Failing fast

The past 12 months have been an interesting period. I left corporate job, took a break, and pursued building a product.

I had several ideas that I was interested and eventually I settled on developing digital marketing platform for small businesses. The specific problem space already had a few deep pocketed players, so that serves as market opportunity validation. I just had to find a differentiated go-to-market strategy that works for me.

I built a rough prototype quickly, showed it to some people and gathered some feedbacks. Based on potential users feedbacks, I adjusted the product roadmap and started building. I put in crazy hours, more than when I was in corporate. Learning as I built, I juggled priorities and wish list and in about four months, I had a minimum viable product ready.

And yet something bugged me on the technical side; under the hood, the MVP was badly fragile. I know MVP is meant to be put together as soon as possible, but my goal was that viable = sustainable. I did not have outside investor and I had enough runway, so I decided to rewrite the platform. That was a tough decision, but in the end, I was super glad I did it.

Then I applied for Google login authorised app status and this took longer than I envisioned due to my shortsightedness. (The Google Cloud Trust and Security Team was very patient with me. Thank you folks!) Developing the marketing content and marketing video also took more time than I planned.

All done, I soft-launched. And boy was I surprised with the things that broke down when new users tried the platform, but I fixed them quickly and I had not had any problem again, so far.

The platform was running serverless at Cloudflare (Typescript + React) and data was hosted at Supabase. Web analytics was custom built, running serverless at Cloudflare also. On technical side, it seems performant and sustainable.

Despite all that, I decided to shutdown the platform. It is a long story, but to keep it short, let's say it is because I do not see “product-market fit” at this time with what I wanted to do. The business outcome is not ideal, but the personal journey has been rewarding.

Let me explain from the perspective of “Fail Fast, Fail Often” – as one of the authors, Ryan Babineaux outlined in 5 Tips to Succeed by Failing Fast.

  1. Try things like a beginner, not an expert
  2. Go see for yourself
  3. Get going with the smallest investment
  4. Be ready to change course
  5. Do things badly as fast as you can

I did all those.

And in the process, I learned a ton and I had fun. I think I succeeded in “failing fast”, so it is a happy conclusion for me, at least for now.

All things considered, I am truly blessed to have had this opportunity. And now, on to the next thing.

Photo: Pexels

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Related: If you are into tech stack, I wrote about the stack that I used here.