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Another Slice of Humble Pie for 404, Failed SAAS

404profound

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Yet again, I've failed.

There are always lessons to be learned with each of these landmines, but this one hit deep.

In this episode, 404 violates the Commandment of Need. I've spent 7 months diligently developing a SaaS product that I told the market it needed, but not one that the market told me it needed. That is a fatal error.

I developed a web-based solution designed to guide young leaders through leadership skill development training. This idea came to me when I thought "Gee, there seems to be a lot of talk about millennial leadership disparity. Maybe I can design a scalable solution that helps them improve as leaders."

Good in theory, horrible in practice. People learn leadership through experience, and communication with other more experienced people. I ignored this fundamental fact, and went on to invest $3,000.00 in developing a piece of shit. Having recently been let go from a full time job, and now experiencing this, I am bitter, disappointed, and my self-esteem is in the dumpster. I won't quit, because I've got no quit in me, but it's back to the drawing board with my tail between my legs.

A few things I'll do differently going forward:

1) Build certainty that any business or product I'm building satisfies a real problem - not a problem I'm pretending is a problem.

2) Have more conversations with people. I am horribly introverted, and I am usually averse to social interaction. But it's the social interaction that allows people to uncover real problems. I'll need to swallow the social anxiousness and hit the streets to communicate with people now.

3) Stop drinking my own damn koolaid. I know I'm a smart, educated guy, but that means nothing in the world of entrepreneurship. I need to go back to a learning and growth mindset, instead of a "I have all the answers I need" mindset.

I deserve whatever ridicule I get from this post. But I do hope others avoid making the same mistake as I. Never rush into a hunch, and never act on a business idea through emotion. Validate the demand, or validate the lack thereof.
 

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Dovahjiim

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This would only warrant ridicule if you had not learned from this experience; which it seems that you have.

I'm in the same position of having to go and find an audience; and the thought of talking to people makes me nervous, too!

Thanks for sharing.
 

MJ DeMarco

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I developed a web-based solution designed to guide young leaders through leadership skill development training. This idea came to me when I thought "Gee, there seems to be a lot of talk about millennial leadership disparity. Maybe I can design a scalable solution that helps them improve as leaders."
Just because a problem exists, doesn't mean it can be monetized into a solution. Your audience ultimately must want to pay for it. The value proposition just isn't very compelling ... that's what compels users to open their wallets.

Thanks for sharing the failure.
 

CROJosh

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@404profound can you repurpose this for something else?

What if you went upmarket and targeted the managers who struggle to lead those millennials? They have money and problems with ghosting, job abandonment, finding and keeping good young talent, etc.

This could be a product tailormade for LinkedIn?
 

LittleWolfie

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Just because a problem exists, doesn't mean it can be monetized into a solution. Your audience ultimately must want to pay for it.
This. No end of companies and small business claim that skills shortage and finding staff is their hardest problem.

Few of them want to invest in training, or pay more for better recruitment or raise wages though.
 

eekern

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3k is not much, many SaaS founders have learned the same lessons investing 100x more

In the start, you often get paid in lessons instead of money.

Get back on that horse and used what you learned to make your next project a successful one

this "failure" was the start of a future success don't forget that.
 

Arun Siva

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I am bitter, disappointed, and my self-esteem is in the dumpster.
Dude, 3000 is nothing. Your self esteem never deserves to be in the gutter. Get your Shit together as my brother @Ravens_Shadow said so infamously couple years back. You got this. You are doing more then most in this country. How many people are spending thousands on an idea? Most of the people are spending 1000s on commercial goods and disposables.... keep at it. Fail and fail well. You’ll be fine.
 

eekern

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I'd like to earn "nothing" a month then.
Lol, if he learned knowledge that will save him 100k in the future, did he really "lost 3k"?

@Arun Siva got a point, the money was only a loss if he did not learn from it. I am sure he learned A TON from the process of building his SaaS, not only market demand but all the technical stuff he must have learned during the process that he now will do hundred times faster the next time.

I think its fascinating hearing successful people getting interviewed getting the question:

"What would you do if you started all over again with 0$"

They all have an answer. They have learned all the lessons from "failing" and would just skip all the learning obstacles. Very few get a hole in one the first, second or third time.

Just to be clear, I never said 3k was pocket money, I just implied that it was a lean startup and could be 100x worse..
 

LittleWolfie

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Lol, if he learned knowledge that will save him 100k in the future, did he really "lost 3k"?
Yes, if you don't make a profit and you have expenses then you have a loss or your income precisely Japan as your expenses to the last penny.

Of course uber operates at a loss, and you might be at a loss because you invested that money, it's still a loss though.



