isn’t a sure shot way to be a success set in stone or written in a textbook for that matter. There are definitely basics that have to be covered but beyond that there is no auto-pilot. Everyone at Houzify is on a learning curve. It’s a headspace that gives you plenty of Aha! moments alongside a large number of moments when you want to cuss and break something to relieve the frustration of being unable to solve something at the fag-end of the day. In the end, it’s a place I would love to come back to. I might have even got a little more motivation to work harder on learning the ways of management!
– Adam Mawlong