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The Solo Entrepreneur Experiment

Written by Joshua Fuglsang on .

Globe Graffiti Art in Melbourne

The Idea

Over the past few years of working in the startup industry, I have created and recorded a lot of ideas for apps and services. Not knowing how successful these various ideas will be I have decided to try to develop MVPs for a set of my favourite ideas to see how they go.

I will validate and implement as many of these ideas as possible over the next 12 months.

The Formula

Here is the workflow that I plan to follow:

  1. Ideate & research: flesh out ideas and features.
  2. Validate: launch landing pages and ad campaigns to determine potential success.
  3. Build: implement the strongest ideas as determined by the validation stage. The build stage will be limited to two months per product.
  4. Release and monitor: launch the idea and collect / monitor feedback to see if it is a success.

Reason

So why do it this way? Well first I was partly inspired by Peter Levels and his 12 months of startups for this idea, as well as by various startup books. I have adapted Peter’s approach for a few reasons particular to my preferences.

Firstly I don’t think it is strictly necessary to build a product to validate if it will be a success; you can gauge interest by launching landing pages and directing a small amount of ad traffic to them, thereby potentially saving a month of work for an idea that will ultimately fail. However, sometimes validation via landing pages can result in both false-positives and false-negatives, so its not a foolproof strategy.

Secondly I don’t want to timebox the build phase too much. If it looks like one idea has much more interest in the validation stage than the other ideas, then it makes sense to focus more energy on that particular idea. I also don’t want to kill ideas because their MVP was so undercooked that people won’t use the product regardless of whether or not they like the idea. Having said that I will try my best to keep the build phase between one and two months to avoid sweating the details too much.

Next by building a catalog of 12 products you are giving yourself heaps of legacy to maintain. You are forcing yourself to either spend a lot of time supporting the products once they are released, or you have to abandon your customers. Neither of these prospects are particularly attractive.

Finally I will be travelling a bit as well. I’ll probably be travelling for two weeks for every four to six weeks working on product ideas.

In one year I am hoping to build four products, and will validate many more ideas than that. Let’s see how it goes!

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