More on Entrepreneurship/Creators
1 year ago
I sold my side project for $20,000: 6 lessons I learned
How I monetized and sold an abandoned side project for $20,000
The Origin Story
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur but never succeeded. I often had business ideas, made a landing page, and told my buddies. Never got customers.
In April 2021, I decided to try again with a new strategy. I noticed that I had trouble acquiring an initial set of customers, so I wanted to start by acquiring a product that had a small user base that I could grow.
I found a SaaS marketplace called MicroAcquire.com where you could buy and sell SaaS products. I liked Shareit.video, an online Loom-like screen recorder.
Shareit.video didn't generate revenue, but 50 people visited daily to record screencasts.
Purchasing a Failed Side Project
I eventually bought Shareit.video for $12,000 from its owner.
$12,000 was probably too much for a website without revenue or registered users.
I thought time was most important. I could have recreated the website, but it would take months. $12,000 would give me an organized code base and a working product with a few users to monetize.
I considered buying a screen recording website and trying to grow it versus buying a new car or investing in crypto with the $12K.
Buying the website would make me a real entrepreneur, which I wanted more than anything.
Putting down so much money would force me to commit to the project and prevent me from quitting too soon.
A Year of Development
I rebranded the website to be called RecordJoy and worked on it with my cousin for about a year. Within a year, we made $5000 and had 3000 users.
We spent $3500 on ads, hosting, and software to run the business.
AppSumo promoted our $120 Life Time Deal in exchange for 30% of the revenue.
We put RecordJoy on maintenance mode after 6 months because we couldn't find a scalable user acquisition channel.
We improved SEO and redesigned our landing page, but nothing worked.
Despite not being able to grow RecordJoy any further, I had already learned so much from working on the project so I was fine with putting it on maintenance mode. RecordJoy still made $500 a month, which was great lunch money.
Getting Taken Over
One of our customers emailed me asking for some feature requests and I replied that we weren’t going to add any more features in the near future. They asked if we'd sell.
We got on a call with the customer and I asked if he would be interested in buying RecordJoy for 15k. The customer wanted around $8k but would consider it.
Since we were negotiating with one buyer, we put RecordJoy on MicroAcquire to see if there were other offers.
We quickly received 10+ offers. We got 18.5k. There was also about $1000 in AppSumo that we could not withdraw, so we agreed to transfer that over for $600 since about 40% of our sales on AppSumo usually end up being refunded.
First, create an acquisition channel
We couldn't discover a scalable acquisition route for RecordJoy. If I had to start another project, I'd develop a robust acquisition channel first. It might be LinkedIn, Medium, or YouTube.
Purchase Power of the Buyer Affects Acquisition Price
Some of the buyers we spoke to were individuals looking to buy side projects, as well as companies looking to launch a new product category. Individual buyers had less budgets than organizations.
Customers of AppSumo vary.
AppSumo customers value lifetime deals and low prices, which may not be a good way to build a business with recurring revenue. Designed for AppSumo users, your product may not connect with other users.
Try to increase acquisition trust
Acquisition often fails. The buyer can go cold feet, cease communicating, or run away with your stuff. Trusting the buyer ensures a smooth asset exchange. First acquisition meeting was unpleasant and price negotiation was tight. In later meetings, we spent the first few minutes trying to get to know the buyer’s motivations and background before jumping into the negotiation, which helped build trust.
Operating expenses can reduce your earnings.
Monitor operating costs. We were really happy when we withdrew the $5000 we made from AppSumo and Stripe until we realized that we had spent $3500 in operating fees. Spend money on software and consultants to help you understand what to build.
Don't overspend on advertising
We invested $1500 on Google Ads but made little money. For a side project, it’s better to focus on organic traffic from SEO rather than paid ads unless you know your ads are going to have a positive ROI.
22 years ago
How to properly price SaaS
Price Intelligently put out amazing content on pricing your SaaS product. This blog's link to the whole report is worth reading. Our key takeaways are below.
