How A Great Startup Idea Can Come From Unexpected Moments

How A Great Startup Idea Can Come From Unexpected Moments

I thought I was just planning a wedding

Like many women, I was happy to get engaged and plan an amazing day with my husband. We didn’t know this wedding would change us forever, but it did. For our day jobs, we worked in web development. Peter has been a software developer for more than 20 years, and I’ve spent the last 10 in tech focusing on everything from Content Strategy to UX Design. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were our target customers: Tech savvy modern couple with friends and family flying in from around the world.  There are many methods to coming up with a great idea, but we started with solving our own problem because it inspired us to actually stick with it and build something useful.

We never found the magic wedding planning website or app.

We searched extensively online for that app or website that would do three things: 1. Connect our guests with each other 2. Allow us to assign tasks to them and ask for help 3. Put everything in one place so we wouldn’t be using 10 apps for our wedding.

The magic wedding website or app didn’t exist, so we had to build it.

What we did find was even more interesting: Despite how busy we were, we made the time to build what would become wedOcracy, the virtual wedding planner for couples and guests. Sounds crazy right? We were working full time, planning a wedding full time and trying not to lose our minds full time. We soon found out that our most creative idea came from our own experience.

Since then, I’ve realized a few things about why the best startup ideas come from personal experience:

1. When you build something based on a personal need, you can focus more on your MVP because you’re often building it quickly to solve an immediate problem.

2. If it’s a problem for you, it’s also most likely a problem that others might be experiencing.

3. You also discover that your industry might be behind the times (hello, a shocking number of people are still planning weddings with binders–ouch), and your idea may be the solution.

4. It’s also a great opportunity to weave your “how and why we built this” story into your branding, and helps keep your story authentic. Also, the press loves great startup founder stories!

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that we not only built wedOcracy for our wedding, we also built it for our Nigerian-American-Jewish wedding in Mexico, so we factored in several scenarios: friends flying in from around the world, travel accommodations, accessibility to fun activities and more.

Conclusion: The biggest lesson I learned is to be open to where your next great idea will come from. Say yes to the journey! Maybe it’s about getting married or opening up a coffee shop or traveling through Asia with your best friend. The best ideas come from a very personal need, so say yes to life’s experiences because you don’t know where they’ll lead you.

Now it’s your turn:

What life experience led to your startup journey/idea? Hit me up in the comments!

11 Startup Business Lessons I Learned From My Mother

11 Startup Business Lessons I Learned From My Mother

My mother is a hustler. Every day, despite her full time teaching job, my mother also ran her ice cream truck side gig business because she was all about the hustle: Going after what you need to do to get to where you want to go.  She wanted to be able to go to Nigeria every summer to see her family. Oh, and to raise 5 kids!

These are the business lessons I learned from my mom. Even though I was embarrassed when she picked me up from school in the ice cream truck, and even more embarrassed when she asked me sell ice cream to my classmates, these are the business lessons that remind me why I’m not giving up on my startup idea and how to keep going.

My mother (on the left with me in her arms) , aunt, twin sister and older brother in Nigeria, 1979.

My mother (on the left with me in her arms) , aunt, twin sister and older brother in Nigeria, 1979.

Lesson #1: Respect your  hustle and know what goals you’re working towards
Being a hustler isn’t about always trying to make more money. It’s about understanding your goal and knowing what you need to get there. My mom’s goal was to have extra money so she could visit family in Nigeria. So after teaching all day, she drove around town playing that sometimes-annoying ice cream truck song, and sold ice cream.

Lesson #2: Shame has no place in your vocabulary
I admit I was embarrassed and ashamed in the ice cream truck, and I sometimes felt the same way when she showed up in her traditional Nigerian outfit at our all-white suburban school. This was before it was cool to be ethnic. My mother felt that shame has no place in your world (unless you’ve done something horrible), and you can and should get up in any room or any crowd and show who you are.

Lesson #3: Differentiate yourself
Tuesday was free bubble gum day. All the kids knew this, and they would show up because her sales pitch was: reliable product and they gave out something for free. Here in New Orleans they call that lagniappe.

Lesson #4: There’s nothing wrong with a freebie, as long as it’s not your core product
My mother sold ice cream and she gave out free bubble gum, but she didn’t give out her core product which was her ice cream. By giving a little something for free and letting her users have a taste, they always came back and actually wanted to buy more.

Lesson #5: Make your product accessible
Other than free gum Tuesday, she always had some ice cream that was a bit damaged. She reserved these and sold them for half to 75 percent off. She had kids who didn’t have a dollar, but they had some money. She always found something for them, and made them feel they could be part of her club.

Lesson #6: Make your uniqueness work for you
My mother allowed herself to be who she needed to be. She was the woman who gave out free bubble gum, sold not so perfect ice creams instead of throwing them away, and embraced her cultural differences. She had her Nigerian accent and her broad laugh and she didn’t try to change it.

Lesson #7: Jealousy is a waste of time, unless you can use it to your benefit
I remember one day when my sister and I were fighting over a yellow shirt, and we both wanted it. My mom said we couldn’t come out of our room until we worked it out. After that she said “Jealousy has no point unless you can use it.” There will always be somebody prettier, smarter, more accomplished. Ask yourself why you’re jealous. Instead of hating them, become a friend and ask them how they did it.

