Mistakes, I made some: what I’ve learned in the first year of my startup

  • Mistakes, I made some: what I’ve learned in the first year of my startup
    Independent.t. E.
    When I started writing this startup diary almost a year ago, one of the main themes, which is quickly revealed to our strategy newsletter. Very carefully think about how to avoid common mistakes in building a software product that nobody wants to use, I came across the strategy of using the newsletter to check your potential customer base. You can read all about the planning and thought that went into this decision in an earlier article in this series.
    https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/mistakes-ive-made-a-few-what-ive-learned-in-the-first-year-of-my-startup-37197615.html
    https://www.independent.ie/business/technology/article37197614.ece/50fe3/AUTOCROP/h342/2018-08-09_bus_43079652_I1.JPG

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When I started writing this startup diary almost a year ago, one of the main themes, which is quickly revealed to our strategy newsletter. Very carefully think about how to avoid common mistakes in building a software product that nobody wants to use, I came across the strategy of using the newsletter to check your potential customer base. You can read all about the planning and thought that went into this decision in an earlier article in this series.

Now, a year later, it is time to review the newsletter and to perform a retrospective analysis of the decisions that went into its execution. Some of these decisions were good and some were bad.

We build Event management platform that not only serves the needs of the organizers of the technical conference as well as speakers and sponsors. Since there are very few software tools for speakers, that’s where we decided to start. Our hypothesis is that there is unmet need among the speakers for better ways to manage their interaction with the conferences.

I came to this idea, because I’m a conference speaker and in the best business traditions, I scratch your itch’. I had a good subjective evidence that there was a need – I was spending too much time on paperwork, events, research, planning and communication. I would have traded an average of about 20 letters from each conference, all about the same: photo, biography, talk details, dietary preferences or needs, and that’s before you get to critical, for example, when your presentation needs to be submitted.

But just because something annoys you doesn’t mean that business there. A gap in the market doesn’t mean there’s a market in the gap, to quote an old saw. I need to find a way to test the hypothesis.

I launched a newsletter for the technology conference for it. If I saw reasonable and quick pickup, and sustained interest, then to check that speakers are quite sufficient. It has also allowed me to build a community and get this community to get ideas for creating columns lives better.


We build Event management platform that not only serves the needs of the organizers of the technical conference as well as speakers and sponsors.

I don’t want to start another marketing newsletter trying to sell to, so I consciously decided to take the high cost of maintenance and to address the needs of speakers, and keep our brand and a lot of messages in the background. The Bulletin was to provide real value for readers, and advertising, in General, not to do it.

And it was a success! By January of this year, we reached 500 subscribers and has established a good weekly production process of our marketing team. In the background of this success I decided to double down and invest in getting a significant number of subscribers in 2018.

Based on the reviews, we were prepared, we knew the content worked, so that we could take a box and be happy that our content will be useful to a much wider range of people. I always thought our newsletter to be our first product and I am very proud of what we have created and supported. Even if we do not take mailing list, readers still have to decide to sign up and they have to solve to read, so we still have to “sell”. Just because something is free in monetary terms does not mean that it is free in terms of attention people are lacking these days.

Our promotion up to this point has been pretty special, mainly with the help of our network. We decided to start a structured advertising campaign in LinkedIn, reach out to speakers, engaging them in conversation, and seeing what they though of our little newsletter. It was very effective, and as we perfected our process is very predictable and repeatable.

As of today, we 3,113 subscribers, and an average of 400 new subscribers per month. Since the launch, we had 463 readers to unsubscribe, and if the average is that about 40 unsubscribes per month, so we have a net increase of 360 subscribers per month. It’s pretty constant, so we will reach 5,000 subscribers before the end of the year if we continue as we are. Our open course this week 14pc hole saw and our average life expectancy 16pc. The benchmark of the industry, according to media reports, our supplier supply e-mail, 10pcs, so it’s a good test for our Content.

It is wonderful and something to celebrate a successful product. In the beginning of this year, it was clear.

I got excited and made a terrible mistake.

One of the things that you should do as CEO is to set goals for your team. Business should grow and you should do it. It’s not good to set goals that are easy to achieve. It’s demotivating as there is no problem. Complacency is extremely dangerous in any business and, as a rule, fatal in a startup.

Startups, by definition, not making any money (yet), so every activity “burns” money that eventually ended. You have to get to the next stage, in order to survive, and the only way to do that is to be very careful how you spend a limited amount of money left in the Bank. It’s not enough just to have a larger number of users: investors also look at your financial discipline. As far as possible, every penny should go towards growth.

I read many business books (most of them bad), and listened to a lot of business advice (some of them current), and thought a lot about strategy (not all fantasy) and when it comes to goals, the best approach is to install those that stretch your team’s very ambitious, but not impossible. It makes the stakes real, forces your team to be creative and move the business forward. The goal should be reliable. I’m sure you also saw an old acronym that goals should be Smart: specific, Measurable, Attainable, relevant, time-bound.

Startups have to innovate and push the boundaries, but it is a mistake to push the limits on everything. A more effective strategy is to choose one or two things where you think you can do better, and focus your innovation energies. Doing new things is very hard and you will make many mistakes. For everything else, just follow normal business methods, which were proven to deliver for many years.

Despite knowing all of this on purpose, and despite the fact that practiced good enough goal setting in previous posts, I was very excited about the potential of the newsletter and ask a stupid, unattainable goal: 40 000 subscribers until the end of the year.

Unattainable goals not only as demotivating as simple purpose, and I should have known that. Why did I do it?

There are two levels the lesson here, and both are important. On the lower level, I saw that one repeated ad strategy could provide predictable growth, and I reasoned that the use of such strategies can easily give us enough growth to achieve the goal. I was excited about how easy it seemed.

What was the error? If all these new strategies will take us a long way towards the goal would require the efforts of the entire company, to manage them.

In addition to news, we had a small issue of building and launching a minimum Viable product (MVP), and from Private testing to the customer. I foolishly forgot that we couldn’t do all the cool things we wanted. Just because you can implement the plan, does not mean that you will have the resources to do so. Just because something is a good idea, so it’s possible.

On reflection, this happens a lot in startup founders, by definition, optimistic and that is a necessary attribute. But at the same time, You can’t let your excitement blind you to the reality of limited resources. You should always ask what is the most effective thing to spend money and time on, and adjust your entire strategy and objectives with this in mind. Startups are hard.

The higher the level the lesson is more important. The founders of a startup should not make decisions alone.

At this point in the company’s history I was not a co-founder (I do now, fortunately). I didn’t have counselors (I do now, too great), and I made the team enough for them to question my madness. Yes, at the end of the day, you’ll just have to take a call – listen to all, but still decide. But you need to help.

The problem is that it is very easy to understand any decision. Just go read my previous articles about the strategy of the newsletter. (They are all very convincing.)

Decision-making in low-information environments is a complex and dangerous game, and even if you know the mistakes and avoid them, that doesn’t mean You won’t make them again, if You are blinded by enthusiasm. All the criticism of your idea is a valid kernel is to use it to make better decisions.

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