Don't base prices on the competition. Competitor-based pricing has clear drawbacks. Their pricing approach is yours. Your company offers customers something unique. Otherwise, you wouldn't create it. This strategy is static, therefore you can't add value by raising prices without outpricing competitors. Look, but don't touch is the competitor-based moral. You want to know your competitors' prices so you're in the same ballpark, but they shouldn't guide your selections. Competitor-based pricing also drives down prices.
Value-based pricing wins. This is customer-based pricing. Value-based pricing looks outward, not inward or laterally at competitors. Your clients are the best source of pricing information. By valuing customer comments, you're focusing on buyers. They'll decide if your pricing and packaging are right. In addition to asking consumers about cost savings or revenue increases, look at data like number of users, usage per user, etc.
Value-based pricing increases prices. As you learn more about the client and your worth, you'll know when and how much to boost rates. Every 6 months, examine pricing.
Cloning top customers. You clone your consumers by learning as much as you can about them and then reaching out to comparable people or organizations. You can't accomplish this without knowing your customers. Segmenting and reproducing them requires as much detail as feasible. Offer pricing plans and feature packages for 4 personas. The top plan should state Contact Us. Your highest-value customers want more advice and support.
Question your 4 personas. What's the one item you can't live without? Which integrations matter most? Do you do analytics? Is support important or does your company self-solve? What's too cheap? What's too expensive?
Not everyone likes per-user pricing. SaaS organizations often default to per-user analytics. About 80% of companies utilizing per-user pricing should use an alternative value metric because their goods don't give more value with more users, so charging for them doesn't make sense.
At least 3:1 LTV/CAC. Break even on the customer within 2 years, and LTV to CAC is greater than 3:1. Because customer acquisition costs are paid upfront but SaaS revenues accrue over time, SaaS companies face an early financial shortfall while paying back the CAC.
ROI should be >20:1. Indeed. Ensure the customer's ROI is 20x the product's cost. Microsoft Office costs $80 a year, but consumers would pay much more to maintain it.
A/B Testing. A/B testing is guessing. When your pricing page varies based on assumptions, you'll upset customers. You don't have enough customers anyway. A/B testing optimizes landing pages, design decisions, and other site features when you know the problem but not pricing.
Don't discount. It cheapens the product, makes it permanent, and increases churn. By discounting, you're ruining your pricing analysis.
1 year ago
Trends in SaaS Funding from 2016 to 2022
Unsurprisingly, round sizes have expanded and will taper down in 2022. In 2016, pre-seed rounds were $200k to $500k; currently, they're $1-$2m. Despite the macroeconomic scenario, Series A have expanded from $3m to $12m in 2016 to $6m and $18m in 2022.
There are hints that valuations are rebounding this year. Pre-seed valuations in 2022 are $12m from $3m in 2016, and Series B prices are $270m from $100m in 2016.
Compared to public SaaS multiples, Series B valuations more closely reflect the market, but Seed and Series A prices seem to be inflated regardless of the market.
I'd like to know how each annual cohort performed for investors, based on the year they invested and the valuations. I can't access this information.
Seed firms' ARR forecasts have risen from $0 to $0.6m to $0 to $1m. 2016 expected $1.2m to $3m, 2021 $0.5m to $4m, and this year $0.5m to $2.5m, suggesting that Series A firms may raise with less ARR today. Series B minutes fell from $4.2m to $3m.
2022 is the year that VCs start discussing capital efficiency in portfolio meetings. Given the economic shift in the markets and the stealthy VC meltdown, it's not surprising. Christopher Janz added capital efficiency to the SaaS Napkin as a new statistic for Series A (3.5x) and Series B. (2.5x). Your investors must live under a rock if they haven't asked about capital efficiency. If you're unsure:
The Capital Efficiency Ratio is the ratio of how much a company has spent growing revenue and how much they’re receiving in return. It is the broadest measure of company effectiveness in generating ARR
No one knows what's next, including me. All startup and growing enterprises around me are tightening their belts and extending their runways in anticipation of a difficult fundraising ride. If you're wanting to raise money but can wait, wait till the market is more stable and access to money is easier.
