Over the past few months I’ve been working on two projects. One is a trading related web app and the other is focused on systematic investing. I’ve been getting up at 3 a.m. or earlier (without an alarm) and building. My goal is to develop a bootstrapped SAAS that genuinely solves problems in the world.
It’s been a focused period of head down building where I built so hard that I started to develop some health issues from too much screen time. I took a step back for a week and knew I had to keep going until I shipped. Earlier this week I shipped PortfolioLoft, which is a tool for backtesting systematic investing strategies including Buy and Hold, Target Volatility, and Protective Asset Allocation.
While PortfolioLoft “launched,” it’s still in an early validation stage. At this point I’ve invited some friends to try out the tool, provide feedback, and give me insight into what can be improved. Note that my friends are all in the Trading/Investing space so I’m able to get more informed feedback.
How to decide between two SAAS ideas
I’d like to say that building and shipping PortfolioLoft was easy and focused. It was not. I was engaged in an inner struggle between that and the other, trading related project. In the end I decided to ship PortfolioLoft first because it just felt right. That “feels right” thing is something that’s hard to quantify.
When I was earlier in the building phase for the two projects I was consumed by which project to choose. I asked friends and searched the hell out of Google looking for an answer. In the end I worked on both until one took the lead. There is a lot of well intentioned advice about how to choose a bootstrapped SAAS project. My take is that the project chooses itself, but it makes itself clear through action, reflection, and awareness. Thinking and reasoning to find a solution doesn’t work for me. Action does.
The paradox of completion is that it frees you up to complete additional projects. Just because something is done doesn’t mean you’re married to it. I personally have a much easier time building and shipping than promoting after a product is complete. In any case, I prefer to focus on completing and deploying an initial product.
Somewhere in my travels I read that the best time for an author to start writing a book is the day the last one is finished. With that idea in mind I’m starting to work on the trading SAAS with the goal of launching by the end of the year. I know it might be better (whatever the hell that means) to stay focused on the Investing SAAS, but I’m taking the build, ship, and see what feels right approach.
Naturally, the desire to keep building led me to think about the 12 startups in 12 months challenge. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the idea is that you build and ship 12 MVP’s in a 12 month period. Some people go all in, quit their jobs, cut their expenses, and focus on building. Ahhh, to be young and free again.
I’d love to drop everything and build, but I know it would increase my stress level to the point that I wouldn’t be productive. As a result, I’m going to take the 40 year old, have kids, have obligations, and don’t like ramen approach to the challenge. I’ll talk more about that next time.