Should I quit my startup? Honest assessment needed


#21

Gospel! Gospel!


#22

Yes, and the answer lies in your response below to my question on how much are you making for your customers.

I spoke to a CEO of a consulting company today who revealed to me that they haven’t gotten any new deals all year. This is the new normal for a lot of Nigerian companies. The recession is affecting them directly or their customers directly. Saving money is great but nothing motivates better than making money.

So in answer to your question, you may need to “tweak” your business model and possibly your product so that it can drive in new revenue for your customers. Perhaps adding a consumer interface to it in a way that increases distribution and enables payments? You know your product best and I’m sure you’ll do what’s best.


#23

You: I’m sick can you fix me?

Doctor: Okay what’s wrong?

You: I dont know just dont feel too good

Doctor: Headaches?

You: I dont know

Doctor: You lost apetite?

You: i dont know

Doctor(Me): just fuck off!

You really haven’t given much information beyond the vague "My startup aint making much profit " which is the norm right?

Your Market? (Nigeria, US? Worldwide?)
Industry? (Health, Beauty, Enterprise)
Buyer Demographics?
Do they already use something else?

for instance Agriculture is seasonal and thats obvious right? did you know education is seasonal too?? plus it allows for someone with industry insight to quickly spot exactly whats up people only steal something already making profit plus if its that easy to steal you dont have a business i mean where is that high barrier to entry competitive moat? warren buffet shit

For me it all ties back to how much market research you did when starting for instance

if there is no other person excecuting some form of the same idea (HUGE REDFLAG!!)
that would mean some hidden pitflaws you dont see (like the certain issues you talked about)

also if you are trying to be cash flow as soon as possible a.k.a get paid ASAP you shouldn’t be in the business of changing human habit like humans are VERY difficult

You spent 2 Years developing a solution? REDFLAG!
Why is that a bad thing? Because you now have roughly 20 customers after > 2 years
My Math: $400 / $20 = 20

WEAK MARKET RESEARCH
Your market research was most likely shoddy based on paper numbers & not a real test like actually preselling / a demo to the real customers (i mean thats the reason you are even asking about this question)

You went and built a software product for over 2 years before getting 20 paying customers to validate your MVP (dont you read all those fancy medium silicon valley posts? :smiley: )

DID i HEAR ONBOARDING?
High touch sales and onboarding should only matter when your Customer Lifetime Value is high which it is not at this stage your users should “just get it” because god forbid you have to physically teach 1000 customers how to use that thing :joy:

QUICK FIX?

You can test education if onsite supervision is giving good results how about create a video (hint: thats a scalable way to mass educate your users) and FORCE them to watch it before the software can be used

I heard “leads” hope you are not doing that internet marketing blogging bullshit :joy:
3 leads (even if it were 3 qualified leads) is WEAK as in W E A K

if your target lives in same locality you probably should pickup the phone , “call” 100s of them DAILY and set appointments with not less than 20 of em

And oh by the way Interest means Nada!

since you can’t withdraw it from an ATM


#24

Your story sounds very similar to mine. I started a health tech saas startup. Pivoted 3 times in as many years. Experienced all you have and more and i’m still at it. In fact, we are currently negotiating another mini pivot.

Like @Utee said, very few people really get health in Nigeria and there’s no place to go to benchmark yourself against. This is exactly why I started Digital Health Nigeria.

The logical answer for many people currently working in Nigerian health tech is to quit because it’s hard and painful with little prospects for success.This however doesn’t account for the fact that the very few that get into are driven by a passion and motivation to succeed at all costs.

I’ve been told to quit too many times to count but the prospect of fulfilling my vision of a much better health care system for Nigerians is bigger than any short term pain we currently face.

Send me a DM let’s take the discussion further. Who knows, we might end up joining forces in some way to make the journey easier.


