TLDR; I almost started a business, it wasn’t successful. I burnt over $1000, almost slipped into depression & lost a friendship.
Writing this post is quite hard, to be honest! However, I feel It’s important to document this and put it out there for my future self.
I’d just moved back to my parent’s house for a retreat thing I do towards the end of every year, through to the beginning of the new year. During this period, I go off social media/my phone and try to reflect on the year and finalize plans for the new year. While on this “retreat” I spend time thinking, journaling and reading. Luckily for me during the retreat there was a feature freeze at work so there wasn’t really much going on.
I had the idea for a crypto-based crowdfunding platform. I was excited, it’s a great idea. Around the time I had the idea, I’d been learning alot about Effective Altruism(EA), and had also been lurking in a couple of online EA communities. EA had always seemed fascinating to me, I hope to write my thoughts about it soon. Raise seemed like the perfect idea then. It aimed to enable donors donate funds to causes they are passionate anonymously via ANY cryptocurrency and empower folks to raise funds with ease. I thought about the idea for a day, took a shit ton of notes and bought the domain https://letsraise.io. I knew shit just got real, I was pretty excited and started writing the code. After about a couple days of intense coding/product thinking I had built out the core of the system. Nothing fancy, just authentication and the CRUD logic.
I didn’t tell anyone else, I’lld be going off grid asides from my then roommate. We’d been conversing ocassionally via emails tho'[we kinda met via email, funny stuff]. Another friend who’s also a software engineer had been trying to reach me for a while. So once I felt comfortable enough , I set up a call for the three of us, we hadn’t spoken since the previous year. During the call, I told them about the idea I had with the aim to get one of them to join me with writting the code for the frontend — my frontend skills are non-existent. The third friend thought the idea was cool and agreed to hop on and build the fronted and eventually take charge of the technical side of things.
Everyday since I had the idea for Raise, I’d watched at least one video related to product building, company building and similar stuff[The YC youtube channel is amazing, check it out if you are building anything]. One key thing on my mind was putting out an MVP for what we were building. I’d learned that the single best thing you could do for your startup is to actually put something out as soon as possible. I had a goal of launching an MVP by March. Right now, It’s two days to march and all I have is the backend and unfinished designs for what could have been Raise.
A couple of designers we hired did an unsatisfactory job — designing a product like Raise is extremely difficult. After a while of back and forth with regards to the designs & pace at which I wanted the project to go. The third friend quit the project indefinitely. It was quite upsetting, I was a little devastated. I decided to keep building. I started working on the frontend of the project myself while still studying and learning about the market size, demand for our product. I suck at frontend so I was moving really slowly on that end, I decided to take a break for a week to refresh my almost non-existent frontend knowledge and do more market, user research. After a bit of studying I realised that building Raise was chasing supply with no demand. Raise wasn’t as great of an idea as I though it was. I spoke to a couple of folks as well and they corroborated my findings.
As is already obvious at this point, I’d invested my all into building Raise. During that period, when I sleep I’lld dream of Raise, building Raise, people using Raise. it had become a part of me. It was heartbreaking to see that it wasn’t everything I thought it could be. I was so upset and felt burnt out.
While you might think there’s still a lot of chance to build Raise & I agree. I decided to fail. I realised that Raise most likely would not have the kind of impact I was anticipating so I decided to fail and fail fast. For most people, failure is not an option when working on projects and that is cool. In my case, However, I felt like failure was an option. I’lld rather not work on something than to work on it and not give it my all. I’m not ruling out the possibility of one day completing Raise and launching it, but for now, let’s raise a glass to a failed venture.