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How we spent $10k on 2 failed products to then generate $100k with just Google Sheets

  1. 7

    Lessons learned:

    • Start small. Solve the problem for a few people. Thinking about how to solve it for millions is a huge distraction.
    • Start simple. Solve problems effectively, not efficiently at first. You may be surprised to learn you can get to 6- or 7-figures in revenue without even building software.
    • Stick with it. They never gave up on the problem, and just kept attacking it from different angles. Lots of people pivot with both their problem and their solution, which is like starting over from zero every time.
    • Pick a proven problem. One reason they could confidently stick with the same problem was that it's obviously a valuable problem. Companies want to hire freelancers, period. If you pick some flashy non-obvious problem, you'll constantly be wondering if anyone cares, and you won't know whether to pivot your solution or to give up and pick a new problem altogether.
    1. 1

      Nice summary Courtland, especially sticking with the same problem part.

    2. 1

      Oof that last point - definitely feel that.

      So attractive to try and find a 'new' problem to solve, but absolutely agree that you'll constantly be wondering whether it's actually worth solving.

    3. 1

      Thanks Courtland - phrased it quite beautifully.

      I would also like to mention one aspect which wasn't covered in my original thread.

      I think bootstrapping our journey was also a very important part of us being able to achieve what we have.

      It allowed us to be patient and at the same time frugal with our experiments. Extending your last point, if we had tons of money, I fear we might have been tempted to pivot, thinking the problem needs changing rather than the solution.

      No doubt, bootstrapping is super difficult and it was. But I doubt if our journey would have been the same or even as fulfilling, otherwise.

  2. 1

    Great experience Karthik. Thanks for sharing! My take away is that most marketplace ideas should start with Google Forms & Sheet as their GTM strategy and focus on sales first. Product should be only built after a certain treshold. Would you agree? In what other business types this strategy would work? And should forms replace the landing page for non-product businesses?

    1. 3

      Thanks :)

      Sure - I do think that for most marketplaces that is a fair generalisation. But it probably also holds true for a variety of different startup ideas.

      For e.g. Recently a friend wanted to build an app where pet parents (particularly dog parents) can store their medical records, get recommendations specific to the dog's breed, etc.

      She started by trying to build an app. Personally, I think that's a mistake. I don't think she is solving her most immediate problem.

      What she is fighting for at the beginning of her journey is the pet parents' attention, without which no app can succeed. Trying to achieve that while also building an app is a tall challenge. Not to mention that once she actually engages with them, she might have a very different view of how she wants the app to be or the problem she wants to solve through it.

      So instead, building an audience on Instagram, a Facebook group, a newsletter with helpful tips, a website optimised for SEO keywords related to the pet industry, etc. might have been far more useful.

      Once she has that, her app's chances of success increase multifold.

      I think the same context can be applied across different contexts. The solution might not always be a Google Sheet, but it can certainly be a low-tech output.

      1. 1

        Thanks for the answer!

  3. 1

    I am now the CTO of a company in Malaysia, that went 2 full years on Google Form and Google Sheet, generated over 2 million MYR (about 500k USD) and raised VC investment. I wasn't with them from the start. But I am sure amazed with what they have accomplished.

    Now that they have investors, I am here to put a better system in place to help with productivity, reduce errors, and better customer experience.

    So I get it when you generate that sum with just Google Sheet.

    1. 1

      Nice - congrats on your startup!

  4. 1

    Is this for Flexiple?

    How does it make money? Like a recruitment agency?

    1. 1

      Yes, it is for Flexiple. I wouldn't call us a recruitment agency - we are a vetted tech freelance network.

      We have pre-negotiated rates with freelancers and mark that up and quote that to clients. The difference is the money we make.

  5. 1

    Great personal experience @karthik_2206! Loved reading the entire thread!

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