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Show HN: My 4th failed startup (2nd due to user acquisition costs)
11 points by eduardordm 897 days ago | 10 comments
Hello HN,

Later today I'll be shutting down the servers and moving on. This is my 5th startup and the 4th failure. The reason is very simple: I understimated the cost of user acquisition. This is the second time this happened. The dozens of users actually love the software and are using it on a daily basis. I'm ruthless when it comes to coding and money.

So, if you are building a startup: do not ignore how much money you will have to spend to get a user. If you are not able to find that number, something could be wrong with your model.

Maybe someone smarter than me could write something elaborate about user acquisition costs.

RIP https://www.condoly.com




I hate to say it, but trying to sell a condo association on software is not easy. You aren't selling to a business or an individual. I live in a condo, and I even offered to build something. I think people felt like it was too much trouble, they would just rather pass emails around.

And no one wants to be on the board and the goal is to keep assessments as low as possible. I think your problem is you are trying to sell to an organization that would have a very hard time recognizing the actual value you provide. I don't see a pricing page.

It's also a pain in the ass for a condo association to do anything. We have to beg people to serve as no one really wants to do it.

Hey, you got skills, maybe you could take the code and repurpose it for something else? Or open soruce it? Just a thought. Good luck.

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I don't mean to sound like a smartass but it seems there is a spelling mistake in the video - it says for you condo and I think it's meant to be 'your'. It didn't make the best impression and turned me off the product almost immediately. I'm not sure but I guess it could have been a factor for other users too.

Also I would have mentioned the specific pain point condoly addresses - I sort of get what the product does but I still don't really know why I want it.

RIP condoly, I hope your next startup is a success eduardo :-)

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I hired wordy but didn't checked their work afterwards. They are supposed to proofread everything. Not the first error found.

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What have you done to try to get CPA lower? Do you have a FAQ? An overview page? With the current setup on the page, you are definitely going to get low conversion rates, because even after watching the video I still am not that sure what it does, but dont want to sign up to find out. Is this for management? renters? owners? who are you targeting and why should they care? The more questions people ask that dont get answered, the less likely they are to sign up

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When testing, I realized that at least 80% of users that were really interested with the app were elderly or not 'tech savvy' at all. That said, the landing page - no matter how good it was - wouldn't matter a lot from the user acquisition perspective. Those people can barely use facebook.

My idea was to 'manually' get condo managers to sign up, they are the actual target audience. But the process of calling them, showing a demo and getting them to use cost me some cash. The price target for the service was around 20 USD/condo. I was spending more than 250 to get a deal on a single condo (avg of 88 users/condo).

I still think the ideia is infallible, but a little ahead of it's time. I actually got buyout offers from two large condos in florida, but I couldn't use the source code for my new attempt.

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Have you considered open sourcing for people who coud self-host?

What may be a failed startup due to financing could well be a wealthy project in terms of interest, and it seems like you've packed lots of features into it.

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I'll try to use a large chunk of the software to build something else, in case this new thing doesn't work I'll certainly just make the repo public.

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Or if you want to move on to next project then sell it to somebody or get somebody on board who has skills to sell your service.

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Just out of interest... what was your successful startup? Why did that work and the others not?

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The other startup is a credit card & employee benefits company.

The stress generated by this successful startup is killing me (literally). As I plan to have my first child next year, I want to quit working on that company and build something else, work from home and make money. My co-founder already knows that and we are preparing this transition.

Some points:

- The credit card company is not web-based at all - My co-founder is a great salesman - I have experience on trading and investment software (HFT too), that gaves us a lot of leverage - we have lower prices because we can invest for less time - I could focus only in coding and math instead of code, web design, sell, etc.

When I was reject from YC W13 I started to reevaluate the idea, I came to the conclusion that user acquisition costs and not having a co-founder doomed the startup.

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