Tell mom, count cash

I’ve launched the first version of Datomni product, Dataflow.

Tomorrow I’ll embark on the second 2-month development cycle with the team. We’ll materialize the first round of market feedback, both qualitative and monetary, and improve product scalability.

Before I do, I’d like to have a brief look at what just happened.

Facts

- 2.5 months of development

- No outside money; financed entirely through the operating cash flow of the company

- Clients including leading e-commerce store and the biggest property developer in Poland

- Full deployment among the incumbent clients

Lessons

Manual service is a great way to detect the areas of market inefficiency and see the competitive landscape. It took us 9 months to understand what needed to be built. By now I know the majority of user analytics suites and I know their gaps. I’m eager to solve them with my product.

Once you detect the problem and build a prototype, run to your incumbent clients and get their feedback. This should happen within the first 30 days of development. Your product won’t be perfect, but if you communicate responsibly and shed a proper light on it, nothing bad will happen. I suggest inviting your clients for a demo dinner or coffee. Perform a demo outside a normal work setting. Don’t mix the two yet.

Once you have anything tangible up, start selling. Months can go by on ideating. This is a trap and a slippery slope. Coming up with ideas is not work. Pull the trigger, put down lines of code and listen. Never lose a contact with your market, even for a day. Save yourself being an artist once you have > $1 mln ARR and lots of paying clients. Count cash.

Revisit the first principles every day. Why you’re building this, who needs this, why would anyone care. Do thought experiments. Play with different assumptions. For example, suppose for a second you’re wasting time on this and find where this take you. Think where the world is going. Do you even have the problem nailed down. Tell mom. Test all suppositions with clients. Be detailed about what needs to be built. Expand the solution space by asking brave questions. Look stupid at least once a day.

Once you’re ready to deploy the product to incumbent clients, make it a big day. Send a newsletter, get on a call or a plane. Your clients are busy, make this moment a highlight of their day.

Build, learn, repeat, listen to mystical music.