The Entrepreneur Forum | Startups | Entrepreneurship | Starting a Business | Motivation | Success

EXECUTION Failure is not an option

OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Things are getting better.

NDA Project got an app of the month title in a niched online magazine. They've also written a nice article on it and put a link on their main page. Free marketing for us.

The churned user is back but using the app much less (more carefully?).

The project also passed the profitability point without counting the seed round yesterday.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
This weekend set the new best days again for the NDA project.
Done some quick analysis and it turns out that top 5% of our users are responsible for 50% of the profits and total profits from the bottom 50% are less than the profit from the top 1 user. Glad we went with micro-payments, as we can still monetize small users and the biggest ones pay us more than with SaaS. Our LTV seems to be higher than we expected too, cause top 30% of the users already passed that point, but still not much data to be sure.

Just got first "profit distribution" payment from my share in the project. The feeling was like money just fallen from the sky really. $2k is not too much, but definitely not small for a share in young two months old product that's on the market for over a month only and made most of it during the last two weeks.

Been thinking lately on what to do next and thinking why I'm thinking of that as thing are going great, really.
I'm definitely thinking too much and probably rushing too much too.
Anyway, everything leads to this
Think of your end goals and build the business that can achieve it. And I've missed that.
I didn't had enough confidence to start anything except service business, cause that's something I know and have experience with. Not from a fixed mindset, more from evaluating chances to success and time & effort required. Totally needed partners for that to grow above freelancing fast.

Great members really helped me with motivation, having faith in myself, don't relying on partners too much, thinking less and much simpler.

So the current situation:
  1. Agreements with two partners who are a good fit for what we're currently doing. I don't want to fail them.
  2. Two ongoing clients with two products, equity in both. One is close to killing it, the other's just making some money on autopilot. Have some recurring income from them and a few months of service work to do.
  3. My E-Residency waiting for pick-up in the Embassy, my partners still not ready.
The end goals (combined):
  1. More free time and flexible schedule at some point. Really important for Mykola (M previously) as he's more for a lifestyle business.
  2. Enough income to not get back on 9-5. Probably all of us don't mind getting more than on the current jobs, but not hundreds of millions or billions. For me, the stability of this is really important so with a business it has to be at least 5-10x of my salary. Not that jobs are stable, but getting a new one is really easy while building a new business is not.
  3. Building something we would grow and care about. So that's a small enterprise.
  4. Early retirement is only Mykola's goal. Marian (DH previously) and I really love what we do and I personally can't imagine my life without building something. Anyway, an exit strategy or autopiloting it later is a requirement.
Typical service business doesn't do well with #1 and #4.
Our version of jumping into products we build is better but at scale #4 is still a problem as we would have many products to support with little equity in each of them. And a lot of employees to manage and low if existing exit valuation.
Own products can be the best (more details here), but considered "risky".

Why?

So the process of making a product is really simple:
Find a need -> fill a need/add value -> get paying customers -> scale
With software products, programming and marketing experience and after reading MJ's books #2 and #4 are easy.
#3 and #1 stand very close to each other. If there's a problem people are willing to pay for solving they will become paying customers of the solution. So the hardest part is finding a problem worth solving.

Let's get back to how we see it from the service business perspective:
Good idea + money + building it + marketing = successful product

We build it, give advice on marketing and help with improving the initial idea and some details along the way. And take some money for that.
We don't do all the marketing like actually managing ad campaigns, finding the best place to put them, designing banners, copywriting, free marketing, etc. I have some experience with that but would be better if the clients never know this as it's not our service focus, just adding more value.
So we only setup tracking for the funnel, do performance analysis, some split testing, CTAs, and the overall layout for banners.
On the NDA project, an employee/contractor is doing all the design work, managing social media and two community groups. Freelance copywriting is polishing everything the client pushes to her. They are not expensive.
So building it + marketing covered.

The part we missing is Good idea + money.

Not that we don't have ideas or money. The first problem is that our ideas are coming from the wrong place. We brainstorm them, which means we guess the solution and hoping there's a need for that. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!
Let's start with the need (probably have to re-read a chapter in Unscripted on that).
How to spot it?
  1. Problems you're facing yourself. Close to zero that can be solved with software.
  2. Needs you know exist from your experience in the industry. Yeah, some library ideas mostly for the open-source model. Some projects with HUGE entry barriers either because of pure size&costs to build or a requirement to be an authority in the industry (trading software).
  3. Looking for existing markets and finding one with a room for improvement and competition. The world isn't perfect so that's an unlimited source of ideas.
  4. Combining #2 and #3 by solving problems in one industry with an improved solution from another one. That's huge and that's what NDA project is doing.
So we can come up with good ideas using methods #3 and #4. They won't be that good as our client's ideas cause clients were thinking of them for a much longer period of time, has proven need either for them or their customers and believe in them enough that are willing to spend their time and pay us money for building them a solution.
Still much better than the ones from brainstorming. We definitely have to validate them before building the solution, but it's not that hard.

Now money... Do we have them or we don't? It's tricky.
We definitely have less money than our clients, who are successful business owners or businesses.
But we do have fewer expenses as we don't have to pay a service business for building the product. We are a service business that's building the products). Still, need some money for a living and for marketing.
Again, do we have them or we don't?
I have some, but funding my partners would be too risky. Not justified $2.73k / month expenses, not good for a "startup".
Marian has savings for 6+ months.
Mykola would be starving in a month without salary unless he sells his car and motorcycle. Well, not really, but pretty close to that.
We also have $32k in the company funds, which should be enough for 8 months without marketing, equity in one so far successful product and service work on it for, maybe, two months more that would probably double its profits.
But we probably still need more funding, at least for marketing and other expenses. Where to get it?
  1. Leave Marian on the job to fund everything. He won't bring much and we would definitely have to get him out asap and that would be easier with a service business.
  2. Split efforts and build a service company that's doing their products too. No way (right?) to build a small productized service company in our industry, so that would be more like two companies sharing the bank account. Twice harder, not good.
  3. Raise external investments. But who would invest in a company that doesn't even know what to do yet? Definitely, I wouldn't. Fortunately, we have two opportunities on this already...
Don't know where this road leads and we haven't decided anything yet. Looks more promising than staying in a traffic jam.
Scheduled a brainstorm meetup after my partners get back from the business trip.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
A little RANT about FAITH and SCRIPT
Just said to my wife that we're thinking of doing products and thing's would definitely won't go nice and dandy from the start, but we'll make it eventually.
Talk quickly went south with her mentioning my previous "startup" failure, the fact that one of my partners doesn't have money for a living, that products are hard, that I'm too convinced we would succeed and that I'm bad with risk mitigation overall.
I deliberately brought it there by mentioning that I would probably need $30-$50k for that to work, and giving Mykola a loan is fine and may be considered as an investment in a product if I would think it's necessary.
She considers 0.02% a huge risk and that we should be accounting for that, yet it well less than the probability of dying in a car crash (1/103) or dying in a pedestrian accident (1/558).
Telling her that I foresee more possible short-term problems, but all of them are about losing partners didn't help.
Those are money we earned with hard work, we should keep them for the kids!
It doesn't matter that I can earn them in a few months, no. "It's too risky!".
Yet, she's completely fine with me working on this for 3 years (which is equal to not earning much more, even on 9-5).
Oh, and 4 times she mentioned that I would fail, lol. Well, she's doesn't actually think I would fail, but was aking to consider the possibility of a complete failure seriously. I told her that I'm actually planning to fail, and multiple times.
And I gave her a promise that she wasn't happy about:
I would never get a job again, ever, no matter what

I don't blame her, that's the SCRIPT. Get a job, avoid risks, stay comfortable, business is very risky.
The fact that she's also a software developer made it worse. It's hard for her to realize that a job is not stable, and there are people who really struggle to get it. We have not enough developers for all people who want to make money on them, so they are treated like kings, the salaries are pretty high and still growing and good software developer would always get a job. During soviet union, 30 years ago miners were in the same position here in Ukraine, now they're striking every year for not getting paid $200-$400 salaries for more than a few months and yet continue to work... Cause they don't see other options.