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Ren & Heinrich
9 months ago
200 DeFi Projects were examined. Here is what I learned.
I analyze the top 200 DeFi crypto projects in this article.
This isn't a study. The findings benefit crypto investors.
A set of data
I analyzed data from defillama.com. In my analysis, I used the top 200 DeFis by TVL in October 2022.
Total Locked Value
The chart below shows platform-specific locked value.
14 platforms had $1B+ TVL. 65 platforms have $100M-$1B TVL. The remaining 121 platforms had TVLs below $100 million, with the lowest being $23 million.
TVLs are distributed Pareto. Top 40% of DeFis account for 80% of TVLs.
Ethereum's blockchain leads DeFi. 96 of the examined projects offer services on Ethereum. Behind BSC, Polygon, and Avalanche.
Five platforms used 10+ blockchains. 36 between 2-10 159 used 1 blockchain.
Use Cases for DeFi
The chart below shows platform use cases. Each platform has decentralized exchanges, liquid staking, yield farming, and lending.
These use cases are DefiLlama's main platform features.
Which use case costs the most? Chart explains. Collateralized debt, liquid staking, dexes, and lending have high TVLs.
The DeFi Industry
I compared three high-TVL platforms (Maker DAO, Balancer, AAVE). The columns show monthly TVL and token price changes. The graph shows monthly Bitcoin price changes.
Each platform's market moves similarly.
Probably because most DeFi deposits are cryptocurrencies. Since individual currencies are highly correlated with Bitcoin, it's not surprising that they move in unison.
This analysis shows that the most common DeFi services (decentralized exchanges, liquid staking, yield farming, and lending) also have the highest average locked value.
Some projects run on one or two blockchains, while others use 15 or 20. Our analysis shows that a project's blockchain count has no correlation with its success.
It's hard to tell if certain use cases are rising. Bitcoin's price heavily affects the entire DeFi market.
TVL seems to be a good indicator of a DeFi platform's success and quality. Higher TVL platforms are cheaper. They're a better long-term investment because they gain or lose less value than DeFis with lower TVLs.
Ari Joury, PhD
10 months ago
7 ways to turn into a major problem-solver
For some people, the glass is half empty. For others, it’s half full. And for some, the question is, How do I get this glass totally full again?
Problem-solvers are the last group. They're neutral. Pragmatists.
Problems surround them. They fix things instead of judging them. Problem-solvers improve the world wherever they go.
Some fail. Sometimes their good intentions have terrible results. Like when they try to help a grandma cross the road because she can't do it alone but discover she never wanted to.
Most programmers, software engineers, and data scientists solve problems. They use computer code to fix problems they see.
Coding is best done by understanding and solving the problem.
Despite your best intentions, building the wrong solution may have negative consequences. Helping an unwilling grandma cross the road.
How can you improve problem-solving?
1. Examine your presumptions.
Don’t think There’s a grandma, and she’s unable to cross the road. Therefore I must help her over the road. Instead think This grandma looks unable to cross the road. Let’s ask her whether she needs my help to cross it.
Maybe the grandma can’t cross the road alone, but maybe she can. You can’t tell for sure just by looking at her. It’s better to ask.
Maybe the grandma wants to cross the road. But maybe she doesn’t. It’s better to ask!
Building software is similar. Do only I find this website ugly? Who can I consult?
We all have biases, mental shortcuts, and worldviews. They simplify life.
Problem-solving requires questioning all assumptions. They might be wrong!
Think less. Ask more.
Secondly, fully comprehend the issue.
