My Fiasco with Creating Software that Saves Electricity

In September 2014 I decided to stop active development of Fotrel and create a new product instead. This time I wanted to build software in environmental area. I envisioned software that would help to make the Earth cleaner somehow.

I was inspired by Peachjar company. They built a software solution that helps environment by reducing amount of paper flyers that kids bring from school.

Some ideas that I have considered:

  • Software for marine biologists
  • Software that helps solar panel installers
  • Planning software for garden designers

I decided to build software that would help people to save electricity. Most of electricity is produced by coal power plants that pollute air and increase global warming.

Power plant in Belchatow

Following Lean Startup methodology I conducted a lot of client interviews. People were generally interested in saving electricity. The problem was that I wanted to create a software solution, without any hardware component.

Finally I settled on software that would monitor electricity usage by integrating with smart meters.

Also I decided to build my audience first. I have created a registration page. On that page I offered “5 Easy Tips to Save Electricity” report. People would have to enter their email address to receive it by email. This is how I would build my subscriber list of people interested in saving electricity.

I got few subscribers that way but not many. That page didn’t rank high in Google search and I couldn’t get others to share the link to my page with their list.

In April 2015 I have read an influential book “The 7 Day Startup” by Dan Norris. The main idea of the book is to launch new product or service very quickly to learn if it’s something that people would buy.

One idea from the book struck me: if you are building your first product it’s going to be very hard to create something unique and visionary. You can’t afford to be Steve Jobs, not yet. You have to wait until you launch one or two successful products.

As the first product idea it’s much better to stick to something that people already pay money for. That’s when I realized that people don’t spend money on saving electricity. So it’s going to be tough for me as a single developer to build something revolutionary in that area, something that would change people’s habit.

In the end I decided to give up on my idea. Surprisingly I experienced enormous sense of relief. I felt much better after making that decision.

Lesson learnt: make the cycle to test my ideas much shorter by launching new products very quickly. I highly recommend reading The 7 Day Startup book – it’s very short but powerful.

4 thoughts on “My Fiasco with Creating Software that Saves Electricity

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. And pleased you are not discouraged.

    I can see the shorter cycle could reduce the emotional cost as you continue on the journey.

    One aspect you may wish to investigate was how Dan’s book become a success on amazon – with some pointed marketing.

    Look forward to your next adventure.

  2. Hey Pavel!
    Your sharing reminds me of every famous inventor that has ever lived! Often lots of actions that many times might occur as a setback or failure. And, I believe when you look at the larger arch of the process, the most successful people recognize that you do not get to the success without the many challenges first. Have you ever read Tony Robbins short book, “Notes From A Friend”? That book majorly influenced me as an entrepreneur as it forever changed my view of how I perceived being resilient and being willing to face challenged to be. I am seeing you as an unstoppable force for change simply because you are trying a lot of different things and not giving up! I believe those are the key ingredients for massive success! 😀

  3. With every iteration of an idea & subsequent execution effort you learn more & more about what works, what doesn’t, what your strengths/weaknesses are. And I think this is incredibly valuable!

    The most useless folks I’ve come across are those that, by luck, happened on to a rocket shooting to the moon early in their career. They were deprived of all experience other than easy success and this in turn severely handicapped them in future endeavors.

    When you do come across an idea that works, you will be all the richer in experience and knowledge to guide it to success!

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

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