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FabryB

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Dec 2, 2019
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Obstacles:
  • Building a good team with vested equity instead of capital.
  • Maxing out my credit cards on this business which forced me to get a job.
  • Making our technology faster/easier/better than our competitors.
  • Gaining traction when our first product was only "ok".
  • Having to balance family life, a job, and the business for years non-stop.
  • Overcoming potential customers skepticism about how much better our tool was. Now that we have a live demo out, it's not an issue to convince them, but during our initial marketing push, it was super hard to convince them without a product in hand.
  • Loneliness when trying to build something. Not having any friends I can relate to in person is painful.

Mistakes:
  • Bringing the wrong people onboard messed up a lot.
  • Not having an operating agreement from the start messed up a lot.
  • Paying legalzoom for things was a waste of money.
  • Starting with the wrong product. We had one product, it did alright and put us on the map, but it was mostly a flop as it didn't provide enough value by itself. We should have started with our current product first. However, a the time we didn't even have the skills or the team to do it, so I don't blame myself.
  • Choosing the wrong licensing/payments platform at the start. Down the road we had to cancel all of our subscribers subscriptions when migrating and most never came back.
  • Not having personal finances and business finances separate for the first two years.
This is gold. I'm not in the softwares field but most of your points above fits every start-ups.
Thank you for sharing
 

BreakAlive

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Obstacles:
  • Starting with the wrong product. We had one product, it did alright and put us on the map, but it was mostly a flop as it didn't provide enough value by itself. We should have started with our current product first. However, a the time we didn't even have the skills or the team to do it, so I don't blame myself.

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story. It's very inspiring!

How did you realise your 1st product was a flop?

Couldn't it just have been because it wasn't marketed well enough? Or maybe it would have been successful with more of the right features?

How did you know that it was fundamentally flawed?
 

Ravens_Shadow

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Congratulations and thanks for sharing your story. It's very inspiring!

How did you realise your 1st product was a flop?

Couldn't it just have been because it wasn't marketed well enough? Or maybe it would have been successful with more of the right features?

How did you know that it was fundamentally flawed?


It was a flop in the sense that It didn't generate a whole lot of revenue. The people who used it loved it and it taught us a lot about developing tools for our niche. In the grand scheme of things it just didn't provide "enough" value by itself as it only did one thing. We still sell it today, and we added it to a suite of products. It's much more useful now paired with our new flagship product.

Here's an analogy of our products: Worlds greatest french fries..

Our first product was merely a potato peeler, with just that, you're not gonna get too far when you are wanting to make the worlds greatest french fries as you're missing potatoes and everything else.

Our flagship (new) product is the potatoes, seasonings, and the fryer. First product + new product in a bundle = worlds greatest french fries.

We sell desktop software, so each of our products are separate/standalone. We had to build our newest product from scratch and it wouldn't have been worth it to put the two tools together into a single tool due to how fundamentally different they are. The great part is though, that one software can export something that the other software uses. Thus, we make more money selling them in a bundle.
 
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BreakAlive

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It was a flop in the sense that It didn't generate a whole lot of revenue. The people who used it loved it and it taught us a lot about developing tools for our niche. In the grand scheme of things it just didn't provide "enough" value by itself as it only did one thing. We still sell it today, and we added it to a suite of products. It's much more useful now paired with our new flagship product.

Here's an analogy of our products: Worlds greatest french fries..

Our first product was merely a potato peeler, with just that, you're not gonna get too far when you are wanting to make the worlds greatest french fries as you're missing potatoes and everything else.

Our flagship (new) product is the potatoes, seasonings, and the fryer. First product + new product in a bundle = worlds greatest french fries.

We sell desktop software, so each of our products are separate/standalone. We had to build our newest product from scratch and it wouldn't have been worth it to put the two tools together into a single tool due to how fundamentally different they are. The great part is though, that one software can export something that the other software uses. Thus, we make more money selling them in a bundle.

Thanks for the reply.

That's interesting how you decided to develop a 2nd product even though your customers loved the 1st one.

How did you realise that your 1st product was just the potato peeler and not the potatoes, seasonings and the fryer? And I don't mean in hindsight, I mean back when you only had 1 product and nothing else to compare it with.

At what point did you say: "We need a brand new product"? And why didn't you make that sooner?

Most companies have little to no revenue at the beginning so it's hard to decide with that alone.

I'm asking because I'm in the situation now where I don't know if I should continue working on my product or look for a new problem to solve. Trying to figure out the thinking process behind knowing if a product is the potato peeler or something more.
 

Ravens_Shadow

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Thanks for the reply.

That's interesting how you decided to develop a 2nd product even though your customers loved the 1st one.

