More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
7 months ago
Easiest and fastest way to test your startup idea!
Here's the fastest way to validate company concepts.
I squandered a year after dropping out of Stanford designing a product nobody wanted.
But today, I’m at 100k!
I was designing a consumer product when I dropped out.
I coded MVP, got 1k users, and got YC interview.
Still coding and getting users 12 months later
WOULD PEOPLE PAY FOR IT? was the riskiest assumption I hadn't tested.
When asked why I didn't verify payment, I said,
Not-ready products. Now, nobody cares. The website needs work. Include this. Increase usage…
I feared people would say no.
After 1 year of pushing it off, my team told me they were really worried about the Business Model. Then I asked my audience if they'd buy my product.
I felt like I wasted a year building a product no one would buy.
Founders Cafe was the opposite.
Before building anything, I requested payment.
40 founders were interviewed.
Then we emailed Stanford, YC, and other top founders, asking them to join our community.
BOOM! 10/12 paid!
Without building anything, in 1 day I validated my startup's riskiest assumption. NOT 1 year.
Asking people to pay is one of the scariest things.
I asked Stanford queer women to pay before joining my gay sorority.
I was afraid I'd turn them off or no one would pay.
Gay women, like those founders, were in such excruciating pain that they were willing to pay me upfront to help.
You can ask for payment (before you build) to see if people have the burning pain. Then they'll pay!
Examples from Founders Cafe members:
😮 Using a fake landing page, a college dropout tested a product. Paying! He built it and made $3m!
😮 YC solo founder faked a Powerpoint demo. 5 Enterprise paid LOIs. $1.5m raised, built, and in YC!
😮 A Harvard founder can convert Figma to React. 1 day, 10 customers. Built a tool to automate Figma -> React after manually fulfilling requests. 1m+
😭 Stanford Dropout Spends 1 Year Building Product Without Payment Validation
Some people build for a year and then get paying customers.
What I'm sharing is my experience and what Founders Cafe members have told me about validating startup ideas.
Don't waste a year like I did.
After my first startup failed, I planned to re-enroll at Stanford/work at Facebook.
After people paid, I quit for good.
I've hit $100k!
Hope this inspires you to request upfront payment! It'll change your life
8 months ago
R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS
SaaS spending is 40/40/20. 40% of operating expenses should be R&D, 40% sales and marketing, and 20% G&A. We wanted to see the statistics behind the rules of thumb. Since October 2017, 73 SaaS startups have gone public. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be 30/50/20. The data is below.
30/50/20. R&D accounts for 26% of opex, sales and marketing 48%, and G&A 22%. We think R&D/S&M/G&A should be 30/50/20.
There are outliers. There are exceptions to rules of thumb. Dropbox spent 45% on R&D whereas Zoom spent 13%. Zoom spent 73% on S&M, Dropbox 37%, and Bill.com 28%. Snowflake spent 130% of revenue on S&M, while their EBITDA margin is -192%.
G&A shouldn't stand out. Minimize G&A spending. Priorities should be product development and sales. Cloudflare, Sendgrid, Snowflake, and Palantir spend 36%, 34%, 37%, and 43% on G&A.
Another myth is that COGS is 20% of revenue. Median and averages are 29%.
Where is the profitability? Data-driven operating income calculations were simplified (Revenue COGS R&D S&M G&A). 20 of 73 IPO businesses reported operational income. Median and average operating income margins are -21% and -27%.
As long as you're growing fast, have outstanding retention, and marquee clients, you can burn cash since recurring income that doesn't churn is a valuable annuity.
The data was compelling overall. 30/50/20 is the new 40/40/20 for more established SaaS enterprises, unprofitability is alright as long as your business is expanding, and COGS can be somewhat more than 20% of revenue.
6 months ago
Build This Before Someone Else Does!
Do you want to build and launch your own software company? To do this, all you need is a product that solves a problem.
Coming up with profitable ideas is not that easy. But you’re in luck because you got me!
I’ll give you the idea for free. All you need to do is execute it properly.
If you’re ready, let’s jump right into it! Starting with the problem.
Youtube has many creators. Every day, they think of new ways to entertain or inform us.
They work hard to make videos. Many of their efforts go to waste. They limit their revenue and reach.
Content repurposing solves this problem.
One video can become several TikToks. Creating YouTube videos from a podcast episode.
Or, one video might become a blog entry.
By turning videos into blog entries, Youtubers may develop evergreen SEO content, attract a new audience, and reach a non-YouTube audience.
Many YouTube creators want this easy feature.
Let's build it!
We identified the problem, and we have a solution. All that’s left to do is see how it can be done.
Monitoring new video uploads
First, watch when a friend uploads a new video. Everything should happen automatically without user input.
YouTube Webhooks make this easy. Our server listens for YouTube Webhook notifications.
After publishing a new video, we create a conversion job.
Creating a Blog Post from a Video
Next, turn a video into a blog article.
To convert, we must extract the video's audio (which can be achieved by using FFmpeg on the server).
Once we have the audio channel, we can use speech-to-text.
Services can accomplish this easily.
Speech-to-text on Google
Deepgram's affordability and integration make it my pick.
After conversion, the blog post needs formatting, error checking, and proofreading.
After this, a new blog post will appear in our web app's dashboard.
Completing a blog post
After conversion, users must examine and amend their blog posts.
Our application dashboard would handle all of this. It's a dashboard-style software where users can:
Link their Youtube account
Check out the converted videos in the future.
View the conversions that are ongoing.
Edit and format converted blog articles.
It's a web-based app.
It doesn't matter how it's made but I'd choose Next.js.
Next.js is a React front-end standard. Vercel serverless functions could conduct the conversions.
This would let me host the software for free and reduce server expenditures.
Taking It One Step Further
SaaS in a nutshell. Future improvements include integrating with WordPress or Ghost.
Our app users could then publish blog posts. Streamlining the procedure.
MVPs don't need this functionality.
Repurposing content helps you post more often, reach more people, and develop faster.
Many agencies charge a fortune for this service. Handmade means pricey.
Content creators will go crazy if you automate and cheaply solve this problem.
Just execute this idea!
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6 months ago
12 habits of the zenith individuals I know
Calmness is a vital life skill.
It aids communication. It boosts creativity and performance.
I've studied calm people's habits for years. Commonalities:
Have mastered the art of self-humor.
Protectors take their job seriously, draining the room's energy.
They are fixated on positive pursuits like making cool things, building a strong physique, and having fun with others rather than on depressing influences like the news and gossip.
Every day, spend at least 20 minutes moving, whether it's walking, yoga, or lifting weights.
Discover ways to take pleasure in life's challenges.
Since perspective is malleable, they change their view.
Set your own needs first.
Stressed people neglect themselves and wonder why they struggle.
Don't ruin your life to please others.
Calm people create more than react.
They love creating beautiful things—paintings, children, relationships, and projects.
Don’t hold their breath.
If you're stressed or angry, you may be surprised how much time you spend holding your breath and tightening your belly.
Release, breathe, and relax to find calm.
Rushing is disadvantageous.
Calm people handle life better.
Are aware of their own dietary requirements.
They avoid junk food and eat foods that keep them healthy, happy, and calm.
Don’t take anything personally.
Stressed people control everything.
Calm people put others and their work first.
Keep their surroundings neat.
Maintaining an uplifting and clutter-free environment daily calms the mind.
Minimise negative people.
Calm people are ruthless with their boundaries and avoid negative and drama-prone people.
9 months ago
You Don't Have to Spend $250 on TikTok Ads Because I Did
900K impressions, 8K clicks, and $$$ orders…
I recently started dropshipping. Now that I own my business and can charge it as a business expense, it feels less like money wasted if it doesn't work. I also made t-shirts to sell. I intended to open a t-shirt store and had many designs on a hard drive. I read that Tiktok advertising had a high conversion rate and low cost because they were new. According to many, the advertising' cost/efficiency ratio would plummet and become as bad as Google or Facebook Ads. Now felt like the moment to try Tiktok marketing and dropshipping. I work in marketing for a SaaS firm and have seen how poorly ads perform. I wanted to try it alone.
I set up $250 and ran advertising for a week. Before that, I made my own products, store, and marketing. In this post, I'll show you my process and results.
