mistakes

A story of my first software failure experience

One night in 2008, I started working on what I thought was going to be an easy to use, one stop-shop software that would disrupt property management industry, make even happier both property managers and their customers, myself included!

For over than 2 years, I used my free time to solve any problem related to property management, such as making payments, report plumbing problems, dispatching tasks to contractors, and even short term rentals for meetings or tenant parties, just in case my potential clients had a free room for that.

Even thought I never considered that as an option, the first professional who heard about it suggested to open source the project, which I declined for the sole purpose of building a company around the product. More ideas kept flowing, more lines of codes followed them, till I realized that the project was growing too big for one person who doesn’t even work full time on it. Solution, find a partner.

It took a while before turning to all professional social networking, scanned LinkedIn and local Meetup gatherings with a hope to find a co-founder. Luckily, one guy made a demo of a solution that was exactly like mine, except that he was working full time and landed first customers already. “Are you ready to quit your job?” he asked, “No” I answered, and obviously a “We can’t work together” type of answer followed.

Sky is limit they said, co-founding failed, why not trying out an investor. The first opportunity came from my former employer. I pitched the idea and demo-ed a prototype in less than 5 minutes, which was not bad for a first time experience. The second part of “question and answer”, also known as “Q&A”, eclipsed the good progress I made in first part, mainly for two reasons. One, the failure to prove how easy data acquisition would be; second, the failure to incorporate a winning strategy for customer acquisition and retention within the application.

Given that a not so perfect prototype were pitched, time to market turned out not to be clear enough, in addition to two failure points mentioned in previous paragraph, it became hard to foresee the return of investment and estimate more accurately payback period, in an eventuality that any money were allocated to the project.

The project was discontinued a couple of months later, for the lack of interest and complexity I brought to a project that were supposed to be small in beginning, and joined instead a friend’s idea, which also became my first joint failure experience, web gods only know when I write about it!

To make a long story short, working on a project whose prototype goes beyond 3 months became irrelevant to me, the more I fail the shorter that time-span becomes. A clear understanding of a problem, choice of the best solution, the former and latter summarized in less than 140 characters, became my indicators to lean in or not to. In process, I learned that a side project can succeed just as any other project. I subscribe to the idea that an A/B testing is way better than surveys, when it comes to validate an idea. I therefore think that launching from day one, and improve along the way may work better than launching a full fledged product. At end of the day, products are not indelible, not to mention possibility to recruit co-founders of find investors among early adopters.

transltr.io lets developers rather focus on core features than translations, no it is not a google translate replica. By the way, I am working on a story of what I have learned so far while crafting its magics!

PS: This essay was first published on Medium.com on Aug 19th 2014. Since then many things happened, including un-plugging transltr.io and start working on hoo.gy

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