That got me thinking...
Signed bigger project. Client honestly told me that had proposals for $28k and $20k, but delivery terms is an issue for him. Both companies estimated more than a month for delivery, he needs it in two weeks. My estimate was 27 days avg, 19 days best, 42 days worst so both companies were right :smile:. Since I'm on 9-5 job, I'm getting a vacation for the next two weeks to focus 300% on this project. Looks pretty doable in my opinion, and he's ok to deliver main functionality in 2 weeks and some minor stuff later. Partners were against it cause it's not exactly our focus/expertise and the terms seemed unreal to them. Also, I've insisted on % equity and some fixed payment with some penalties on a fixed part if not delivered in time and big penalties if not delivered in a month. The project might be pretty profitable with almost guaranteed 5-figure earnings and has 6-7 figure potential.
WTF!? Are people that stupid?
He got a $28k proposal from a really large company that's in business for more than 10 years.
He got a $20k proposal from 20+ employee company that specializes on the technologies needed for his project.
He knows that for that money 3 to 5 people would be working on his project for a month.
He believed the project would be profitable, so giving equity was not in his interests, fixed price definitely looked cheaper for him.
Yet, he went with me and gave equity... A solo guy who he doesn't know at all, who has not much reputation, totally has to finish it during his vacation cause he definitely won't have enough time for that with his job, who honestly told him that he doesn't know all the required technologies and would spend 2-3 days from his urgent timeline learning them and also not good web developer as he wasn't doing web for almost 10 years.
That sounds really crazy, no? Like WHAAATTT crazy.
Yeah, I was too excited to see it right away.
What the heck our common friend told him??!!

My multimillionaire poker friend is currently starting a software product and outsourced it to a local company. They finally showed him something. Nice looking half-working crap full of bugs. He asked me to estimate that project for him. I've done something similar before, so could quickly adjust everything to our current rates.

The total was 40% of what that company estimated and we have almost 2x of their rates. Math doesn't match, right? Yet, I'm pretty sure of the accuracy for this one.

The fun thing is that he had failed 2 times with software products already, blowing low 6 figures on them. I've actually tried to finish one, more expensive of them before, made some progress in two weeks, but had no time to finish it back then (and I've told him that I don't have a lot of time beforehand)... Since that he thought that I'm unreliable and can change my mind whenever I like.

Fortunately, he knows of our recent process so he changed his mind.
Unfortunately, that company already spent 35% of their budget, so he'll try to get his money back by selling everything to them as their owner seemed to like the idea.
And to start from scratch with us hoping to over-compete them cause he has more money and more domain knowledge in that niche.

He's happy with our budget, but I'm thinking of a better win-win deal. We would do it when we don't have other clients work for 0 margin rates. Normal rate if he needs something done top-priority. All that for a small equity %. Same would go for his future projects.

Cheaper failure for him, better results for us since he's aiming really big and not interested in a few K here and there. And we won't have to worry about ups & downs while we're small.

He needs time to think, but I'm pretty sure we're at least got another client.
And this... He just stopped the project by the way. Gave up on the idea for now.

But who would invest in a company that doesn't even know what to do yet? Definitely, I wouldn't. Fortunately, we have two opportunities on this already...
The recent one shows it best.

Turns out there are people who believe in us more than I do.
Realizing that is the best motivation ever and I'm pretty sure it would last for a long time.

Enough thinking, back to execution mode
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Surround yourself with successful people
Just had a 2.5 hours launch with the client and some of his friends who are all entrepreneurs and have offices in downtown.
Two lawyers from the "Legal porn" seminar, two product company owners and an owner of a service company who quoted $20k for the NDA project.
We had a more casual talk that soon shifted to "how is it going?" and discussions about other businesses and opportunities.

I wasn't asking any questions (except a few on E-Residency), yet learned a lot.

Interesting things/takeaways:
  1. A lot more business deals are done in our capital than in my city.
  2. They were asking me to introduce myself, but before I've managed to squeeze a word, the client introduced me "It's my friend Andriy, we have common interests, a common project really, and he has some his own things going on too". Haven't figured out why, but seems that last part was pretty important for him to say, as I don't really have things going on yet.
  3. The client told them that we've raised the seed investment and they were all honestly greeting us, no jealousy at all.
  4. Everyone was very open and told their further plans to everyone too.
  5. "You all are entrepreneurs here, so you understand that we should be adding value and innovate. Raising investments and doing the task list would lead to nowhere, no matter how big the investments were. Raising just enough can even be a lot better." - about a girl who raised millions probably spent them already and got heavily over-competed.
  6. I've heard the phrase "sell shovels" at least 3 times.
  7. They were all talking very high level, only on the big picture. Dived to details only to discuss failures, not opportunities. Same thing I've noticed in the CEO of Perfectial. That must be important.
  8. Noone except service company owner was in a hurry. They having a client's project launch soon.
  9. More insights about Estonian OU. The lawyers and one product owner have companies there, the service owner in the process of opening one too.
  10. Connections play a huge role. Even for me and the NDA project, most big things happened because of connections. But they were talking bigger. Like to make this opportunity or step possible we need connections with that and that business.
  11. Products are not that scary. One has "Bloomberg" for a niche, like data gathering, some calculations and selling the API access. Another one is 10-year old style, yet interesting, browser game with a crypto auction. They were thinking that our product with all of the features still in progress would actually be more complex.
  12. All of them, including my client, have multiple businesses and one "main" one. So building a business shouldn't be that risky, once you have a grasp on it.
  13. One of the product guys has a high price group-buying business/side hustle. From iPhones to real estate. Shared a dialog with construction company salesman of how's he doing it. "-We would like to buy 7 apartments. -Great! -But we would only pay for 6, one free. Take your time, think, calculate everything. Cya"
Also asked the client why the heck he picked me, especially when he knew the owner of that company.
His response was something like that: "Yes, but I also know how they do things. Your estimates were pretty close to theirs, yet you seemed to understand my position better. You quickly identified what's was really important and only you proposed to cut some of the initial functionality to make it in time. Despite the estimates, you were pretty sure we could do it. And you looked very techy too.".
My friend told him "He's 7x better than average senior developer", I used to joke like that after two seniors in a company we both worked for failed to deliver a pretty complex real-time calculation framework for one project in 2 weeks. Had to do it myself... in 2 days. Of course, that's just a joke, I've just had more experience in that field.

Scheduled a little alcohol meetup on Friday evening, should be interesting.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
You can't hire yourself
Was added to my signature recently. It's from a talk with 260+ CEO on a Saturday party.
I was joking about his business and explaining our plan to him cause he's kind of my mentor.
How we would put marketing over sales, how we would compete for projects that no big company wants to compete, how we would have better margins than he had 5 years ago and a lot of happy clients to bring us more and everything would be nice and dandy.
He listened carefully and then said: "Yeah, as long as you don't start hiring".
Me: "Why? What's the problem with that? We would just find really good programmers and pay them more than you do)"
He: "You can't hire yourself"
And the plan went to the sewers cause I immediately realized what he means by that.

An employee can have a great skill and be really good at what he does.
But he would never have the same motivation as a business owner.
He doesn't get paid for the output.
He doesn't want to wait for the results to follow.
He wants to be paid now for 40 hours a week of work he has done.
And he won't overwork unless he wants to (and is getting paid for that).

Just good to keep that in mind.

Update:
Had a talk with the client mentioning we think of pivoting to products, but one of my partners don't have enough money for living and it's holding us back.
His response was very simple and genius.
Just delegate the work I have on the NDA project to my partner so he could earn some easy service money.
There's still some 5-figures of service work left.
He also thinks that this is a great idea and that he tried to lean me on that road all the way (which he or his project probably did).
Also got an agreement for doing more startup-like(bigger) projects together in the future on the same terms (discount for development in exchange for minor equity in the project). He got experience, money and a shitload of connections.
We would definitely learn a lot by working with him and it's zero-risk cause we're getting paid for what we do.
Did I mention that "hourly rate" with this heavy discount turns out to be a bit more than my partners currently earn on 9-5?
And that's still a win-win.
NICE.

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.” (Mother Theresa) - thanks, @Andy Black

P. S. Just to clarify: my partners have nothing to do with the NDA project, they voted not to take it for a "company", so I took it for myself and they were ok with that since we haven't "started" officially and I'm wasting my 9-5 vacation to build it. More details here.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Quick update:
NDA Project got titled app of the week on another online niched magazine. We're pretty much got China and the English-speaking world going and focused on Russia and South Korea now. Still no localization though. Korea can be huge from the feedback we got already.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week -3
View attachment 24812
Yes, that has some changes. Some goals from the previous table didn't have much sense and was more a result of overthinking than of what's really important. I've also decided to not include specific business goals here, and focus only on what's really important.
The current version is more focused on finding opportunities and detaching income from time, I've had a job already.
"B2B win-win deals" is pretty much the only one synthetic goal, but that's just so I could keep that in mind and focus on it a bit more.

