When I look back, my journey in business has been a bumpy one, but that’s how its meant to be right? Now to pre warn you this is going to be a long post. So if you wanna keep reading, sit back, relax and enjoy!
So today, I want to take you on a journey, a journey from 2014 to now. When I was younger, and I first got into liking technology and actually experimenting when I got my first laptop, I loved to explore different programs. I loved the fact they all had different interfaces and they all had different controls that did different things when you clicked them. Why? What made them do that? How did it know to move the window from there to there and then close that? It was fascinating.
So then I came across Visual Studio. A development space for windows applications (Could not afford a mac back then!). I played around with different code, 99% of the time failed, but then I started watching YouTube and consulted that when things went wrong. A few months later, I made my first basic application. It was called Bournes Surf, a simple browser system based off the internet explorer API. It had fully functioning back and forward buttons, with a refresh, and close button. A few months after that I managed to add History, and Home. The next frontier to make it on par with other browsers was a separate search bar (Yes this is how far back I am going). It was a B**** (we are PG here folks). It used different code from the rest of the program, so If I added it, it would break the app, but I really wanted it. So I rewrote the app to match the code and it worked. Surf was born. In 2015 I went to Wix and opened my first website and the concept was ready. Bournes Co (Later to become Serenity) was here. It had pages and descriptions on the process and how to install my app.
Then my first PR crisis. People came to me saying it wouldn’t install. I panicked. What could I do? I soon came to realise I shared the editing version of the app that came without an installer so I complied it properly, re listed it and uploaded it. Success.
I soon moved to my next frontier. I wanted to make an app that did a little more than just a browser. I was hungry!
I started work on my second app. It was to be a multi function app, an app that houses note taking, browsing, file management and more into a single app. I didn’t really have a vision I just wanted to add as much as I could and what I learnt into one app. I advertised it as an ‘OS without the need of an OS’. Which was technically false advertisement as it needed Windows to Run but you get the point. It took four months to develop, and Bournes S1 was here. S was for I cannot remember for the life of me but it was S1. It hit the website and I was overjoyed! Compiled this time and learnt from my mistakes.
A screenshot of the newly released S1
Once I was happy it was working I got to work on S2, the second version and it was to add more personalisation and a redesign to some of the features. I was also being brave by adding something I have never tried before, an updater. Before this, users of my apps would need to uninstall the app and then redownload the new version I uploaded on the website as the app did not have the capability to update it self with patch updates so it was bulky and a pain. I wanted to keep updating S2 with new stuff so an updater was needed. It was, like the search bar, a right little…..bugger. It didn’t work. It kept me up at night and every tutorial was followed but still no joy, it would register a new update even when there wasn’t a new one and just keep redownloading the same update as what was installed. It was a right pain.
Unfortunately this snag stopped S2 ever seeing the light of day and I shelved it and kept my focus back on Surf.
In 2016, change came, and I was fully invested in the idea of a ‘business’. Before this it was more of a, hey look, download what I made, and that’s about it. Now I had a robust site, and a vision. I wanted to make my browser the most secure browser on the planet. I found its USP and was determined to make it happen!
So I renamed the app, to SBrowser, the ‘Secure Browser’. I redesigned it, the back end anyways, with all new code. I had got rather good at coding at this point and YouTube was still there but only as a last resort. I was using a mixture of C and Java languages to make the backend tick! I focused a lot on the history elements as this was the one outlet where the data from a website would be taken from my app, so this was one of the main portholes for viruses and data leaking to happen. So this was made to be robust, the backend was ticking like a freshly oiled machine and it was ready for launch. SBrowser, the brand new browser, Surf on steroids and Bournes Co was launched. It was such a proud moment, as I look back it was so simple to what I have today, but it was so much to me at the time. It helped shaped my next two years.
I didn’t stop. SBrowser 2, 3, and 4 came hot off the press, a month or two in between, adding more rigidity to the backend, and adding some new design tweaks and features like bookmarks, favourites and more.
Then we get to number 5. I was fed up of the design, so stripped it completely and redesigned the whole app. The navigation panel was a small tool box at the bottom of the screen that would be summoned by two permanent buttons on the left and right hand side of the screen. It could be changed in terms of colour and position on the screen and housed all browser commands.
