blog post

12 Businesses In 12 Months

I want to make an official challenge out of my plans to get deep into early product validation. Therefore I am announcing: 12 Businesses In 12 Months. In this post, I will talk about my aims, challenges and what kinds of experiments are part of this challenge.

Published November 21, 2021

It was through reflecting on the last 12 months in this blog post that I came up with the desire to execute more validation experiments, especially quantitative ones. I already wrote about the first one of those experiments here and I am launching the second iteration of the second one just now.

By now I've gotten a good sense for what's needed to pull off those experiments and how much time it consumes. That's why I want to make an official challenge out of this by announcing that I will be validating 12 product ideas over the course of one year. Or: 12 Businesses In 12 Months.

As you're likely into product, I think this challenge might be of mutual benefit: You, my readers, are my commitment device and I will share all my insights in return. To stay in the loop, subscribe to this journey.

To kick things off, in this post I will:

  • Write about the aim of the challenge,
  • explain what will be hard about it
  • and what kinds of experiments I will choose

omethy y u do dis

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In the blog post mentioned above, I already said how I identified the need to acquire more experiments with the kinds of experiments we advise our customers to do.

I'd like to be at the point of having or discussing an idea and instinctively know which setup is fastest, cheapest or most reliable for validating that particular idea. In the best of all worlds, I'll already have done a very similar experiment and can give advice from first-hand experience.

This is my primary objective.

But apart from this aspect of learning, I'd like to build a track record for this kind of early and fast product validation.

The last aim is to build passive income streams. This one's the most unlikely to happen, at least in meaningful quantity, especially because crossing the chasm between a more or less validated idea to a business that works without much work requires a lot of work which I'll most likely not have. Which brings me to the hard parts of this challenge.

What's so hard about this?

Oy Timothy, you always say them pretotypes are so fast 'n all, so what's so hard about this?

I think that there will be 2 main hurdles in this challenge:

  • time constraints
  • nothing sticks
  • a lack of variety in the experiments

My current state of mind is that a good fake door pretotype will take roughly 4 hours to build (either with or without code, doesn't matter) and another 2 hours for creatives, copywriting and ad setup. Each iteration will likely take another 2 to 4 hours for reviewing the data and changing the page, copy and creatives.

Carving 4 to 6 hours out of my week just for this is sadly not that easy for me, especially since writing about this challenge as well as my other learnings takes another good portion of my time. Parallel to my full-time job, political activities and chores, this will be my main free-time activity and I will need to spread it over the course of a week. Which is great, since it's also lots of fun. But a bit of external pressure doesn't hurt, either.

What I can't foresee right now is wether or not any of those ideas will actually stick and I am able to identify the necessary countermeasures. If not, I can't say for sure what the impact of this will have on my morale.

Therefore, but also to explore how to make the experiments even faster than they are now, I will try to vary the setup and the kinds of experiments quite a bit. I have an idea in mind that will likely not need a landing page at all, for example. I still fear that my main approach will be landing pages and paid ads. I will likely choose ideas based on a good approach to validation to maximize learning and get the most value out of this.

Which brings me to the last part of this post.

What exactly will I do?

My colleague Josua and I conducted tons of problem interviews already (I wrote about it here) and by I now they feel both straightforward and slow. Because of this experience, I feel like the learning opportunity is bigger for me with quantitative experiments.

And that's why I will concentrate on a quantitative approach. This is not to say that I value qualitative approaches less, quite the opposite! The juicy insights, even in a quantitative setup, are coming from session recordings and follow-ups. I will write more about this in one of my next posts, though.

Others have done this, of course

Whenever I talk to my serial entrepreneur friend Johannes about anything, he usually knows someone who's already done something very similar. Be it a product idea, a blog post or a challenge like this one.

That's how I found out about Pieter Levels and his talk on How To Build A Startup Without Funding from 2018. In this talk, he shares his approach to moving from idea to exit and talks about how applied this to his own challenge named 12 Startups in 12 Months. I like his approach of just-in-time learning a lot, so definitely check him out.

My approach is different as my primary aim is not generating income but learning and experimenting. I thought about changing the name to make it less similar (and also because it's not correct, either, I'm not building actual legal entities or making any revenue), but I like the catchiness of it enough to accept the similarity.

I will conduct many of these experiments with my colleague Josua. He will start writing his own blog soon and you will likely find a second perspective on the same approaches there.

Timothy Krechel

Innovation Consultant

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