Current 5 projects and stages
- 1- DataSource.ai - Data Science competitions for startups. Is my main project. However is difficult to get startups to sponsor competitions. I'll need a partner who joins in sales/business development. I'm not so good with this task
- 2- datajobs.dev - Fully remote data science jobs. Is a niche job board
- 3- datacademy.dev - I have more than 3 years of experience as mentor and teacher in a coding bootcamp called makeitreal.camp with 4 full-stack ruby-on-rails bootcamps under my belt and 2 data science bootcamps. I decide to start a platform to share intermediate and advanced data science and machine learning short-courses and screencasts in spanish
- 4- dataenpoint.co - Machine Learning API Marketplace. Here I wanna to have an API marketplace where developers can earn money with their machine learning endpoints.
- 5- narrativetext.co - (not uploaded to production yet) - Is a place to share data science notebooks as newsletters and data scientists can earn money with subscriptions. Read data science technical code is better in notebooks, not in plain text through Medium, for instance.
Currently I'm working on different projects, at the same time, and this kind of approach has some pros and cons
- * I keep motivation high
- * Change projects per day keeps me in a good mood
- * I learn from different projects
- * I can test different ideas and make a good protfolio
- * I'll never know before the execution wich one will'be a winner
- * Is like to have a micro-vc when I invest time in better projects
- * I can test all ideas that I had before, but I was aware of this strategy
- * I need to be really good with time management and distractions
- * When I'll have MVPs ready, and start monetizing I'll get different income sources
- * I need to automate lot of tasks when MVP will be ready
* Some tasks keeps pendings
* Its necessary to repeat some code in different projects, which is a bad thing
* I have limited time, so I can't have done all things I want in a short-term period
* If one idea really kicks-off, probably I'll need to shut-down some of the others. This is a good thing at the same time
* Lower time in marketing. I need to put more time on this task
* Burn-out feeling sometimes.
* In the short-term, I have less time to learn new things and for study ML
I have almost ready datacademy.dev
. It takes me just like 2 days to have all the code neccesary to host courses and screencasts related to datascience. However this time the intent is to have a dedicated platform just for education in spanish. This is because is my main skill right now and I'll need to explore this way of living, as a teacher!
Truth be said, in spanish we haven't too much material to learn, and the best tutorials is obviouly made in English. My approach is to have high quality and intermediate/advanced data scienece courses and screencasts. The idea with screencast is to have at least one per week. With courses the idea is to have 1 each month/ or 2 months with that last between 10-15 hours each one. With diverse and correlated topics, all of them in data scienece and with a price range of $19.99 to $49.99.
Last and most relevant goal here is to gain more knowledge every time, because you know: "Teaching we learn the double".
I have 2.5 years of experience as mentor/teacher, so I already know lots of tips and tricks to teach effectivly. Once I reach $500 usd monthy, I'll upgrade my setup: micro and camera.
It's promising to see the first monetizing project, who is making money mainly trough Udemy. The total amount of students is 45, and I'll be needed to promote more and better my courses and obviolsy create new ones. For that reason I decided to extract features from my main product DataSource to be specialized in each business branch. To make that a reality I'll need to create a new brand, this time itll be called DataCademy.dev. Probably is a good idea to pay some ads, but just when I have 2-3 great courses.
Courses will be created one day per-week. Another good strategy to have new students is giving free tutorials via Youtube, I actually have more that 400 susbscribers, that is a good starting point. I can make something like a weekly screencast talking about advanced topics in data scienece, because the courses needs to be more advanced to have some kind of differentiation. Just a few courses touch advanced topics. This time the courses will be starting in spanish because is my native language and I have some database of possible students.
A good target to have here is a $500 usd MRR
Probably once I have some traction I'll be needed to upgrade my setup, and buy a good microphone and camera. And probably use a better software to record lectures.
I made the decision to separate DataSource in 3. DataSource, DataJobs and DataCademy, with the idea to grow in different ways and with different purposes.
