November 2019 Check In

A little over month ago, I left Flywheel to focus all of my time on Courtyard. October was the first entire month in the history of this product where I could put all of my brainspace towards launching a new SaaS product. Being a solo founder comes with a set of negatives. One of them is not having a co-founder to discuss progress of the business/product. I find it helpful to review what went well through a week, what I learned and what could go better. Since I don’t have a co-founder, I’m doing this in the open and learning along the way with you.

I’m starting things off in this checkin with a few questions that came out of the YC Startup School I participated in during the past summer. The rest I added / improvised, because they are conversation starters. No specific order…

tl;dr: It took a month to find a work rhythm. I rebuilt the previous project and its 100x better. I’m going to MicroConf next year!

Have I launched yet?
Nope, not yet.
Soon, I’ll be starting a beta / early access. Remember how I did one last year? Looking back, that was a validation and not a early access. My goal is to go into December with an early release of the product ready for use. Then brining in customers who I previously worked or talked with.

Weeks to a launch?
3 – 5 weeks for the early access. Launch for me will be a fairly silent rollout into an early access.

Do I have any paying customers yet?
No one paying yet.

Biggest Obstacles?
This is always a tough question. Previously during YC Startup School, I almost always said time was the biggest obstacle. Now that I have time, I have to say the obstacle is knowing how to use my time. Knowing the best time chunks to block off for focused time has been the biggest win for how to use my time well.

Product development discussion
One first full time day back to work (on Courtyard), I sat at my desk opened up Visual Studio Code annnnnnnnnnnd didn’t know where to start. Looking back, it was absolutely comical of me to think that I’d be ready to hit the ground running after a long break from computers to decompress, a vacation and just not looking at this source at all for a month.

This forced me to get away from the code and take a step back on the current state of the project. Up until now everything I had built had been built off of Bullet Train. Bullet Train to save some time regardless of your skill level. Now that I have more time on my side, I wanted to lay a fresh and familiar groundwork of my own making. So I started a new project.

I spent the rest of the week on a fresh Rails 6 project, a new Bootstrap theme and all the existing backend code. It was actually fun going through a fresh app rethinking navigation, application CSS layouts, rails partials, putting variables in rails credentials, setting up Webpack, writing basic tests, etc. Now all the data in the app has a new home and and the layout makes even more sense than before. It all really came together pretty quick since I wasn’t starting over. I’ll be posting screenshots and such in the coming months, so this will all start to make more sense then.

Oh and I started my GoRails.com subscription back up again. I’m glad I did! I even have reminders setup through the week to watch a new video. I’ve been finding a good rhythm for learning new Rails tricks.

How many trees did you grow?
To remain focus and quantify focused time, I use Forest App. In October, I grew 77 trees, but killed 1. This netted 2258 minutes of focus time for the month of October. Now I start planning a day around how many trees can I plant?

Code contributions and rhythm.
You can see in the code contributions that it took almost all month for me to find my rhythm.

Anything non product development related to call out?
Finished reading the book Atomic Habits. I’ve already set up different habits through the day based on what I read in that book. Heck, if anything I’m more aware of what my habits (good or bad) are. Good book, would recommend.

I finally booked my ticket for MicroConf next year! I have always wanted to attend this conference. I get to go this next year and bring along a bootstrapped SaaS product for people to meet as well.

I spent what turned out to be an entire day working on pricing in October. This was a fanatic exercise and I can say that I finally have begun feeling confident in how I’ll attack pricing the product. Over the last few months when talking with customers, I’ve been trying to identify what the value is. More on that later, but I wanted to recap this happened with great success.

October’s main goal
This last month, I had a goal to deploy the app by Halloween. This didn’t happen. Did the goal fail? Yes. At any point in time during the month, I could have deployed a version of the app to Heroku. So why did it fail? It was just a bad goal. When I reflect on what the intend was around the goal, it was clear that I was looking for a polished / redesigned front end. A version of the app that you could perform all the basic property, contact and chat features, with polish but no connectivity to Twilio and such.

In the end, I just needed to be more clear on the intend of the goal. Speaking of that…

What are some goals for November?

Goal 1: I really need to finalize the name of this product. Courtyard is no more and I’ve had a dozen come and go since then. This month I need to spend effort on branding. This wont’ be easy.

Goal 2: The app needs to be early access ready by December.

I think that’s it for now. Wow you made it to the end! Thanks for reading.Keep an eye out for December’s checkin or reach out in the mean time if you want to catchup and chat. Will I make those previous goals? 👌🏻

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