A great service that will help you to “Deliver simple, beautiful proposals without fighting software or digging through old files.” We spoke to one half of the duo over at Nusii, Nathan; also known as the company’s ‘Design Guy’. He told us where Nusii came from, where it’s going, and a lot about what has happened so far in between as well as some tips for those also looking to embark on their startup journey.
StartupCatchup: Please introduce us to your venture, Nathan.
Nathan: Nusii is proposal software for creative professionals. We don’t believe in losing billable hours to the soul-sucking process of creating proposals. We wanted to win back those hours, so we built Nusii. And we made it lightning fast.
Nusii will help you create proposals in minutes, and without the need for complicated tutorials. It’s agile, intuitive and has a great UI. Keep things simple.
StartupCatchup: How did you come up with the idea?
Nathan: From the outset I wanted to build a business around what I do. I’ve been a designer for ten years and it made sense to work with a group of people I form a part of. I scratched my own itch and spoke to my people.
Proposals are something I’d always struggled with, I mean they’re not much fun and they’re a huge time-sink. I’d tried old school methods like Word, InDesign and PDF, I even tried some of the online solutions, but they all asked too much of me. I’m lazy when it comes to software. If I need to learn how to use it, I lose interest. I knew that if that could reduce the time spent writing proposals by even an hour then I’d be earning considerably more money every month. I wanted to find a solution.
StartupCatchup: What made you actually take action and go for it?
Nathan: When I look back at my initial customer interviews I can see I went about it all wrong. I took their enthusiasm as a “Yes, this is a problem. I need this and yes I’d pay for it”. I put my solution forward from the start. I tried to sell my idea instead of listening to their own problems. They were of course very gracious and told me Nusii was a great idea…
That said, if they’d told me my idea sucked I probably would have gone for it anyway. I was determined to build Nusii.
There are many schools of thought about idea validation, and no doubt I failed them all. I’ll be thrown out of the SaaS club for saying this, but in the end I went with Nusii because I believed there was a need and my gut screamed “Do it!”
StartupCatchup: Talk about convinction! So how many people are currently working on the project and who are they?
Nathan: At its core Nusii is just two people, myself Nathan Powell and my partner Michael Koper. Michael is originally from Holland but has lived in Spain for 5 years. I’m from Wales in the U.K. and have lived in Spain for 14 years. It was at a startup in Madrid that Michael and I both met in late 2013.
Our roles are pretty well defined but we’re starting to crossover on a lot of tasks. Generally I take care of design, UX, marketing and support while Michael takes care of all things development. We’re learning a lot, and I think we’ll both be learning a lot more about marketing over the coming months. You can be a great designer or developer but if you can’t get your product in front of people then you’re just building a hobby.
We also have an advisor, Marcus Blankenship. Marcus is a business coach and formerly a project manager. Marcus helps us to stay focused and work on the things that are most important. He keeps us moving forward. Having someone on the team that can bring in a little outside perspective is invaluable. I’d encourage you to find your own Marcus.
StartupCatchup: How are you funding the project at the moment?
Nathan: Nusii is 100% self funded. It’s been built in our spare time, outside of consulting. Time has been an enemy from the start. We don’t have any real interest in funding at the moment. We want to be in control and forge our own path.
StartupCatchup: What are your plans for the business and what do you hope to accomplish?
Nathan: This sounds very un-business like but we’re pretty much playing it by ear. We do want Nusii to grow and we would like it to be our sole focus in the future. This of course means getting a really solid product in front of enough people, but we know this will take time and we’re prepared to put in the work. It’s been over 12 months since the initial idea so the long game is fine by us.
StartupCatchup: What has been the most positive experience so far on the journey?
Nathan: What has been most surprising is the positive interaction with our customers. I never imagined myself enjoying customer support, but I absolutely do! The feeling of satisfaction when you help someone to win a project with your software is amazing.
Of course having people pay to use your software is the ultimate feel-good experience. Knowing that in turn they’re making more money because of it is also pretty great.
StartupCatchup: What, if anything, would you have done differently looking back on the journey now?
Nathan: The reason Nusii took so long to get to launch was due to a pretty awful MVP. Before Michael joined Nusii it was just an MVP, an empty bank account and me. Nearly everyone who signed up for that early version churned out shortly after. In the end we closed it down to new signups and worked on the version that exists today. It was a great decision.
My one regret would be not finding a technical co-founder earlier. I wasted a lot of time before meeting Michael. I know Michael’s biggest regret was not closing down the MVP earlier. But these are things you learn by doing, and as always hindsight is a wonderful thing.
StartupCatchup: What would you advise others who have an idea but don’t know where to begin?
Nathan: Don’t do as I did. Be a little more scientific. Do your research and see if potential customers even have the problem you’re trying to fix. It may just be an inconvenience and not a problem people aren’t willing to pay for. You’d be surprised at what people are willing to put up with.
Also don’t pitch your solution to interviewees (at least not at first), simply ask about their workflows, and how they deal with problem “X”. Their problem might be something completely different to the one you’re trying to solve. This in turn can open up a host of new ideas. Without directly pushing your software on people you’ll have a clearer idea of whether your idea actually has a paying audience. Look for problems before you come up with solutions…sometimes easier said than done.
StartupCatchup: Brilliant insights and advice Nathan, thanks a lot for joining us! Before you go, can you give us a quote that motivates and inspires you to keep going?
Nathan: The harder you work, the luckier you get. Or to put it another way, good things don’t just happen, you have to make them happen.