First of all, datajobs will help me to get more and continous leads (data scientists), who signup to apply to a job. The jobs are fully-remote in data scienece globally. So, I need to post in Spanish and English. It's the same job postings as I was making before with DataSource, but this time the idea is to full my email listings with leads in spanish to participatre in my Courses, Screencasts and Youtube Channel, and the idea is that this will be like my engineering as marketing. Also, for english registered people I can send emailing related with other app ideas.
Then, DataCademy will help me to monetize rapidly. Rigth now I'm in 3 months average $80 USD MRR, just with the sells made under Udemy course and with the sells made inside DataSource. So I'll need to extract that feature to make a new brand focused just courses and with an interactive approach. I've this done with Bookcademy.
DataSource will continue as Data Science competitions (at least by now), trying to find startups who sponsor competitions. Very soon I'll be getting new platforms.
Seems like I made a big mistake with this launch, because I launched yeasterday at nigth, especifically 10pm GMT-7, thinking about to have the Asia dn Europe trractio, but seems like the real hour for ProductHunt is 00:00 PT. So, big mistake.
I wake up today with just 2 upvotes and as the last time, I'm thinking that this is a failure. My team and I promoted the launching and now we got 47 upvotes, but the bad news is that this is all... I decided to stop self-promoting, because the general idea is to be hunted by producthunt users, and seems like anybody note us. So for now I'll be following a list of other sites where I can post.
This aritcule was originally postred at Sept 16 - 2019, when I launched Bookcademy...
I want to share with you the lessons learned on the process to be the #1 Product of the Day on ProductHunt
I posted my startup last Friday 13th 2019 and I got 5 upvotes! and I thought that the launch was a big failure, and I had a long talking with my partner and she was more inclined to keep working and see what other paths we could explore. However, I was expecting short-term results from PH given the number of stories about success on launching there. It was a Friday the 13th for me, I seriously thought to quit to the effort to launch, but I finally got the conclusion that we needed more time and users to figure out if we were really on track. I downgrade my servers (balancers and other stuff) because for me that didn’t work!
As always, I tried to solve this thing with a book! Trying to find something in books that helps me to solve this concern. I found “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth Hardcover” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. However, I didn’t advance too much on the lecture but I found inspiration to keep working and go forward!
Sunday morning (2 am CT) (2 days later!) and I started to receive lots of emails (from my alert system in the platform) that noticed me about a lot new user signups and errors with my server and with my transactional email provider. But I was sleeping! At 7 am I watch my emails and see such crazy stuff and I thought that I was hacked or something like that, but why if I had nothing yet? just a few users, and without payments system yet!. I was so curious, and I don’t used to touch my laptop or desktop Sundays, but this time was different.
When I was able to turn on my laptop I could saw an amount of traffic on my site and the referrer was: ProductHunt!
Totally unexpected, and I started immediately working and trying to solve the bugs in the platform and answering questions about the bugs! Once we have that ready, everything goes smooth and users love the product!
The key points here were:
- You just need a good product with a clear value proposition
- Posting probably doesn’t work the same day. Probably you need to wait a while
- Be prepared, because once your post is live, servers need to run like a charm
- Have good servers for at least 1–2 weeks or more
- If you have a community behind that’s great, but if not (we don’t have one), people will discover your product on that platform (that’s the game)
- Don’t launch Fridays, the best day for launch is from Monday to Wednesday (given that you probably need to wait to see votes)
- Best hour to launch is at 6 am GMT
Last week I was trying to follow the shotgun approach, inspired by Alex West and I made a list of nre possible ideas to approach. Whit this list in mind, I started to create dataendpoint.co, and I advanced a lot on the design and creating on that platform. However this brianstorm help me aout to arrive to another solution within datasource.ai who allows me to pivot in the idea.
The idea basically was to not approach companies in Latam and intead of that approach starups around the world and specially from USA. Also the other valuable things that I discovered about this pivot was the fact that I can play with almos each part of the project like.
- I can change de pricing plans
- I can change de target companies
- I can change the marketing copy
- I can change the geographically approach
- I can change the details of the competitions, like timing, prizes, allocation prizes and other rules
This king of changes allow to me to be uniq, and no to copy anyoneelse, and to have a unique value proposition. In this time focused on startups and to democratize the data science competicions. If you can see I started with a copy cat, but now I'm having a unique value proposition with the right model to approach
Thanks to this brainstorm I'm almos finishing the changes in the datasource platform to re-launch with this new approach.