Number 6 arrived two months later and added app extensions. Links to apps like the Microsoft suite and more.
Then I took a break. College was coming and my time was getting less and less flexible. Development more or less stopped entirely at the end of the 2016 and when college finished and the new year came, I decided it was time to get back to working on my app.
SBrowser 7 logo, a pride logo without meaning to be one!
Number 7 came soon after with a new rainbow inspired logo, maybe my unconscious was predicting what was to come in the future? Funny when I think about it I came out and became fully open in the 7th Month of 2017. How weird I literally only thought of this as I was writing this sentence! Gosh! The app itself looked the same as number 6 but added a tonne of stability and performance fixes to the back end that was really needed after two updates of major features additions to the app.
Number 8 came and then came Number 9. However 9 was different. I changed tac and decided to bring back an old friend. Hey S2!
I merged S2 with SBrowser 9, and made it a full screen app that acted like an internal OS. It also came with my take on Siri, called Anna. Text to speech tool that would answer pre determined questions that I coded into the app so once typed in, she would speak out the answer that I would have preloaded into the app. I launched it at my old secondary school, where I did a talk on my app, and launched the system at an event I organised in the main assembly hall with my computer rigged to the projector so I could so a live demo of it. My first ever full on product launch. It was amazing and really fired me up to think of this as my life going forward.
When I released SBrowser 9, I also had a talk with my old business advisor and we spoke about the name of my business, currently Bournes Co at the time. He said to me, “Having a business named after yourself can really limit the growth whenever you want to or plan to leave”, and that resonated with me to this day, so got on thinking of a new name. My mother then came up with the great idea of Serenity, as I wanted my company to personify simplicity and something new and fresh, and this was a perfect name. Serenity Co was born.
I kept on working on that app for a while, 9.1,9.2 and you get the idea. I kept updating the app until SBrowser 11 when I decided to change the name again. I am now in my first year of uni and I was speaking to a business advisor and showed them the now newly renamed app called Swift (But was SBrowser 11 at heart). He loved the idea and thought it would be perfect for banks.
SBrowser 11, which became the newly renamed and redesigned Swift Browser. It had the biggest marketing push I have ever done for a product
Swift had to rename to Switch due to a conflict of name with Apples new programming language Swift
Then came my second PR crisis. Swift, newly relaunched, three months later Apple release a brand new programming language that shares the name Swift. I cried three days straight, so the name was altered to Switch. Luckily development stopped before Nintendo killed that name too!
However when I think back, I felt the app was great for consumer and it was built for consumer and I felt like it would really not fit banks at all, and I also had huge anxiety over my security promise. Banks need a guarantee and I have no degree in coding, so on a consumer level its a sealed boat, however in the hands of a bank or big company, will I have a Titanic disaster on my hands?
I decided to shelve the app, after two years of intensive development and I went into a creative slump.
I was designing websites for people in my course and my inner circle, and on the side I was doing public speaking at outreach events and it all seemed like Serenity was dead in a way. Nothing was happening.
However it then came. My big lightbulb moment. Why don’t I turn my website making skills into a business? Switch Serenity into a more service business instead of applications for now, and then pursue them in the future? So I got to work and created Serenity Web in the summer of 2017, and am still going today.
Serenity Web has gained it’s first clients this year and has a brand new site and identity for itself. Serenity Co, now renamed to Serenity Technology Group, serves as an umbrella company that manages all my projects, like Serenity Talks, where I occasionally hold talks on matters that matter at the time or technological topics like tech and fashion and tech and music.
This has been the story of Serenity. It’s been a strange one hasn’t it? I have loved every moment and this is only the beginning. I have so many wild dreams for the future of this business and I aspire to achieve every single one of those crazy wild dreams.
I will go back to developing apps, but I have decided its a venture I do not want to do myself. I have many ideas for apps and have one right now I’m planning for the future, but I only taught myself to code to get a physical MVP (Minimum Viable Product) out to market, its not something I would call a passion. I’m not the best and I need the best and someone who knows exactly what they are doing and thats not me! So apps are in the future but it will take a little while. Every minute so worth it.
So if you are reading this and are contemplating your own business, go for it. It will probably change so much in the future but thats not a bad thing. It’s just a part of a long winding journey of entrepreneurship.