Lesson #8: Sometimes, you’ve got to champion yourself
Sometimes there won’t be anyone who understands what you’re doing or    what it’s like to run a business, so you have to champion yourself. Go out and buy yourself flowers, chocolate and champagne to celebrate your successes and acknowledge how far you’ve come.

Lesson #9: Don’t sweat the small stuff
Some days, you’ve just got to laugh it off and keep going. Don’t get weighed down by every wrong move. Just keep going.

Lesson #10: Go for success, but don’t take yourself so seriously
I remember laughing with my mother. It was the serious knees collapse, tears-start-flowing and I-think-I-peed-my-pants kind of laughter. That taught me to take time and laugh, enjoy and let things go. Tomorrow brings another opportunity.

Lesson #11: Tomorrow brings another opportunity
When I failed at something, my mom always said: That’s alright honey, tomorrow brings another opportunity.


Running a startup isn’t easy, and being successful is even more difficult, but I’ve learned to keep my mother’s lessons in mind. While you can’t control the fact that most startups fail, you can focus on  making your product accessible, knowing what your hustling for (what are you trying to acheive?) and differentiating yourself (and your product) by making your uniqueness work for you.

What business lessons did you learn from your mom? I’d love to know. Hit me up in the comments!


Yes We Code chat 19: How To Step Up Your Tech Game

Yes We Code chat 19: How To Step Up Your Tech Game

YesWeCode chat 19: How to step up your #tech/#startup game
Sunday, May 3rd, 2015

While it’s encouraging to see more conversations about tech inclusion and the emergence of more diverse startups, coding classes and hiring of a diverse tech employees at major companies like Google and Facebook, there’s also seems to be a missing piece: a focus on how to step up your tech game and present yourself as an expert in your field both on and offline.

Does tech need to diversify? Yes! Do we (each and every one of us) also need to be on top of our game so we can make the most of the opportunities when they come our way.  Absolutely!

So the question is, what are you doing to step up your game? Is your LinkedIn profile on point? Do you have spelling mistakes riddling your blog posts and making them unbearable to read? Are you a designer whose portfolio doesn’t speak great design? Are you offering “high quality professional services” with a site that says “free website builder” in the footer?

The web is powerful because it’s our face to the world. Millions of users around the world can find you because of your url, your domain expertise, your blog. How you present yourself matters.

Join the #yeswecode chat this Sun 5/3 at 8pmCT.

Here are some questions to think about:

  • If you were being considered for a job in #tech right now, would your online presence help or hurt you? How?
  • If there was one area you could most improve, what would it be? Social? Resume?
  • What are some ways one can avoid looking “amateur hour”?
  • How do you judge if your public presentation meets certain standards?
  • How do you find out what those standards even are?

Hope to see you there!

#YesWeCode chat #15: Mentorship & Accountability in Entrepreneurship & Tech

#YesWeCode chat #15: Mentorship & Accountability in Entrepreneurship & Tech

#YesWeCode chat #15: Finding Mentorship and Accountability in Tech Entrepreneurship
Sunday March 1st, 2015
Connect with me @uchechi_writes on Twitter

Over the past few months, I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs who are passionate about their ideas and ready to make them happen. Whether they’re just learning to code and taking online design courses, or they’ve got the code skills but are new to business, the biggest challenge many face is staying accountable and motivated even when things get really difficult.

So, how do you stay accountable to your work and your tech goals?

During this chat, we’ll talk about finding mentorship and accountability partners, and how that can help you go from great idea to a great action plan.

I’ve had accountability partners in the past, and what I appreciated most was that they were also trying to stay accountable in their own work, and they could see things from my perspective and help me understand what I was trying to achieve. Hopefully, I did the same for them.

Some questions to think about:

  • When things get difficult in your tech/entrepreneurial work, who do you turn to for advice?
  • Do you have mentors/advisors/accountability partners? How has that helped you achieve your goals?
  • Are you serving as mentor for someone else? What has that process been like?
  • What advice would you give to someone looking for mentorship?

And more! Join us!

#Yeswecode chat #13: So you built a great tech product, now what?

#Yeswecode chat #13: So you built a great tech product, now what?

#YesWeCode Chat #13
Sunday January 25th, 2014

During this chat we’ll discuss how to go building a great tech product to figuring out what’s next. Maybe you’re next step is to start building a company or to find out if your idea brings value to your users via user testing. Either way, the goal of this chat is to help you find answers

Building a tech startup is about more than the great product you’ve created. Maybe you’ve created a new social network or photo sharing app. What’s next? From best practices to how to get noticed online, #YesWeCode chat #13 is about getting you to the next level through information, education and conversation.

  • During this chat, we’ll discuss the following questions:
  • After building your tech product, what’s the best way to get it out there to customers?
  • What best practices are important to help you go from great idea to a startup company?
  • What are some baseline things you should know (funding v. bootstrapping, accelerators, choice of technology, etc) when creating a startup?
  • How can you/your startup look and be legit?

And more!

Join us on Sunday 12/28/14 at 8pmCT.

For more info on how to participate, check out the chat guidelines.

Thanks and see you soon!



* Change of time: The chat is usually at 8pm CT, but has been changed to 9pm CT for this one chat.