Grandma wants to cross the road? Does she want flowers from the shop across the street?
Understanding the problem advances us two steps. Instead of just watching people and their challenges, try to read their intentions.
Don't ask, How can I help grandma cross the road? Why would this grandma cross the road? What's her goal?
Understand what people want before proposing solutions.
3. Request more information. This is not a scam!
People think great problem solvers solve problems immediately. False!
Problem-solvers study problems. Understanding the problem makes solving it easy.
When you see a grandma struggling to cross the road, you want to grab her elbow and pull her over. However, a good problem solver would ask grandma what she wants. So:
Problem solver: Excuse me, ma’am? Do you wish to get over the road? Grandma: Yes indeed, young man! Thanks for asking. Problem solver: What do you want to do on the other side? Grandma: I want to buy a bouquet of flowers for my dear husband. He loves flowers! I wish the shop wasn’t across this busy road… Problem solver: Which flowers does your husband like best? Grandma: He loves red dahlia. I usually buy about 20 of them. They look so pretty in his vase at the window! Problem solver: I can get those dahlia for you quickly. Go sit on the bench over here while you’re waiting; I’ll be back in five minutes. Grandma: You would do that for me? What a generous young man you are!
A mediocre problem solver would have helped the grandma cross the road, but he might have forgotten that she needs to cross again. She must watch out for cars and protect her flowers on the way back.
A good problem solver realizes that grandma's husband wants 20 red dahlias and completes the task.
4- Rapid and intense brainstorming
Understanding a problem makes solutions easy. However, you may not have all the information needed to solve the problem.
Additionally, retrieving crucial information can be difficult.
You could start a blog. You don't know your readers' interests. You can't ask readers because you don't know who they are.
Brainstorming works here. Set a stopwatch (most smartphones have one) to ring after five minutes. In the remaining time, write down as many topics as possible.
No answer is wrong. Note everything.
Sort these topics later. Programming or data science? What might readers scroll past—are these your socks this morning?
Rank your ideas intuitively and logically. Write Medium stories using the top 35 ideas.
5 - Google it.
Doctor Google may answer this seemingly insignificant question. If you understand your problem, try googling or binging.
Someone has probably had your problem before. The problem-solver may have posted their solution online.
Use others' experiences. If you're social, ask a friend or coworker for help.
6 - Consider it later
Rest your brain.
Reread. Your brain needs rest to function.
Hustle culture encourages working 24/7. It doesn't take a neuroscientist to see that this is mental torture.
Leave an unsolvable problem. Visit friends, take a hot shower, or do whatever you enjoy outside of problem-solving.
I get my best ideas in the morning after working on a problem. I couldn't have had these ideas last night.
Sleeping subconsciously. Leave it alone and you may be surprised by the genius it produces.
7 - Learn to live with frustration
There are problems that you’ll never solve.
Mathematicians are world-class problem-solvers. The brightest minds in history have failed to solve many mathematical problems.
A Gordian knot problem can frustrate you. You're smart!
Frustration-haters don't solve problems well. They choose simple problems to avoid frustration.
No. Great problem solvers want to solve a problem but know when to give up.
Frustration initially hurts. You adapt.
Famous last words
If you read this article, you probably solve problems. We've covered many ways to improve, so here's a summary:
Test your presumptions. Is the issue the same for everyone else when you see one? Or are your prejudices and self-judgments misguiding you?
Recognize the issue completely. On the surface, a problem may seem straightforward, but what's really going on? Try to see what the current situation might be building up to by thinking two steps ahead of the current situation.
Request more information. You are no longer a high school student. A two-sentence problem statement is not sufficient to provide a solution. Ask away if you need more details!
Think quickly and thoroughly. In a constrained amount of time, try to write down all your thoughts. All concepts are worthwhile! Later, you can order them.
Google it. There is a purpose for the internet. Use it.
