Self Care December 29, 2020

I just killed my product - closing thoughts about Ego role

Matt @malczak

Time to sum up 2020. I'm tech person who just discontinued a side project started at the end of 2018. I have invested some of my money into it. But mostly invested my time implementing all of the stuff (apps, web, automation, etc) behind the idea. Startup was in B2C area and it focused on custom made tshirts from Instagram profiles.

My background is software development and I worked as senior engineer, tech lead and CTO like position. It's not my first failed idea and also there was at least one successful. But this one was different. I thought I knew all I needed to run it successfully and tried to run by the books. The process is not so important as my take aways are.

And I feel sharing them can be useful and pretty obvious at the same time.
After running a longer 'what went wrong' session, I discovered I and my 'Ego' were ones be blamed.

Founder's Ego Trap
tl/dr ego is the worst enemy of a technical founder  —  Hi there, I'm not!

ego denies its existence  —  They are all wrong, you don’t have any issues — carry on.

ego overrates technical sideDo a great software and they will come.

ego compares you with others  —  Oh look — that guy over there is way better. I bet he did his product in single approach!

ego pulls you away from non-technical tasks  — Marketing, validation, feedback  —  who needs this! Great app will defend itself

ego preys on your anxiety  — You should do it better. 'They' expect perfection. Iterations are for weak.

ego will always overrate tiny missing feature  — Without that N-th feature your app is useless.

ego will stretch your MVP  —  People love to have more options. MVPs are for weak

ego will trap you in endless technical considerations  —  You should do it better. Try to micro-optimize it. What will happen when millions of users come?

ego doesn’t like you doing stuff you are not best at  —  You know nothing about marketing. Don't spend time learning it — you're a great developer so let's stretch that MVP instead.

ego will always find someone to blame  — People were unable to see a value. It's their fault

ego will find reasons why you shouldn’t ship  —  Wait! We are still missing something — that one unique feature.

ego looks for praise, doesn’t like validation and criticism  —  Don’t hurt me! You are nothing without me.

ego will push you away from current project to new better one  —  Look there is a new, better opportunity. You have already done a hard tasks. Leave it.

ego expects you to create something revolutionary/unique  —  look at that code/tech/(...)! we can extend it and make a library — people are waiting for it!

ego makes you focus on future celebrations not on road to them  —  after we succeed, we will …

All the best in 2021

  1. 8

    This post speaks to me and i don't like it.

  2. 3

    My fave write up so far. I enjoyed this, reminded me of my mistakes and it made me laugh out VERY loud ( I got strange looks from people as I am in cafe )

  3. 2

    Valid points about the important role of ego in decision making. All the best in 2021!

    1. 1

      Thanks! I Have a great 2021!

  4. 2

    This was really relevant and a good wake up call today.

    I hacked together something a month ago. For the past three days I've been playing with a new screen that does the exactly same thing but in my head I decided there was a better way of doing it. More efficient code. More elegant. Something a future developer wouldn't look at my code and say "what the hell was this guy thinking"?

    I read your post and just copy and pasted my old crappy code and the new screen works. The user doesn't know any different , and I can move on to adding more functionality. I might fix it in the future. I might pay someone to fix it. But now good enough is good enough.

    Your post made me realise I was wasting my time. Thanks for sharing and happy new year.

    1. 1

      Thanks for your comment. It makes me happy to know I've helped you in a way. Best in 2021!

  5. 2

    That hurt - in a good way.

  6. 2

    Resonates, shutting done a product after Dec 31st. Thanks for sharing this, Matt.

    1. 1

      Good luck with next one ;) Best in 2021

  7. 2

    This is awesome! If you only added just one more thing... (just joking!)

    It's always important to remember not to fall into the ego trap, that as you very nicely summarized has many wat to sneak in.

  8. 2

    Don't fall, rise up and start your next project. Good luck with your next project.

  9. 2

    For me, the realisation of this gives birth to amazing new opportunities! I like to call this the second time founder. It's not about no exit or acquisition it's about being able to truly critque yourself and improve as a founder. Awesome hurdle to overcome. Liberating

  10. 2

    Nice write-up and good luck with your next adventure! 👍

  11. 1

    Thanks for writing this.

  12. -1

    This comment has been voted down. Click to show.

    1. 2

      You are right - I assumed, maybe incorrectly, that this is clear from title and intro. These are my personal observations and relate to my own faults.

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