Just to be clear, I never said 3k was pocket money, ..
I was quoting @Arun Siva not you. I'm sure he didn't mean it literally, but it's a long way from $0. I was trying to positively and slightly tounge in cheek make my point. When people say no money they often don't mean that at all.
 

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ZCP

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I'd like to earn "nothing" a month then.
Change your mindset. $3k will soon be pocket change.

Start by making $3. Climb the mountain. Continually give yourself credit for how far you have come, then refocus on the mountaintop and keep moving.

What have you done today to make $3? When that question is answered with positive action, come back and post. Get to work!
 

LittleWolfie

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. $3k will soon be pocket change.
I hope not,that way the broke millionaire lifestyle beckons.

What have you done today to make $3?
Let's see. Checked out my teespring store, I sat down to think up some ideas. I reached out to a company looking to hire technical people again (with details of people who would fit their role) I've started through some free SEO courses. I've started to narrow down a niche (e-cigarette retailers, found some nice long tail keywords with small ad revenue spend) been looking into how you fit online arbitarge with the legal requirement to offer a 14 day returns. That's been a stumbling block for me with that particular avenue. One of the reasons I like teespring, it automated the whole process for you.

Been looking to see if there is a way I can cheaply advertise teespring designs to people who might buy. Based on resarch I figured I need to do 22 designs before I can judge if it is a success or not, I have 1 so far.

Reached out to someone on the forum here, where I think we can potentially help each other and make money together. (If we make $6 between us that's better than $0 on my own)

Responded to a request elsewhere giving them detail on ETH and solidity.

Scanned the local gumtree(craigslist is rubbish here) and made some cheeky offers on the only items I could see with flip potential.

Been exchanging emails with someone well connected whom has viewed my open source work and after "getting to know me" is willing to be a reference.

Based in "Greater New York City" so that might be a way for me to get clients, though I had someone like that in LA (after I dropped money on a local voip, as Google voice isn't available here) to be more presentable, they then went dark and later turned out to be lying about who they were, so I'm not getting my hopes up until something works out,I've been burned by fakers that many times.

My battery is running out so, the rest will have to be posted later.
 

Kung Fu Steve

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Yet again, I've hopefully learned something
Fixed that for you.

Just because a problem exists, doesn't mean it can be monetized into a solution. Your audience ultimately must want to pay for it. The value proposition just isn't very compelling ... that's what compels users to open their wallets.

Thanks for sharing the failure.
I developed a web-based solution designed to guide young leaders through leadership skill development training. This idea came to me when I thought "Gee, there seems to be a lot of talk about millennial leadership disparity. Maybe I can design a scalable solution that helps them improve as leaders."
To maybe add a little to this -- my question would be WHO is telling you there is a millennial leadership disparity?

My guess is it wasn't millennials who told you that... it was someone who was critical of millennials... so someone who says "yeah this person sucks at this" -- and you say "yeah, you're right! they DO suck at that! ... let me save them from themselves!"

"Bro, don't try to be captain save-a-ho." - My buddy from the old hood.

Look for people who want your help.
 
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404profound

404profound

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Fixed that for you.





To maybe add a little to this -- my question would be WHO is telling you there is a millennial leadership disparity?

My guess is it wasn't millennials who told you that... it was someone who was critical of millennials... so someone who says "yeah this person sucks at this" -- and you say "yeah, you're right! they DO suck at that! ... let me save them from themselves!"

"Bro, don't try to be captain save-a-ho." - My buddy from the old hood.

Look for people who want your help.
Very good point, it was definitely second-hand feedback.
 

LittleWolfie

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My guess is it wasn't millennials who told you that... it was someone who was critical of millennials... so someone who says "yeah this person sucks at this" -.

Look for people who want your help.
Wouldn't the person critical of millennial leadership who needs them to lead be the one who wants your help? So your selling them a training course designed to solve the issues with thier millennial workforce.

Of course that requires actually investing in the workforce.
 

Andy Black

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If you’re not comfortable speaking to people (yet), then engage people via FB messenger, email, in forums and Facebook groups.

You can still help people without physically speaking to them, and you can learn so much from each interaction.

You have to engage your market to find out what they value enough to pay for, and so you can prove you can reach them with your offer.

Also... follow demonstrated cashflows. What are people already spending money on that indicates they have the problem you have a paid solution for?

Maybe read my “paid email newsletters” progress thread and tell me what you think.
 

LittleWolfie

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If you’re not comfortable speaking to people (yet), then engage people via FB messenger, email, in forums and Facebook groups.
.
Wait, am I one of the few that is more confident speaking in person than online? Is it common for people to be more comfortable with Facebook groups, forums etc? This could explain a lot.
 