#25

@docneto, so, I hopped on your blog and read this https://digitalhealth.com.ng/2017/08/21/5-things-different-startup-again/

I think this aptly summarizes the best piece of advice to OP or for anyone. [quote=“docneto, post:24, topic:14908, full:true”]
Your story sounds very similar to mine. I started a health tech saas startup. Pivoted 3 times in as many years. Experienced all you have and more and i’m still at it. In fact, we are currently negotiating another mini pivot.
[/quote]


#26

How has growth been?


#27

Growth is immaterial outside of product product market fit (PMF). We were able to grow very predictably but continued to churn users. Hence we stopped focusing on growth but instead on PMF. This PMF has sadly been elusive for many of us working in health tech, just like it has for you. Constant iteration and contact with users is what will hopefully get us all there.

The Challenge is that chasing PMF is expensive and thankless and often from the outside seems like you’re wasting your time. The same Airbnb that’s a wild success took sometime to get PMF and re-launched a number of times. My own favorite health tech entrepreneur almost lost everything before he finally caught a lucky break. Read about him here

To comment specifically on your initial post. 13 months is still very early. The 2 years you spent developing your product don’t really count for much. It’s cliched and of course hard to do but the product should have been built in the hands of users.

You will have to do things that don’t scale, another cliche but it does work. Stories abound of people even in consumer stuff that go out to individuals to demo the app one by one. Pinterest is a prime example. A behemoth now but the founders went round to individual people and places when they started out. How much more relevant if you’re targeting businesses. The largest mileage I get every time is when I personally go to my users and work with them.

Onboarding as you’ve said is key. Will money help that? Maybe but you can’t know for sure. Your team (read you) needs to go onboard people individually. When we do it, we see way more engagement. I bet you will too. Doing this will give you extra insights into what to build to help your customers better.

What about customer success? Are you in constant touch with them about their goals with your product? We know our customers closely and make sure we are helping them achieve their goals. This has enabled us build more features that increase our stickiness. Our latest feature is now in high demand even though it’s not yet stable. People we were chasing before are now the ones begging us for the pricing of the new feature. All this has been years in the making. We’ve fought many thankless battles in the trenches. We’ve gone without salaries for years, trekked under the hot sun and taken numerous rejections. We can now just about see some light at the end of the tunnel but even that is not yet sure.

The eventual assessment for anyone working in health tech is that you’re unlikely to be successful in the short term. All roads should point to long term thinking. The question is do you have the grit and finances to last that long. Your passion for health is what will keep you at it, it has for me.

I’ve been depressed just like you have, I’ve even questioned my very existence. We have a whatsapp group for health tech entrepreneurs and we try to support each other through the difficult and depressing journey. Something like a ‘digital health anonymous’. You’re welcome to join.


#28

From all that you said, I only see one major product problem you should address - your existing users (staff) adoption rate is not encouraging, they dump your product and lie to their boss that it is not working - my dear, it could just be a simple tweak to your product feature and daily/weekly app reminder that will get these employees usage rate high.

Usage rate is all you need to drive sustainable revenue.


#29

I think you should have been part of the last Google Launchpad Start Bootcamp that took place in Lagos. A lot of other startups are in the same shoes. SaaS for African enterprise is very hard. Even established Silicon Valley giants struggle to sell in these parts. The most successful SaaS plays I have seen do not focus on geographical markets. The most interesting local SaaS startups I have seen found markets surprisingly far outside of Africa.

Customer inertia is a global problem but probably worse in a place where the value proposition is not very clear as there are no competitive pressures forcing adoption. Productivity gains alone will not make people use products unless they are up against the wall.

Let’s talk more about your startup. hit me up at asemota@gmail.com


#30

@unemployed :point_up: You really should!


#31

@temiyemi shared this video with me and it is quite insightful considering the speaker was also in process improvement SAAS.


#32

So far this has been one of the most insightful threads in Radar. Big ups to everyone who contributed.


#33

Interesting business model innovation problem. I think the problem is how you charge for the software. While it has the potential the product doesn’t sound like isn’t positioned to solve your customers number 1 or number 2 top of mind issue TODAY. .

