2021 = 12 startups, 12 months, 12 cities

Hi everyone,

I announced on Twitter recently that I will be attempting the impossible - launching 12 monetized products in 12 months from 12 cities.

I'm already a digital nomad and have been working on a few side projects but I am horrendous at actually shipping. I'm hoping that this challenge will change my mindset to 'ship ship ship.' I have people following me and looking forward to the products, but they're also aware that I'll be making them in 4 weeks each, so quality expectations aren't high (hopefully)!

The idea came from the amazing Pieter Levels who did this 6 years ago, and I've been inspired for a while. Thought I'd take the plunge and do it in 2021. Only reason I'm waiting is because I'm hoping to launch a rather big product around the end of 2020.

I'd love to hear if any of you guys have attempted something similar, and what your thoughts are! I'm honestly SUPER ready for it - I'm so excited!12

  1. 19

    I've been on this journey. I managed to launch 7 startups in 7 months, then the motivation fizzled out a bit after not seeing much success. Then I restarted it, pivoted a bit, and now have a SaaS business that's doing decent MRR and growing (fingers crossed).

    Arguably, I wouldn't be here were it not for all the failures, semi-successes, learnings that I had along the way. So I think it was the right choice for me. I think this framework is especially good if you want to practice shipping / execution. Timeboxing and launching once a month really exercises that muscle.

    If I was to do it all again though, I would focus all my startups on a particular theme. There's a compounding effect that you'll get from doing this e.g. users of one product can also use another product, and this will lead to more of a growth engine once you are on your 4th, 5th, 6th product. For me, all my products were completely unrelated so I wasn't able to capitalise on this effect, which I regret.

    I notice you have an existing product related to coding interviews - that's a theme with huge potential, I would personally focus on building 12 products for that ecosystem.

    I'm not sure it will be that helpful but I wrote a little about each startup I launched, on my personal blog - https://blog.yongfook.com

    1. 2

      I agree with the compounding effects of building related products, but I think there's the danger that if you plan this way you actually end up doing long-term planning and building one large product with 12 interdependent features instead of really focusing on shipping things and seeing where that takes you.

    2. 1

      I've thought about the 'theme' as a kind of Unified Theory of Musk.

      It may seem at a glance that you are starting a bunch of unrelated companies, but in reality they all compliment each other in intricate ways. I guess the difference in this approach is that you shift the common arc from a 'theme' (an industry or an audience) to your personal area of focus or long term goal, enabling you to play with several seemingly unrelated products/industries but actually creating a unique synergy by bouncing them off each other.

      P.S - I am about to embark on my own 12 Start-ups in 12 Months journey, so I'll probably be updating my views on the above as I get more hands on experience :)

    3. 1

      Was to say the same about creating for an ecosystem.
      Find an audience you truly connect with and create tools for them. You will eventually also earn their trust, which will make your later launches better.

    4. 1

      The theme tip is great, thank you! At the moment the ideas I have are all over the place, so maybe I'll try to figure out how I can tie them together somehow.

      I've been following Bannerbear for a while (congrats!), but had no idea you had also attempted the 12 start-ups idea!

    5. 1

      Good job with Montage. I just tried it, and it's really useful for a quick prototyping. I think you should invest a bit more on that project!

  2. 5

    That sounds insanely challenging to me but if Pieter Levels did it, then I guess there is precedent. Good luck to you! My goal for 2021 is 1 startup, 1 year, 1 city. Not as catchy though.

  3. 2

    Ooo this sounds fun. It will be a great learning process. Build to ship! 🛳️

    What is the hardest part of finishing a product for you?

    1. 2

      Mainly I just feel like it's just never finished. There is always more features or polishes or bug fixes!

  4. 2

    I like the phrase! Let me know if one of the cities are Oslo. I am thinking of doing something similar in 2021, let's keep each other accountable

  5. 2

    So great that people are pushing themselves so much and these story helps us to motivate and asking ourself that what on earth we are doing right now . Good luck with your journey .

  6. 2

    i am envisioning you at the end of 2021 being highly successful in this project.

  7. 2

    Good luck, and happy travels!

  8. 2

    I think it is important to note the distinction of building a startup or releasing a product. Even more, the difference between the validation phase and the launch phase. Selling a book, or any other info product, has nothing of building a startup. Releasing a landing page has nothing nor of product nor of startup.

    Each one has a different scope and they are all valuable steps in one's journey.

    Of course, you can use just the idea as a self-promotion stunt: releasing 12 things will force you to get a decent exposure at different circles, use the first 7/8 to gain an audience, followers and learn what you need to learn so the last 4/5 are actually able to at least try to make them a business.

  9. 1

    Hey Cat! I am a UX designer and looking to partner with any startup founder for designing their product. Please let me know if you're looking for a UX designer?

    I can design a website, landing page, add any new feature to your website.

  10. 1

    Thanks for sharing! I am just about to embark on my own 12 Start-ups in 12 Months journey so very excited to connect with other fellow makers! I would also LOVE to be able to do 12 cities, although that part is looking a lot more challenging with the whole covid situation. Maybe if I were able to do 12 cities within Australia and New Zealand (home and travel bubble).

    Good luck!

  11. 1

    Exciting, joining this challenge myself now. Excited to see what will come out of it :)

  12. 1

    I'm wary of launching a bunch of products and doing no promotion. Over time you'll discover the promotion part is 100x harder and wish you focused more on it :)

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