This week the idea is to start with startup school new program, focused on a 1 month sprint, trying to iterate , launch and even monetizaze during the sprint. I'll be dpijg that this week, so I hope to get my first approach ready and hoping to have a goos acceptance and first competitions rolling
Today I received an email from the DIAN who is the IRS from my country. Several months ago I decided to finish FloresyMas.com a startup that received money from VCs in Colombia, but failed.
I quit to my daily activities on them about 4 years ago, and at the beginning of this years I take the decision to shut down completely the company. The hard thing here is that the startup has a lot of financial problems with the DIAN and the last manager and partners quit and run away from their responsibilities. I received money from one of them to solve these problems, but given my current money problem I couldn't use it to solve the company problems, instead trying to solve my personal problems. Seems like that approach solve my problems temporarily, but now I received the notification that allows me to think again in this past problems
Truth be said I really hate this kind of problem and for that I always tried to avoid it completely, ignoring the truth behind the problem. I really hate to think about it. But now is time to rethink my current strategy in my current startup.
The reality is that DataSource is not monetizing at the level that I need, the team is not heavily engaged and I started to have doubts about their availability. I invest this whole year trying to make something with this startup, but as almost always I arrive at this point when I can't find the right customer, the right idea, the right solution.
Now, I'm trying to figure out how to solve my current money problems. One of them is giving classes in makeitreal as a data scientist, that approach worked this year and at least I had an income. I think that I need to keep this job.
Now I need to put focus on projects that monetize, with my current skills, what can I do? I think that I have the skills to make something in the intersection of web development and data science. Not too much advanced stuff, but something that medium level or beginners can find right to use.
From here to December I need to find something that monetizes, something that allows me to believe again in the dream of financial freedom.
The idea now is to be very open and correct with my current team about the next approach that I’ll be doing. And talk about my current financial situation. This email received by DIAN need to be the alert that tells me that I need to move now, move better, move intellengly and move to the monetization side immediately.
I'm building dataendpoint and the idea is to have a marketplace of machine learning APIs. The advance is a lot for this weekend, however there are things that I think that I need to do first. For instance, I need to create each API, with the correct documentation and correcta Jupyter Notebooks. Once I have this, I can show people what the app can make.
This need probably a little more time than I suspected, but I need to advance all I can
Today I'm creating DataEndpoint project, with the idea to have an API Marketplace, when I can ipluad my personal projects and also machine learnings engineers and data scientists can upload their APIS and earn money with subscriptions for requests for the API. This API Marketplace is focused exclusivly on Machine learning projects.
The idea is to have the MVP ready this month, this is the second sprint this month
List of habits
- - Write a daily learning on this blog
- - Keep focus on the monetization plan and projects
- - Keep healthy weekly schedules, and not working Sundays
Other good habits
- - Exercise
- - Reading
- - Study English
- - Deep dive on Machine Learning and Deep Learning
- - Painting
- - Playing guitar
This monetization schedule is to create products and test them in a fast peace.
First month (Review, Build and Growth Hacking Strategy)
Week one (Review phase)
Review lists of ideas, make some research, try to find competitors, try to find best spots to get first customers, build a simple Business Model Canvas
Week two (Build MVP phase I)
Design and create database, select template, select tech stack, buy domain, start coding
Week three (Build MVP phase II)
Create all necessary code and build the payments system
Week four (Growth hacking strategy)
Select channels to launch, create strategy to approach market
Second month (Monetization)
Launch, feedback, learn, monetize, achieve the goal of $500 USD, MRR
If everything works and monetizes, put laser focus on creating value and raise the amount of MRR to achieve the next MRR goal. If I don’t achieve the goal, start over again. Rest a while (1 week max) think about the process, write about the learnings and go again for the next idea on the list.
The first thing that I need now is to have the correct mindset about projects, habits, routines and activities. One of them is for instance asking me if this activity is monetizable. This could happen with screencasts, for instance. I need to finish the Python screencast, but if I ask myself if this activity ends up with a monetizing strategy the answer is no. For that I couldn't do this activity anymore, if this is not my main monetization activity.
