Wk 6 - A Portfolio of Small Bets

Bringing my Saas Out of Beta, Placing More Bets

For the last month after quitting my job, I've been building a SaaS project that my old teammates wanted me to make for them. It's a tool for salespeople to chat with their prospects. Like Drift, but customizable for their needs, instead of one giant instance on a site. It's called tryChatty.com.

After a beta period of 2 weeks with 30 users, I'm launching the paid version tomorrow and will be selling my own product on the hunt for my first paying user.

It's been fun and daunting - I'm working with Slack and other APIs in a way I've never worked before. I'm a sales guy, not a developer after all. So I see setbacks mount:

  • Slack making me rework my app to add it to their marketplace
  • Customer data needs disqualify me from working with some of my prospective customers
  • Tying together several systems keeps creating huge amount of bugs
  • Beta users who claimed to want to pay are losing interest right before I release the paid version

And it's creating a lot of stress. I think I know why. There's too much pressure on only one idea. When I quit my job, I did so because I wanted to do work that was at the intersection of what interested me (code + sales) and what the market wanted. This project is only one expression of that. There are a thousand other topics that interest me that I want to work on.

So instead of having Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and so forth, the plan is to have a portfolio of small bets. It will come at the cost of some focus on any individual project, but will force me to focus on the most important aspects of each project. The goal is to find that intersection where the market validates my work. That's less likely to occur if I'm full-in on one project at a time. If I can take a bunch of small bets, I can see where the market is pulling from and follow that thread.

This week, while waiting on Slack, I started this strategy. For one bet, I wanted to continue on the success of a Twitter Bot I made for Jack Butcher. It gets about half a million impressions a month and I want to ethically monetize it. At the same time, I wanted to build Bots for other creators I admire. One afternoon, I did that, and am attempting to monetize them by adding affiliate links to the creator's content within the Bot profiles.

This continued into me buying bestofgumroad.com. I'm thinking that if I can drive eyes to these bots, I can drive eyes to this site where I can take a much larger crack at earning affiliate revenue. This fits in perfectly with my SEO work I'm learning from Detailed right now.

One benefit of this strategy is I'm putting a lot more work out into the public eye. Another is that my lack of being "wrapped up" in any given project helps me stay motivated and energized, and I felt a lot less tired at the end of this week. It's abundantly clear to me that I can put the work in on these projects. I am still after that elusive market validation on any one piece to help me know which way to direct my effort.