September 11, 2017

Day 1: Some Things to Avoid

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    jhoff! I remember reading your post about the YC interview where Dalton pointed out that your LTV, based on a single data point, was not meaningful (or something along those lines). Nice to see that you're still working on the marketplace for house inspections. Can you talk briefly about what's changed since the last YC application? Apart from the false positives you mentioned, any news on the growth, number of customers?

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      Hey @ploggingdev!

      Dalton’s feedback was very good. We weren’t making a lot of money per transaction. Our model required getting lots of users cost-effectively. We were never able to do this.

      What’s changed?

      • We struggled to grow new users / revenue since the YC app. We tried speaking at realtor events, small fb campaigns, cold-outreach, fancy landing pages, top down through bosses and friendly intros.

      • We were never able to onboard 8 of the brokerages that initially told us the product would be cool. We discovered how seldom the process takes place and how little incentive realtors had to change behavior.

      • We tried adding more features (timelines, chat and more status). I think this just added more friction and never moved the needle.

      • We tried changing the product to focus more on being a tool for inspectors. We HIGHLY underestimated the love the that inspectors had for an existing product.

      • We attempted to pivot to more of a collaboration/chat tool for real estate but never got much pull from customers.

      • We seriously considered joining another real estate startup and got all the way to offers. I knew myself well enough to know that I would be thinking about what to start next in my first week of employment. I really liked the startup and didn’t think that mindset would be good for either party.

      So, I’m continuing. Going to try some new directions, most likely out of real estate.

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        Thank you for sharing the lessons learned as well as the deeper dive into your business model missteps.

        A lot of times we delude ourselves with good ideas (and they may be novel/interesting) but we underestimate their lack of business value. I wonder if there is a way to proactively and objectively score an opportunity before investing too much time.

        Like if the Lean Canvas and NPS had a baby to produce a strong "yes, this should be built" signal from the market.

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          Sure thing @datadavis. 100% agree with underestimating the business value with new ideas. It’s really tough.

          I like the idea of scoring ideas and would love to use it. Please let me know if you put something together!

          These are some of questions I run through in my mind when evaluating a problem.

          • What’s the problem?

          • How close am I to this problem?

          • Who is the customer? (niche/market)

          • How severe is the problem? (small & frequent, big & infrequent…)

          • How does this create value? (save time/money, make money, better experience)

          • Monetization?

          • Existing alternatives?

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            @jhoff - while I personally haven't gotten very far on this, I did stumble across a tool called Javelin ( which is an excellent fit from what I can tell.

            I've gone through their brief Academy (short and sweet/relevant) and have already started on a new project. Check it out and let me know what you think.