Monday, January 30, 2017

You Pivot Before You Even Begin

I have never told you about this but actually I've been trying to launch my own startup last year. It's called The Little Fed and it's going to be this tennis information hub for Indonesian citizens. Go ahead and visit thelittlefed.com and see for yourself.

That's right. You can't see anything. What you're gonna find is just a page saying that the website is still under construction. Yeah it's not online yet. But I could give you a sneak peek 'cause behind the curtain the website has already taken shape.






But here's the thing though... After about 8 months working on it--on my own, that's why the development is really slow--I feel there are some major problems that need to be addressed if I want to give a fuck at all about the fate of my startup.

Problem #1 - You Don't Know How to Generate Revenue


When I told people about my startup, whether they're tennis people, or non-tennis people, they had this similar reaction: "CSR", "Charity", and other synonymous words were their response. That's what they saw. They didn't see it as a profit-turning entity. 

I see it as a business. It's just that I have no idea how to generate profit from it yet. I just want to put this tennis information out there so it helps people who want to start or keep playing tennis.

So why don't you make it a nonprofit then, one might ask? I don't want to make it a nonprofit 'cause I know in my heart of hearts that one day I'm gonna want to commercialize it. So I might as well declare it from the beginning that it's a for-profit business rather than calling it a nonprofit only to have a change of heart later.

Problem #2 - You Forgot to Take It Easy

The Little Fed's dream is to see another Indonesian player playing at the Grand Slam. The Little Fed's dream is to intensify tennis activity in Indonesia. We're not trying to cure cancer or do anything majorly important. So why strain ourselves? Chill and take it easy.

And besides, here's one thing I realized now. A hobby is only fun when it stays as a hobby. When you turn it into work, you take away the fun element out of it. So it simply becomes work. And it's not fun. So I'm gonna have fun with The Little Fed 'cause otherwise it's dead.

Problem #3 - You Don't Own the Technology

It's only been a few months since I first learned Android programming, but let me tell you, it is so, so good to have control over what you have because you're the one who made it. So you really, really understand what it does, its limitation, its potential, and so on.

On the other hand, when I look at my startup, I see that I wasn't the one who developed it. I see that I don't have a web dev to take care of it, develop it further, or troubleshoot when problem appears. In short, I don't own the technology. I don't own the fucking technology. You're stuck, you're dependent, you're disabled, you cannot function properly, and that sucks.

Whatever happens, we want to own the technology.

Problem #4 - You Didn't Notice the Trends They Are A-Changing

When I created the concept of The Little Fed, I chose website as its platform. People are gonna be using the website to access The Little Fed. That's what I had in mind. Unfortunately, in the field of technology, things change pretty quickly, and you gotta follow the trend. And one day I saw this graph that shows how people use the internet. The graph showing the use of desktop is plummeting to the ground, whereas the graph showing the use of mobile technology is climbing up.

Okay, so the trend is people spend more time on their smartphones. This means that, A, either I should have designed the website with mobile-first approach, or B, I should have opted for mobile application instead of website.

So, yeah, seeing how I have a website that was not even developed with mobile-first approach, I'm fucked.


With these problems in mind, I feel it's important to keep certain things always in check. Here's the newest manifesto for The Little Fed if it ever wants to survive:

#1. We're a for-profit business entity. We just don't know how to make money off of it yet. So please no more (major) expenses.
#2. We're not trying to cure cancer. So take it easy, and have fun with it.
#3. Whatever platform we're using, make sure that we own the technology.
#4. Where people are, that's where we'll be. If they are on their phone, we should also show up on their phone through mobile-first website or mobile application.


These kinds of problem only became apparent in hindsight. They've been there all along, but we simply couldn't or wouldn't want to see them because we were in denial for so long. That is, until we could find something else to hold on to.

I don't know how many startup founders share their struggle, but hey, here, a glimpse of startup life.

Signed,

A first-timer