I’ve decided to stop being a bootstrapper and seek angel funding. This entry talks about why.
To set the context: Last year, I quit my day job and decided to experiment with a number of different product ideas.
In the beginning of 2011, I reflected on the year of experimentation and shared my game plan for the year in a blog entry titled: I quit my job. Shipped 2 products. Launched a Services business with clients. Now what!?
As I said in my gameplan, there were a number of hard decisions I made in the beginning of the year.
The most important decision being the one to focus on Tout and double down on it; even though my other products showed promise as well.
The Known Problems in my 2011 Plan
As I set the goal to build Tout to a revenue generating product, I saw two key impediments to actually achieving my goal:
- I was still relying on my consulting business to pay my bills
- I am a one-man team spending 50% of my time (sometimes less) on building Tout
I flagged these as impediments but I was still willing to work through these without any drastic changes since Tout 2.0 had just launched and it was still more of a hunch that it would make a significant impact in increasing user retention, user growth and revenues.
Additionally, I still had consulting contracts that would go on for at-least another two months that I wanted to see through to the end anyway.
I got these customers through my relationships, so the last thing I wanted to do was screw someone over.
Here’s whats happened in 2011 so far
- Tout passed 1,000 users
- We’re close to processing our 10,000th email (note that Tout doesn’t let you mass-email — so that makes 10,000 times that an actual person pressed the Send button on Tout)
- I’m starting to see regular upgrades to Premium — which means some real revenues for Tout
- I’m staring to see the marketing strategies (which were mere theories before) actually working
- I’m starting to see beyond the current version and well into the future where Tout can actually EVOLVE how we use email
- I’m working 80+ hours a week juggling my time between Consulting and Tout
Here’s what I’ve learned so far
- I’ve come to the realization that Consulting is a treadmill. There is very rarely a natural stopping point or transition — especially when it comes to 1-man teams. 37Signals and Harvest may have transitioned but thats about 2 companies out of the ~20 consulting companies and independent consultants that I’ve talked to or read up on.
- I had a ton of reluctance to even think about funding when I was working with theoretical ideas. But as soon as I started to see a product “click” — as soon as I started to deal with support requests with happy customers wanting more, and as soon as I started to see settlement reports in my Inbox…. my entire perspective changed. As soon as I saw traction, all of a sudden, I had ZERO issues looking an investor in the eye and asking for money — because all of a sudden, I was able to map out in my head how I’d not only get him 3x his money in a few years, that I’d also achieve my dream of building my own company and changing how the world communicates.
Ever since I was in 3rd grade, I knew that I wanted my own company.
I never wanted to run a huge conglomerate or anything. I wanted a small outfit of about 10 extremely talented people that worked on a few products that truly changed the world.
Most importantly, I wanted to be working on my vision and my ideas. Thats the vision I had since the 3rd grade, and part of that was the idea that I’d build up my business naturally with no one else’s help.
Now, I don’t know where I got the whole idea of doing it all myself — but as I grew older, as I worked in actual teams, as I managed people, and as I saw how relationships were just as important as ideas, and how a small braintrust of people can actually accomplish a hell of a lot more than one person or a large team, I slowly and begrudgingly started to morph my views of how I’d build my empire.
Call it growing up. Call it turning 28. Call it getting wiser. I don’t care what you call it but what it comes down to is the fact that today, I’m ready.
I’m ready to focus 100% of my time on Tout. I’m ready to build and evolve email through Tout. I’m ready to look an angel investor in eye and tell him or her: put your trust in me and my company, here is why we think we can deliver.