Q4 2018 finishes out a complete year of TheMissionZone’s existence. We did not go out with a bang as I had hoped. While it looked like we might catch up on some of our goals, we did not make up the ground I had intended. As such, we were able to sell gift certificates in 2018 and generate revenue, but we did not actually deliver a product to the market.
The end of the year necessitated a transition and pivot in distribution strategy. I abandoned the Mobile Unit approach. In talking to potential customers, it became clear that this would not work. Instead, we found a great site and began preparations to open our very first Zone. We also figured a better way to create a transition room and incorporate that into the Missions as a challenge. A lot of small developments happened that will enhance the customer experience and having a space to make this real, greatly simplifies our ability to prove product:market fit. We were lucky to sign a short-term lease, limiting risk in making this pivot.
1. Tech Development – The app is complete and we have been creating test missions to work with the physical space. This is a great win.
2. Physical space – Everything is complete and working. I am very happy with the locks, controller, lighting and other components. This will make the experience very dynamic and I think create a great sense of excitement for the players. However, at year end, we still don’t have a permit from the town to operate.
3. Team/Network - I did almost nothing on this front. We are focused on product, product, product.
This is a tough quarter to grade. I grade myself a B, because even though we didn’t accomplish our goals, I am VERY happy with the decision to pivot. This was a significant commitment, but as I read Blitzscaling, I grew confident in my conviction. Adoption will require enabling customers, partners and investors to see the potential of the platform. That would never have been possible with the mobile unit strategy. Plus finding a site that would give me a short-term lease, was a huge win. I grade the company a D; we are not operating yet and that is bad.
Town permitting process- I could have hired some construction PM to run this for me with better results. But I learned so much about what needs to happen in the future as we expand to larger spaces. I made several mistakes here, but I gained great insight.
Mission construction- This is turning out to be harder than I thought. I have the outlines for several critical missions, but I have not finalized the details.
Finding partners- Given my acknowledgment above, this turned out to be less successful than I hoped. We need a video to make it real and put the pieces of the puzzle together visually.
Describing the product- Even my best friends still don’t get it. This is job #1 in Q1-19.
Finances- We really needed some significant revenue in Q4. This will be a strain moving into Q1.
Communications, content and videos- We were able to deliver some good content in Q4 that will set the stage for product rollout in Q1. These were well received. In addition, there is a lot of paperwork required to make this work, it is good to have this complete.
Town permitting process- As noted, I consider this a very painful win. If we see significant success and growth, upscaling to a larger space will be critical. We now know exactly what this will take.
Opening a space- I am so excited about this. This will prove to be the single best decision I have ever made.
Jury Is Out
Product:Market fit- The whole thing might not work as well as I dream. I am always cognizant of this reality. Now that we are closer to a rollout, the doubts are creeping in.
Revenue- Can a single site generate enough revenue to justify the projections I have made for growth?
Continuing at this Zone- From an operational perspective, I have about a month or two to plot out how this is going to work and figure out lease options. This will be tough.
Q1 Outlook and Objectives
Generate revenue- We need demo videos, content, sales, partners. A lot needs to happen to create a curve up and to the right.
Hit metrics (Missions, Sales, Customer feedback) – The clock is now ticking. We are measuring everything. Q1 means that all the metric goals we have set will now have evaluations at the end of the quarter.
Annual Review and Summary
Despite some serious challenges and complexities for this year, and making much less progress than I had hoped, I am still optimistic about what we are doing. I believe in this platform. Most importantly, I stayed true to core values for the company. I am constantly working, but I have not missed critical events. I helped my wife sell her house and move in with me. I went to horse shows. I spent time with my older daughter when she was home on leave from USAFA. We took vacations. I got married. Our employees worked remote. These philosophies have matured over the years on my personal blog. Most importantly, no matter the complexities of the day, I continue to embody the spirit of We Don’t Work on Powder Days.
As I look at the year in totality, I feel pride for what we have accomplished. In 12 months, we built a patent pending product that incorporates software, hardware and physical infrastructure. We nearly opened a physical store. I am a bootstrapped solo founder and proved that good architecture is the key piece to building a virtual team. I have assembled a group of advisers that give me awesome feedback and insight. I have built relationships with educational institutions. We are getting people excited.
2019 will be an exercise in bringing all of it to fruition. Big picture, we need success on our metrics, a fundraising event, and evolving the product to the next level of scale to support that growth. Challenge accepted.
Key 2018 Financials
Equity Investment -$65K
Software development - $39K
Zone Development - $4K
Patent Filing - $12k
Revenue - $25 :)