Many great people here suggested that I'm overthinking too much. That really helps in programming, but not in business.
A good example of it is my plan for the service company. It's was very detailed and should've worked. But once we got past the first step better opportunities appeared in front of us and the whole plan went to the trash bin.
We're pretty much dumping the service idea and switch to products, possibly with some external funding, so I'll leave the idea here. Feel free to execute on it if you wish:

Building a small-to-medium web app MVPs with a lot of optimizations on the delivery(building) part and some additional value added. Offering a big discount for equity for the products we believe in ourselves.
Small means no big companies compete for that, and won't actually take that if someone wants to build it with them.
It also means we won't have big teams and a lot of management involved, so the company structure can be pretty horizontal.
Marketing would go over sales as we need a lot of small projects, not a few really high ticket ones.
The main optimization on the programming side is that we would be doing everything with MERN stack (possibly some changes here and there depending on the project, but not too much) that means every employee would be replaceable with any full-stack developer and we can afford to hire less experienced programmers as they would grow up in skill pretty fast with doing the same thing all the time.
On the client side, the main benefits would be going as much full-service as possible so we can over-compete freelances really well and saving their time both in communication (more direct) and delivery (really short terms cause of the optimizations above). To get "higher hourly rates" for this, we would only charge a fixed price and have fixed plans, so won't spend too much time estimating and discussing that with the prospect.

For example, @Patrick Jones Satistime would fit into our middle plan which would be:
$10k, custom design, 2 weeks delivery or 50% money back, some advice on idea/features and with further marketing for free.
I think we could even get the idea a bit further and suggest Calendar integration from the start and some sort of mobile app too. 2 good developers would be working on this and we would outsource the design to a freelancer on the first day.

The only two concerns with that have been jumping in equity with foreign clients (complex from a legal side) and focusing on time with employees (they won't overwork if they have to, even with good bonuses).

Feel free to use&improve that, hope it has some value. Our final niche is narrower than "web apps", but that should work with pretty much anything, the focus is more a requirement for marketing and building a brand.


Decided to go with the flow
Like Aang on my new avatar :). From the first big client project, I've learned a lot on the business side of "startups". I've also made some really good connections with successful people. Initially, we thought that products are hard, risky, and blah-blah. It's not that hard really. Yes, we won't have an income from day 1. Yes, they may fail eventually. But we can mitigate the risk for that with picking the real needs to solve and possibly having an investor if we totally have to.
There a lot of opportunities for products around based on needs and wants, so we would have to filter them.
The filters would be:
  1. The problem can be solved with web/mobile better than with service.
  2. There is competition already and a room for us to take the initiative.
  3. We would have a competitive advantage on execution. That's probably would be the niche we picked for doing service business. It's pretty complex and the existing competition is weak. That means we can't be over-competed easily with more money and a bigger team. They must have experienced people too. This has just about the right Entry for us to pass and keep the competition away. It's a broader niche than the current client's project and I have non-compete on that, but it's really narrow (basically don't make a clone). Still better to tell the client what we up to, so it won't be a surprise. Don't think he would mind unless it's direct competition which we won't be doing anyway.
  4. The need and market for it should be enough to make for a living and the ceiling should be at least 10x higher, but not much bigger. That means we won't compete with big players but still can make for living on it even without taking the huge market share. Really good for the first project.
  5. Full CENTS. C is kinda tricky in that niche, we would always have to rely on someone, but it's interchangeable and not have to single one all the time. Think like making a physical product and sell it on Amazon, e-bay, retail and anywhere else but not on your web site. Little better than that, but pretty similar. S is tricky too, cause it's pretty limited for a single product. The niche is growing, so it's not a long-term issue. And there's enough Scale already to hit GOLD.
So yeah, a real need, advantage on execution, smaller products (B2C and B2SMB) cause B2Enterprise is more sales than marketing and a higher Entry that would be harder to pass at this stage.
I would definitely spend more time on marketing than programming with this :).

Back to a status update:
NDA Project is still growing organically, but the growth changed. We had lots of new users before but less increase in revenue. Now user growth slowed a lot, but the revenue is increasing faster and more users are actually using it. This must a symptom of word-of-mouth growth. This week spent much more time on marketing than on programming as we're going to new markets at that's what important. To think of it, I already have income from this project that together with my income from investments covers my family expenses 2-2.5x. And we have a plan to potentially multiply the revenue 4-5 times in a month or two. Wonder where that would lead.

Done
  • Found a replacement for myself as an employee. He can start in a month. That was kinda funny and I don't want to turn this into RANT, but most candidates were... not that good. Web-only experience (my boss don't need that) and deploying on Amazon/Azure, configuring WebApi to talk JSON and to store session in DB seems to be the biggest accomplishment for them. Zero knowledge of what's required here like networking, low-level performance stuff, multithreading/concurrency, high-availability/high-reliability. Were using ORM all the time that we're using here too, but with MS SQL while we have PostgreSQL, and that scared them as F*ck. Yet they've posted their resumes and wanted a higher than average salary. The second best guy actually wanted 50% of that and was willing to learn, but the one I've picked had that too and more experience on what's needed here already. I've adviced him to ask for a bigger salary, my boss won't get poorer with that, lol.
  • Some ethernet in the office. 30-40 min to change the setup left from the previous renters with their cables and sockets. No power sockets yet and we would go for per-desk lamps instead of improving the overall office lighting. Will only change bulbs to the brightest one later.
  • Some minor programming tasks on the NDA project
  • Giving marketing ideas and thinking of strategies seems easier than coding, at least it doesn't take that much time. That was a relaxing week.
  • Last day on the Job. I would never get a job again, ever, no matter what.
Fail
  • The payment gateway for an NDA project had hard times for an hour. 8 payments were hanging in the air, 1 somehow managed to pass through in between. We have an automatic system that tries to refund if anything's wrong, but cause the issue was with the gateway itself so the refund also failed and it does one try only so we won't accidentally refund multiple times. Had to refund manually, 2 of 3 users affected immediately did what they wanted after that. We definitely need a better system to at least notify us of this isseu.
Now
  • Go with the flow, think BIG and high-level, don't focus on details too much, only if's there's a problem that has to be solved
  • Some work on the NDA. The most important is localization and that big milestone with complex functionality that I need two days 100% focus to code the core. The roadmap for both ends in 2 weeks. I would be free from 9-5 and have more than enough time to finish it.
  • Focus on surrounding myself with successful people. Still, a lot to learn from them. The first step would be to go to the alco&hookah meetup today where the client, lawyers, and a few IT business owners would be. Have to overcome my heavy introversion and try to make contact with them. Free legal advice on launches would be really helpful, and probably we can do some coding work for them too, they've kinda niched on that. My extroverted partner could help with that a lot, but he's still on a business trip and won't be here until Sunday.
  • I'm a desktop guy, but really thinking of buying a new laptop. Mine's pretty much dead and bulky/heavy 17". We would need to do some local presentations and getting feedback. Somehow, on my first two failures, I bought new laptops too... With the IT outsourcing to work from home and from the office, with MMO startup cause we were sometimes working with a partner in public places as he didn't want someone from his company to know (red flag, by the way).
  • Don't focus on small and not important things at all
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week -3
24823
Attachment for the previous post. Had issues with it probably due to forum going down, can't edit the previous post too.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week -2
24958

A little update while I have some time.
NDA project had a new best day on Monday, beating the previous best day by almost 70% and going very well for the whole week. It's got announced competition coming soon.
One side-product from an established company in the big industry for our niche coming in weeks that we're pretty scared off as they would definitely have more functionality ready and more money for marketing. That would slow us down.
Another is our clone from guys in the same niche who has a different product coming in December and I totally don't see any chances for them.
Have to work 300% again to squeeze 2 months roadmap before the first competitor so we would look decent and at least our users won't switch to them. After that, we would launch bigger than ever marketing campaigns in Asia and Russia. It's being prepared already. We tested the waters and it seems like ads are better for Russia and influencer marketing from niche authorities better in Asia. Can't do campaigns sooner cause we know that 30% of people leave cause we still don't have one big feature and more than 50% cause we don't have localization (at least in English-speaking countries conversions are 2x better with ads).
We have 398 customers so far, 260-450 daily visitors with <10% bounce and it's still growing without any paid traffic source.
With daily profits we get now, my % is already pretty close to the salary I had and it's not tied to time. And by working 10 hours/day my service payment is close too ).