How did you realise that your 1st product was just the potato peeler and not the potatoes, seasonings and the fryer? And I don't mean in hindsight, I mean back when you only had 1 product and nothing else to compare it with.

At what point did you say: "We need a brand new product"? And why didn't you make that sooner?

Most companies have little to no revenue at the beginning so it's hard to decide with that alone.

I'm asking because I'm in the situation now where I don't know if I should continue working on my product or look for a new problem to solve. Trying to figure out the thinking process behind knowing if a product is the potato peeler or something more.

tl;dr: I know my market, and I had a gut feeling that it was time to start on our new product as i knew it had way more potential. We didn't start earlier because we didn't have the team/time/know how.

Since I know my market extremely well and actively communicate with our customers, I initially figured "Hey, product one solves a problem for me, so it has to do that for everyone else too". It turns out that not everyone had a use for what we were offering once we actually made it. Their specific situation might not have let them used our file format or they just weren't interested in it because they just didn't care about it. We tried selling it in all sorts of ways and created various product pages with some success. For some, they absolutely needed it and loved using it. It's just after two years of little revenue and non-stop grinding at it, you kinda figure out via a gut feeling that something has to change. It seems like you're already there in your case.

Back in January we were working on some new features for our first tool to really modernize the way people use it, but I pulled the plug on that because I felt that putting effort into this new product was a better use of our time. Product one in the end still produced the same thing, just in a different way, so it wasn't any more useful. For this new product, I've actually had plans for it since 2012, I just never knew how to act on it because it was incredibly difficult to solve. But now you can see that we've solved it haha.

The reason we didn't start this product sooner is simply because we didn't have the team to do it, and this new product is just leaps and bounds more complicated and technical. Shortly after deciding to do it though, we brought on some great new people and started building out our new product.

I just had to make the executive decision to change course, and it was the right move. Trust your gut.
 

BreakAlive

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tl;dr: I know my market, and I had a gut feeling that it was time to start on our new product as i knew it had way more potential. We didn't start earlier because we didn't have the team/time/know how.

Since I know my market extremely well and actively communicate with our customers, I initially figured "Hey, product one solves a problem for me, so it has to do that for everyone else too". It turns out that not everyone had a use for what we were offering once we actually made it. Their specific situation might not have let them used our file format or they just weren't interested in it because they just didn't care about it. We tried selling it in all sorts of ways and created various product pages with some success. For some, they absolutely needed it and loved using it. It's just after two years of little revenue and non-stop grinding at it, you kinda figure out via a gut feeling that something has to change. It seems like you're already there in your case.

Back in January we were working on some new features for our first tool to really modernize the way people use it, but I pulled the plug on that because I felt that putting effort into this new product was a better use of our time. Product one in the end still produced the same thing, just in a different way, so it wasn't any more useful. For this new product, I've actually had plans for it since 2012, I just never knew how to act on it because it was incredibly difficult to solve. But now you can see that we've solved it haha.

The reason we didn't start this product sooner is simply because we didn't have the team to do it, and this new product is just leaps and bounds more complicated and technical. Shortly after deciding to do it though, we brought on some great new people and started building out our new product.

I just had to make the executive decision to change course, and it was the right move. Trust your gut.

It's fascinating getting to see behind the scene of your success. Thanks for sharing.

You knew your market extremely well and you grinded for 2 years trying to make it work. It makes sense why you were so confident in making the switch.

Glad to hear that it worked out so well for you. Hope to hear more success stories soon.
 
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edgefinder

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Well done, and thank you for sharing your struggles and insights.
 

Tom.V

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Chyeaaaa boiii. Just another overnight success. Glad to have been able to watch you grow and develop as an entrepreneur.

Keep that shit up ;)
 

Pat D. Rick

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At times like this I'm so glad that I'm an Fastlane INSIDERS and that I got to see your journey!

I had to work day jobs during the majority of my journey, and you have to do what you have to do. Don't be ashamed of that.
Just because of this you deserve all the likes.
 
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magnificent

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So I saw this post in an e-mail notification as this weeks best topics. It's been so long I have not logged in this forum in forever. Coming from someone who also started this journey in 2012, your thread kept me going. At most I was able to only make $1,000/month and that was GROSS profit.

Thank You and congrats!!
 

Ravens_Shadow

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So I saw this post in an e-mail notification as this weeks best topics. It's been so long I have not logged in this forum in forever. Coming from someone who also started this journey in 2012, your thread kept me going. At most I was able to only make $1,000/month and that was GROSS profit.

Thank You and congrats!!
Just keep going! You'll eventually hit your goals by putting in work where it matters, and sticking with something that you have a good gut feeling about.
 
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Ravens_Shadow

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ADayattheRoxbury

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If this thread stops one person from quitting, then it's done its job.

