Startups can be brutal even for experienced serial entrepreneurs, and some of them at times feel as though they are banging their heads against a brick wall and getting nowhere.
I‘ve been banging my head too.
Content, it turns out, is especially hard. There is so much of it to compete for the attention of users.
And the world of social media and messaging apps is largely where their heads are at these days.
Over the course of the winter, I tried various approaches to get the proverbial needle moving in trying to get some semblance of traction for PreAcquaint.
Nothing has really worked so far.
Mind you, I’m alone and I didn’t pursue investment capital — I put in several dozens of thousands of dollars of my own money, but that’s it — and so I didn’t have the appearance of going somewhere by having hired an editorial staff, renting office space and having a marketing budget. You can create a buzzing of activity for a while, but if there is no business at the end of the day, then the singing has to stop at some point. So being alone and “trying this and that” with zero budget whatsoever left at this point, there is nothing fake about my lack of traction: it’s in stark view. Plus I leave the page view count for each story on the home page with no trickery for all to see.
It doesn’t mean there’s nothing left to do with it; and I certainly now have a better appreciation for what is not working.
If I had raised money from investors, the time would have long come to shut down the company for sure, even with some "artificial" traction.
But I didn’t raise any money and so I can keep going if I want to; and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Why?
Because I don’t have a better idea that I’m qualified to execute on at this point. I’ve written here a few days ago about another idea, but that’s outside of my league. What’s wild though, as a side note, is that I wrote this on Feb 23, 2016, and two days later, this article came out announcing that someone else (who is substantially more qualified and happens to be well-suported by Tim Draper) is coming out with the very idea I was describing. And if you had some serious time on your end to spend lavishly and read this blog all the way back to the very first post, you would find out that their ambition to create a social network that connects people who share common interests (on top of their AI offering) is precisely what I had set out to do back in 2010. Anyway, back to the topic…
Now, it’s time for me to start working on my seasonal business — brickwork restoration — for the year, starting next week, which means I’ll have even less time to devote to the project until next November, when the season ends once again.
One valuable thing that this attempt has taught me so far is modesty. Seriously, I’ve been referred to as a good restorer of old brick and stone buildings, and when I was stuck in my little bubble, I let it go to my head and believe that I was the best thing since sliced bread. I was even quite arrogant at one point. Well, trying to do a startup as a non-technical solo founder and competing globally with the best minds in the field has busted my bubble, I’ll tell you that much. Even though I’ve tested higher-than-average on IQ tests, I don’t feel that smart anymore. There are people out there that are so way smarter than I am that it blows my fucking mind just to think about it. I’m not putting myself down, that’s just a fact, and I’m OK with it.
And so in addition to keeping abreast of everything that is going on in the Tech sector and educating myself — as luck is preparation meeting opportunity — I’ll keep tweaking my little zombie side project, as I’m able to, during the upcoming months and also next winter — although I should probably refer to it more as a hobby than anything else at this point. Until I see an opportunity that I should definitely jump on, I still think it's better to keep the ball rolling somehow than to quit altogether.
Just don’t expect it to join the unicorn list anytime soon ;-)