I'm Taking a Break from the $100k Challenge

Updates on the $100k Challenge

I have mixed feelings about writing a meta-post. You are subscribed for the content I write and not necessarily my high-level thinking about the newsletter. So, if you are interested in explicitly my tips and tricks for growing subscription businesses, this may be one to skip. Nonetheless, I feel this is an important post to make. I’ve been struggling with how to say this, but here it is: I’ve decided that I’m going to be pausing my work on the $100k challenge and Mealfarm.

Interestingly enough, I do think there are some valid business lessons to draw from here that I’ll explain. In a nutshell, I decided to pause work because it became clear to me that it wasn’t an efficient use of my precious resources. The thing is, it’s not just about the time commitment—rather, it’s significantly more nuanced and deeper than that.

When I started out as an entrepreneur and was trying to make my first couple hundred dollars from apps, my resources were very limited. I had an insignificant amount of capital to fund my projects, no personnel, no existing business relationships, and minimal experience. There’s nothing wrong with that—it was simply the beginning of my journey. Not all entrepreneurs start out like this—obviously, some have experience with an adjacent field or have significant capital that they can deploy (either personal or raised).

Fast-forward 6 years later, I now have a lot of accumulated resources that make my odds of creating a successful business substantially higher. I have the capital I’ve earned and saved up which buys me both time and all the other things you can deploy with it. I have the experience of building over a dozen apps including 3 apps that generate $1000+/month. Further, each of these apps (Command, Hashtag Expert, and Caption Expert) operate in a similar domain with nearly identical demographics. Aside from the revenue they generate, I have the 100’s of thousands of users shared across these properties—a highly concentrated audience of influencers, small businesses, and individuals who care deeply about their social media presence. In addition, I also have the team I’ve built up which includes an iOS developer, backend developer, product manager, QA tester, designer, customer support rep, social media manager, and performance marketing team. Each of these resources becomes a type of compounded interest—meaning, every new app I launch can be built with a professional design, a scalable backend, and a thorough test suite. When I start advertising it, I have relationships that make getting ad creative easy and blowing up ad spend even easier. All of these resources compound to form a sort of torque that means when I launch an app, the odds of success are higher and the speed at which it can generate substantial revenue is accelerated.

The issue with Mealfarm and the $100k challenge was that it was totally ignoring all of these resources. I once again was trying to build the entire app myself, market it myself, and validate things myself. The opportunity cost of spending my time doing that and not using the app-development machine I’ve polished over the past 6 years is enormous. I was artificially “starting from scratch” to prove that it’s possible to build a serious business in a short period of time.

With that mental thought process running through my head, it became clear that pausing work on Mealfarm makes the most sense for me. Though, what about you? I took a step back and started thinking about why people are even interested in what I have to say in the first place. Is there really such an intense interest in the challenge itself or is it just my writing style and transparency? I looked at the posts I’ve previously written and considered the various conversations I’ve had with readers over the past few weeks. I concluded the challenge itself isn’t the most interesting piece of my writing.

So it’s an easy decision that I think will be beneficial for everyone in the long run. I do really enjoy writing so I expect to continue publishing work about apps, business, financials, and whatever else comes to mind. Though, I do feel a bit foolish. Saying you will do something publicly, making a big deal out of it, and then not following through is tough to swallow. In fact, I feel like this episode is a manifestation of a personality trait I’ve carried with me my whole life. I’m an incredibly impulsive person. I find these micro-obsessions that last for a few weeks at a time and then toss them aside completely.

I think Mealfarm was one of these obsessions. For the first weeks, I was obsessively working and writing about it. The great feedback from friends and readers made it even easier. People were looking forward to the posts and I found the business case for the app incredibly compelling. In fact, I still do believe it’s a great idea and I wouldn’t be surprised if I built it in the future. It just doesn’t make sense to work on it right now. After a few weeks, the work on it felt more forced. In the back of my head, I felt like it wasn’t a good use of my time. Plus, I’ve been rapidly scaling up the team and velocity of my existing company which started requiring more attention.

Regardless, I think that what I’ve written about thus far is very useful content. It is definitely representative of how I view app-building and the broader app business. So I don’t think any time was wasted.

When I started this newsletter, it was on impulse. For months I had been wanting to start a blog of some sort. However, I was cautious of my micro-obsession tendency. I didn’t want to start it unless I was really going to do it and stick with it. In fact, I wrote the first post and sat on it for over a month to see if that impulse would last. Well, it turns out I do have a lot to say. First, it was just a few friends and family following along and now it’s grown to 200+ people. That makes me very happy so thank you for reading. Even though I’m pausing work on Mealfarm, I plan to continue writing. I hope my rationale makes sense.