April 20, 2015

I'm Giving Up On Business

I like to consider myself as an idea-guy. I have ideas all the time, and I consistently try to validate them before trying them. One thing I've noticed, however, is I hardly do any of these ideas.

Why?

Because I'm bored as hell with the idea after I've talked to hundreds of customers, after I've gotten a 5% response rate on the hundreds of emails I hand wrote (or typed), and after I've let an idea sit in my brain and wilt for weeks. Yes, I get bored.

I recently signed up to give a talk at the Kansas City Developer Conference in June. My talk - building Stellar SPA's with Meteor.js. Now, I've built SPA's with Meteor.js before, but I had to step up my game and figure out how to make a STELLAR app with Meteor.js. I set out to do just that.

I took one of my business ideas that made it to a sticky on my computer, one that I hadn't yet validated at all and read it out loud - "Virtual Time Capsules." Naturally, I fired up my browser, opened a tab for Reddit, Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google. Just as I began to research, I said "Forget it.", closed my tabs, and just started writing code.

Within 5 hours, LITERALLY ONLY 5 HOURS, I had Timebeard.io complete. I bought the domain, and "soft-launched" the app, then opened reddit again. I posted in the meteor subreddit and some other subreddit just because I was proud, not because I wanted validation. I was using this tool to solve a problem I had, which was all the validation I needed.

The posts are the most active posts on reddit that I've ever posted (albeit, I'm not super active on reddit), and I've had some amazing feedback. I received an email from a fan that stated this...

Let me start by saying wow.

My husband is a web developer, and he saw your post on reddit. I'm a teacher and I've been trying to get the school to allow us to dig for time capsules for almost four months now. Instead of digging, I think we're just going to have the class use your website!

I noticed that we can only upload images and PDFs. That's fine for my class, but if my husband and I wanted to upload videos, is that something we can do?

Thanks,

XXXXXXXXX

This email (and the activity on my reddit posts) made me the happiest I've been in a long time. I just did something and it solved some peoples problems. Normally, I find out my idea can solve maybe 50 people's problems for sure, and never get around to it because of burnout. Instead, I made something that I wanted and it helped people. Now, it's easy to say that this was "just luck." but I don't think it was.

Note: This email was more helpful than any customer validation I've ever received. She gave me a testimonial, an example of her problem and her use case for the app, and most importantly, she gave me next steps. I emailed her back and explained to her why I didn't allow videos currently (Bandwidth, File Size) and told her that I was considering enabling that as a premium feature. She then told me she'd be willing to pay $5 to create a pod that housed videos. If this isn't ideal user feedback, I'm not sure what is.

I guess the message I'm trying to convey is that if you have something that you're passionate about, just do it. Worry about the intricacies of it later. Take, for example, Snapchat. Up until recently, they only had an idea to solve a problem. They made an app that solved that problem (for millions of people) and now, just recently, they started to worry about monetization. If you're unaware, they've recently introduced sponsored "Snaps."

I've recently started working on another idea, one that I had a few years ago, and wasn't one-hundred percent sure how things would turn out. I spent a lot of time trying to validate my product, and ultimately got turned off on it. Not that I don't think the product would have solved problems for people, but I was doing so much work (the type of work I don't enjoy) trying to meld my ideas to work with the ideas of strangers, that I was burnt out by the time I was coming close to launching.

After my recent experience with Timebeard.io. I've decided to do the same thing with D8bit and decided to share my story with you. Look out for upcoming posts about designing a modern mobile app. I just recently purchased Sketch and I'll be using it for my design work.

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