One Month One Dollar - Part Two
It's currently 14:30, February the 28th, 2023, while I'm writing this update to the challenge. I'm going to make it short. We didn't make it. We actually didn't even get anywhere close to making it. It was a complete failure of a challenge.
Okay, okay, that's properly a bit too gloomy. It was kind of expected that we wouldn't make any money after the month was over. But what we didn't received in terms of monetary gains we got in (quoting the great (scam) entrepreneur Tai Lopez) knowledge. We also decided to make some adjustments to the challenge to keep it going, let's break it down.
What went wrong
First thing first, if you attempt to do this challenge, don't select the shortest month of the year to do a 1 Month 1 Dollar challenge. That's just shooting yourself in the foot. Additionally, don't pick the same month where you've planned holidays with your girlfriend, thinking you can just do a little bit of work. Especially, don't plan two holidays in the shortest month of the year for this challenge. I'm only half joking here, but seriously, we didn't give this challenge the focus and energy it required. We should have picked another month when we both could focus, at least 40 hours a week fully into the project.
Next up, and this is the biggest one, we started outreach too late. We did get some early promising result by doing (personalized) outreach on LinkedIn. I think we might have reached out to around 50 people in total which resulted in ~8 getting back to us, and out of those ~8 people, 1 wanted to jump on a call with us, showing some interest in the product. The excitement quickly died down when we discovered that the person didn't really get our value proposition. Both good and bad, we have new information we can react to, and it helps points us in the right direction. However, we didn't get any new calls or follow-ups after this. It could be due to people just being busy but I would guess more that we didn't pursue this aggressively enough.
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What did we learn
There is something about learning a new skill where it only really manifest itself in your mind, when you try to actually do that skill. Most of this advice is already flooded on the internet, in start-up/bootstrapping forums etc. But, basically, it can be boiled down to:
- Get a landing page out there quickly | forces you to describe your product and makes it more concrete
- Write down your assumptions from the beginning | continuously test and adjust them to new information
- Reach out to people even when you have a half-baked notion of your product
The first two points are pretty self-explanatory, if you're not sure what is meant by point 2, check out the original post. I do think the third point is the main learning from this challenge. You got to focus on what actually moves the needle and pushes you towards a profitable product, which means getting people to give you money. It's extremely comfortable to just build build build (especially as software engineers) while having wet dreams about all the monthly reoccurring revenue you're going to receive in the end. But that is, on average, not really a productive strategy even though it might feel like it. Sure, all your assumptions could be spot on and your big-bang release is going to be a raving success. Most are just not. So speak to more people, look up people in relevant positions/groups on LinkedIn, find people following your competitions on twitter, scourer those facebook groups and write to people. Also, read make sure to read The Mom Test.
A blank piece of paper
Was it all bad and with no successful experiences? Not at all, one process that really helped us kick this off was the habit of continuously writing down ideas each day.
There is something strange about the blank page effect; it can stare about at you for hours on end, almost paralyzing
your ability to get started. Should I start with X? Should I include Y? But what about that incredibly important Z? It's
seriously frustrating, and it was something that both Rasmus, and I were feeling a bit anxious about before starting the
project. For the past ~2 months, we had been meeting up once a week to discuss ideas, problems, businesses, everything
under the sun related to bootstrapping companies. I myself had been trying to (and somewhat succeeding) write down
10 ideas a day and you quickly come to realize, ideas are not that hard to get. It's definitely a muscle that can be
trained with consistency just like, well, pretty much anything. Most of that comes out is dog shit, like my brilliant idea
uber but for walking dogs - list where you want to go, and a dog will walk there with you, not exactly a Zero to One
It did give us a list of 200+ ideas to start from, which means, 200+ ideas that can be combined, modified, thrown-away or lead you down new paths to even better ideas. The tiniest bit of exploration sparked new ideas which led us to ask new questions that we haven't considered before.
You do see this a lot on forums like indiehackers where people, on a quite consistent basis, will be asking how people generate ideas. And every time, you will see the same (more or less) generic advice:
- solve your own problems
- look for problems at work/with clients or what issues are your friends having
These never worked well for me, mainly because I forgot to actually think about these things while doing my work. So it felt like nothing was actually occurring to me, and I was left with no viable product ideas and therefore didn't really build anything. Making a habit out of writing down 10 ideas a day did work, however, so if you're struggling with this give it a try. You'll soon start thinking about potential products consistently.
Change of direction
Is it over? No, but we're making some adjustments. It will no longer be 1 Month 1 Dollar challenge but instead: 1 Year 1 Noodle.
This is basically just to say that the challenge will continue in the sense that we will keep trying to get our hands on that sweet magical internet money. And then post an update once in a while.
We'll continue working on the product for the foreseeable future until we either gets some traction or kill it, it's definitely too early to kill it. If you want to check it out, it can be found here databayz.
Outside of the challenge, I have also been working on another project to help do customer discovery on reddit: Townsquare Digest. The process for this is going to be roughly the same as described above, outreach outreach outreach. But more on that in a later post.