About 6 months ago I started working on a small project. It was a side project. I had this problem that had been bothering me for a while, I talked to friends and colleagues about it. I didn’t have much time to work on it though. I was in the final stretch of my degree and my capstone.
Nonetheless, I got to work. Every bit of free time I had — in the mornings before class, on weekend and late nights — I dedicated myself to building my mini little side project.
About a month later I had a working app. When I say working, I mean it didn’t crash, and it was so far from what I had in mind it was embarrassing. Screw it though, I published it. Nothing happened. I continued working on it in my free time and started building the features that I wanted. To help myself. This tool was truly something that I wanted and in fact had convinced myself I needed.
Apparently, others were interested too. From a simple gif that I posted online, a few people left their email, and wanted to try it out. Initial feedback from these users, my friends, and my roommate was almost null. They thought it was pretty, and some even said it saved them a couple times, but no real praise was given. More concerningly, no criticisms. I think my roommate was just being nice, and the other users simply stopped using the app.
What did I do? I did what I knew I could. I reached out, I asked for feedback, suggestions, and comments. I continued working in the background, constantly iterating. Low and behold, after some time, I got some feedback. Some good, some bad. I thanked everyone who responded and told them to keep sending any feedback. I fixed things, I changed things, I iterated.
As more and more people tried out the app, I kept on reaching out manually and continued the cycle.
Now 4 months in, I had gone full time on this “Side project”. I committed myself to seeing through my vision. I did however, take note daily of the looming stress of not having any real income, and dedicating 95% of my time to something that I simply just wanted to work on, not that had any promise or guarantee of success. I was, you could say, building a small startup.
Things intensified, I decided I needed to make this thing real. I needed to focus on the early adopters who were willing to pay for an unproven tool — the ones who provided real feedback, were invested in the tool, and actually wanted it to succeed.
Unfortunately, the situation just got tougher — users had lots of praise but also equal amounts of confusion. I continued pushing forward, continued iterating, stretching my days to as long as possible; essentially working for as long and hard as I could, fueled only by small plaudits from users. I was making a sacrifice familiar to so many founders, managers, hackers, nomads, and the like. Your friends, family, and other life aspects suffer while you work. While you commit yourself so wholeheartedly to a dream. It sounds aspirational, but it is in fact a very daunting, unrelenting, daily struggle.
Finally, someone very close to me snapped. They said, “I’m tired of seeing you do this, working away at nothing”. This wasn’t new. Doubt and disapproving judgements were constant. I reassured and tried to communicate my vision. No luck.
This weighed heavily on me. Really I only faced two options. Give up, and get on with a normal life. Or continue working on my dream, at the sacrifice of myself, friends, and family.
I chose myself.
Not 30 minutes later, and the reason for writing this piece, I received an email. I will never forget this moment. I received a notification that one of my users became a paying subscriber. A small light in a dark, lonely cave. I felt a rush of emotion.
I am writing this to tell myself, and maybe even you the reader, do not give up. Do not lose hope. Stay ever optimistic, foolish, and persistent. Evaluate yourself and your dreams daily and improve. Do not give up simply because they aren’t working out just yet. People on the internet, your own doubts and family will tell you to give up. To “stop wasting your time”. Your dreams are your dreams, own them. I will end this with a quote that has stuck with me:
"I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got." – Walter Cronkite
PS if you’re feeling down, need some motivation/advice/ or just someone to talk to feel free to reach out. I’d be more than happy to chat.
If you want to checkout the tool I’ve been working so hard on you can see it here: https://www.partizion.io/
Stay hungry, stay foolish,