Every once in a great while, if you’re lucky, you get this moment where you know, in your heart, in every cell of your body that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to do. Whatever your belief system is, if you’ve experienced this, you know what I’m talking about. Some people call it finding flow. And it’s not always a happy moment in life. But above all, it’s a peaceful moment.
In February of 2009, I had that moment. I remember looking up into the cold midnight blue San Francisco sky and saying, “Fine. I get it. I’m supposed to do this.” I had left a job that broke my heart and my father was diagnosed with metastatic gastric cancer.
Being a raging alcoholic didn’t leave him with a community of supporters and it became obvious that I should accept this moment. I suddenly had time in my life and he had 9 months. I chose to be one of his caregivers. I chose to be part of my father’s experience with cancer, his dying, and his death and I am honored to have had the opportunity.
I can go into a great amount of detail about caregiving but for those of you that know, it can be a draining, emotional, frustrating, amazing, poopy (so much poo), life affirming experience.
We Need a Better App
Fast forward a little bit to about 7 months into caring for my father – I was trying a bunch of different apps to see if one of them did what I needed it to do. There were a couple that required a load of inputting to where I honestly preferred pen and paper. I called up Palmer, explained what I was seeing in the market, and asked, “Do you think we can build a better one?” And he agreed and with that we started along the path toward Flower – though we didn’t quite know it yet.
Sometimes Life Happens
Life never seems to move as fast as you want it to or it’s moving entirely too fast and you can’t keep up. Life stepped in – my father passed away and the following year was trying to figure out all the things you have to do amidst the familial dysfunction that slides into the vacuum that happens after someone dies and you’re left with complicated grief.
In other words, it took a while to get our shit together. We incorporated in 2011, did some contract work, and started researching and learning about what it meant to build a cancer management app. As well as planning our wedding. We had an LLC before we were married. And I would not have had it any other way.
In 2012, in a two week period, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my sister’s marriage ended, and I found out I was pregnant. My mother’s diagnosis was an important point in our development. We had a demo version of the cancer management app and tried to use it. It became readily apparent that what we remembered needing was vastly different than what we actually needed.
It’s the difference between being in the experience and outside of the experience and it’s the biggest issue that most creators face. This is when we lived the importance of user research because we didn’t need the cancer management app, the first thing we needed was a way to record the deluge of information! So we built our first app, Appointment Buddy, which we released right before our daughter was born. Then we went into new parentland for a few months.
I May Need That. But I Don’t Want It.
In mid-2013, we were finding our way back to work and juggling a new life as new parents as well as co-founders. We were just about to submit our cancer management app to a competition when we sat down with a friend to talk about what we were building. Whenever we talked about what we were building, people would say, “that’s really important. I hope I never have to use it.”
We realized we didn’t want to build an app that nobody wanted to use and we had to come at this from a different viewpoint. How to build an app that everyone wanted to use and yet incorporate the tools that people would need (like for cancer management) at a later point? As we were brainstorming, we started talking about how we wanted to bring support inward to the person who needs it the most. And Flower started to sprout.
We tried to resist actually. Tried to stay with the cancer management app because we had put all this work into it, had the designs, were ready to build out the next piece. One night, we decided to tell a friend a little bit about this nagging idea and he yelled, “Pivot! Pivot! Pivot!” Palmer and I laughed and then decided, well for the next twenty-four hours, let’s go with it!
And then our brains exploded.
Well it felt like that! I woke up at 4am that next morning and I said, “It should be called Flower.”
Now at this point, life seemed to slow down again. I would say, it’s the nature of the creative process.
The Birth of Flower
Our process looked liked this:
We did a lot of research. We went back to our cancer management app research. We decided we needed to do some user research. We realized that we were in the cancer support environment.We did contract work on the side. We did more research and started designing. We submitted grant proposals and wrote up many different types of business plans. We built an initial iteration of Flower but realized that wasn’t quite it and we needed to build more. We needed people power. In 2015, we raised an initial round. We hired a team. We did more research and design. We figured out how to work together as a team. We kept building.
Along the way, Flower is very different now compared to the moment in which the idea was born. That being said, we held true to our core ideals for our company and for Flower. We considered different options along the way, such as building something different that could be more of an enterprise product or becoming a government contract company.
Every time we considered doing something different however, whatever we needed to move Flower forward would appear out of nowhere. Or something would happen to nudge us to continue with Flower. It helps that we are building a tool that is meant to help us be there for each other. We are building the tool for inspiration – which makes it inspiring to work on.
Flower will help a lot of people. Join us in making that happen.
Many thanks to those that helped with this post – Robin H. for the all important editing, Palmer T. for the read through, and the creator of the Creative Process graphic which I pulled from The Virtual Instructor.