So, I’ll need to ask me always this questions
- 1. Does this activity make me earn money almost immediately?
- 2. Is this activity inside my monetization schedule?
- 3. Laser focus on trying to monetize just this products, other things are a waste of time.
The other thing that we need to make is one month sprint sessions, launching and trying to monetize at least 1 product per month. As we talk previously I’ll need to create this kind of testing products, launching them on the sites mentioned, and try to monetize immediately.
The key here is to try to do that in just one month!!
Well, things said, now I need to establish an achievable goal. First of all I need to define what’s the most probable project that takes me to that place. I need to make a list of new ideas, for now I’m experienced as a data Scientist and Web Dev, so I need to put focus on projects that solve some kind of problem related with that space of market.
These are the rules that I need to follow to achieve this goal
- 1. Data Science - Machine Learning Project
- 2. Web Based
- 3. $500 USD as MRR
- 4. B2B preferably
- 5. USA - Worldwide product
- 6. Launch on
- - ProductHunt
- - Indiehackers
- - HackerNews
- - Reddit
- - Quora
- - Others in USA
- 7. Try to launch 1 new product per MONTH ⇒ This means a Simple Product, a real MVP
- 8. Next month need to monetize
- 9. Manage payments via Stripe
- 10. Product need to be marketable simple, at least at the beginning, so NOT focused on content creating or SEO
- 11. We are now August 15 - 2020, I need my first new prototype product by launch in Sept 1 - 2020
- 12. Use some current template
Time invested: 8 months
December 2019 - August 2020
Sign ups: 1.400
First months = FREE for data scientists, companies sponsor competitions since $1.200 per competition. I tested other features to monetize, and this was the results:
- Screencast PRO
- Jobs PRO
- Sell online Data science courses
MRR = $11.98
MRR = $81.97
MRR = $45.95
Again, lots of commits, lots of iterations, lots of code before to try to monetize. Here I'm putting focus on Latam, which allow me to not have big dreams. In the otyher side this is a B2B product, when I need to follow direct sales strategy and have contacts and try to create demand with other companies.
Now I'm trying to get first B2B customers, but I'll need to get other ideas to play and test rapidly
Time invested: 1 year - 2 months
June 2019 - August 2020
Sign ups: 2.130
First months = FREE
MRR = $7.99
MRR = $47.94
MRR = $23.97
MRR = $7.99
With almost 1.000 commits, lots of iterations, free service for the first 8 months, lost of signups, first place in producthunt, and some international buzz the product is now dead. Why? look at the numbers. First of all I receive a lot of feedback about the copyrigths with book authors, then I needed to create a lot of content per book, so is not worth to coninue given the results.
Probably I could test this idea just with a simple MVP with fake features, or real features, but from the beginning have the paywall ready, with the features to test the payments. In May I had $47.94 bucks, that seemed to be interesting enogh, but users don't renew subscription, so that means no value.
Now, the conclusion is to shut down the service.
In this post, I want to remember a few practical concepts and experiences that I lived in past years.
I've been creating a lot of products in recent years. However, so few of them created so much value for the intended customers. These conclusions were based on the numbers, the only one who creates value was an e-commerce. But we can't talk about real value, because that idea was losing money, so it wasn't profitable, even with the help of investors.
All other was ideas that helped me to create digital product and practice my skills, but nothing relevant.
My commitment on each new idea was about between 6 -12 months. That's engough time to test if the idea is valuable. Here I need to be honest, to try to learn the real value behind each of one
Time invested: 1 year
July 2017 - June 2018
# customers = 0
MRR = 0
Time invested: 1 year
June 2018 - June 2019
# customers = 0
MRR = 0
Time invested: 1 year - 2 months
June 2019 - August 2020
Sign ups: 2.130
First months = FREE
MRR = $7.99
MRR = $47.94
MRR = $23.97
MRR = $7.99
- I need to search for monetization since the beginning
- I need to look for USA/wordwide products
- Less commitment time, less features, test income first
Yes! specially if that entrepreneur will want to enter within digital space. This is not an option is a must-have skill.