It feels good to not have a job :)

Done
  • I and partner bought 2 used Lenovo T480s for ~$820, they $1800 new here. Mine got 820+ days warranty, 3 battery cycles, and 97% capacity. His 18 cycles, 99% capacity. Found out that they also have touch screens and 4G a few days after purchasing. I5-8350/16Gb Ram/256GB SSD/great keyboard/2 monitor support/light & rigid/10+ hours of web browsing or 6+ hours of working on the battery after some tweaks. Probably the best value for the money so far :).
  • Ordered 3 used HP zr2440w monitors for $100 each. They having some difficulties with delivery... for 3 days already. Would probably buy 3 more. It's really a steal, monitors of that kind are rare and ~$150 used here.
  • We got 90% of the furniture delivered, as promised
  • Some minor to-dos related to the office and quitting the job (that actually took almost the whole Monday...)
  • 70% of the big milestone @ NDA, some minor features too.
  • Eating more healthy now. Feeling some results in a week already (more energy, but getting hungry sooner lol).
Fail
  • Gave a $35 commission present to a bank by making transfers from the wrong card in a hurry(credit with 4% commission instead of debit with 0.25%). Not a big deal, but it flew away in 10 seconds :rofl:. It was P2P transfer between my accounts in different banks and both banks supports said they couldn't cancel it.
Now
  • Finish that big feature and test everything well as it's pretty complex and affects existing functionality.
  • Localization "framework" so translators would have time till the end of the week.
  • Maybe more tasks from the roadmap.
  • Remove the tooth... and it's scary cause I had an appointment for last Monday evening but after they dentist looked on X-Ray and my mouth he started to act pretty nervous, said that it would take 2-3 hours and he probably has to do it in the university where he works not in the clinic. Called someone and scheduled me on next Monday morning. I don't enjoy being at the dentist, but this time it's really creepy. He mentioned he would have to saw the tooth and remove it in pieces... Hope it won't take more than 2 days to recover. Switched weekend for Mon and Tue - the beauty of not having a job anymore :).
  • Think of more ways to defend from the major competitor. Do more research on what he has, assuming our niche product would be very close to its big brother.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week -1
25078

I won't be posting money results after this one cause most of them probably would come from the NDA project.

NDA Project got competition on the way. One rival is live and it's not great. They focused on part of our functionality but done it not in the greatest way possible and probably they are using us and doing a lot of stuff manually cause our usage in that part dramatically increased. I know what they could do to over-compete us there, but they won't have time now since our next milestone would leave them in the dust. Another big one had their design leaked from the integration with the same big player that we're integrated. Looks nice and they, as we expected, plan to have more useful stuff than we have so far. Would be tough.

Seed investors got an opportunity of +50% exit and we can sell some of our shares too. Two big players got interested almost to the point of buying the whole project. We don't have a reason to sell and investors got around 18% ROI already and growing, so nothing happens so far.

Overwritten best day yesterday by ~10% and I've remembered 2740 from MJ's book. Our average is far from that yet, but we had some of those days.
Edit: looks like Today will set the best day again.

Done
  • Big milestone, lots of improvements, more automation, and part of the next milestone for NDA project. Still can't say about the results as the first 4 days were so-so, the last ones were really great, more than we expected from this.
  • Strategic marketing and scale plans for the next 2 months and the next 2 weeks.
  • 9-5 "free schedule" completely beaten by not having a job. I work less and much more productive. Laptop also helped a lot, had to work 5-6 hours on the battery from different places(usually car) this week.
  • In progress of re-reading Unscripted and somehow it seems different now. From the intro, I don't have a crazy expensive car, but I do have a car that I won't sell. Everything else seems there already.
  • Somehow my mom hasn't said a thing about getting a job as she did during previous ventures. Only asked where's our office, who's on my team and wished success.
  • Had a discussion with the client and poker friend during lunch. Turns out both of them dumped 6 figures each into software startups already with zero returns. This is their first really profitable project (poker friend is there as an investor). They had concerns about my partners cause of the pink glasses and zero entrepreneurial experience and offered some future cooperation if we would want some.
  • By going to lunches with cool guys somehow realized that I've started to eat more healthy. Vegetables do make me feel better and give more energy. The only downside is that I get hungry much sooner.
Fail
  • Another big refund to 5 clients cause of the same data bug from the provider we had last time... Figured out a way to avoid it without an external source of data and implemented it already. Requires some manual interventions and time window for fixing is not huge, but that still much much better than nothing.
Now
  • Somehow I'm uber productive without 9-5, so probably will finish the whole roadmap in the next week or two.
  • One of my partners left 9-5 too, I think I'll transfer the NDA project service work to him during this week and will move forward.
  • Launching a large marketing campaign after all the translations would be done. The framework and some translations are done already, waiting for contractors to do the rest.
  • Got a crazy good and bad idea at the same time. It's a platform, more specifically a trading platform. Definitely CENTS, huge need, etc. However, as usual, Entry... It needs $2-$3m investments for turnover bankroll. MVP can be developed in 2-3 months. Got 6-figures investments secured from poker friend and CEO friend, but that's not enough, they understand it and have connections to try to get more. I don't want to give more than 50% to investors, so seed valuation would be #1 issue. #2 issue would be that huge companies from Wall Street are also interested in doing something similar. We can get to the market faster, but they would probably destroy us with their authority later unless we would be able to grow insanely fast and secure the #1 position. Haven't told my partners yet and dunno if we should pursue it, as the chances of choking are really high...
Update: Yes, Today is the new best day, beat Yesterday by 13%. I have a bad trait to lose interest in something after achieving decent success. Now I know what can push me forward:
25091
just random recent motivational posts from project's telegram group after we rolled out the update.
 
Last edited:
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
When paying for the service work last the time the client told that it's too low. Hardly reminded him about the last incident and that some of the work was paid upfront. He still thinks that it's low and was talking about raising the service rate and probably would pay for that incident too. Talked something about motivation and stuff, but still, it's not logical for him cause I was fine with that and haven't hinted anything first, so I'm thinking he really wants us to grow that project and have further cooperation on other projects (probably that trading thingy I was talking about during last lunch with him, maybe something else, who knows).
A good sign as he really got good in making contracts, managing freelances of different skillsets and negotiating b2b deals. And he has some money for initial investments.

Reputable members here were very concerned about 3 partners. Looks like it would be 5 soon, lol.
I still think it's better to have 10% of an 8-figure company than 100% of 6-figure one.
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week 0
25269
We're 5, thinking of how to split equity with my partners for the NDA project.

NDA Project is doing great. 4-figure days became common. Partnered with a social network in the niche for cross-promotion.

Done
  • Done half of the next milestone. Somehow it took 2 days instead of 3 weeks. Was worried that JS won't handle all of the math and started to rewrite critical functionality in C#. After the first microservice, it turned out that JS on node 10+ isn't that bad and actually beat C# single-threaded (still have no idea how). Figuring this out saved me a week by keeping everything in JS.
  • Worked 14-16 hours yesterday to finish the next week's roadmap, lol.
  • My partner started side-project for the NDA project and achieved good results already.
Now
  • Free Marian from 9-5, we don't need a backup bottom line from his salary and have an investor ready for up to mid-6-figure funding in case we would need it for the next projects.
  • Double and triple revenue from the NDA project. Doubling should be next week after we release thing's I've done this week. Tripling is more long-term, maybe would be ready in a month.
  • Get my car to the mechanic (postponed it for 2 weeks already). It needs some maintenance and fuel line repair/tuning (filter housing sucks air).
  • Reinvest most of the profits from NDA into project cause we know how to multiply it.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Had some tension with the client and major investor on NDA project recently. Everything started with they blocking my plan to x3 revenue cause "users may not like it and we would lose some". My points that we can roll it out, rollback if everything will go south (I really don't see it as a high probability) and we may lose up to 20% of existing users but gain 3x on remaining and new ones were completely ignored. Basically, it's a big and major improvement to existing functionality that, in my opinion, should increase it's price dramatically from results-oriented pricing. Those who greatly benefit from it would still use it, others would stop with that price.
It was further escalated by saying "salary" again (after we had a talk where I've asked him not to call it salary and explained why), words like "This project is successful only because of me" and "you're a really great developer and can do even more than just writing code like math" and more me, me, me.
Well... yeah... he has done great B2B deals, no doubt, we wouldn't get 70% of funding without his hustle and this project wouldn't even exist. However, the project would burn a ton more money on marketing, had much slower momentum, much fewer users and done a lot of things wrong overall without me. Not talking that I doubt he could find someone willing to work 16+/day hours for 2 weeks without weekends to get it done in time.

