Learning From My First Startup

Published on: 2018-04-29

I always had these sparking thought in my mind about starting something new to serve the users right after I gained 2 years of experience in software industry, I discussed many times with my friends to come up with something to start own and run a business.

Ideas like "Project Management Software - like basecamp 😉", "TechyTees - E-commerce to sell tech printed tees", "Curated best products only e-commerce website", "A Todo App", "Automate House - Refill groceries, clean house, laundry all in one", "Employment School - that teaches what's needed for work than random theories", just to mention a few.

Some of the ideas seem vague now; where I stand with 10 years of experience, but that's okay I'm improving and learning in my own phase.

Note that I used the word idea because I only discussed with few people and it didn't fly. The first startup/side project I worked along with my friends & was able to successfully launch a workable product to market was TaxOn, without there support this would have been just another idea. So big thanks to Uthira Moorthy, Saravana, Adithya, Deepak, Anuj & Thiyagu who worked really hard to get the product out.

It wasn't well received as I thought it would be, So I'm writing this post to track my understanding & learning about it.

Failure Reasons (In my opinion)

  • We haven't done proper user research & market fit validation.

  • User will only use the app if they want to see the tax calculation (which happens only 2-3 time in a year).

  • The bot which we introduced to keep the user retention isn't helpful as many people are not interested to learn about tax saving, finance planning, etc,

  • We haven't considered post-release marketing, post-release development to give regular updates. I didn't have the money/time to — market, keep the team working, polishing the product to customer needs.

  • Our revenue factor/business model to create "tax saving services" is not that intuitive.

Things to consider before startup (Again, In my opinion)

  • Think big, Start small: Your idea should scale, if your idea can benefit only a few users then it's not enough. So imagine your business can benefit big user base but validate that with a minimum viable product (MVP).

  • Validate idea from random users: Your idea will seem so fascinating to you & and to your close friends. So don't validate your idea with close friends/relatives; they will say it's awesome anyway. Do proper user research — a) choose your end user b) prepare a list of questions to ask your end user c) go talk to them and collect feedback about the problem your idea solves d) analyze the feedback received and see if people are really interested.

  • Build product for today: Don't think more futuristic, There are many startups which build awesome IOT products but customers are not really ready to use it today. Create something which users can use today.

  • Solid execution Plan: There is no such thing as overnight success, success takes years. Be prepared to afford a solid working team for your idea (Starting stages are experimental, you never know which will work)

  • First 20 users: Try to create a minimal viable product & try to acquire first 20 users(again friends/relatives doesn't really count here). Work with them to get feedback and acquire the next set and keep going. Continue solving user problems and you grow big eventually.

  • Fail Fast: If you think your idea isn't good enough and not working as expected, don't hold it on your back. Use your time & energy wisely. Shutdown your unsuccessful project.

I hope this might give some insights to you & I wish you all the best for "idea → startup → successful product".

Thanks for reading and share it with your friends.

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