WAIST DEEP IN THE BIG MUDDY, OR WE’RE MOVING ON

So why haven’t we posted at People’s Software for the last couple months? What happened to that product we were working on? When is it going to be out, already?

If you have been one of the people asking these questions, believe me, you weren’t alone. As we ended our summer with an alpha, we pushed hard to get to a beta, but when we hit the beta we decided, Naaah, as cool as WhozAround? was , it wasn’t the thing for which we wanted to endure two years or more of unflagging, relentless effort, especially since we were reaching the conclusion that the product itself didn’t superbly play to our strengths.

To put it another way, it was a good idea we wanted to execute in 12 weeks that instead took us 5 months. By the time we had our beta, we were questioning whether the pace of development–and the fact we weren’t engineers–was going to make it a very hard slog to enough users to make it stick.

So this is the story of what went down. And where we’re headed now. It’s a story about having the guts to call it quits on the first idea, then make a hard left turn to the second idea. But it was tough.
 
Here’s the story of what we’re doing and what we learned.
The short version
A)    You can’t do a 12 week product in 12 weeks if you’re not a coder and you don’t outsource the whole thing
B)    Speed isn’t always your friend, but if you can’t iterate, you’re not doing it right.
C)    It’s not only the idea, the business plan, the customer value and the execution, it’s whether you love it enough to make it your everything for at least 2 action packed years.
D)    Having lots of experience doesn’t make up for A, B & C.

So, we’re not moving WhozAround? out of beta right now. We’re not listening to the VCs we met with before the crash who told us to get some customers and come back. Instead, we’re putting this on ice and focusing on building and launching another idea that we think there’s a huge need for, and that we’re confident we can do better than almost anyone else.  The new startup will be live in Q1 under a different name, and with a new company.

However, my People’s Software co-founder, Lisa Williams, continues as a principal of the new company, along with a third co-founder who brings great diversity to the project, my sister Nancy Mernit Soriano, who has been the editor in chief of Hearst’s popular magazine Country Living for the past ten years (and who is now going to work on this, and some related projects, with me.)