Founder of Minutes, Ivonne, is a legal advisor&
Get Started Alumnus ’16.
Our Get Started programme has helped over 250 first-time entrepreneurs move from idea to actual business in 10 weeks. This post is part of an ongoing series where we profile the many different kinds of entrepreneurs that have been part of the programme.
Anxious to get started yourself? Check out www.getstarted.nl and apply before April 16th!
How it all started
Ivonne was working as a lawyer, and absolutely hated time tracking. All day long she was working with her computer and simply couldn’t understand why the smartest machine in the world couldn’t do a job that easy and annoying itself. She kept on asking everyone if there wasn’t any other solution to it. But apparently, even in the 21st century – this software did not yet exist. Then she started giving legal advice to start up entrepreneurs. Every time she worked with them, she noticed how dynamic their entrepreneurial spirit was and how much fun they had in creating something from scratch. The moment when she finally decided to start working on her own idea fulltime, was when a former colleague told her that he started working as a legal counsel and mostly loved the fact that he didn’t have to track his working minutes any longer. This was a problem that she was going to solve!
And then what?
Ivonne didn’t have a development background, so couldn’t figure out how to technically fix the problem herself. Then she found her co-founder all the way over in Budapest, and together, they figured it out. All of a sudden, she had a working product with a valid algorithm.
Ivonne was thinking: ‘Crap, what am I supposed to do with this now? I’m just doing some random stuff which I think could be right, but where do I go from here?’ Ivonne was used to being the type of woman who always knew exactly what to do, and now she found herself sceptic about everything. ‘Should I call this person or not? Am I doing the right thing? ‘I finally came to the conclusion that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, and that I really needed help. I simply lacked in entrepreneurial skills’.
“Honestly, I kind of liked everything about the programme. The first Get Started session, felt as if a whole new world opened up to me.”
After searching for the right programme for a while, she decided to join the Get Started programme at ECE. ‘This programme gave me the tools, network and verification I needed to keep going. I had a product, but I got stuck. Get Started really helped me out of this situation. Honestly, I kind of liked everything about the programme. The first Get Started session felt as if a whole new world opened up to me. I started working on the Business Model Canvas, which somehow I didn’t get in touch with before. I already produced 10 versions of a business plan, but never one as clear as the canvas we used in the program. Now I finally knew what I was doing. It all came together, providing me with an overview of what to do and how to get it done. The mentors really taught me how to structure my work and handle a canvas. I’m still in touch with some of my fellow entrepreneurs, and also with one of the coaches who invited me to Boutique-i, the e2e Incubator where I get coaching and learn a lot from the other start-ups.’
Minutes: The future of time accounting software
At the moment the software is used at several smaller and bigger law firms. ‘And we are talking to one of the major firms.’ Ivonne says enthusiastically ‘We are working closely with these firms, getting the input to develop the algorithm further.’ The goal is to reach the point where time accounting doesn’t require any interference from the lawyer anymore, not even a check at the end of the day. ‘At the moment Minutes runs in the background and at the end of the day, you get an overview of all the cases you worked in, with a description of your activities. It doesn’t require you to use timers or manually link cases to the time before starting to work, but it does require you to check the suggestions at the end of the day. It makes me so happy that we have figured out a solution to solve this issue, and that firms are actually using it.’
“My biggest lesson learned is that you have to start talking to your customers as soon as you can. The worst thing that could happen is that people tell you that they’re not interested in your product, well so be it!”
Did you make any bloopers in the startup process? ‘Well, yes. I should’ve hit the market much earlier. I was safe and sound behind my computer for way too long, trying to figure out the technical part, without really talking to people. I simply should’ve visited ECE sooner’, she says laughing. ‘At the time, I missed that entrepreneurial knowledge. I assumed that I shouldn’t talk about my idea too much, afraid that people would walk away with it. My biggest lesson learned is that you have to start talking to your customers as soon as you can. The worst thing that could happen is that people tell you that they’re not interested in your product, well so be it! I’m better of knowing that, than knowing nothing at all. At first I always thought that it would be terrible if people would say that they didn’t like my work. Now I know that it’s so much more helpful to know why, and continue to work with that feedback.’
‘My biggest dream is to develop Minutes into a program used internationally by all lawyers – and later all other professionals – that doesn’t ever require them to think about or check billable hours, where both the client and the lawyer have a good feeling about honest time accounting.’
Are you ready to Get Started? Launch your own startup in our next Class of July! Applications close on April 16th.