Setting up the store
Dropshipping is a sort of retail business in which the manufacturer ships the product directly to the client through an online platform maintained by a seller. The seller takes orders but has no stock. The manufacturer handles all orders. This no-stock concept increases profitability and flexibility.
In my situation, I used previous t-shirt designs to make my own product. I didn't want to handle order fulfillment logistics, so I looked for a way to print my designs on demand, ship them, and handle order tracking/returns automatically. So I found Printful.
I needed to connect my backend and supplier to a storefront so visitors could buy. 99% of dropshippers use Shopify, but I didn't want to master the difficult application. I wanted a one-day project. I'd previously worked with Big Cartel, so I chose them.
Big Cartel doesn't collect commissions on sales, simply a monthly flat price ($9.99 to $19.99 depending on your plan).
After opening a Big Cartel account, I uploaded 21 designs and product shots, then synced each product with Printful.
Developing the ads
I mocked up my designs on cool people photographs from placeit.net, a great tool for creating product visuals when you don't have a studio, camera gear, or models to wear your t-shirts.
I opened an account on the website and had advertising visuals within 2 hours.
Because my designs are simple (black design on white t-shirt), I chose happy, stylish people on plain-colored backdrops. After that, I had to develop an animated slideshow.
Because I'm a graphic designer, I chose to use Adobe Premiere to create animated Tiktok advertising.
Premiere is a fancy video editing application used for more than advertisements. Premiere is used to edit movies, not social media marketing. I wanted this experiment to be quick, so I got 3 social media ad templates from motionarray.com and threw my visuals in. All the transitions and animations were pre-made in the files, so it only took a few hours to compile. The result:
I downloaded 3 different soundtracks for the videos to determine which would convert best.
After that, I opened a Tiktok business account, uploaded my films, and inserted ad info. They went live within one hour.
The (poor) outcomes
As a European company, I couldn't deliver ads in the US. All of my advertisements' material (title, description, and call to action) was in English, hence they continued getting rejected in Europe for countries that didn't speak English. There are a lot of them:
I lost a lot of quality traffic, but I felt that if the images were engaging, people would check out the store and buy my t-shirts. I was wrong.
51,071 impressions on Day 1. 0 orders after 411 clicks
114,053 impressions on Day 2. 1.004 clicks and no orders
Day 3: 987 clicks, 103,685 impressions, and 0 orders
101,437 impressions on Day 4. 0 orders after 963 clicks
115,053 impressions on Day 5. 1,050 clicks and no purchases
125,799 impressions on day 6. 1,184 clicks, no purchases
115,547 impressions on Day 7. 1,050 clicks and no purchases
121,456 impressions on day 8. 1,083 clicks, no purchases
47,586 impressions on Day 9. 419 Clicks. No orders
My overall conversion rate for video advertisements was 0.9%. TikTok's paid ad formats all result in strong engagement rates (ads average 3% to 12% CTR to site), therefore a 1 to 2% CTR should have been doable.
My one-week experiment yielded 8,151 ad clicks but no sales. Even if 0.1% of those clicks converted, I should have made 8 sales. Even companies with horrible web marketing would get one download or trial sign-up for every 8,151 clicks. I knew that because my advertising were in English, I had no impressions in the main EU markets (France, Spain, Italy, Germany), and that this impacted my conversion potential. I still couldn't believe my numbers.
I dug into the statistics and found that Tiktok's stats didn't match my store traffic data.
Looking more closely at the numbers
My ads were approved on April 26 but didn't appear until April 27. My store dashboard showed 440 visitors but 1,004 clicks on Tiktok. This happens often while tracking campaign results since different platforms handle comparable user activities (click, view) differently. In online marketing, residual data won't always match across tools.
My data gap was too large. Even if half of the 1,004 persons who clicked closed their browser or left before the store site loaded, I would have gained 502 visitors. The significant difference between Tiktok clicks and Big Cartel store visits made me suspicious. It happened all week:
Day 1: 440 store visits and 1004 ad clicks
Day 2: 482 store visits, 987 ad clicks
3rd day: 963 hits on ads, 452 store visits
443 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks on day 4.
