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Taking on "12 Startups in 12 Months" Challenge in 2022

Kazi Rabbany
Kazi Rabbany
I am a tech entrepreneur by passion, a software engineer by education, a coder by nature & a web3 enthusiast. I am on a fascinating journey to build 12 startups in 12 months in public. Follow me to ride the journey with me.

The "12 Startups in 12 Months" Challenge
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash
Yes, you read it right! I am doing the 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge starting from January 2022. That means I need to build and launch one startup every single month of 2022! But is that even possible? And why and how did I decide to take this challenge in the first place?
Let’s dive in with me.
The Background
The 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge is pioneered by Pieter Levels back in 2014. Even though he didn’t complete his challenge, he was able to build a handful of successful startups in the process. NomadList and RemoteOK are among all the startups that he worked on during that challenge.
After Level’s success, many “brave” entrepreneurs, AKA makers, attempted to follow in the same footsteps. Jon Yongfook, Josh Schertz, Monica Lent, and Alejandro V. Betancourt are among them. I even found a cool GitHub repository where you can find more people who attempted this challenge.
Startup: The Definition
How do you define a startup? Will my one-month-mini projects be considered startups? According to my startup “guru” Eric Ries:
A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.
The above statement is generalized enough to cover many business models. Every money-making human institution can be considered a startup by this definition. However, in silicon valley, a startup needs to have a business model that is designed to be scalable in high growth, also referred to as a “high-growth startup”.
The Famous Learn Startup Methodology by Eric Ries
The Famous Learn Startup Methodology by Eric Ries
The pioneer of the 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge, Pieter Levels defines:
A startup delivers a new product and grows it fast.
Pieter Levels was focused on launching MVP (a term coined by Eric Ries) as quickly as possible to see if he could find product-market-fit with it or not. If it didn’t, he considered it a failure and abandoned the project. Though, Eric Ries, in his book named The Lean Startup, stated that startups should instead pivot if there is no product-market-fit found. Anyway, the thing is that the definition of a startup is extremely subjective.
Here is my take on defining a startup:
A startup delivers an innovative product or service with a scalable business model.
As you can see, in my definition, a startup must have a scalable business model otherwise it won’t be considered as one. To me, the growth rate of a startup is not as important as the silicon valley VCs. As long as the business can eventually scale, it will be considered a promising startup in my book.
In this 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge, I will try to build online-based SaaS projects which are inherently scalable, even though these may target niche communities. Additionally, it’s going to be easier to automate most, if not all, of the tasks.
In this article, I will use the terms - startup, project & product interchangeably.
The Reason
I think of myself as more of a procrastinator than a maker. I procrastinate so much that I am very annoyed with myself! I have a lot of good ideas (or so I think!) that can be or need to be built. Over many years of my entrepreneurial journey, I maintained a Trello board where wrote all of my ideas down (I still do). But there are only a few ideas I did attempt to make use of.
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
This challenge seems to be a great way to build and ship so many products in a relatively short period of time, which is fascinating to think about. I am also looking forward to validating the ideas that I have in my mind. Validating an idea before launching the product is an important step that I missed for so many years. This process will tell me if any of my written ideas is any good or not. So it’s inherently nerve-wracking.
Additionally, I am doing this challenge as a motivator to build in public. I will be very active on Twitter, so follow me to see my daily updates.
You can also check what other people are building in public.
The Big Ideas!
Photo by CJ Dayrit on Unsplash
Photo by CJ Dayrit on Unsplash
Though you need ideas to build a startup, it’s not the recipe for success. As an entrepreneur, I know how hard it can be to go from the idea stage to getting the first paying customer.
I found a great tweet by David Gregorian where he shared his post on How to avoid wasting time on unprofitable projects. He stated the following 7 criteria to pick a business model that is easily profitable and scalable from his own experience.
The 7 Questions:
  1. Has product-market-fit been proven by something similar?
  2. Is it B2B?
  3. Can the MVP be developed within ≤ 3 Months (MAX)?
  4. Can it be managed without employees?
  5. Can it work without doing active sales?
  6. Can I identify myself with the product?
  7. Can it be built with Firebase?
I’ve set these points, except one, as the guidelines for my startup ideas for this challenge. I’ve crossed out point# 7 as it doesn’t fit my preference. David really prefers to work with Firebase, because he could build and validate products insanely fast with it. I don’t usually use Firebase as a backend or database. I am quite happy with my own code generator, a low-code tool, that I’ve built over the years with PHP & MySQL. I will write a separate article about my low-code tool setup in the future.
However, the key takeaway from David’s article is point# 2. I wasn’t so much of a fan of the B2B model. In the past, I always chose business models that are either B2C or C2C. Maybe that’s why I find it hard to monetize the businesses. It’s certainly the case according to David. Will a B2B model be a key to my success in the future? We will see. 😊
As David stated the benefits of targeting business clients, I will only choose B2B business ideas for this 12-month long challenge. David taught me a valuable lesson. Thanks! 😃
The Endgame
There is one common trait among all of them who took 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge before. None of them completed the challenge, as far as I know. This is the thing, you are free to set your own goals on the fly.
It doesn’t matter if anyone can successfully complete this challenge or not. Launching a startup within a month is a hard enough challenge. Validating the idea, building the product, and finally launching the business within a month is a lot to ask for. Yet they’ve done it at least for a few consecutive months. And what if one of the startups grows so fast that you cannot keep up anymore? Then you have to abandon the challenge, I guess. I think it was the case for Pieter Levels.
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash
My goal is not to build and launch any product just for the sake of building it. If I can launch at least one revenue-generating startup out of this challenge, I would consider it a success.
Only time can tell if I can really build all twelve startups or not, but I am being optimistic. If more than one of my startups takes off exponentially and generates enough revenue to occupy more of my time, then it would be very hard to complete the whole challenge. But on the bright side, I will count it as a success either way.
The New Beginning
Photo by Maxime Horlaville on Unsplash
Photo by Maxime Horlaville on Unsplash
I recently revived my 13-year-old Twitter account, in order to increase my online presence and build a similar-minded audience.
As an introverted person, building something in public is really intimidating. However, I want to do it to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone to grow further. I don’t have a massive audience on social media. As an added bonus, I may end up building an audience to follow my work in the future. Having an audience is an “unfair” advantage an entrepreneur needs to have. The audience really makes it easy to validate an idea by just one tweet or something like that.
The Progress Report
I will update my progress of this challenge in this section.
Subscribe & Follow Me on Twitter
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash
If you want to see how my story unfolds and want to support me or just want to come along for the ride with me, please subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Twitter. It means a lot to me.
If you are a maker yourself or want to dive into the journey of building in public, please feel free to shout out to me on Twitter.
And if you are brave (or crazy) enough to take on the 12 Startups in 12 Months challenge, then download and use my Trello template.
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Kazi Rabbany
Kazi Rabbany @kgrsajid

I am a tech entrepreneur who is on a fascinating journey to build 12 startups in 12 months in public. Follow me to ride the journey with me. Subscribe to my newsletter & get my Trello template for "12 Startups in 12 Months" challenge

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