part IV

Into the Depths

Bulgaria → USA

The start of the Alchemist accelerator program marked the beginning of the year. We decided it was best for Kasper, Yana, and Miro to relocate to California to take part in the program. Stefan was to remain behind together with the remaining team in Sofia.

The next half a year was all about research and product development. Our team was talking with hundreds of Swipes Personal. We wanted to understand how companies worked, what tools were they using, and what some overlooked problems we can address. Version after version of the new collaboration tool was being made and tested. We were learning, but we were far from getting it right.

Our initial assumption of a quick product release and success was starting to change. We were threading in deep waters we didn't understand. Fortunately for us, we had phenomenal angels and mentors on our side. When we needed it the most Bogimil Balkanski, Michael Moon and Mark Tamres came through with know-how and moral support to help us navigate. Vassil Terziev also joined as an investor because he believed in our team. Our investors from Salesforce, Google, and Facebook were feeding us valuable insights from the enterprise world to help us understand it better.

Alchemist Demo Day was just around the corner. We had been working relentlessly iterating over and over. We triumphed in our product — The Connected Workspace in front of the hall of investors only to be met with overwhelming skepticism. All investors rejected the idea. At that time combining all the work tools together seemed too far-fetched.

We felt smashed and drained from pushing through the murky depth of that half a year with no clear promise of success. In the middle of all that craze, Yana and Kasper got engaged and brought a lot of energy to the team. We were tired, but we didn't give up. Not even close. We knew that if there was someone who can make this product it was us. After all, we had succeeded once in the face of uncertainty it was just a matter of work until we triumph again.

We had spent over a year talking to users, investors, and mentors about our product. We knew the business inside and out. But something didn't feel right. At some point we realized: 

**"We had stopped being true to ourselves. We had let being led and defined by the ideas of others. We had ceased to act out of personal conviction. We need to do things our way.”**

And we did. We decided to all move to California - Yana, Kasper, Stefan, Tisho, and Kris. Over the next 6 months, we lived and worked from our 2 bedroom apartment in Palo Alto. We didn't want to get sucked back into the startup hype, so we visited as few events as possible and met only with our closest mentors. We knew what we wanted to create - a single united workspace where all tools people use for work are connected - tasks, conversations, and files. We threw away all boundaries and systems of the current collaboration tools and went with our guts.