Why is it important?
Probably in your first days as an entrepreneur you don’t have any friends, colleagues or people that have developer skills. Probably you can haven’t a lot of money to hire a good engineer. Probably you can haven’t any reputation (aka past success) to attract engineers to your new adventure. Probably you can’t convince or sell your great idea to any developer… for all of that you will don’t have one of the most important task in your early days: the product.
It’s for this the only way to execute your big plans is to learn to code. You will not need be a senior developer, you’ll only need the sufficient skills to make a good MVP.
A lot of entrepreneurs get stuck here, ’cause they don’t know how to solve this bottleneck. If the escenario is similar to the above the only way to solve it’s with your own hands. If you can make a good MVP most forward you will may hire or attract your first believer in a shape of developer and you’d could learned a lot of stuff in middle of the trip.
How much time will I need invest to learn to code?
If you don’t have any engineer background it’s probably that you will need to invest 6 month (full time) as at least. I know, I know it’s a lot of time. Probably you are saying in this moment: “if I don’t launch my startup this month it’s probably that my competence will take a huge advantage” or “I don’t have free full time for that”. Well… you don’t have any other way. I can promise you that this invest will be the most important invest on your entrepreneur career, why?:
1- The most important thing is your learning mindset: if you invest this energy and time in learning you will get a type of “learning mindset”. This learning mindset you will apply in so much things more forward.
2- With this new knowledge (programming) you will can to know: what type of engineers my startup will need? on what type of language? what type of details will I need for achieve my goals? interview questions or challenges and correct answers, what are your engineers doing? in other words, you can see the other world, the world of geeks! With that you will have a lot of power.
3- You will can to know: what is it the new and most advantage technologies? how to apply this new technologies in my startup? and might do that before your competence do. Probably you know what is Machine Learning, but do you know how Python, Pandas or Scikit-learn do some things or in which cases you would should use it? Again, you don’t need know in detail this skills but you will need know how the basics works.
What is the path of my new learning adventure?
2- Algorithms: you need this skill. It’s more easy than you think, believe me. I don’t have any engineer background but I’d had the effort for learn it and believe me, it’s more easy than you think: you need know: strings, types, loops, methods, objects and a few things more. With this basis you will have done a lot to move into a specific language
4- Specific technology: above you could see the most important specific technologies in this times. It depends of you focus, but with those 2 languages you will can embrace all this technologies.
Look at stars… you can probably did or do, but maybe your team not. You can probably see or will see the future, the way or the next step but your partners and employees not.
That would be the beginning of a big trouble ’cause you need support points not obstacle points.
Maybe your team hadn’t read, listened or viewed any success story or success people. They are living in a “scarcity life” (or maybe scarcity mindset) and they can’t believe that things will happen for them. The problem here is: one person will can not change their mindset overnight. That takes time, a lot of time. Believe in that you will achieve the success is very hard and require a lot of time, books, movies, audios, real life examples and more.
Have a great vision it depends of you can have a successful mindset. Typically have a vision means: “You can see, imagine and visualize things will happen in the future. Things that another people can’t see. Sometimes, crazy and out of the box things”
Have a vision for me is an skill more than a one esoteric thing, ’cause you can practice and do it part of your life. Your can write about, share it and make it happen.
Now, how can I sell this vision to my team?
First of all, sell is the key word here ’cause you will need this skill for share your vision. Sell means: you will should “infect” your team with your vision. For example:
In Colombia, when I was launch my last startup (and where I live for now) the people mindset (how you might would imagine) are from “scarcity”. The scarcity environment is contagious ’cause your family, friends, colleagues basically everyone live in a “scarcity mindset”. This is the reality. So when you approach this people with and “abundance mindset” this type of person will think that your are basically crazy and out of the reality. With that you will might imagine how hard is sell the big price, picture and dream here. The least tag for you will be: dreamer, scammer or …. another big bullshits.
