How to avoid working on a project for months only to launch it and discover nobody cares about it.
My background is in digital marketing and product development. I’m currently a co-founder on Shogun, a web page builder for any existing website.
Tandem was a 3-month project that I worked on with my friends Tristan and Kevin. It was the final project of a year-long “hackathon” where a group of us (including two others; Finbarr and Damien) hacked on about 5 ideas.
Tandem was a live streaming platform for fitness. Think Twitch.tv, but for fitness.
2 sides of the platform. We focused on content creator acquisition from Instagram, YouTube, fitness associations/organizations, other fitness marketplace apps, and fitness conferences. We validated after contacting about 5,000 fitness pros and got a good response. We onboarded about 50 content creators. When we launched we got viewership from Facebook posts and Product Hunt.
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Various. First, the content just wasn’t really interesting or engaging. We thought it would be good to be able to see a live stream from a fitness influencer, and it’s just not as engaging as viewing live action gaming per se. Second, really difficult to get good stream quality on mobile at the time (this was a couple years ago, we built from scratch in about 6 weeks, no funding). Third, we realized that FB and IG were the ideal platforms for this. We offered better monetization opportunities for streamers a la Twitch, but… Fourth, monetization on our end seemed to be an unlikely sustainable business model.
Burnout, Tristan and I were coming off other ventures. I was about a year into hacking on ideas at this point. I would say we were fatigued. That said, we had tons of advantages; solid team, strong research method, good network. There was promising initial data from influencers. Seemed like it might be a good idea, just wasn’t proving to be super compelling after launch. I’m sure there is something in this idea/space, we just weren’t compelled to pursue.
Take more rest between hacking on projects. I think this project could have pivoted into a better direction given a little more time and data. I feel like we executed pretty well.
Taught me the value of true market validation. Tandem was consumer, so much different than Shogun, but it didn’t feel like we were really increasing value for our users. That kind of true market validation was elusive.
It made me appreciate the validation from paying users on Shogun (SaaS) a lot more, I felt like Shogun was really worth persisting on. Over the next year, Finbarr and I worked part-time on Shogun, but definitely a couple hours each day, more and more until it became a full-time company this past May.
Be fearlessly data driven. Search for true market validation from consumer or business demand, and work until you have the numbers to prove it. Don’t work on ideas aimlessly, work on an idea that arises from a pain point that you truly believe in. Be persistent enough to see your project through, but don’t be afraid to kill your project when you cannot find validation. Failure is a natural part of tech entrepreneurship; embrace it.
I personally love Hacking Sales by Max Altschuler.
I have written some articles on startup stuff. You can find them here.
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