Building in Public: This Ames startup is sharing its process with everyone

Nebullam, an indoor farming company based in Ames, announced earlier this month that it will be ‘Building in Public’ going forward.

Building in Public (BIP) is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. When a startup builds a product or service in public, they allow people to see their building process including their product, service, team building, management, and metrics.

Co-founder and CEO of Nebullam, Clay Mooney says the idea for building in public first started when he was judging a local pitch competition last year.

“A brilliant, college-aged founder stepped up and delivered their pitch. After their pitch and during questions from the judges, a fellow judge asked them to better describe their product, as he was having a hard time visualizing it,” said Mooney. “The founder’s response was, ‘For IP reasons, I can’t reveal that information.’ I was shocked… that’s the complete opposite approach of what we need to build a cohesive and open startup community.”

That instance led to Mooney talking with more college-aged founders. “I noticed many of them were applying what they had learned in the classroom or using free services for legal or accounting, which later got them in a bind. They were absorbing information from many people who had never started a company before. I started to share more about our lessons learned, and I became overwhelmed with the amount of questions coming my way.”

Mooney says there are multiple advantages to building in public.

“We believe BIP improves mental health. We’re no longer going to have to keep every negative experience bottled up. It’s no longer going to feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders all the time,” said Mooney. “The second advantage for BIP is the fact that it can accelerate your startup community. Sharing an equal amount of your good and bad experiences can save others time, capital, and heartache.

Another reason for Nebullam’s decision to build in public came earlier this year, when the company decided to pivot from a business-to-business model to a direct-to-consumer model due to the pandemic.

“I’m excited by focusing on consumer products,” said Mooney. “By BIP, we can invite all potential, current, and churned Nebullam subscribers in for open dialogue. That advantage has instantly raised our accountability for our mission, ourselves, and to our customers.” 

Want to put it all out there? 

Here are some links to get you started with building in public:

  • Buffer breaks down the pros and cons of total transparency.
  • Gabby Goldberg has created a how-to-guide for building in public
  • Nebullam’s own Clayton Mooney has created a Twitter list of founders building in public

Previous coverage

Nebullam launches farm-to-door program for central Iowa residents -June 1, 2020