A week ago, the CEO of the startup I was working on asked me to talk privately via Skype. Our startup was building a product that is closely tied to the –now defunct– Obama Care. Long story short, with the repeal of the Affordable Health Act, we lost our customers. Thus, he had no choice but to fire me and, without knowing it, leave me with a world of new opportunities to explore.
At first, I was kind of shocked, of course. I was really enjoying working with the team, and we were building an amazing product. Besides, I was earning a great salary.
Crisis Equals New Opportunities
However, soon I realized that this might be the perfect opportunity for me to finally start working on some of my projects. In fact, this might be the little push I needed to finally focus on building my business.
Since I left my 9 to 5 job, I’ve been mostly freelancing and consulting to make a living. You could say that my income comes primarily from exchanging my time for money. So now, basically I find myself with several projects in sight and no earnings at all.
A Blog, An Audience, and A Book
First and foremost, I have my blog, where I teach others to become successful iOS developers. I really enjoy writing there, and I love helping others and sharing my knowledge with the community. Furthermore, I’m really glad to see it’s growing every day, both in content and in traffic.
I would say that I am absolutely passionate about my blog, about helping and teaching others.
Nevertheless, that is not a business for me, not yet at least.
I’m writing a book on becoming an iOS developer. I am putting a lot of effort there because I have imposed myself a tight deadline of a month. However, that book is not ready yet, so I have no information product associated with my blog… still. New opportunities for the future I guess.
Actually, I will write about the process of writing the book in another post soon.
Some weeks ago, I started a podcast about entrepreneurship in Spanish. It’s called “Nación de Emprendedores“. I’m an avid listener of entrepreneurship podcasts in English. I love listening to Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income, and Entrepreneur on Fire by John Lee Dumas, among others.
Why I Decided To Start My Own Podcast
However, I’ve always missed a podcast talking about entrepreneurship in my mother tongue. Some time ago, I started to think about building my own entrepreneurship podcast. It will not only help me conquer my “social interaction fears” (I’m a geek after all, what’d you expect :). It will also allow me to meet fellow entrepreneurs, hear inspiring stories and grow my network of contacts.
Thus, I decided to ask some friends if they will be interested in being interviewed and featured in the podcast. The response was really positive so that encouraged me to try and do it.
I have some pretty decent recording gear because one of my hobbies is composing minimalist classical music. So I bought two nice podcast mics and started scheduling interviews. So far, I have recorded four interviews and published three episodes of the podcast.
The Experience So Far…
The experience has been really enjoyable, and I’m seeing a lot of interest. The podcast has had 300 downloads since it started, which is great given that I’m not Pat Flynn. Furthermore, it has brought me new opportunities to meet awesome entrepreneurs, hear their stories, and learn and be inspired by them.
In conclusion, it’s being a nice endeavor, and I think it has the potential to become something huge.
Besides, It’s also something that doesn’t take a lot of time from me. I usually spend one hour recording the interviews, and about 30-45 minutes editing the sound, upload it to SoundCloud, etc. As a result, I can probably keep on doing it while I work on other projects.
I think I will also write a post on how it all started. I know a lot’s been written already about starting a podcast. However, I think I can definitely add some value by relating it to how to get started in the context of a micropreneur working on several projects at the same time.
A Software As A Service Product
I mentioned before that I have a SaaS (Software as a Service) product called The Task Ninja. It’s a tasks and customers management tool for companies that need to deal with customers and relate them to their tasks.
I would say that The Task Ninja is the project that has taught me more about lots of things. Launching a product, finding customers, marketing, product development, and … yes, failure.
I plan on devoting a whole post to the mistakes I did in the design, development, and release of this product. However, for now, I will just say that I developed a product that is just too generic, not something that can solve the pain of a certain niche. Furthermore, I built a product first and then tried to find customers to sell this product to. This was a huge mistake. And then, I fell in love with my product. That was an even bigger mistake.
Nevertheless, I’m not saying that The Task Ninja is a failure as a whole. I just launched it, so it’s too early to know if it will fly, but I have some insights already.
The Situation Today
Upon launching, I hired an SEO/SEM expert to help me with the AdWords campaigns and positioning the product. The first campaigns have been running for about a month now, and I have had some users (about 5-7 per week) register for the trial period.
However, none of them have converted to paid customers. I’m trying to improve the product to discard any possibility of blaming the software. Of course, that includes a better onboarding experience, more helpful suggestions and tips on how to use the tool, etc.
… New Opportunities
Why am I not ditching the project altogether? Some days ago, I contacted a guy whose business is offering consulting and education to companies about how to manage their tasks and improve their productivity by means of agile methodologies and good practices.
Long story short, one of the key points of their offering is installing a tool and then teaching those companies to use that tool by directly applying the methodologies they just learned. The only thing they are missing is a tool that allows them to be in control of how those companies apply the methodologies and lessons afterward.
Thus, I have the tool and need the customers, they have the customers but need a tool. It sounds like a perfect match. New opportunities coming from old projects?
For this reason, I want to wait until checking if we can get to an agreement that’s beneficial for both parties.
A CTO Position at a Startup
I’m a member of the “Guiripreneurs Madrid” meetup. We are a group of mostly foreign people in Madrid meeting regularly to talk about business and help each other. Guiripreneur is a play on words between “Guiri” (that means foreigner) and “Entrepreneur”.
Our last meetup was a “Techies VS Marketers” meeting. It was a really nice lunch and I was approached by this guy who is building a team for a new business. The idea is to bring a product that is currently working in other countries (such as US and UK) to Spain.
After some talks, I have to admit that I really like the idea and I think it’s a profitable business. Right now, I’m just evaluating what my options are. They offered two possibilities: being CTO and earning nothing (apart from equity, of course) or being paid as a freelancer.
To be honest, at this moment in my life, I would rather be a CTO and build a business than be a developer and build a product. I definitely want to stop exchanging my time for money. I’ve managed to save some money from my previous employer, so I think this is the right time for doing this.
However, I am completely disappointed by the startup scene. I don’t want to play the hype-investment-venture capital game anymore. Thus, I need to really evaluate this option, and how it can fit in my current philosophy of life. Maybe working as a freelancer is not that bad if it allows me to focus in one of the other products.
An Educational App
The other day, a friend of mine visited us. He is a proficient Android developer and entrepreneur. We talked about a lot of different things, and one of them was how difficult for him was to find a very concrete type of educational app in Spanish. He is the father of a beautiful girl called Diana, hence his need for such a tool.
Thus, almost just for fun, we did some initial research and found that all the apps for that market were in English, none of them were in Spanish. Next, we did some light keyword research and found lots of searches for such a product… without products being offered.
Then we started to talk more seriously about the possibility of building an App to cover that niche. We both are developers, so we could build that really fast. We agreed on me doing some more research and then taking a decision.
Doing Things The Right Way
My research proved our points: there was a market actively looking for that software and no competition. There were also no AdWords competitors, as there were no products out there offering that service. As a result, we decided to hire a designer at a freelancing site and sketch an MVP for our application.
This is very exciting, as it will allow me to start the process of building a business the right way this time. First, find the niche and the need. Then, building a product to solve that need. Finally, offering a product that sells itself.
I will let you know about the evolution of this project in a post in the future.
Share Your Thoughts
In conclusion: lots of new opportunities and different paths ahead. Hard for me to decide right now.
I would love to read your thoughts about all these new opportunities. Do you think I should focus on some (or all) of these products? Do you have some advice or suggestions for me based on your personal experience? Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment!