The One-Year Startup Challenge

Follow along on this half-baked adventure at NapkinLab.com

What’s this all about?

What’s the point of only working on a project for 4–6 weeks? Is that really enough time to actually demonstrate anything at all?

Who knows.

What I do know is that I am great at talking about ideas but never getting them out the door and (still) have no idea what I want to work on when I grow up. I love the beginning phases of a project, I am a fast learner, and would like to find the ‘thing’ that really captures my attention. A little while ago I was listening to a podcast from Fizzle.co talking about a guy who makes a living folding origami (seriously!?) and how he decided to do a one-year origami challenge after hearing about yet another person who did a one-year yoga challenge. So I thought to myself, ‘why not do the same with businesses?’.

My past is littered with business attempts, some successful, some failed, some that never made it past a napkin drawing, and a few somewhere in between. I currently run a marketing agency and have a couple of side projects which give me a good outlet for that entrepreneurialism. So it probably wasn’t much of a surprise when I pitched the idea of a one year startup challenge to my girlfriend-and-sometimes-business-partner.

I laid out the half-baked idea: I would get 4–6 weeks to build enough of a business idea to validate whether it was worth pursuing further or not, a budget of no more than $100 per idea, and at the end of each period I would have to make a decision on what to do with the idea afterwards (I do still have an actual marketing agency to run, after all).

The overall goal? Play. Just try a bunch of ideas and see if any of them stick. Do any of them interest me more than others? Do I have fun with particular ones? Am I drawn to certain industries or business models more than others? Do potential business partners come forward to work on something together? Cool. That’s the ultimate goal.

It’s a personal growth challenge at the heart of it. If a few ideas end up growing along the way that is awesome!

So I decided to set up a simple site to chronicle the various projects and maybe be a source of inspiration for others who are struggling to get their idea off the napkin and into real life. Check in at NapkinLab.com for more posts or subscribe to the email list for the occasional prompt on what to work on each week.

Need resources to help you out building your business idea MVPs without coding? Check out this forum on reddit where I have been stashing various non-coding tools for building businesses: /r/nocode

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