Day 5: 459 store visits and 1,184 ad clicks
Day 6: 430 store visits and 1,050 ad clicks
Day 7: 409 store visits and 1,031 ad clicks
Day 8: 166 store visits and 418 ad clicks
The disparity wasn't related to residual data or data processing. The disparity between visits and clicks looked regular, but I couldn't explain it.
After the campaign concluded, I discovered all my creative assets (the videos) had a 0% CTR and a $0 expenditure in a separate dashboard. Whether it's a dashboard reporting issue or a budget allocation bug, online marketers shouldn't see this.
Tiktok can present any stats they want on their dashboard, just like any other platform that runs advertisements to promote content to its users. I can't verify that 895,687 individuals saw and clicked on my ad. I invested $200 for what appears to be around 900K impressions, which is an excellent ROI. No one bought a t-shirt, even an unattractive one, out of 900K people?
Would I do it again?
Nope. Whether I didn't make sales because Tiktok inflated the dashboard numbers or because I'm horrible at producing advertising and items that sell, I’ll stick to writing content and making videos. If setting up a business and ads in a few days was all it took to make money online, everyone would do it.
Video advertisements and dropshipping aren't dead. As long as the internet exists, people will click ads and buy stuff. Converting ads and selling stuff takes a lot of work, and I want to focus on other things.
I had always wanted to try dropshipping and I’m happy I did, I just won’t stick to it because that’s not something I’m interested in getting better at.
If I want to sell t-shirts again, I'll avoid Tiktok advertisements and find another route.
1 year ago
Which Metaverse Is Better, Decentraland or Sandbox?
The metaverse is the most commonly used term in current technology discussions. While the entire tech ecosystem awaits the metaverse's full arrival, defining it is difficult. Imagine the internet in the '80s! The metaverse is a three-dimensional virtual world where users can interact with digital solutions and each other as digital avatars.
The metaverse is a three-dimensional virtual world where users can interact with digital solutions and each other as digital avatars.
Among the metaverse hype, the Decentraland vs Sandbox debate has gained traction. Both are decentralized metaverse platforms with no central authority. So, what's the difference and which is better? Let us examine the distinctions between Decentraland and Sandbox.
2 Popular Metaverse Platforms Explained
The first step in comparing sandbox and Decentraland is to outline the definitions. Anyone keeping up with the metaverse news has heard of the two current leaders. Both have many similarities, but also many differences. Let us start with defining both platforms to see if there is a winner.
Decentraland, a fully immersive and engaging 3D metaverse, launched in 2017. It allows players to buy land while exploring the vast virtual universe. Decentraland offers a wide range of activities for its visitors, including games, casinos, galleries, and concerts. It is currently the longest-running metaverse project.
Decentraland began with a $24 million ICO and went public in 2020. The platform's virtual real estate parcels allow users to create a variety of experiences. MANA and LAND are two distinct tokens associated with Decentraland. MANA is the platform's native ERC-20 token, and users can burn MANA to get LAND, which is ERC-721 compliant. The MANA coin can be used to buy avatars, wearables, products, and names on Decentraland.
Sandbox, the next major player, began as a blockchain-based virtual world in 2011 and migrated to a 3D gaming platform in 2017. The virtual world allows users to create, play, own, and monetize their virtual experiences. Sandbox aims to empower artists, creators, and players in the blockchain community to customize the platform. Sandbox gives the ideal means for unleashing creativity in the development of the modern gaming ecosystem.
The project combines NFTs and DAOs to empower a growing community of gamers. A new play-to-earn model helps users grow as gamers and creators. The platform offers a utility token, SAND, which is required for all transactions.
What are the key points from both metaverse definitions to compare Decentraland vs sandbox?
It is ideal for individuals, businesses, and creators seeking new artistic, entertainment, and business opportunities. It is one of the rapidly growing Decentralized Autonomous Organization projects. Holders of MANA tokens also control the Decentraland domain.
Sandbox, on the other hand, is a blockchain-based virtual world that runs on the native token SAND. On the platform, users can create, sell, and buy digital assets and experiences, enabling blockchain-based gaming. Sandbox focuses on user-generated content and building an ecosystem of developers.