However I did decided make it possible. My first job was tell the story:
1- What is a Venture Capital Firm? in that point I needed explain to my team and key employees How it works?, Whats is their target?, When their money comes from?, What will they expect of us? How they works in another countries? Why did decided they will support us? so… all the things for that they can to undertand what really are happening and they will can feel part of that
2- Once they’ve clear about that the next job is will explain the key targets such as: expansion, fast growth, next rounds, possible exits and more.
3- Once the key employees know the actual startup situation you will can have will commit them e.g shares, not high salaries
4- Vesting Form. Once you had share your vision and explain them how it works you need put their commit on a Vesting Form. This is the best way to retain your best talent and protect your startup. In that point you have the target, you sold the vision.
1- An amazing customer service
2- Fast digital experience: UX/UI, payment and delivery.
3- Mid-term drop-shipping: Mid-term because we managed the production of the flower arrangements under our own hands (because we wanted quality guaranties in this point), but we didn’t have any farm, warehouse, vehicles for deliveries and the most importan thing: any inventories. We had a key partnerships and our physical locations was “in front of” our big and best suppliers (local spaces designed for wholesale flowers). This was the key because our suppliers took the inventories risk (the flowers has a low life expectative) and we only bought fresh flowers if we had a paid customer and we only bought in the “delivery moment”. Our suppliers were located in downtown places and this means that the rental prices was so low and also we could get more office space (as a plus).
With those proposition values (especially with the point 3) and with our fast growing (’cause we could sell in lowest prices — 20% less aproximally), we was ready for pitch our startup.
After 12 months (since we had the first approach with the Fund), we got it! we had an investment! We had one of the 3 first investment of Velum Ventures and we were so excited! Very few number of startups (in Colombia or LATAM) get an invest and least got our capital raised (USD $350.000 in total after a few follow-On).
But all of us we know that raise money is only the first (or really second) step in this difficult startup world. The key question is: Now, how do I execute a seed round after it’s raised?
The first thing that I would say is: always we will get a lot of mistakes. Always. I was the CEO and founder, but after of I had the invest I was working in everything whiting the startup, especially in engineering. For me was so much difficult be the leader, manage people and did all of kind the stuff it suppose that a CEO make.
However I was decided to that happen and I did it (well… only a few things). I did a lot of mistakes and eventually I will write about that. In this particular case and taking my experience I will to talk about my first and big mistakes (I’m the only guilty about this mistakes):
1- We didn’t find a “really winner business model” before we had raised the money
2- We had focus on fast growing (other product lines, more employees and more cities or countries) and spend a lot of money on ineffective paid ads. We hadn’t focus on the recurring customers and organic purchases growth, word of mouth and business model and strategies quality.
3- As a CEO I losed my focus on small things and day-to-day tasks.
4- Bad hirings, I didn’t know of the Colombian labor Acts.
5- Bad partners, bad relationships, bad communication (All of that was my fault, only my fault), ’cause I was a bad leader and a bad comunicator. I’m getting better.
6- I hadn’t a life balance and I hadn’t a life partner woman (aka serious girlfriend or wife :)) I’m getting better :)
About this 6 points I will write more foreward. Now, how do I execute a seed round after it’s raised?
1- You will need an execution plan, and this plan it depends of your particular situation. This is all about assets allocation: put the money in the correct moment, amount and department. For example: in our situation we needed , first of all, to be professionals. We needed a lawyer and an accountant. Lawyer because we needed employees with all the benefits and law requirements (our employees before we raised the money had been as a freelancers, all of them). And we needed an accountant because the numbers needed to be in order.
2- One of the most important thing on you will need invest money is on a good persons as an Administrative Help. Your day-to-day tasks are so complicated, so much and so busiest but necessary. For that if you actually don’t have this type of person, you will need it
3- Then of these points you will need invest in the most important thing: your growth. Here the question is: from where do I get our most important and big incomes? we have different answers for that question: paid ads (the worst answer), word of mouth (the best answer), growth hacking (the super best answer). Which one is your’s? Put the money there.
4- Team is the next big one. You probably will want to growth the team, but… you will need explore your key activities and hire really good people. This point is one of the most important, more later I will write about.
Here you can finish the first part of your assets allocation. Please you will to be sure in what points you will need invest: moment, amount and department