A few reminders to myself (keep going, listen only to the market, it's okay to quit and pivot, ...)

Did you know that 7 months in, Loom had only made $600?

Pretty crazy given that the company is now valued at more than $1B.

The main reason for their slow start is that they started with a completely different product. In the beginning the team was building a user testing marketplace, which no one cared about. Then they tried building a SaaS tool companies could use to get direct feedback from their own users. Companies weren’t particularly interested in that either. But one team started using the Chrome extension they built as part of their SaaS to communicate with each other. And this Chrome extension eventually became the $1B asynchronous, multi-purpose communication tool Loom.

I think it’s really important to hear these kinds of stories over and over again.

Hardly anyone finds the perfect startup idea on the first try. A lot of things have to go right for an idea to take off. Timing and luck always play an important role.

But it’s super easy to forget that because on social media we only see the highlight reel.

When things aren’t going well, people go quiet. So what’s left is people bragging about their up-and-to-the-right charts.

The reality, however, is that it takes almost everyone dozens of experiments to find an offer that resonates.

Josh Pigford launched 60+ projects over the years and most of them failed. Or check out Brian Armstrong’s Hacker News submission history which is full of failed experiments.

It’s perfectly fine, as my friend Ryan puts it, to go full “throw shit at the wall and see what sticks” mode.

Successful people simply continue to put new ideas, offers, and projects online until they find a winner. They simply refuse to give up when things are not working out.

Yes, every failed experiment hurts. And after 5 failed experiments in a row, everyone is tempted to quit.

But every failed experiment really brings you closer to your goals.

You always learn something. You’re learning how to write better copy and code, learning what people respond to, learning what they’re not responding to.

The first one experiment didn’t work? Do a second one. If that one doesn’t work, do a third one and keep doing it until you’re successful.

Eventually big winners pay for so many experiments. That’s really the core nature of this game we call entrepreneurship.

The second key lesson is that sometimes it’s okay to be a quitter.

If you feel like you’re pushing a boulder up a hill, you probably are and it’s time to pivot.

If the Loom team had continued working on their initial idea, they never would’ve built the category-defining software we all love now. Most likely, they would’ve given up frustrated after a few more months and would now be engineers at TikTok or something.

But instead, they listened when the market told them “Sorry, not interested.”

You can do all the research, all the thinking in the world, but the only thing that really matters is how the market responds when you present a new offer.

The market will tell you if something is sellable or not.

If people don’t want it, they’re not going to buy it. If nobody is buying it, it’s because nobody wants it. Sometimes just people don’t want what you’re selling.

And the only thing you can do about it is to try selling something different.

Eventually you will find something people want.

Written on September 19, 2022

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