In this market selling software at scale requires you to leverage what I call outcomes thinking. It is essentially asking the question what is the business outcome that is top of mind for the owner which is attainable using your your software. A secondary question can be what outcome does the customer get from using your software. Then you build around that outcome and charge for that outcome and not the software.

What do I mean?

Let’s assume you have is a health tech startup that allows a small clinic to digitize health records. What is the outcome to the business owner - it certainly isn’t the digital records. Paper is just as good for him.

The outcomes for a business is almost always

  • more money
  • less problems

So you really have to think about how you can help the business owner get to those two outcomes. It almost always means finding a value exchange interface between customer and business. You really have to be open minded and creative about it.

For example have you considered the fact that the person who could pay for your software need not be the clinic but the patient. The patient always has to pay an enrollment fee. How can you help the clinic collect that more efficiently by booking the transactions through your software. (Hint : this is a more money, less problem solution). More money - better collections. Less problems - fraud.

How can you help the patient carry their medical records about and by so doing enable clinic access to more customers near them and spend less time trying to get a customers details when they come in for an emergency (this Could mushroom into a digital micro insurance later and you can sell other things to the patient)

In any case it requires you to be super open minded and not stuck on Saas or no saas. People pay for technology that practically solves their problems or makes them more money. Create value and capture value creatively.

Again - the key to selling technology in this market is the biggie antidote, how can it help my customer make more money with less problems.

Good luck!


#34

1: “Solve your customer’s number 1 or number 2 top of mind issue TODAY.”
2: “More money, less problem solution.”

This is quite apt. I think number 1 is something we urgently need to work on. While we are actually solving problems for these businesses I don’t think the problems our product currently solves is a top priority for our customers. So while they’re interested in the product, they keep procastinating because every morning they wake up and go to work on their most pressing problems.

My partner and I will spend some time thinking about this and interviewing our current and prospective customers to figure out how we can fix an immediate problem our target customer has. Something that would push them to commence usage immediately. Once they commence usage of the product it will be easy to get them using our other offerings.

Thanks.

PS: Since I started this thread our revenue has just about doubled and we are currently doing exactly $945 monthly.


#35

Just came in to say I’ve learned a lot in this thread. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

Happy New Year!! :tada: :confetti_ball:


#36

To Pivot or not to Pivot:

You may come to a point where you are simply unhappy with your traction. You may not be able to raise funding or you may just feel things aren’t taking off the way they should. How do you know when to pivot?
We strongly believe that many startups give up way too early. A lot of startup success hinges on choosing a great market at the right time…Its important to wrap your head around this timescale (it took DuckDuckGo, a search engine startup 4 years to see a growth explosion due to NSA leaks and Privacy concerns that became the national consciousness). If you are just starting out, are you ready to potentially do this for the next decade? In retrospect, a lot of founders feel they picked their company idea too quickly, and they would pick something they were more passionate about if they had realize it was such a long haul. A startup can be awesome if you believe in it: if not, it can get old quickly.
If you are considering a pivot, the first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it is only a few dedicated customers. If you have such engagement, you might be giving up soon. You should examine these bright spot to see how they may be expanded. Why do these customers take your product so well? Is there some thread that unites them? Are they early adopters in a huge market or are they outliers? The answers to these questions may reveal some promise that is not immediately evident in your core metrics.


#37

I was wrong about this. Growth numbers have actually gotten better as we grow.


#38

The truth is, in Nigeria we don’t take automation seriously… Start marketing in advance countries such as India, UK, US, South Africa, Canada etc…

Truth must be told, you are not taking your marketing seriously if you only considering Nigeria a target market

If your software solves problems, market internationally after making your your best case country research


#39

Please what is the name of ur products, the web site and the trial details


#40

Lol, after the tips you’ve given, any need to die? You should work with this entrepreneur and keep $50 of the $400 :wink: