Justin Rahardjo

Hitting pause on the 12 Startups Challenge

By Justin Rahardjo on Jan 12, 2023
An iced-coffee in front of a have a break sign

This month I decided to hit pause on my 12 startups challenge journey. I spent the last few weeks making this decision and I’d like to talk about why I decided to pause.

A quick recap on the projects:

  • #1 Beaco — A physical presence tracker for Canadian Permanent Residents
  • #2 Festack — A list of different music festivals
  • #3 ifoundthis — Get your lost items back!
  • #4 egami - Generate your social share images with no effort
  • #5 OneEPK - Helping artists create, manage and share their EPKs

Original goals

When I started this, I wrote down a few goals that I wanted to achieve. As part of my decision making process, I reviewed these goals and how I have progressed against them.

To launch fast!

The main reason I started this, is because I realized that I had many ideas that never saw the light of day. So I wanted to launch things, and do them quickly. Fitting it into a timeline that forces me to forgo the perfect product and actually validating it. Now that I’ve launched multiple things, I have found a process that I follow that works for me to quickly research, validate and launch an idea. This process came from what I knew, what I’ve learned from others and what I’ve learned as I test them out over these ideas.

On the tech-stack side, I’ve also gotten to try some new tech-stacks, especially the no-code tools, and have a bit of a general set of frameworks/libraries that I will likely use each time I launch something.

Find that passion

Every time I look into starting a startup or business, everyone continuously mentions 2 things, work on something you are passionate about and focus on that. I am someone who was always interested in too many things at the same time. I studied Mechatronics Engineering because I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to do mechanical, electronics or software, luckily they started a degree to combine them all. So I wanted to launch a few things in different areas that I am interested in and see which I find to be more exciting than the others.

After launching #4, I decided to work more on the music industry. Because I love going to festivals, seeing live music, everytime I code (and writing this article), I’m constantly listening to music. So I’d like to contribute something towards that industry and especially to the artists that make these amazing pieces.

Get better at marketing

When I started, I’ve had some experience marketing things for the previous startups I’ve worked for. I didn’t always agree that we took the right approaches, but had no way of knowing if what I thought was right would have worked or not. This time around, I got to test my theories, and boy did I learn a lot. I learned why certain things have worked and what other things haven’t.

Am I now an expert? Definitely not! I’ve only touched on so little, and having had to do it with multiple projects that require different testing, I don’t think I’ve fully comprehended all the learnings.

Stretch Goal: Generate MRR

As a stretch goal, I wanted to achieve ramen-profitability in monthly recurring revenue. I have not gotten there. I made a total of USD$45 and some IOU beers, and I’ve spent a lot more in just domain names.

Making the decisions

I achieved my main goal, which was to launch things quickly and get over my perfectionist-side. I also found something that I am more interested in than others. But when it comes to marketing and generating MRR, not so much. As I look to different projects that people have built and reading about their journey, I can tell that nothing good takes a month to build. Of course there are exceptions to this, but I’m not going to fantasize to be the exception.

On another note, I am currently applying to a few jobs and I have been travelling between Canada and the USA since December. Continuing onto Australia and New Zealand in February. Although the travel has been great in getting inspirations and meeting amazing people to talk to about these projects, I’ve found that I am struggling to strike a healthy balance between enjoying my travel and keeping onto these projects.

Based on the progress on my goals, what others have done and my personal situation, I decided that I should concentrate on a single project for the next three months. In three months time, I will re-evaluate what has happened and whether or not I will hit play again on this challenge.

What’s next?

So, for the next three months, I will be concentrating on OneEPK. I chose OneEPK as it is more aligned with what I am most interested in and I have received the most feedback compared to others. So although no paying users yet, it is something that struck a chord with enough people that I’d like to continue building on it.

For those of you that have been following and are wanting more, these are others I’ve met that are currently doing this challenge. I’d recommend you follow their journey.