Phase 1: Anticipation and motivation
Having successfully mastered our first Peerox year in 2020, followed by a strenuous Corona winter, we looked to the future with a lot of confidence. Right at the turn of the year, we moved to a larger office in the Robolab at Robotron Datenbanksysteme GmbH. In addition to a bunch of other leads we had a super pilot customer with lots of opportunities in Bayer AG.
Phase 2: Setbacks and strategy adjustment
Unfortunately, as the Corona numbers increased, so did the cancellations. Planned new customer projects and trade shows were postponed or stopped altogether. The associated uncertainties naturally affected our team. We reacted to this by increasing transparency a bit further in the following way. Once a quarter since then, management presents the current account balance, current costs, certain and planned revenues. Moreover we look at potential projects and an associated timeline.
In addition, we have firmly established our quarterly retrospective as a communication framework with which we build the company together and exchange personal concerns, ideas and visions. It was precisely this exchange that led us to make an important fundamental decision in the spring of 2021. Instead of continuing to invest a lot of energy in new customer acquisition – which was quite hopeless due to the pandemic conditions – we put all our eggs in one basket. We focused fully on product development and our existing customer. Our goal was to be able to demonstrate a marketable product and ROI to the customer as quickly as possible. To be able to meet this expectation, we have hired two software developers, Chris and Andreas. With a stable and marketable software version by Q3/2021, the implementation effort and thus the costs for new customers should be significantly reduced.
But unfortunately the world is not ideal. Internal and external constraints can change, hypotheses can prove flawed, and unforeseen challenges can arise. Thus, our spring and summer was also a thoroughly difficult period. Under high pressure, we tried to react to external influences and, of course, made mistakes ourselves. Instead of thinking in terms of new features and developing MADDOX further, we had to struggle more with trouble shooting. That was frustrating, but also formative. On the fast track to an MVP (Minimal Viable Product), we have consciously accepted technical debts. Gradually, we have been able to resolve these debts through bug fixes and optimization of the development processes. With a significantly higher coverage of automated software tests as well as our CI/CD pipeline, we can now offer an efficient, well-maintainable product.
Phase 3: Reward for the hard work -> MADDOX finally stable!
The perseverance paid off. As of August, we had the biggest challenges under control and were able to fix the final tweaks in a structured way. The stability and reliability of the resulting MADDOX version 3.4 met our requirements and the user acceptance at the customer increased again. At the same time, this phase welded us even closer together as a team. We were able to find out who can handle pressure and how, and how we can support each other. We also reached a major milestone with the release of this version, which is so important for us. The sale of our first software licenses! Thus completing what is probably the most strenuous phase in our young company’s history to date.
Phase 4: We strengthen sales
Even during the great challenges and uncertainty of the summer, we worked intensively on the next steps in the formation of our company. We wanted to actively strengthen sales starting in Q3/2021. To this end, we signed up for our first trade fair and were able to recruit Amie, our first professional full-blooded salesperson. Even though the preparation for the trade fair was stressful as usual and, in view of the Corona development, associated with great uncertainties, the result was a complete success. There were many visitors on site, whom we could convince of us and MADDOX. We are now picking up speed in the follow-up discussions. We are standardizing the acquisition process, developing marketing, revising our homepage and investing in new communication media.
What we can take into the new year
The major setbacks and successes this year have made us grow together even more. We know that we can trust and rely on each other. Home office, vacation, sick days, spontaneous breaks and overtime are no longer a topic of discussion. Everyone takes care of themselves and their fellow Peers and takes their breaks on their own responsibility. That also means that everyone does not allow themselves to be steered by the possible perceptions or expectations of others. Furthermore, MADDOX has not only become much more stable. Despite all the difficulties, numerous features have been added, such as the SAP interface. Other examples are powerful authoring tools, a more robust search algorithm, and significantly better workflows. We have already won numerous new orders for 2022 and are in contact with many exciting potential new customers. So it doesn’t feel like 2022 will be any less exciting in any way. We are looking forward to it tremendously!