Consider it later at night. A rested mind is more creative. It might seem counterintuitive to leave a problem unresolved. But while you're sleeping, your subconscious will handle the laborious tasks.
Accept annoyance as a normal part of life. Don't give up if you're feeling frustrated. It's a step in the procedure. It's also perfectly acceptable to give up on a problem because there are other, more pressing issues that need to be addressed.
You might feel stupid sometimes, but that just shows that you’re human. You care about the world and you want to make it better.
At the end of the day, that’s all there is to problem solving — making the world a little bit better.
1 year ago
12 mental models that I use frequently
I keep returning to the same mental models and tricks after writing and reading about a wide range of topics.
Top 12 mental models
Survival bias - We perceive the surviving population as remarkable, yet they may have gotten there through sheer grit.
Survivorship bias affects us in many situations. Our retirement fund; the unicorn business; the winning team. We often study and imitate the last one standing. This can lead to genuine insights and performance improvements, but it can also lead us astray because the leader may just be lucky.
The Helsinki Bus Theory - How to persevere Buss up!
Always display new work, and always be compared to others. Why? Easy. Keep riding. Stay on the fucking bus.
Until it sticks… Turning up every day… — Artists teach engineers plenty. Quality work over a career comes from showing up every day and starting.
Decision-making WRAP Model:
W — Widen your Options
R — Reality test your assumptions
A — Attain Distance
P — Prepare to be wrong or Right
Systems for knowledge worker excellence - Todd Henry and Cal Newport write about techniques knowledge workers can employ to build a creative rhythm and do better work.
Todd Henry's FRESH framework:
Focus: Keep the start in mind as you wrap up.
Relationships: close a loop that's open.
Pruning is an energy.
Set aside time to be inspired by stimuli.
Hours: Spend time thinking.
BBT is learning from mistakes. Science has transformed the world because it constantly updates its theories in light of failures. Complexity guarantees failure. Do we learn or self-justify?
The OODA Loop - Competitive advantage
O: Observe: collect the data. Figure out exactly where you are, what’s happening.
O: Orient: analyze/synthesize the data to form an accurate picture.
D: Decide: select an action from possible options
A: Action: execute the action, and return to step (1)
Boyd's approach indicates that speed and agility are about information processing, not physical reactions. They form feedback loops. More OODA loops improve speed.
Leaders who try to impose order in a complex situation fail; those who set the stage, step back, and allow patterns to develop win.
Information Gap - The discrepancy between what we know and what we would like to know
Gap in Alignment - What individuals actually do as opposed to what we wish them to do
Effects Gap - the discrepancy between our expectations and the results of our actions
Theory of Constraints — The Goal - To maximize system production, maximize bottleneck throughput.
Goldratt creates a five-step procedure:
Determine the restriction
Improve the restriction.
Everything else should be based on the limitation.
Increase the restriction
Go back to step 1 Avoid letting inertia become a limitation.
Any non-constraint improvement is an illusion.
Serendipity and the Adjacent Possible - Why do several amazing ideas emerge at once? How can you foster serendipity in your work?
You need specialized abilities to reach to the edge of possibilities, where you can pursue exciting tasks that will change the world. Few people do it since it takes a lot of hard work. You'll stand out if you do.
Most people simply lack the comfort with discomfort required to tackle really hard things. At some point, in other words, there’s no way getting around the necessity to clear your calendar, shut down your phone, and spend several hard days trying to make sense of the damn proof.
Boundaries of failure - Rasmussen's accident model.
Rasmussen modeled this. It has economic, workload, and performance boundaries.
The economic boundary is a company's profit zone. If the lights are on, you're within the economic boundaries, but there's pressure to cut costs and do more.
Performance limit reflects system capacity. Taking shortcuts is a human desire to minimize work. This is often necessary to survive because there's always more labor.
Both push operating points toward acceptable performance. Personal or process safety, or equipment performance.
If you exceed acceptable performance, you'll push back, typically forcefully.