If this is your first time reading, I recommend you start with my 6-month challenge and table of contents of weekly posts for the past 23 weeks.
tl;dr Committed 99% is a bitch, committed 100% is a breeze. I haven’t been committed to Cusoy 100% for awhile now and decided to finally let it go. I’ve never been more at peace with this decision before now.
I’m happy with my accomplishments so far with Cusoy. I used to feel really shitty and depressed about pausing it, but it was a good run. I learned a lot. Now putting it to rest and moving on to bigger and better things.
I couldn’t have asked for a better product idea and first experience and foray into entrepreneurship.
I. Putting Cusoy on hold
II. The tipping point
III. Always, always, always ask yourself – “Why?”
IV. Blog pivot from Cusoy to B2B SaaS
I. PUTTING CUSOY ON HOLD
I was increasingly unhappy with Cusoy’s prospects given my current situation: single founder, no revenue, no team and no funding (to make up for $0 revenue). I didn’t want to spend the next 6 months and watch my savings whittle away at incredibly tiny chances of gaining even a single dollar in revenue.
To be brutally honest with you, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve actually avoided all work with Cusoy this past month or so.
It’s just such an uncomfortable, depressing feeling whenever I think about Cusoy.
Regardless of my own original intentions and desires, I’ve realized that Cusoy is not meant to be a small-scale, small-business venture. It’s not built to be a small thing that one person can handle. It can’t be successful just from one person alone.
It’s more like Yelp in scale and scope. At least, that’s what my vision for Cusoy looks like.
Cusoy is not a revenue-first startup.
And that is one of THE biggest lessons I’ve learned so far.
If I could go back, I would not do a B2C startup like Cusoy (unless I had a good team and funding to back it up). It’s just not worth it for me.
I would do a revenue-first, profitable-from-day-1 startup with my investors essentially being my customers.
And that is what I am going to do with my next startup — this time in B2B SaaS.
II. THE TIPPING POINT
I had tried this past month to work 50/50 on Cusoy and B2B SaaS at the same time, but it miserably failed. I valiantly tried but cannot work on these two startups at the same time.
It’s really, really… REALLY hard. Impossible, even.
I don’t even know why I wasted 2 weeks trying to do what 99.9% people can’t do. It’s hard enough doing one startup at a time, why the hell am I trying to do two at once?
I’ve learned to get over myself and my pride in putting Cusoy on hold.
It’s taken a month or two of real talk with myself, understanding the motivations and reasons behind my actions (or lack thereof) and how and why to move forward.
What was the tipping point?
I had a talk with a PM friend who had also tried his hand at startups and failed before joining the company where he is now. Somehow, talking with him about Cusoy and B2B SaaS gave me much-needed clarity and a light just clicked in my head.
Even if I had full product/market fit with Cusoy today, I would not be making money.
Look at Forkly, for instance.
A Foodspotting competitor, Forkly launched in 2010 and shut down in October 2013. They had a team, $900k in funding, 2.1 million dishes, 360,000 downloads, 500,000 dish ratings, and 93,000 restaurants with ratings.
They weren’t able to make it work, money-wise.
Even if I worked for the next six months on Cusoy, I still would not be making any money from Cusoy. I would end up at the same place I am now, constantly asking myself if it’s worth my time (the most valuable asset in my life) and energy.
It would actually feel worse at that point to press pause then, rather than now. I would’ve accrued many more restaurants, set up relationships with them and done the same with users. It would have hurt much more to have to shut down and pause Cusoy six months from now, rather than just “nip” it in the bud now.
User-generated content and a “community” function is extremely difficult to monetize. Cusoy might be good for a side project, but a terrible idea as a crutch to financially sustain myself. Laughable, even.
Also, to give an example of the “nearest” kind of benchmark vision I was shooting for with Cusoy, Yelp is still not profitable. Yelp was founded in 2004 and it’s been 11 years now, even with their IPO in 2012. They could choose to be profitable but are reinvesting their money into the business.
It took them at least 5 years (maybe more) to get to a point where they were really starting to grow and make moves. This is with funding and a team to tackle the problems that they were solving, too.
So, the obvious questions I asked myself are:
- Am I willing to put in the time?
- Am I willing to do what it takes in the high odds of failure?
- Do I truly believe in myself that I can succeed right now, given my current situation?
- Do I believe without a doubt that Cusoy can eventually make money and is financially viable, given my current situation?
- Am I happy?
- What do I want to do? What are my goals? Why am I doing this?
I have a feeling I might get judged for my honesty and un-hardcore-startup-slog-and-schlep-forward mentality with this — but my answer to the first four of those questions was a firm “No.”
I’ll be honest: I’m constantly thinking about my depleting bank account and can’t shake off thoughts of wasting my (limited) time and energy with Cusoy given my limited runway and its enormous scope of requirements for success.
I’m not at a point in my life where I want to invest that much time into a startup without much upside until much later. I don’t want to speak in absolutes, because I really do believe in Cusoy, but I don’t believe I’m at the right place in my life, with the right people and in the right situation to successfully tackle that problem.
I simply don’t have the resources capable to give to Cusoy’s users.
And this is also the thing about entrepreneurs people may not know — though I only speak for myself — entrepreneurs are definitely not the most “risky” people out there who toss everything aside without a thought and jump off a cliff (although it might seem that way). Hell no. I’m not that stupid.
I only take calculated risks if there’s a good chance of success. That’s how I took smart, strategic risks all my life to get to where I am today. The key is being able to intuit and discern between smart risks and blindly charging ahead, with careful attention to your chances of success and risk tolerance at that point. That’s not an easy process and involve highly personal decisions.
And… this was the light that sort of clicked in my head:
It is actually in Cusoy users’ best interests that I first get myself in a sustainable position.
Otherwise, no matter how successful Cusoy is / can be, it won’t be sustainable in the long run if I myself cannot get financially sustainable myself.
Which brings me now to the last two, but certainly the most important questions:
- Am I happy?
- What do I want to do? What are my goals? Why am I doing this?
III. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS ASK “WHY?”
Am I happy?
No, I was constantly unhappy and depressed with Cusoy the past month or so.
The two main conflicts tugging at me on Cusoy at opposite ends: 1) the fact that I wasn’t able to bring it to its fullest potential because I didn’t have the funding or team and 2) it just didn’t fit in with my personal goals anymore or the road to financial sustainability.
I’m a big believer in possibility over probability (look at my track record if you don’t believe me), and it actually hurts me to let things go without letting them reach their full potential. These things actually keep me up at night… I’m not even joking.
If there’s anything that actually physically pains me, it’s when something with enormous promise and potential doesn’t reach fruition and success. I don’t ever believe things can’t be better, be improved, be made faster, etc. and I hardly ever take “No” as an answer.
There’s always a way. There has to be. Or else, I’ll make a way.
That’s been my MO my entire life, and still is.
But I’ve realized that’s not enough for success — it also has to align with what you want to do and your goals and your “why” for doing things.
What do I want to do? What are my goals? Why am I doing this?
What is my “why”?
One of the other hard lessons I’ve realized along this journey for Cusoy is that I come first. I don’t owe anything to anyone with Cusoy, and continuing it or going on hiatus is a decision up to me, not up to the discretion or opinions of others.
With each and every day that I was dragging my feet with Cusoy, I kept asking myself:
- “Why am I doing this again?”
- “What are my goals?”
- “How is Cusoy helping me to accomplish those goals?”
- “What do I really want?”
- “Why am I so unhappy?”
When I started Cusoy, it was to build a great product that solved a problem for a certain group of users.
And I’d say I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far, albeit not fully complete, given its premature stage. But the structure and framework is there; all that’s needed is… everything else — the growth, scale and distribution.
Everything else, that is, except no revenue. No team. No funding.
Honestly, I’m not really sure what I expected with regards to revenue, team and funding… going in.
I had actually zero expectations.
I had no idea what was going to happen.
I had no plans to get an incredible opportunity of meeting with Greylock Partners.
I had no idea how I was going to build my first prototype… let alone go through 3 iterations myself.
I had no idea Rock Health had existed up until this point.
I had no idea how to get my users… let alone get 80+ beta testers.
I had no idea people would actually be interested in Cusoy… until I had 10+ face-to-face meetings with users who voluntarily and happily set aside their time for me.
I had no idea of their pain points when eating out. I had just realized my own mild gluten intolerance.
I had no idea how I was going to make money.
It was all just a huge blur…
And now I’m pressing pause on Cusoy.
It used to feel really depressing and disheartening for me to say this, but I’m not sorry anymore.
I used to worry about what others would think about me, if I was going to severely let me users down, but this is the best decision for myself.
Taking a step back…
All I wanted was to build a great product to solve a problem (wait, didn’t I just say this before?)… that also generates revenue.
That also is an actual business, because I want to run a successful business, regardless if it is a billion dollar company or not.
That “generates revenue” component is sorely missing from Cusoy. Whether or not it can get to that point is not only a question of “if” but a question of “when” — both being extremely expensive and high prices to pay in terms of my time and money.
I don’t have the time or resources to put behind a fun product that users are not willing to pay for since they can easily get a free alternative somewhere else.
I just can’t bring myself to spend the next 6 months of my time (and I value my time above everything else) and money on such fragile dreams of hopes of Cusoy becoming profitable (again, working by myself and doing everything by myself) vs. the alternative of working on a B2B SaaS product that will help me reach my goal: building a great product to solve a problem and also generates revenue.
Such a business will free me to travel the country, travel the world, help pay off my brother’s student loans, help me afford the rent and move to San Francisco and so forth.
…And that is my “why” that always grounds me in all my decision-making going forwards.
What is your “why”?
III. BLOG PIVOT FROM CUSOY TO B2B SAAS
From now on, this blog will “pivot” from my Cusoy updates to B2B SaaS updates.
More posts and information will be forthcoming.
I’ll end this post on some food for thought —
A friend once told me that a very honest investor (rare these days) once told him something along the lines of:
“If I lose my money, I can always replenish my bank account. If you lose your time, that’s your life — that’s gone forever.”
Given all I said above, I believe my time can be spent doing better things than Cusoy; namely, my new B2B SaaS endeavor.
Time is your most important asset.
Make sure you spend your time working on the right things, for the right reasons.
You can’t have one without the other if you want to succeed.
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