I've been on my "fastlane" journey since 2012 and as of the past month I finally hit my goal, which was to make $30k in a single month.. and we actually surpassed this. Our goal now is $60k per month, then $90k, and so on.

Just a few months ago, we were weren't making much at all. I started this company in 2016, and fought tooth and nail to build a team so that we could get everything going. It was painful. I cried at times due to how hard it was to make our products and get our business off the ground. Things just weren't going my way for the majority of my journey. When you come across these barriers of entry, don't let them stop you. Just keep going. It's at points like these when everyone else quits, and it's why you have to keep going.

If I had quit during my hardest times, I wouldn't be here talking about our successes now. Since I'm working on an enterprise instead of a lifestyle business, its taken me years to get to this stage. Now we're ready to scale this thing and become the next leader in our industry. I had to work day jobs during the majority of my journey, and you have to do what you have to do. Don't be ashamed of that.

Any way, I don't really have any other lessons here except to keep going. If you keep inserting quarters into the gumball machine, eventually a gold one will come out.


MODERATOR NOTE
For those wondering how Nick got to this point, his progress thread is on the INSIDE. He's provided pages and pages of material about his struggle, YEARS long, and quite detailed. So if Nick isn't being very forthcoming in this particular thread, it's not that he isn't willing. He's done so on his progress thread which is on the Inside and not indexable by Google.


Man. Congratulations!! So well deserved. Most people would have given up before the magic! I try to explain this to every entrepreneur I come across these days. Don't give up before the magic! As opposed to historically, where you had a brick and mortar location for people to come to, with a website, your website remains the same "address" no matter what, and can be accessed by anyone on the planet. The longer you're around, and churning out product/services, the easier it will be to be successful later on!

So proud of you!
 

Martin.G

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What a coincidence, I am also trying to build my software company now. Well, the software first, and then I need to figure out how to take that and build a company around. I was thinking to become an INSIDERS, and now I have to.
 

loop101

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If this thread stops one person from quitting, then it's done its job.

I've been on my "fastlane" journey since 2012 and as of the past month I finally hit my goal, which was to make $30k in a single month.. and we actually surpassed this. Our goal now is $60k per month, then $90k, and so on.

Just a few months ago, we were weren't making much at all. I started this company in 2016, and fought tooth and nail to build a team so that we could get everything going. It was painful. I cried at times due to how hard it was to make our products and get our business off the ground. Things just weren't going my way for the majority of my journey. When you come across these barriers of entry, don't let them stop you. Just keep going. It's at points like these when everyone else quits, and it's why you have to keep going.

If I had quit during my hardest times, I wouldn't be here talking about our successes now. Since I'm working on an enterprise instead of a lifestyle business, its taken me years to get to this stage. Now we're ready to scale this thing and become the next leader in our industry. I had to work day jobs during the majority of my journey, and you have to do what you have to do. Don't be ashamed of that.

Any way, I don't really have any other lessons here except to keep going. If you keep inserting quarters into the gumball machine, eventually a gold one will come out.


MODERATOR NOTE
For those wondering how Nick got to this point, his progress thread is on the INSIDE. He's provided pages and pages of material about his struggle, YEARS long, and quite detailed. So if Nick isn't being very forthcoming in this particular thread, it's not that he isn't willing. He's done so on his progress thread which is on the Inside and not indexable by Google.

Can you say what tools you use to make your software? I ask because I have been so focused on web and mobile stuff, I have not thought much about native desktop apps. I assume for Mac it would be Xcode/ObjC or Xcode/Swift, and for Windows it would be VS/C#?
 
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Ravens_Shadow

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Can you say what tools you use to make your software? I ask because I have been so focused on web and mobile stuff, I have not thought much about native desktop apps. I assume for Mac it would be Xcode/ObjC or Xcode/Swift, and for Windows it would be VS/C#?
We use sublime text 3 as our IDE with visual studio 2017 as our compiler. We use GLSL (for graphics/shaders) and Odin as our language of choice. Odin is just like C++ but much faster to write. Currently we're windows only, so nothing on mac at this time.
 

Vigilante

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Every once in a while, I get stagnant on visiting here. Then... THIS. Congratulations. Love this. Now don't stop. Higher and higher.
 

LegendBorne 6

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This is gold. I'm not in the softwares field but most of your points above fits every start-ups.
Thank you for sharing

These points are invaluable as so many instances people ask these questions. It is a lonely road when you follow your dream to say the least. Congratulations on your perseverance and intestinal fortitude remembering the Napoleon Hill story and not making the mistake of stopping 3 feet from Gold!
 
