I've been working on a startup for ~9 months (as the technical cofounder) in the event tech space (B2B tradeshows) and I'm pretty sure we've failed to do anything productive (find product/market fit, find a problem/solution fit, learn anything valuable, etc.). We still have ~100k left but the main investors/advisors (from the 220k friends/family/fools round) pretty much feel like it's time to pull the plug. My personal opinion is that that's the most responsible thing to do (return money pro-rata) but there are simultaneous voices (paradoxically same investors) pushing to keep going (continue running pilots, building out the team [we just finally found a bd cofounder], crafting a pitch for a seed round). I don't know what to do since in my understanding we've failed at the most important thing: finding product/market fit. others on the team (advisors) believe that that's not the case and we can keep raising based on negative results.
re pilots: we got 5 pilots (some paying some not) by basically being persistent and doing really really high touch sales. two of them ran this week and they were miserable failures (for every reason from poor marketing/education to last minute catastrophic product failures). absolutely all of the metrics skew heavily towards 0.
i realize i'm being vague and maybe there's not enough detail in the post to give substantive advice but regardless any would be appreciated.
If you come back after 2 weeks and feel the same way, shut it down and return funds to investors. Your investors and advisors are very very naive (how did you raise 220k as a solo founder with no product? How did you spend 120k in 9 months!?) and it would be unethical to take advantage of them by continuing in something you no longer believe in. You’re closer to the business than they are, your judgment about whether it’s time to pull the plug is more accurate than theirs.
On the other hand, if you come back with a fresh perspective and want to keep trying, do so and inform investors appropriately. And try to reduce your absurd burn rate.