Overcoming Adversity

a look at week two of our journey with Bliss

Cumulative numbers for Bliss: revenue — $0; cash in bank — $0; users — 108; customers signed up to pay — 12 (currently on the free two week trial).

Reflecting on the past

Growing up I suffered and dealt with severe ADHD. I was constantly in trouble, serving detentions, getting into fights, and just overall misbehaving a lot. I was an extremely emotional kid.

My behavior was the worst between 12 and 17. So much so that every summer my mother would strategically send me away to an 8-week outward bound camp deep in the forests in northern Maine. There, I was able to let off some steam kayaking and hiking all day.

When I discuss my childhood behavior with the people who are close to me now, they find it hard to believe. It seems so far-fetched even to me. It was a different life for me and when I tell some of the outrageous stories I have as a teenager it feels like I’m actually lying. It truly is a weird feeling.

Not only am I’m glad I got behavioral issues out of my system when I did, but I’m happy I made it through and learned valuable life lessons in overcoming adversity. In the startup life, being emotional and acting irrational is a recipe for disaster. And the ability to overcome adversity is a key ingredient to success.

The need for thick skin

Startups are tough. You get rejected all day long. You constantly get told your idea is lousy. Even friends hardly give you the time of day as everyone is “busy.” Those who do get back to you, do so haphazardly. I emailed, texted, instant messaged more than 100 of my tech related friends since we launched Bliss and many flat out didn’t respond. Many others said, “I’ll check it out in a couple weeks when I’m not busy,” essentially blowing me off.

The rejection comes from all over — including social media.

One of my favorite tweets of the week read “@bliss_sf are building a tool to put a dollar value on your code written. A fundamentally flawed idea.”

You can’t take any of this personally. You can’t let emotions come into play and you must overcome the negativity.

Dealing with weak metrics

The weird thing about this past week for us was the fact that we were staring at weak numbers for the first time. Only 38 new signups, 5 new customers on trial and landing page conversions at ~2%. On top of that, the tool built for non-technical entrepreneurs is being used mostly by very technical people (WTH?!).

Where’s our rocket ship?!

We kicked butt in January with our customer development efforts. In February we executed like champs — wireframing and coding up our v1 product. Now it’s March — we’ve launched… where is the lightning in the bottle?!

It’s simply not that easy with SaaS products.

I coincidentally stumbled upon this article the other day, which put things in perspective. “You’ll fail in SaaS if you don’t commit to 24 months to Initial Traction.”

I hope it doesn’t take us that long, but we’re in it to win it. We’ll block out the negativity, embrace the feedback, overcome the adversities that come with startup life and we’ll figure it out!