Fotis

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Wait, am I one of the few that is more confident speaking in person than online? Is it common for people to be more comfortable with Facebook groups, forums etc? This could explain a lot.
It depends on the subject. I've uncovered some amazing pearls of wisdom by researching weight loss forums. My guess is due to the anonymity, overweight people can pour their souls out on those forums.

Not the case when you talk to them 1 to 1. They tell you what they think they should say ("I want to lose weight because I'm worried about my health) instead of revealing their darkest fears ("I want to lose weight because I'm worried my husband will leave me for his 23-year old assistant")

I believe that, if you're interested in targeting entrepreneurial-minded people, you'll do better going to conventions and meet-ups (or however they're called)
 
OP
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404profound

404profound

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If you’re not comfortable speaking to people (yet), then engage people via FB messenger, email, in forums and Facebook groups.

You can still help people without physically speaking to them, and you can learn so much from each interaction.

You have to engage your market to find out what they value enough to pay for, and so you can prove you can reach them with your offer.

Also... follow demonstrated cashflows. What are people already spending money on that indicates they have the problem you have a paid solution for?

Maybe read my “paid email newsletters” progress thread and tell me what you think.
Thanks for this insight, Andy.

I have considered reaching out to folks on FB messenger. One thing I'm weary of is if it would come off as creepy? If I reach out to someone who isn't already in my social network, wouldn't that person be immediately skeptical of my motives?
 

Andy Black

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Thanks for this insight, Andy.

I have considered reaching out to folks on FB messenger. One thing I'm weary of is if it would come off as creepy? If I reach out to someone who isn't already in my social network, wouldn't that person be immediately skeptical of my motives?
I add value and don’t suggest people PM me. They connect or follow me of their own accord and *then* I reach out to say thanks and engage in conversation.

Check out thread “How to use forums (and Facebook groups)”, and the 700+ PMs thread linked to in my signature.
 

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Kung Fu Steve

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Wouldn't the person critical of millennial leadership who needs them to lead be the one who wants your help? So your selling them a training course designed to solve the issues with thier millennial workforce.
That's another take on it -- and that's exactly what I do in my line of work. There's always individuals who want to do it on their own. They're motivated and driven.

Anyone else the boss/leader/manager needs to be strong enough to either force them to do it, influence them to do it, or best yet influence them to want it for themselves.

... but my guess is if THEY were that leader, they wouldn't need the leadership training haha

Of course that requires actually investing in the workforce.
High performing businesses and offices get this. Low performers don't.
 

LittleWolfie

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... but my guess is if THEY were that leader, they wouldn't need the leadership training haha
My guess was they were having generational or cultural issues and that might be where issue come in. They could be fantastic at leading over 60's and terrible at leading millennial. Of course then they are probably looking at their own education.

Perhaps cultural consultants would be useful with foreign hired or acquisitions etc.

That's another take on it -- and that's exactly what I do in my line of work.
High performing businesses and offices get this. Low performers don't.
Interesting, I take it you exclusively target high performers then? I think hitting " the cheaper the better" type people and companies is a large failing for me.
 

nyc217

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Yet again, I've failed.

There are always lessons to be learned with each of these landmines, but this one hit deep.

In this episode, 404 violates the Commandment of Need. I've spent 7 months diligently developing a SaaS product that I told the market it needed, but not one that the market told me it needed. That is a fatal error.

I developed a web-based solution designed to guide young leaders through leadership skill development training. This idea came to me when I thought "Gee, there seems to be a lot of talk about millennial leadership disparity. Maybe I can design a scalable solution that helps them improve as leaders."

Good in theory, horrible in practice. People learn leadership through experience, and communication with other more experienced people. I ignored this fundamental fact, and went on to invest $3,000.00 in developing a piece of sh*t. Having recently been let go from a full time job, and now experiencing this, I am bitter, disappointed, and my self-esteem is in the dumpster. I won't quit, because I've got no quit in me, but it's back to the drawing board with my tail between my legs.

A few things I'll do differently going forward:

1) Build certainty that any business or product I'm building satisfies a real problem - not a problem I'm pretending is a problem.

2) Have more conversations with people. I am horribly introverted, and I am usually averse to social interaction. But it's the social interaction that allows people to uncover real problems. I'll need to swallow the social anxiousness and hit the streets to communicate with people now.

3) Stop drinking my own damn koolaid. I know I'm a smart, educated guy, but that means nothing in the world of entrepreneurship. I need to go back to a learning and growth mindset, instead of a "I have all the answers I need" mindset.

I deserve whatever ridicule I get from this post. But I do hope others avoid making the same mistake as I. Never rush into a hunch, and never act on a business idea through emotion. Validate the demand, or validate the lack thereof.
Thank you for sharing this-- extremely valuable insight for us here at the forum.
 

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