Lots of responsibilities but lots of dreams…

I have an MVP app that needs more development before I really can market it.  My beta group research was highly positive.  I’m out of money – been paying for the dev myself – and I do everything up to the actual coding (I do the strategy, wireframes, product roadmap, collaborated with UI/designer consultant, etc.).  I think the best thing would be to find a technical co-founder who can do the next version so I can start marketing.  The major part of v2 is building out the Android version (v1 was just iPhone).

I’m writing this post because I have a lot stopping me.  Mainly: I make a lot of money in software sales as my day job.  I need that day job because I have an expensive life that I love/chose (mortgage in the Bay Area, two kids in private school, vacations, etc.).  I also really enjoy my day job as I love our product/colleagues/leadership.  My night job is being a wife/mother/daughter/friend/etc.  I’m pretty good at burning the candle at both ends and not really suffering (I vary from enjoying it to tolerating it), but I just feel stuck.  I feel overwhelmed which is a unique experience for me.  It is affecting my sleep.  I don’t have a clear sense of what is going on for my app’s backend and know I should get some type of documentation from my dev.  My dev is a shop in Utah who’ve been fantastic but it was really bumpy road getting to them – two failed devs for various reasons – and I was a bit of a charity case since they inherited me from a friend of theirs who couldn’t fulfill his contract with me (he had a horrific family accident that caused him to stop work) so they completed the work for his contracted price.  And as it turned out he had bright shiny object syndrome and wasn’t really building what was required, he was building out of scope.  So his friends had to do a lot more work than what was the remaining contracted price.  They were amazing to me but quite slow because, after all, I was almost pro bono for them.

I’m a pretty logical thinker but the above isn’t that cohesive and that is what is making me anxious.  I feel very out of my element and just want someone to tell me what to do next.  I met with a mentor of mine and they laid out a few basic ideas that I know I should do.  Is there any playbook out there with more of a step-by-step guide on how to go from MVP to money-making venture?

I’m too small to get an investor.  And I don’t really want one telling me what to do.  I can find a bit more money to do dev for v2… should I find a committed dev shop (local to me, making me a top priority) or a co-founder?  That’s my right next step… right?!  If a dev shop, how do I ask my last dev for the right stuff so the hand off is smooth?  Should everything be evident if they put the code into Github?  E.g. does that expose the back end including database, email notifications etc?  I’ve been handed off so many times that I fear there is a bit of mystery about what services are supporting what part of the app (we started at Rackspace and moved to Parse, but I haven’t seen a bill from Parse…)…

Any advice is more appreciated than you will ever know.  I have other ideas that are in line to be developed but I’m not willing to quit this one since I believe it does have legs.

  • Your situation is interesting to Miyagi Sensei.

    You said you are in software sales, and make a lot of money. That indicates you are expert at finding and selling the pain back to the client, demonstrating multiple angles of value, and can effectively utilize your most prized asset: your WORLD-CLASS PERSONALITY. This is a very good thing – Miyagi Sensei is encouraged by this.

    It’s good that you’ve got some v1 traction and market / user feedback too. Don’t stop talking to people, keep that up. But as you said, you’ve got bigger issues and decisions to make. You clearly need a technical co-founder to get over the finish line, imo.

    Personally, I think you need to get rid of the dev shop thing, bring everything back in-house, and start doing what you do best: SALES. Treat this entire exercise as a complex sale; rife with lots of moving parts, influencers, politics, et cetera. Now, this is where your karate communication and persuasion abilities really need to, wait for it….

    …..kick in. (hey, do you guys remember that movie “3 Ninjas”? Such a lame movie by the way.)

    OK, you already have all the intangible selling power and comm ability to sell the dream, resting in the palm of your hand. Pretend for a moment tho that you are extraordinarily wealthy, and have unlimited cash money to build this thing, and hire the right couple of people, etc. Well, your unlimited wealth is your ability to help people, help themselves. Sales. You need a technical co-founding full-stack engineer? Perfect. Go find the best qualified ones you can, interview them, and get into “Discovery”. You know what I mean when I say Discovery, not even going to explain it. But find out if your interests are possibly aligned, are they hungry, do they BELIEVE in what you’re selling and could help you convert the dream into reality, are willing to do it for just equity? 20, 30, 35%, whatever. Be generous, open, and honest. Have no money? Tell them. Sell the DREAM, sell the future. Because hopefully this app does something really useful and helpful for humanity, and they jusssst might want to be a part of that founding team. Need a top-rate designer? Of course you do. Apply the same above method.

    Sell! Sell! Sell, until you have your core team doing this with you, and nobody is getting paid. We are restricted in life ONLY by the limits of our imagination.

    -(Mr.) Miyagi Sensei

  • What you need is a CEO. Clearly you don’t know how to continue, so either you need to find someone who does, figure it our yourself (but you seem to have neither time & money/resources) or just stop.

    What worries me that instead of the product and how you are growing it, how you can generate revenue, how you can extend it in the future you are telling a lot blahblah about how you developed it and how bumpy your road was. While it might be interesting for some people here, it’s completely irrelevant on a business perspective.

    “I’m too small to get an investor”

    No you’re not, there’s no such thing as too small for all investment types. There is seed investment, or you could take money from friends & family (I wouldn’t recommend it) or get a mortgage or a loan.

    What you lack is focus; you CANNOT run 2 jobs at the same time. If you want an investor to believe in your product, you have to believe in the product yourself.

    ” I can find a bit more money to do dev for v2″

    What? You have not sold any copy, you have no plan on how to sell it and you are thinking of the next version? This is so wrong..

    You claim to be a sales person but you are not selling your idea here good, and apparently you are not selling your product either. My words here are harsh but this is reality.

    If you are not making any money out of it, have no plan, have no plan on getting a plan, you should probably consider stopping.

  • Look you mentioned you’re good at sales. MANY tech people would love to partner with a sales rockstar as that’s their Achilles heel.

    You just need to show some evidence that there will be demand because a lot of them like myself have been burned with biz types that make us code for free with a proverbial pot of gold under the rainbow that never materializes. How do you do that? Maybe propose to bring that candidate to a sales call. After you’ve established chemistry and fit of course.

    How do you find the right candidate? Hang out at meetups and participate in hackathons as the biz person. You won’t get the respect but that’s not the point you just want to look for the ones who can deliver.

    Good luck!

  • Give yourself a time limit to find a technical co-founder and if you don’t…then bail. Building out your app without one will not be be possible. I know because I tried and failed.

  • It depends on your product, but I would be tempted to hold out on developing the Android version. It will only add more overhead when you could be learning and iterating quicker with just the iPhone app.

    • I agree with this comment (I sell apps). When your iPhone app is widely successful, you can make the Android version. It may increase your revenue by a few percents.

      In most cases, Android is just a goodie in your revenue. It can’t solve a revenue problem if you are not already profitable with your iOS app.

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