TLDR, we're 3 again, I'm finishing what I've promised in 2 weeks that has a high chance to x2-x3 revenue and putting this thing on low-priority. Asked him to find a developer for everything else, I can interview few candidates for free. Why? Cause I still have equity and there's no way to take it away, I'm ok to exit now cause I've beat my target for this almost x3 and it's a fad, so won't last more than 2 years.

Turned out that "We are 5" was a misunderstanding. They were just willing to jump into interesting projects in their opinion on some pretty equal terms. The problem with this is that we would be forced to do completely different and much riskier projects to feed 5 mouths and we would need some baseline income, further project funding guarantees and more real benefits for this to work. My partner is better in people skills than the client, just got less experience in sales and really kind so offering too much for cheap/free. We don't really need an investor for what we'll be doing. At least not in the beginning.

Spent almost the whole week in "thinking mode". First few days on tripling the NDA project (a lot of complex math involved for that improvements), last 2 days on what to do next. Brainstormed few needs/ideas with my partner. Fun thing - we thought on needs and ideas separately at home and then discussed everything in the offices. Somehow from like 15 ideas, one was the same and 2 were very close. Picked those 2 as the best candidate so far.

It's in real estate + tech. It's huge and solves a LARGE need at least here in Ukraine. Probably everyone who wanted to rent or buy RE here had a lot of WTF moments with this and thoughts that it could be better. I know an attempt to fix this, but they pivoted in a completely different direction and initially picked a slightly wrong point to fix, too hard, not profitable, little need that was part of a bigger one that actually has a simpler solution.

The market we're conquering is $1M+/month only here, in Lviv. Around $20M+ in other big cities in Ukraine combined. Most likely scalable to other countries with not mature RE market (like not the richest countries in Europe, Asia, etc.). I don't really see yet what can stop us from getting 5% of the local market in 6-8 months and growing to 30-40% in 18 months.

The only question and concern I have are why it hasn't been done yet?
There are many solutions, but they are doing so much wrong that we would just multiply them by Zero over time, and sooner with marketing investments.

Why RE?
  • Really huge need we can solve
  • Some connections with "experts" and big companies in the industry that would help, even large investors in the niche
  • There is more than one need that can be solved, others are just smaller ones. Scale can be both in new markets and across the market.
  • One of the experts is my uncle who works for an "investor"
  • Really easy to validate, get the first sale and start a feedback loop
P. S. Now I really understand @eliquid and in case this one fails would never give 50% and would partner with someone only if there are no other options or the benefit would be really really huge.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week 1
25449

Zero changes this week. Almost the whole week was in thinking mode on the NDA project and on what to do next as I've got around 2 weeks of important work there.

This week also was the most negative, but no on the business side. A guy, offroader, I knew passed away at age 21 from cancer. Turned out he was living dead when I've met him already... Lung cancer spread all over the body, no effect from chemistry treatment. He had a brain surgery a month ago that went fine and he was feeling better, but then suddenly everything went much worse. He was hospitalized and the MRI showed tumors everywhere. Couldn't talk, eat and move anything except one hand on Tuesday morning and in the evening showed no conscious reaction. Died on Thursday night.
Talked with my friend ex-surgeon, he said that lung cancer has very slim chances, close to the zero after it got to the brain. But at age 21... it's ultra-rare, especially for a non-smoker.
He's 5-th local offroader who passed away this year, all from cancer, all younger than 4x...

A lot to think about for me, both about business and about life...
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week 2
25602

Income from the business beat my ex-salary from the start which is great :). And a lot of it was not trading time for money directly which is even better.

Done
  • Coded the last major milestone, will be deployed till the end of next weeks cause it's huge and complicated thus requires a lot of testing
  • NDA project equity was redistributed with my partners. They have small shares now that can be taken away if they quit working on it sooner than in 4 months.
  • Asked everyone to do a 16personalities test. We got INTJ(me), INFP, ENFP, ESTP, and ESTJ. 3 of us match the personality type very well, others definitely have major strengths and some weaknesses, but not all. With that team we got everything covered, but I still think that me alone or me + ENFP or ESTP would be a better combo. Plus 3 of us are all in, while the other two have side hustles going on. That was one of the reasons for my second failure, so I have to figure out a way to not repeat this. Leaving the team now is more of an option - they won't starve with equity in this project, but I still think it can go well and this bomb won't detonate. We'll see about that.
  • My partner started a small side project, basically evolving his old hustle. We've got one paying customer already. Monetization is commission-based.
  • Marian giving 2 weeks notice on Monday.
Now
  • Testing and deploying everything in production
  • Helping others get into the project
  • Mykola would start working on UI improvements
  • I'm going to start the next big thing: adapting the project to a different market
  • Everyone, but mostly the client and our only employee would work on heavy marketing. Reachable target: 3x revenue.
Team
  1. INTJ
    1. +Complex thinking on large datasets
    2. +Learning stuff
    3. -Arrogant
    4. -Over-analytical (people skills < 0)
  2. INFP
    1. +Idealistic
    2. +Creative
    3. -Too idealistic/impractical sometimes
    4. -Takes things personally??? (not sure, don't know him well)
  3. ENFP
    1. +Everything communication
    2. +Lots of friends and growing
    3. -Difficulty with focus
    4. -Overthinking (going south way)
  4. ESTP
    1. +Persistence
    2. +Using people connections
    3. -Missing a bigger picture
    4. -Too risky
  5. ESTJ
    1. +Taking things to an end
    2. +Super reliable
    3. -Inflexible/Stubborn (relies on what works and facts too much)
    4. -Holding to what works way too much instead of trying new things
Somehow it seems important only for me, to the point that ESTP thinks it's a waste of time. For me, it's info to maximize team efficiency by listening to someone when he's good at that and thinking about how to avoid conflicts as much as possible. You know what happens when INTJ or ESTJ 100% sure everything going in the wrong direction, but no one listens to him, right?
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week 3
25746
Forgot to update energy drinks previous time...
Not sure if it makes sense to post updates weekly. Thinking of doing it monthly or on major events.

NDA Project is doing great. Hard to estimate the market, but my calculations show that we have 20-80% and every dog in the niche knows about the project already. Finished another major task, it's in beta now cause we still have technical issues with 3rd party and they're working on it. Previous two doubled the users/visitors and 2.5x-ed revenue and maybe it's now the limit cause we see solid changes in behavior in 3+ weeks after rolling out new features and it hasn't passed yet with the second one.
Anyway, the client doesn't really agree, but in my opinion, based on data, this project is close to its limits. The last major feature won't probably bring more users cause they don't exist, but adds a lot of value and would probably 1.5x-double the revenue again. We're moving to completely new niches where we can build something similar. Currently, the client having partnership negotiations with the two biggest companies in different niches. We kinda planning to enter both, but this negotiation will decide what's first. Their benefit - affiliate commission for promoting us, our benefit - they have around 10x users possibly interested in our product compared to what we have now.

Done
  • Last major milestone and some UI improvements on NDA project.
  • My partner's project is bringing some cash too, not much, but enough to pay for an office ). One client and not scalable though, but it can be repurposed to make money without clients.
  • Marian would join us on 24th.
  • The NDA Project's main future competitor started black marketing tricks against us. Bad: this means he would go live soon. Good: we're a leader now so it actually more like free marketing for us. He posts our flaws in different niche telegram groups whenever someone mentions us from his main and fake accounts, but the other users quickly shut him up, lol. It keeps the talks about us going, so definitely brings us some new users at least now.
  • Impressed an investor with $150-250k FU money pot (from my estimates). Too long to write how, but it may be helpful during future projects.
  • We're 3, not 5. But maybe take someone in our future projects.
  • The client agreed on my idea to fix a scope instead of 4 months and decide if it would be better to continue improving this project or start a new one once we would have user feedback from that scope. My reasoning: we've almost reached the limits, we want to overwork (12-16 hr/day 6d/week) and don't have enough work for that. His benefits: the project would advance faster. So it's a win-win. His negotiation stopping us at the moment cause we are not really sure in which niche to jump first.
  • My partner got familiar with code base an is doing some nice UI improvements too.
Now
  • Minor tasks UI and features @NDA project for both of us. Have to refactor quite complex logic to make doing it much easier otherwise they would multiply the complexity quite dramatically.
  • Thinking of the next project. Quite possibly it won't be in RE. My partners have zero experience with launching products and marketing them, so they want something smaller with greater chances of success to start and have a really good idea for that. I won't be coding it probably, only marketing and gathering data.
  • Slowly re-reading Unscripted. It feels like a completely different book now.
  • Thinking why the F* I was staying on 9-5 for so long, there are so many better options. Guess it was the comfort of having a lot of free time and a nice salary. Real free schedule and knowing that your results depend on you is infinitely better.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Week 4
No pointless table this time. It's important for me, but not the number, just overall progress, and the feeling I'm getting to the end.