Sandbox vs. Decentraland
If you try to find what is better Sandbox or Decentraland, then you might struggle with only the basic definitions. Both are metaverse platforms offering immersive 3D experiences. Users can freely create, buy, sell, and trade digital assets. However, both have significant differences, especially in MANA vs SAND.
For starters, MANA has a market cap of $5,736,097,349 versus $4,528,715,461, giving Decentraland an advantage.
The MANA vs SAND pricing comparison is also noteworthy. A SAND is currently worth $3664, while a MANA is worth $2452.
The value of the native tokens and the market capitalization of the two metaverse platforms are not enough to make a choice. Let us compare Sandbox vs Decentraland based on the following factors.
The way Decentraland and Sandbox work is one of the main comparisons. From a distance, they both appear to work the same way. But there's a lot more to learn about both platforms' workings. Decentraland has 90,601 digital parcels of land.
Individual parcels of virtual real estate or estates with multiple parcels of land are assembled. It also has districts with similar themes and plazas, which are non-tradeable parcels owned by the community. It has three token types: MANA, LAND, and WEAR.
Sandbox has 166,464 plots of virtual land that can be grouped into estates. Estates are owned by one person, while districts are owned by two or more people. The Sandbox metaverse has four token types: SAND, GAMES, LAND, and ASSETS.
The maturity of metaverse projects is also a factor in the debate. Decentraland is clearly the winner in terms of maturity. It was the first solution to create a 3D blockchain metaverse. Decentraland made the first working proof of concept public. However, Sandbox has only made an Alpha version available to the public.
The MANA vs SAND comparison would also include support for both platforms. Digital Currency Group, FBG Capital, and CoinFund are all supporters of Decentraland. It has also partnered with Polygon, the South Korean government, Cyberpunk, and Samsung.
SoftBank, a Japanese multinational conglomerate focused on investment management, is another major backer. Sandbox has the backing of one of the world's largest investment firms, as well as Slack and Uber.
Wallet compatibility is an important factor in comparing the two metaverse platforms. Decentraland currently has a competitive advantage. How? Both projects' marketplaces accept ERC-20 wallets. However, Decentraland has recently improved by bridging with Walletconnect. So it can let Polygon users join Decentraland.
Because Sandbox and Decentraland use the Ethereum blockchain, scalability is an issue. Both platforms' scalability is constrained by volatile tokens and high gas fees. So, scalability issues can hinder large-scale adoption of both metaverse platforms.
Decentraland vs Sandbox comparisons often include virtual real estate. However, the ability to buy virtual land on both platforms defines the user experience and differentiates them. In this case, Sandbox offers better options for users to buy virtual land by combining OpenSea and Sandbox. In fact, Decentraland users can only buy from the MANA marketplace.
The rate of development distinguishes Sandbox and Decentraland. Both platforms have been developing rapidly new features. However, Sandbox wins by adopting Polygon NFT layer 2 solutions, which consume almost 100 times less energy than Ethereum.
The platforms' collaborations are the key to determining "which is better Sandbox or Decentraland." Adoption of metaverse platforms like the two in question can be boosted by association with reputable brands. Among the partners are Atari, Cyberpunk, and Polygon. Rather, Sandbox has partnered with well-known brands like OpenSea, CryptoKitties, The Walking Dead, Snoop Dogg, and others.
Another key feature that distinguishes Sandbox and Decentraland is the ease of use. Sandbox clearly wins in terms of platform access. It allows easy access via social media, email, or a Metamask wallet. However, Decentraland requires a wallet connection.
The future development plans also play a big role in defining Sandbox vs Decentraland. Sandbox's future development plans include bringing the platform to mobile devices. This includes consoles like PlayStation and Xbox. By the end of 2023, the platform expects to have around 5000 games.
Decentraland, on the other hand, has no set plan. In fact, the team defines the decisions that appear to have value. They plan to add celebrities, creators, and brands soon, along with NFT ads and drops.
The comparison of Decentraland vs Sandbox provides a balanced view of both platforms. You can see how difficult it is to determine which decentralized metaverse is better now. Sandbox is still in Alpha, whereas Decentraland has a working proof of concept.
Sandbox, on the other hand, has better graphics and is backed by some big names. But both have a long way to go in the larger decentralized metaverse.