The 7 Reasons Why I Should Not Build Unleak
“You can’t do it again. Your previous ventures were luck”.
As I started to talk about Unleak a couple of weeks ago, two young entrepreneurs from my city, which I never met before, went on and told me all the reasons why Unleak would fail. They knew who I was, not that it matters, but they knew I did build and sold two SaaS companies in the last decade.
I will start by admitting something I would never have done in the past: In the first SaaS company I did build, I had no clue what I was doing. I was a software engineer being promoted to CTO by lack of a proper one, cofounding a company with two people I did not know a lot about.
This company was a total disaster. At one point, one of my co-founders told me that I should kick both of them outside the company and take back everything by myself. “This company was your idea, you build all the tech, and you are doing 80% of the work anyway. Take it back. That would be the best move for you” he said.
I did. I did not expect it to be so difficult. I worked on the company for about a year before a big player in the same field was interested in what I had created. They offered to purchase the company, and even though it was not a lot of money, it was a lot for the time I put in the company. Moreover, I saw that as an opportunity to exit that company which was running into a wall.
Right after that, I went back to my comfort zone: freelancing. While doing so, my accounting became so much of a burden to me that I decided to create a small product to help me with that. What a success, It took me about a minute per week of my time to do all my accounting.
From just myself using the software to multiple thousands of users across 40 countries, this was my most successful venture. In 2016, when I got an offer to be acquired, I realized how this could change my entire life. And it did.
Fast forward to 2020. These two young entrepreneurs are right. I don’t know if I can replicate this past success, but I will try hard to do so.
They mentioned probably 217 reasons why I will fail, but as the mind is a very exciting data processor (without a GDPR policy), I chose to remember only seven of them:
People don’t need what you have to offer
I need what I have to offer. I would have required it twice in the past. I am dead sure I can find others who have the same need as I do. That’s how I built my previous company, and that’s how I think I got successful: solve your own pain.
You don’t have enough money to build it
Nope, not this time! I am also very lucky to be part of a network of angel investors called Anges Québec, and I learned a lot from them (while investing in some early-stage startups). I think that sitting on the other side of the table made me a better entrepreneur altogether.
You don’t have the right team to make it happen
True. I’ll figure this one out. I know a lot of great people, and even though they are not part of the founding team, I will make sure they feel like they do once I approach them to come on board.
Someone will see what you are building, and will make a better version of it
Maybe. But I would be very flattered if someone was waiting for the fact that I commit to this project so they could beat me. I mean, any entrepreneur generates dozens of ideas a day, why bother stealing someone else’s dream?
You will fail at making a user-friendly product
Correct without the right team. I’ll figure it out.
You don’t have any marketing skills
True. But this challenge is the most exciting to me. While I don’t have any practical skills, I learned a lot in the last two years in that field. I can’t wait to see theory fails, and work harder to make it work.
You will lose your focus or burn out
Again, this could be true. I think that the second happens when the first is true. And the first occurs when you don’t know your why.
Ok, great. I’ll do it anyway.
All those questions explains the odds of failing as an entrepreneur. But as with everything, you can find a hundred reason not to. What you need to find is the reason to do it anyway.
I always dreamt of working on a meta-product that uses itself
When I built Momenteo (freelancer accounting tool), I was a freelancer. I slowly deviated from freelancing to full-time CEO. At that point, I would not use my product anymore, and that’s where I lost the passion.
When I see products I love and use like BareMetrics, Bugsnag, FullStory, GrooveHQ, and Intercom, I am so jealous that they get to work with their own product every day. I always wanted to be able to do the same.
I always wanted to work on a developer tool, talking directly with people I understand
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”, said Mandela. Hey developers, we will talk heart-to-heart.
I have substantial expertise when it comes to invoice, accounting, and Stripe
Momenteo taught me a great deal about all the ramifications of invoicing, accounting and Stripe. My roadmap is already jampacked with things I want to do. But one of the things that I learned along the way is to always listen to your customers. And I will because I care deeply for my users.
Seven reasons why I will fail. Three reasons why I should try. This seems unbalanced, but in the end I have a greater purpose.
I want to solve a problem I care about, with people I care about, for people I care about.
With that in mind, I will be laser-focused. I know what I want to do, for who I want to do it, with whom and why I want to do it.