NDA Project seems to stop growing. Can't say for sure cause it's usage heavily depends on external events, but we're not getting growth number we were expecting. Launching a tricky marketing campaign/promotion this week. If that won't double it, nothing will. I'm focused on moving it to a different niche. Multiple at once, really. At first, it looked very challenging technically, but by normalizing both inputs and outputs we can use the core for everything else pretty much unchanged. So instead of coding for almost a month, it now looks like 3-4 days for core changes and 2-3 days to do adapt everything to completely different data. 80% of our profits comes from 5% of our users and one of them confirmed that he's reselling our services and would increase usage 4-5 times if we do the same thing for a different niche. He has more clients for that. We're pretty sure that at least 20% of our users would be interested in where we going and all of those directions are considerably bigger, with the established competition. Marketing this thing wider would also be much easier as currently we really can't target our small market well.

RE had good news. IT park project got a green light from the government, our major even posted promo video on his facebook. My last two apartments are now in a closest residential building with a nice view on it from the 14th floor. Construction company already raised prices on apartments by 50% and I'm pretty sure it would triple closer to finish. It's long term and I wasn't expecting more than 15% ROI (yearly) for reselling and 8% for renting in the best-case scenario, but taking into account the price I've paid for them when even land allowed usage was for factories, not a residential building, and long road to change it that ended with prime minister signature, ROI may actually double.

Have some concerns
  • The client is too bossy now. I don't like when people self-appoint themselves as bosses or claim that everything good happened cause of them. Tried talking direct, nothing. Now the plan is completely different. Make him lose his faith in the project by slightly trolling his bad ideas and really thinking hard on the best possible steps for the project. Cause if we do everything possible and won't x10-x20 it, then it's impossible. While my terms allow me to quit any moment my partners are stuck for 4 months and leaving them without doing my best to free them sooner or grow the project is not the best thing to do. Yeah, it's making some decent money, but the limit I see is so close to what we have now that other options to invest time are far more superior.
  • People skills, soft skills, etc. Zero, even negative. By default, I'm very direct and don't care about emotions. That hurts people. I can fix it, but that would mean that would have to constantly plan the conversation and use the feedback to adjust. Always thought that it's part of being manipulative so tried to avoid that. For me, the best information is clear information, without external noise and water to save someone's feeling. But by observing closer the client, who has extraordinary skills to connect to people he wants and gets what he want from them and my partner who just nice with all people and making friends instantly - it's something they both do. And they sure it's ok, my partner even adviced me to do that when tension between me and the client got higher. It was something I wasn't doing because of moral principles. INTJs main strength is his brain that can quickly understand how something works, find flaws and improvements and even visualize/simulate it. Doesn't it sound dangerous when this something is another living human?
  • Work ethics. I usually work a lot. And I was when we had to. Now everything stable and I'm working less than on 9-5, while in the process of building an enterprise. Isn't it's weird? Why? Cause the client works even less, our investor whos "in a team" just shows up and my partner is on 3 days trip to another country 2nd time since we've started. Yes, I'm willing to work 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week instead of 6, but why would I if the output is split anyway? Still hoping that would normalize somehow. Either my partner runs out of money or everyone realizes that NDA project is a dead-end.

Lesson learned. Probably the most important one in my life. Think, act, learn, repeat.
  • Think not only on what in front of you, but more globally. Clearly, objectively and always.
  • Act even if it's difficult and not comfortable. Do it if you thought it's right.
  • Learn from results of your actions. That would help to make thinking more accurate and focused.
  • Repeat and don't give up.
Extract of many books and processes in just 4 words. Each of them is equally important. Most people are good at only a few of them. Thinking without acting, acting without thinking, ignoring feedback, being afraid to start, afraid to pivot, afraid to fail, afraid to succeed, making excuses to give up, making excuses to not start, making excuses to not try and fail, avoiding hard parts, avoiding easy parts, learning to analysis paralysis, learning what you don't need, doing what's not important, giving up. Maybe missed something, but that still covers 95% of failures.
Only by mastering all four elements one can achieve extraordinary results.

Good luck everyone :)
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Time for a short update.

NDA Project has grown by itself, hard to tell by how much, 2x-4x, probably around 3x. We haven't launched big marketing yet and haven't expanded to new niches. Competition is close, in fact, another project is getting traction already so we focused mostly on improvements. My partners did almost a complete redesign, now it looks slick. I focused on expanding and improving functionality to leave them no chances. The core is also ready for new niches, just input/output adapters left.

Income is considerably detached from the time now. In fact, I expect more from the project this month than from my service fees. Surprisingly this leads to changes in work ethics. I don't value those service hours too much now, work around 5-6 hours a day on average and only on the really important stuff. Once in a few days, some of those hours are spent on figuring out what's important and what's not. Sometimes my partners still do what I think is not important, but that's ok as long as it doesn't take much time.

Partners are doing a great job. Honestly, I had no idea how they code before making agreements, only knew their job positions and some of the experience. Turns out they are better than I've expected and years of frontend development did its job. My ex-coworkers required a lot of babysitting - explaining the big picture and sometimes even details on how to things better. These guys have zero problems with "how", generate great ideas, and only sometimes need some help with linking "Why" and "What" usually for avoiding unnecessary work. Yes, they quite slow and often do pair-programming, but they doing design and that's probably how it's done - I have no experience with it cause of 12 years of trading software programming that deliberately sacrifices design for usability.

Health got a major boost too. In fact, that was my main focus for the last two weeks. I have Tachycardia - my normal heart rate is 100-120 since high school. Since then doctors advised avoiding hard and exausting exercises. Back then they said the reason was some blockage in the heart causing it to pump less blood per beat. Tried to address this issue a few months ago with a good cardiologist. She made lots of tests - ECG, some chemical tests, ultrasonics of chest, neck, and stomach, chest MRI. Everything was in normal. She saw that blockage too but said that it's cannot cause this and pretty harmless. Her advice was to do low-intensity exercises and log heart rate a few times a day, stay away from caffeine and nicotine. I haven't listened to her back then, cause tried that already years ago with no luck. This time something changed. I've started walking a lot, like 8 km a day was a minimum goal, usually 14+. Last Sunday I drive to the top of the mountain by car, then walked to the nearest village and back, lol. 18 km with 1.4-1.6 km altitude change. Was really laughing at myself cause people pay good money to go there by car and I walked in the opposite direction after driving there in my own car just for fun and to challenge myself. This wasn't really a test - I had no options but to go back. Had to track heart rate, so my friend borrowed me his Samsung Gear 3 which he didn't use. After two days I knew why - it's a heavy, bulky, almost useless device that needs charging every one or to days. Quicky bought MiBand 4, cause I had MiBand 1 that was lost somewhere and it was great. Yesterday found out that MiBand 1 was actually better for me - it measured heart rate up to 230 fine, while 4-th measures up to 180-190, fails to measure higher and gives false measures (120-130) I suppose in 220+ range. Yes, unlike most people I feel completely fine in 180 range and don't die in 230-250 range.
Now my resting heart rate is around 74. Sometimes it gets to 60-s (usually when I'm sleepy), and normally it's 90-100. That's some progress, but I still feel not good when it's lower than 70, not sure if that's ok. Too soon for running - it pumps to 180 in less than a minute on moderate phase, then goes to non-measurable by MiBand and to 230+ after 8 minutes of mixed walking and running.
Goals for this is to have more stamina and lower heart rate. Losing some weight in the process and gaining more muscles would be fine too since it's part of what gives more stamina. Funny fact - with more stamina, you become less lazy. Tasks suddenly look much easier and you ofter worry only about the time it would take, not about the effort.

