What is 12 Startups in 12 Months
12 Startups in 12 months was a challenge started by this blog. The point is to recreate 1 "startup" a month where startup is loosely defined - from a real startup idea to something small like a Shopify plugin 🛒. While some do it for fun and don't have any expectations, those who want results are interested in finding product market fit (PMF). This just means a product/service that someone is willing to use. For example, Wordpress is a no code solution to making websites. This targets people who want to make websites but have no or very little knowledge of coding and deploying things to the web. Often times people get lost in the sauce and beg for a use case for the solution they build without consulting anyone. This may result in something no one wants to use since they don't have a use for it within their lives. For the best results, look for customer pain points and build something that reduces the amount of work or the general experience. For example, lots of people hate email chains and searching for the right one, therefore Slack came on the scene to offer a more seamless environment to communicate and locate previous conversations.
This process of identifying pain points can be done in several ways but should always be done first. You could solve problems your friends and family face, you can look at your own life and solve problems there whether at work or at home. You can of course look online but that is harder to do. My personal favourite way is to look at what is already in the market and offer a solution that is strictly better than the competitor (given the competitor has a non-trivial market size).
Now some ground rules.
- Take it at your own pace, if you need to take time off, please do, this is not a race, if you need to pace yourself or if something comes up including burnout and mental health, let this go to the back burner (your health is more important ✨)
- Stick strictly to 1 startup per month, this means you get 30 or 31 consecutive days to work on this 1 idea. Do not start anything beforehand. Stop working on it after the time is up unless there is potential in the idea
- You don't need to do a SaaS but generally SaaS are easier to do within the 1 month time limit
- You are free to use any tools, including AI and LLMs like ChatGPT for anything including the code, idea, or marketing! 🤖
- You should not need to be spending any money, (perhaps max $1,000 if it is necessary). The product should be cashflow positive at the start
Some general tips are:
- Looking for business facing products/services because the competition is less tough (ie just look at Atlassian's joke of a software called Jira 🤢).
- Also know that business customers have a lot more money so even a few customers can bring in quite a bit a month!
- Ideally start looking for product market fit before building MVP
- Generally focus on finding PMF otherwise the product does not have any legs no matter how functional it is if you cannot convince someone to use it for what they are doing.
- ⚠️ Feel free to pivot at any time, if you can see that the pivot goes in a completely new direction, you can always save the idea for next month 🤔
- You can totally do this challenge while holding a full time job, just plan your time out well and execute when you have spare time
- You can also play around with this concept and do 6 startups in 6 months or 6 startups in 12 months but 12 over 12 is recommended at least to start off since we want to iterate fast and break things
- ✅ If you feel like your startup has legs to stand on after the month, break from the challenge and pursue it! This is the ideal state!