永福

Realigning my 12 Startups Challenge

startups

by Jon Yongfook

January 07, 2019

Is everything going as planned? Am I happy? Should I continue?

I’m not happy

Quick recap. Over the last 4 months I have built and launched:

  • Zipsell - an open source platform for selling digital downloads
  • Promomatic - a tool to create app store assets
  • Montage - a wireframing tool with a component library
  • Tech Jobs Asia - a job board for tech jobs in Asia

It was New Year 2019 a few days after I launched Tech Jobs Asia, my 4th startup of the 12 month challenge.

Normally at the start of each month I would get started on the next project. But this time I gave myself a few days to reflect. Is everything going as planned? Am I happy? Should I continue?

I looked back at my original goal when I started, to see if my achievements are aligned to the goals I set out:

After a long hiatus, I need to practice building and shipping products again. Starting today, I'll be launching 12 startups in 12 months.

After 4 consistent launches, a stream of early revenue and 3 debuts as the #1 product of the day on Product Hunt, I think I’ve proved to myself that I still have what it takes to build and launch products against the clock. I feel like this goal has now been achieved.

So is it time to stop? Pat myself on the back and say job well done? Hell no. I was reminded of this Bruce Lee quote recently and it resonated strongly with how I currently feel.

Don't fear failure. Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail. — Bruce Lee

My original goal just doesn’t seem ambitious enough anymore. I’m happy with my execution, more than happy.

I’m just not happy with the legacy I’m creating.

Raising the bar

It’s time to course correct. Set the bar higher.

But what does that mean?

In my original journey as a digital nomad in 2013-2015 I created a SaaS app called Beatrix. It took about 6 months to get to a point where the revenue sustained my lifestyle.

Beatrix was a fully featured SaaS app with some innovative features that competitors didn’t have, with a real chance of revenue at scale, and most importantly, I took the marketing pretty seriously with a regularly updated blog of useful content.

The tech world has changed since then, but I don’t think that recipe for success has changed dramatically. Build something useful and differentiated, with a business model, and market the shit out of it.

So why not just follow the same model again? Focus on one thing for the long term?

Personally I feel that if all I do is try to recreate history, then I haven’t grown as a person or in my capabilities. At the same time, I love the concept of the 12 startups challenge as a way to commit to launching your ideas and seeing what happens. So I was excited to give it a try.

Somewhere along the way though, I veered off in the wrong direction. Admittedly I think I was a little too seduced by Maker culture and the tendency of the community to launch neat tools for other makers.

It’s an easy trap to fall into - the Maker community offers instant feedback and validation which is what entrepreneurs crave, but it is ultimately a niche audience with limited potential for revenue growth.

So what is the right strategy for me?

If I was proud of what I did with Beatrix, if I believe in the 12 startups concept and want to challenge my older and hopefully more-capable self, the answer is simple:

I should be doing Beatrix 12 times!

12 SaaS products with a proper chance at reaching some scale. Addressing widely-experienced problems with something new. Or addressing smaller, growing problems at big companies with a more enterprise-like price point. But most importantly, putting in place a proper marketing strategy for each. No more “if I build it they will come” mentality. This adage just isn’t true anymore.

Next steps

This is obviously a shit ton more work.

But it is more ambitious, more meaningful.

And if I fail, I will fail gloriously.

In the 8 months I have left in this challenge, I will aim to launch 8 SaaS MVPs, and commit to an ongoing marketing strategy for each.

My simple goal; for one of these SaaS products to be a sustainable business by the end of the challenge.

I’m not quitting, not pausing, I’m upping my game.

Startup #5 launches in 24 days :)

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