Busy is rejecting low-priority things while doing high priority ones. There's nothing wrong with it, just make sure that YOU assign the priorities. I'm still busy, yet I'm coding for 6 hours on average. Cause I'm walking for 2 hours, play with kids for 2-3 hours, and do other important things. Yes, I won't go drinking with friends cause I'm busy, but I might drop by for an hour just to talk and dring non-alcohol stuff. It's great, and I'm happy with that ).

Relaxing suddenly became important for someone who doesn't watch TV and hasn't been on vacation for years. Maybe it's the surroundings, but suddenly it feels good to spend time and money on fun activities. I'm definitely back to offroading - was on major competition previous week (just watching - it's 2 days and it's too much), drove in the forest nearby for a few hours just for fun. And in the Carpathian mountains the next day with family. Weather was rainy, I haven't changed tires to more extreme, wasn't sure if winch won't fail after 6 months of not using it and all friends were on the competition so took light routes, but it was still a lot of fun. Not sure why I wanted an enterprise. Lifestyle business gives so much more time and it's really more important than money. How could I rust on a job for so long?
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Last few days were crappy.
1. Shutting down/selling cryptodividend. It's just not worth it. Our contractor goes on vacation and there's no one to update it. It takes 2-3 hours/week for her and probably about a whole day for someone unfamiliar with the task. Automating it would be an option and would take about a week of coding, but we got quite strong competition and the project doesn't bring enough revenue to consider it valuable time investment.
2. NDA project got major issues with 3rd party data quality. Had to shut down 40% of functionality last week and 10% more yesterday. Had a lot of talks with other providers. Turns out that $5k/month wasn't expensive, the highest quote we got so far is $45k, $35k comes next. Almost decided on another provider that fits our budget. We now know how to test them for all kind of issues before committing fully. Current one acknowledged the problem, gave us a couple of months free and promised to fix it by the end of September. Unfortunately, it's too long for us, we're already experiencing big revenue drop and reputation issues.
3. No time for health... Yes, priorities, now we should get everything working again. Have to rewrite quite a lot, there's a lot of different data in a different format, different delivery mechanism, and different conceptual approach. Little more than a week estimated. Hopefully, we won't lose many users.

Good news
1. My team is great. Really, everyone.
2. Detached from time profit beat my ex-salary.
3. Marketing was successful and we're not near the limit yet.
4. I have many tasks to do, but still working less than on 9-5. Definitely not more productive than working 16 hours/day, but certainly more productive then working on a fixed longer schedule. There will be some long workdays soon again.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Another week passed.

NDA Project somehow managed to return to "normal" revenue figures with 50% of the stuff that brought 70% of revenue disabled. This is the second day of normal operation and it's profit doubled, but still too soon to make some assumptions.

It's grown both in users and usage. When in the first 2 months less than 5% of users were responsible for 95% of profits, now it's like 8% for 85%. We also have a pretty strong idea of our minimum LTV now and it's still growing.

The project now has 3 data provider coded, so it should be quite reliable with more Control. I've almost finished implementing the expensive one, that was 40x more expensive than our previous one and had prices tied to data so we could reduce our budget by subscribing to the subset we need when another data provider contacted us. Turns out he sold data to our previous provider who was basically prettifying and reselling it and he also was our user. We've landed a pretty good deal and helped him greatly improve the quality of his data, he also pointed out some tricks to implement that he can't do on his side cause it affected only our operation, not the operation of his other clients. Tested it for a few days already and it seems quite ok, to the point it's not really worth to pay much much more for premium one, at least in project's current stage.

We're also thinking of selling the project. The main reason is that it's a fad, so improving everything has pretty diminishing returns in the long run. We also have a really great competitor on the market now. His product is better than our in many ways like the look&feel, different data coverage, some small but useful features, etc. I would say ours is more for professionals and theirs for a broader audience. They are live for more than a week now and still haven't got a big piece of a pie. Their product is much much more expensive than ours, probably was based on some rebranded Whitelabel, and we know that they raised $5m for their business.
 

LittleWolfie

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 28, 2018
839
433
162
Holbeach Hurn
Yes,
Thanks for pointing out, will be following your thread!

I'm pretty sure Ukraine is even worse than Germany for SaaS. Like we can't even accept Paypal :inpain: and have to ask every client to sign a paper invoice for every payment :shit:(that may have changed in the last 2 years, but I think now business owner still have to print and sign all invoices himself).
That is really interesting, if your incorporating in Estonia, can you not just use leapin.eu or similar so you can paypal in to your estonian bank?

Do you think there is a market for a Ukranian paypal?
 

Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe.

OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
That is really interesting, if your incorporating in Estonia, can you not just use leapin.eu or similar so you can paypal in to your estonian bank?
Sure, that one of the main reasons to incorporate in a different country. Another is that they have much simpler and lower taxation, modern laws and as far as I know no bullshit inspections every once in a while.
Do you think there is a market for a Ukranian paypal?
Sure, and I'm pretty sure PayPal knows it too. We can pay through PayPal, but can't receive money. I guess it's more a legal issue, cause here a company must have a strong reason to pay money to a person from a legal perspective. So PayPal needs something like local bank license to hold someone's funds and later transfer it him somehow.
There's also another issue. Both people and businesses should have a reason to receive money, especially from abroad, that's proven by documents. And that's essentially the core of PayPal. They can't bring much value where money transfers would still be super complicated by all the paperwork and tax reporting.
So hopefully they are waiting for less restrictive laws. Probably also working with our slow government to find ways of resolving it. And they aren't the only company of that kind that's interested in entering the market.
 

LittleWolfie

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 28, 2018
839
433
162
Holbeach Hurn
Sure, and I'm pretty sure PayPal knows it too. We can pay through PayPal, but can't receive money. I guess it's more a legal issue, cause here a company must have a strong reason to pay money to a person from a legal perspective.
That sounds strange,I'm having a hard time imaging this.

There's also another issue. Both people and businesses should have a reason to receive money, especially from abroad, that's proven by documents.
Do you not have documents via invoices issued from paypal/etc

I wonder if this is something to do with economic sanctions by foreign governments. Have you ever considered using bitcoin or other cryptocurrency? I know it has had success, in other areas where conventional financial transactions are unavailable.

There are Ukranian users of coinpayments.net
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Do you not have documents via invoices issued from paypal/etc
They had to be on paper, physically signed by the other party and taken to the bank before the payment is made (it's only for export activities). Now the laws already changed quite a bit and printed "Terms of Use" from the web site is ok for a bank. Later you can make invoices yourself and the payment fact is treated as a signature, so at least something like Odesk or AdSense is fully legal here now.

I wonder if this is something to do with economic sanctions by foreign governments. Have you ever considered using bitcoin or other cryptocurrency? I know it has had success, in other areas where conventional financial transactions are unavailable.
Nah, sanctions are not involved. Yes, crypto would shady work if one wants to stay anonymous. Otherwise, we also have an issue with laws since crypto is not regulated in any way. Based on some court cases and tax declarations I've read, crypto is closer to an asset than a currency. So that would be strange to pay product/asset for a product or service. So we can't really report it and pay taxes from it.

I guess this is also different in Estonia as there's definitely a way to do a crypto business legally. Had no need to investigate it further yet, just saw some ads on the internet.
 

LittleWolfie

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 28, 2018
839
433
162
Holbeach Hurn
So that would be strange to pay product/asset for a product or service. So we can't really report it and pay taxes from it.
Another example of a product/asset used to purchase a service is Gold. If I give you a gold bar and you provide me a service, well there you go.

The trick to any of these is being able to convert it into hryvnias, euros, dollars or whatever to use for your taxes.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
Sure, technically both gold and crypto can be used in value exchange. Another thing is I'm pretty sure it's not allowed here. For example, for export invoices paid in foreign currency we should report in hryvnas at the rate from central bank at the day of payment. They don't list rates for bitcoin and a ton of other crypto. That's just the reality of post-soviet country who's laws are heavily based on USSR ones. They already improved a lot for big corporations and lately improved a lot for small businesses too. But for small or even one - man global companies, global micro - payments, tech companies we still have a long way to go.

Anyway, incorporating abroad is not that hard and gives so many benefits that it definitely worth it.

