After focusing on this challenge for 10 days, I have taken two weeks off that I had planned for a while. It allowed me to take a step back, and I have found that I wasn't going in the right direction.
I am starting from scratch with a focus on tools for engineering teams.
Made-up startup ideas
This is the most dangerous path when you get started, and I felt in this trap. You create a made-up startup idea, that would look great in a movie but not in real life. And you will struggle because there is no validated need from a group of customers.
After announcing my Six months to 1,000€ MRR challenge, I knew I needed to move fast to start learning. I wasn't prepared to find a dead-end so early.
I had decided to prototype two ideas:
- Idea 1: A tool to help shopify developers track their app position on the Shopify App Store. This felt a good idea because there are a lot of App Store Optimization tools (ASO) for the Apple and Google Play stores. So translating the idea to Shopify made sense.
- Idea 2: A tool to help fortnite players get detailed stats on their game, thanks to the .replay files that are generated by the game. I had shared a version of this tool on GitHub a while ago and I kept getting inquiries about updating it. The inbound requests made me comfortable about working on this.
The problem was thinking about plausible ideas, rather than focusing on validated problems.
Focusing on a problem
The better approach is to focus on an audience and a problem. This gives you a group of people to talk to, so that you create a product that is relevant for them.
I have chosen to focus on engineering teams as this is an audience I'm familiar with, being an engineer myself. This gives me an edge at understanding the problems they have.
As for the problem, I will focus on helping engineering teams align when searching for a solution and taking decisions.
Solving this problem efficiently will create a lot of value : as a company you can move faster, prevent avoidable tech debt, save engineering time, improve onboarding...
Creating a structure for success
The total freedom of having no customers can be hard to bear when starting from zero. This is why I decided to surround myself with experienced founders by buying three resources:
- Zero to Sold from Arvid Kahl. A solid guide to build a business from scratch, with actionable advice. I have been reading and listening to Arvid since his Indie Hacker podcast, so I'm excited to dive in the book!
- Monthly1k from Noah Kagan. A course on how to reach $1k/month. I'm afraid the course is going to focus on short term wins rather than a long term project like I want. I'm sure I will learn a ton of things though!
- Start Small, Stay Small: A Developer's Guide to Launching a Startup from Rob Walling. Not sure about how good this book is yet, but I have bought it anyway!
It's easy to feel like you have to focus on execution, but reading has been an invaluable source of inspiration over the last years, so I'm happy to make room for that again!
I am currently reading about the Request For Comments (RFC) process and how it is applied in engineering teams. Let me know your experience with RFCs!
I'm especially looking for teams using this process, to understand the pros and cons of the tools they use at the moment (DMs open).