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Patrick Besong

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Can you say what tools you use to make your software? I ask because I have been so focused on web and mobile stuff, I have not thought much about native desktop apps. I assume for Mac it would be Xcode/ObjC or Xcode/Swift, and for Windows it would be VS/C#?

I use XOJO to develop both my Mac and Windows software titles. I found Objective-C/Xcode/Swift and .Net beyond my coding abilities. XOJO is much more manageable and still provides a lot of capability. They have very good support thru their forum too.
 

Ravens_Shadow

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Got up to $50k now.. and within the next month or two should be at $75k due to our current trend. Don't quit!
 

MJ DeMarco

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Got up to $50k now.. and within the next month or two should be at $75k due to our current trend. Don't quit!

You lie! That Fastlane crap from DeMarco is a scam! ;)
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.
.
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.
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All kidding aside, congrats my friend. You have created a productocracy, now the big question is just about market penetration and size of market.
 
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Sandy Dives

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Just read the thread and it's awesome!

I'm a software guy myself. How did you validate / decide to actually go down this road? I find myself having a lot of ideas but being afraid that it won't sell etc and that it would be a waste of time. The regular.
 

Fox

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Got up to $50k now.. and within the next month or two should be at $75k due to our current trend. Don't quit!

Any updates? Can't wait to hear how things have been going.
 

Martin.G

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Just read the thread and it's awesome!

I'm a software guy myself. How did you validate / decide to actually go down this road? I find myself having a lot of ideas but being afraid that it won't sell etc and that it would be a waste of time. The regular.

You can create a prototype and validate your idea. With only an MVP (minimum viable product) you could check if people are interested. There a bunch of books about this method called lean, like Lean Startup or Sprint (A great book that I read recently and show how to test an idea in one week).

You are going to have cost to develop this MVP, but at least is considerably less than if you spend months with something that you don't know if it's going to work.

I wonder if @Ravens_Shadow uses something similar.
 
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Patrick Besong

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Just read the thread and it's awesome!

I'm a software guy myself. How did you validate / decide to actually go down this road? I find myself having a lot of ideas but being afraid that it won't sell etc and that it would be a waste of time. The regular.

For me, I see if I can even build the app first, then i just put it up on the download sites and see what kind of reaction I get. I called my first app "beerware" (not publicly) because if figured even if i made enough to buy a case of beer per month it was a success. Since then I've been making thousands per month. At my main app's apex, I ended up making more than my full time job salary. Glad I didn't quit, though, as sales are down. I think some apps just run their course and are no longer that profitable for various reasons. I've sold to many well-known organizations, too: NASA, USPS (and about every other government agency), Apple, Epic Games, many colleges and universities, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Amazon, Starbucks, Netflix, the Cleveland Clinic, and many more. If i knew more about marketing i might be doing better. Pretty hard to wear so many hats.
 

Ravens_Shadow

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I'm a software guy myself. How did you validate / decide to actually go down this road? I find myself having a lot of ideas but being afraid that it won't sell etc and that it would be a waste of time. The regular.

Just industry knowledge/experience. I knew it was a pain point of mine for years and years and when I was looking for a better solution there still wasn't one, so I knew it was my go-to idea. I'd actually had the idea for our flagship product since 2012, but I didn't get to start on it until late 2018. It took me that many years to learn what I needed to learn about business, build the right team, kick myself in the a$$ to actually start something (started this company in 2016), and launching a simpler product first. I joined relevant forums and asked around for suggestions and got on calls with large companies asking what they would need from such a product. We were showing live demos of our pre-alpha to enterprise customers and they were extremely excited even at that stage.

You just ask around, make a prototype and see if people like it. Then you see if people will buy in early to get you some funding. I built my team on equity and showed them my vision. We're bringing on our 4th full-time person next month.

Any updates? Can't wait to hear how things have been going.

This month we'll close out with about $70k in total revenue for our company from all sources. Last months software sales weren't the best but other things helped us out. This month, our software sales are on fire! Next month some extra juice kicks on some other deals so maybe we'll hit that $75k we're aiming for?
Most of our sales are annual licenses so it's hard to predict our "monthly" revenue. 50% of our money comes from large enterprises, 50% of our money comes from freelancers/hobbyists/etc. I have so many plans to increase our revenue, just a matter of time before they're all implemented. I think by years end we could see a $100k month. Hopefully that trend would stick!

I've sold to many well-known organizations, too: NASA, USPS (and about every other government agency), Apple, Epic Games, many colleges and universities, Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), Amazon, Starbucks, Netflix, the Cleveland Clinic, and many more. If i knew more about marketing i might be doing better. Pretty hard to wear so many hats.

We sell to many of those types of clients as well, even some that you mentioned.. it's a long process to do so. I quite like wearing all the hats, but it's very hard as you mentioned.
 

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