P. S. Crypto still have low adoption and quite high entry barriers, so for most businesses it would greatly reduce target market.
In Estonia company pays taxes only on distributed profits and salaries. Those are in euros, so it's not government deal how one converts crypto to euros. Different story here.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
3 months without a job recap

What happened
  1. We wanted to start a software development service business.
  2. I've landed a nice quite big project for service fee and equity%. Partners wanted to skip it cause it seemed unlikely to do it in time while on 9-5, so I took it myself.
  3. Took a 2 weeks vacation and coded it. Had to code it for 3-4 days more cause the data provider banned us 3 days before going to production.
  4. The project raised some seed investment for small equity that helped on the initial phase. More with the feeling of certainty that with money really, but that's fine too.
  5. Quit job to start seriously. Implemented a lot of new features for the project while waiting for my partner to quit.
  6. Once both my partners were free I've tried to exit the project. After many hard discussions, everyone accepted a deal to reduce our equity (mine, pre-seed investor and the client) and give little equity to my partners with the option to take it back if they give up before 4 months.
  7. Changed the deal to replace 4 months with the scope of work. That made more sense cause that's what really valuable and we would have an incentive to finish sooner.
  8. We've improved the project a lot both from Control, benefits/functionality, and UX/design perspective. It has grown more than 10x compared to the second month, only 5x was last month.
What went right
  1. The deal. I'm super happy that I've negotiated both a service fee and equity. It reduced the bumps and realized it's potential now.
  2. The team. We're quite different people, so everyone has something super valuable to contribute. And somehow we manage to not fight each other and always brainstorm an optimal solution to the problem that's ok for all. We decided that everyone have a "veto" right on any decision, and it wasn't used even once. Overall, we may not be 3x productive, but we definitely more than 5x better in decision making that any of us would be individual.
  3. Switching from a service model to products has infinite benefits. Making money while sleeping, walking, partying, etc. Insane growth rates. Working for future benefits, not because someone is waiting for the results. Tons of happy customers that push you with their feedback. The only downside that I've found so far is when something breaks... you better fix it really really fast. Not that it happens that often, but I'm always with my laptop just in case.
  4. The office. Resembles the job a little, but gives the huge benefit of instant communication. Everyone knows what's going on and everyone can participate in the discussion. We also have employees close and know what they are doing. Their input on something of their expertise is often also very valuable. Oh, and we truly think that it is the best location for the office in the whole city.
  5. The profits of 3 of us beat our ex-salaries combined. Even better, most of it is not attached to time. The project nets really crazy numbers for 5 months in the market. I'm constantly thinking if we're just got lucky or it's replicable and if so what are the chances?
  6. We have employees who help us a lot. The first one is a designer who's also managing our social media and communication channels. She also has some experience in the niche. The second one is a copywriter who mostly writes articles and checks our major news before posting. She works for us part-time, basically for a place in the office. Without social media presence they bring, our quality and image would definitely suffer.
  7. Some ideas we've implemented that turned out to be pretty profitable.
What went wrong and why
  1. We had pre-seed investor who basically does nothing now and enjoys quite nice equity. He was in the project before me, so I couldn't argue about it. On the other hand, the project could have failed and he could lose the money he invested.
  2. The client got overconfident in his role, vision, and abilities. That really annoys the whole team, but probably me the most. Micro-managing everyone and forcing them to switch is not the greatest thing to do. Had success blinded him?
  3. Failed few big B2B opportunities, one of which ended up spawning a quite scary competitor. We just weren't big enough for them at that time.
  4. I haven't thought it could be such a long project. It's a fad, so investing more in it has diminishing returns compared to normal business. And I still want to exit asap. Less than a month to finish our roadmap.
  5. Had little time to be on the forum. Cause of priorities, "startup" phase working and my walking takes too much time while being very important.
Lessons learned
  1. Job sux in every imaginable way. Trading time for money in other ways is not that great either. I've had an opportunity to earn $1.5k in a day, which is 2x salary of our employee, by doing an audit of pretty important code for a fin-tech project. Instead of committing fully, I've done a quick review in 40 minutes, got a grasp of what's going on, passed my comments of how to make it more bulletproof and 100% working (much more unit tests here and there, split the monolith, be careful with math and check for overflows) and shared the contact of a company that can make an audit if they need it. Everything for free. Wait, no, for building good relationships in case I would need it someday.
  2. Don't miss good opportunities. Try to make it happen.
  3. Think from your users perspective. What are they doing? How are they doing it? What problems do they have? What do they want? How are they using your software? Why? What's important for them? What are their goals? What we can improve? It's like when doing marketing, but much deeper.
  4. Success changes some people.
  5. Don't look for investments if you don't really need it.
  6. Having a team is great. Both partners and employees. Listen to the people, they have their own view on things, different skills and experience, think differently and have 24 hours in a day like you do.
  7. Focus on building relationships with the right people. They are the key to opportunities.
  8. Reclaiming your time and managing it by yourself is one of the best things a human can do.
  9. Health matters, even if it seems not that important. It affects everything like your mood, stress levels, happiness, brainpower, stamina, focus, and productivity overall.
  10. Everything possible and some things are not that hard as they seem at first glance.

Health
Walked 40 km last Sunday just to test if I can. Last 3 km was hard, more like a torture, so don't try this at home, especially unprepared. Haven't reached 8 km goal on Monday (cause of meetup with friends that turned to party till 4 am), so now I'm walking 20+ km/day instead of 10-15. It takes 3.5 hours now, so I better start running soon. Replaced music with podcasts on my walk, they're great. Zero energy drink carvings, 3x more stamina, 1.5x more productivity, 2x more happiness. Heart rate is 85 on average, 73 while resting, but still jumps to 100+ when I'm thinking too much. On a walk, it reduced from 130-170 to 120-145. Lost 3-4 kg fat and my ex-coworker noticed it instantly today, lol.
Sleep and diet are next on the list.

Now
  1. My partners are finishing adapting the project to a new niche and have more UI and data quality improvements to do.
  2. Our new data provider is still unstable, so the client would be testing the new, expensive one that's 95% implemented.
  3. I'm going on a vacation trip to Turkey with my family. Our friends will join us there in 3 days. Although I completely trust my partners and pretty sure they can handle 95+% of issue that may arise, still taking my laptop with me. They are just not familiar with all the code.
  4. We should hopefully finish all major development in September and starting a new project. Most likely 3 of us. The client want's to join the party too, but that's possible only if his B2B and people skills would be really crucial to what we'll be doing.
 
OP
OP
astr0

astr0

Grinding
FASTLANE INSIDER
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Speedway Pass
Dec 3, 2017
319
426
212
31
Lviv, Ukraine
This would probably be the last progress post in this thread.

I'm too excited about my journey in really "love what you do" kind of way and this is the only place I can share something and avoid tricky questions cause of the NDA. But its all me me me and doesn't provide much value to others which is horribly wrong.

Probably will start a progress thread about the next project on the Inside more in form of how to covering the issues and steps we would encounter.

Selling cryptodividends.io failed. They've done some research and see some value in the project, but don't have resources to support it. Moved to weekly updates instead of daily that are now done by our employee instead of a contractor. Will most likely shut it down after all paid adds expire.

NDA project is doing great and still growing despite the appearance of a strong competitor. Turns out our users don't have enough reasons to switch. Yes, they look better, have slightly better data coverage and are cheaper. However, they have this as part of their main business not standalone and they are quite a big company. That means that we're closer to our users with better responsiveness, can provide more value with some consultancy and the UI/UX is much simpler and slicker.
The coding phase of the project comes to an end pretty soon. Today we'll finish the last piece necessary for a launch and the client would do the marketing. One major feature left that makes sense for a new niche and would take 2-4 weeks.

The vacation was ok, but not that great. I'm not enjoying doing nothing all day and hot climate. It's also too hot to walk, even at 6 am. And having two small kids on a vacation is crazy. On the bright side, I've tasted the best-cooked shrimps in my life and was only $400 behind financing the vacation with business while doing basically nothing. That's the real power of product vs service.

We're slowly starting thinking what to do next. This experience, MJ books, TMBA podcasts, and the forum helps us a lot of that. The NDA projects income adds a lot to our baseline, so we now have some room for taking more risks. My partners are great, it's like 1+1+1=5 and it works out way better than anyone of us individually or any combination on two.
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.



Don't like ads? Remove them while supporting the forum. Subscribe to become an INSIDER.

Post New Topic

Please SEARCH before posting.
Please select the BEST category.

Post new topic

New Topics

Fastlane Insiders

View the forum AD FREE.
Private, unindexed content
Detailed process/execution threads
Monthly conference calls with doers
Ideas needing execution, more!

Join Fastlane Insiders.

Top Bottom