It’s been a little over a year since we wrapped on the 3 Weeks to Live experiment.  So what happened?

Shooting OnCompare in the Head

OnCompaaaaaaare!

I’m happy to announce, we shot OnCompare in the head.

Let’s recap.  One month after launching we had:

  1. A working product
  2. Crushed the Launch conference
  3. Made first contact with 20+ angels & VCs
  4. A mailing list 700+ long

But, we were missing three things:

  1. Demonstrable traction
  2. A monetization strategy we were stoked about
  3. A dev team

No Traction
While we had some traction, it quickly became clear that to become a household name amongst SMBs, it was going to be a slog.  This is when we learned one of my favorite takeaways from the OnCompare experience:

SMBs don’t “self-identify”

No real-estate firm, accounting consultancy, or dentist office calls themselves a Small and Medium Sized Business.  They don’t subscribe to “SMB Monthly.”  Instead, they subscribe to “Real-Estate Warriors Weekly”, “CPA Annum” and “Oral Torture Quarterly.”  That means we’d need to make our presence known within each of these itty bitty channels.  Slog.

No Money

The second problem was that even if we got recognition within these SMB niches, the lifetime value of a customer was miniscule.  We were selling leads and analytics, but that customer we fought so hard for, might only come to our site 1 – 3 times/year, and then only be worth pocket change if we successfully converted them.

No Team

Finally, we had no dev team.  You could argue, and I’d agree, if we had traction and monetization, we would have had a dev team.  But we didn’t, so we didn’t.  The incredible guys who built OnCompare weren’t in a position to co-found a venture that didn’t have a business model to stand on – no one should be.

This time last year, we looked at the situation and without hesitation, opted for a “non-IPO, non-acquisition exit.”

"Italian with T, and failing fast, are Good Things" - Martha Stewart

“Italian with T, and failing fast…good things” – Martha Stewart

From inception, to launch, to dead pool in 2 months = failing fast <– A good thing.

To be very clear, despite the fact OnCompare wasn’t a success, 3 Weeks to Live was.  3 Weeks to Live was about answering the questions, “Can we build this in 3 weeks?  And can it be a business?  And can we have a good time doing it?”  That we knew the answers within 2 months, instead of 2 years, means it was.

What’s Next?

For the Team
Everyone is happily engaged on at the moment.

Aaron
Chris Auty
Chris To
Dave
Jacob
Jeremy
Joe
Joey*
Justin
Nathan

*Shout out to Joey who, after traveling the globe facilitating Startup Weekends, recently joined the Startup Weekend org fulltime where his is prepping to do some amazing things.

For the Product
Some folks have asked if OnCompare is for sale.  We’re taking those offers under consideration.

For the Blog
I really enjoyed contributing to this blog.  Most of all, I loved being transparent, and hearing that doing so was helpful to other startups.

With that in mind, I’m exploring ways to apply the same principles to the Customer Development phase of a project.  So, in the spirit of customer development, let me ask you:

If there was a 3 Weeks to Live-style blog documenting the customer development experiences of a couple companies, would you read it?

If we get enough interest, we’ll make it happen!

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