Devin O’Neill’s story is one that proves that using the phrase ‘if only’ is as empty as someone giving you lengthy street by street directions nowadays… “look, just give me the address. I’m just going to put it in my google maps anyway so that I can zone out catching up on episodes of the Tim Ferris and the James Altucher shows.”
So many people, myself included, say too often ‘if only I had x, then I would start that business idea of mine, or go travel the world, or record that album, or write that book, or become a marine biologist’. As you will learn from Devin’s story, ‘if only’ has a new meaning.
Devin was a bright eyed millennial who just up-and-moved to Denver, leaving a job that he didn’t want anymore in Traverse City, MI. He did so without having a ‘steady’ after college job like his peers (if only I could live in x…)
He just had a few of his belongings, a car, and a pretty janky-ass prototype of his idea.
Devin’s idea? The MagBelt.
The MagBelt is a belt that uses magnets instead of holes and clasps to keep your pants AND your style ‘all the way up!’.
Since Devin wasn’t ready to invest in manufacturing -therefore not able to start selling his belts- he started driving for Lyft.
Working for Lyft allowed him to work whenever he had time to work, on his schedule.(If only I had a job where I could work whenever I wanted, then I could x…)
While Devin was driving people around he would eventually bring up his magnetic belt idea and get feedback from all sorts of people. In fact driving Lyft turned out to be a great way of testing an idea, not having anything to sell, and still getting paid. (if only I knew if my idea was a good idea…).
On one particular night Devin gets a passenger named Kyle Johnston. They chitchat, Devin shows him his belt prototype, and Kyle thinks it’s the best idea ever. They grab a beer later in the week, and decide to be cofounders. Kyle has another friend Mike who they decide to bring on as well. (if only I could find someone to help me with my business…).
They spend a few months, and countless hours making a commercial, they put their project up on Kickstarter in the hopes of raising $7,500 in 45 days.
They hit $10,000 on their first day of being on Kickstarter.
By the middle of their campaign they have raised right around $55,000, about 733% of their goal. At which point they asked ‘why not see what a marketing firm can do?’ They ended up hiring Funded Today, a company that specializes in crowdfunding campaigns. Devon paid them a small amount upfront, and had to pay a percentage of everything they made beyond their first $55K.
They ended up finishing the campaign having sold over $500,000 worth of belts -well the idea of belts at this point, as they weren’t manufactured yet. (if only I could get funding for my idea…).
But what glitters is not always gold as you will learn from Devon on my podcastepisode with him. They have definitely hit some major road blocks along the way. Such as buying 4,000 faulty belts from a dishonest manufacturer.
Catch the podcast here.
On the podcast I interview entrepreneurs while also attempting entrepreneurship myself. I for sure don’t have all of the answers, but it seems the most important thing is not having the best situation, or waiting for the time to be just right. The most important thing is hitting ‘go’, and just starting, one small step at a time. Otherwise you will ‘if only’ your whole life.
I recently read an interesting post by Buzzfeed called ‘37 Things You’ll Regret When You’re Old’.
Here are 11 of the regrets that you will likely have the chance of knocking out, once you do go after whatever it is you want to go after;
‘Being scared to do things’,
‘Caring too much about what other people think’,
‘Supporting others’ dreams over your own’,
‘Not quitting a terrible job’,
‘Not traveling when you had the chance’,
’Not moving [to a new location] fast enough’,
‘Working too much’,
‘Not stopping enough to appreciate the moment’,
‘Never taking a big risk’,
‘Worrying too much’
’Never performing in front of others’.
Go perform in front of others. We now have the largest arena which allows you to do so, the internet. You may get slaughtered, or you may fight to see another day, but at least you won’t regret not doing it.
Anything that follows ‘if only’ is just a mirage, sure you can see it, but it doesn’t mean it’s really there.
Nowadays, thanks to sites like Upwork, you can hire someone within hours to build you a website in a few days, and for only a few hundred dollars (or a week or so of driving Lyft). I learned about Upwork through a free webinar by a woman named Bonnie Fahy. I had been telling myself ‘if only I had a website for the BluPixl One’ (another idea of mine). When I heard about Upwork, I was able to hire a guy from India to design my website blupixlco.com for $12 usd per hour, which took him 10 hours. And a developer from China to code it with the Harry’s prelaunchr code installed for $12 usd per hour.
We live in a time where we have access to the thoughts and ideas of some of the greatest thinkers, writers, entrepreneurs and creators right at our finger tips thanks to podcasts, audio books, blogs and books. We can now build something easier than ever due to sites like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Alibaba, Upwork and many others. And due to how people like Devon have utilized the gig economy to free up their time and help support their dreams, ‘if only’ really just means ‘when’.