Entrepreneurship · Product launch

How do you stay motivated to continue pursuing your startup?

nick marblestone Founder @Rainbow - über for college students - but free. Give a ride to get a ride!

Last updated on September 30th, 2019

Hey cofoundlab community. My MVP just launched on the app store and I was expecting some big use, to no avail. Have you ever encountered this situation and do you have any advice on how to stay motivated? How to run the marathon and not the sprint?

pre-thank you for your wise advice.


Hey guys, I want to thank you all for your responses. Unfortunately most of them were a little uniformed (and that is my fault).

Most of you were under the impression that "this is evidence that you did not start your enterprise with marketing strategy and validate your strategy before beginning development of your app product" - which is wholly incorrect. I spent weeks at the local college getting hundreds of phone numbers from students who said they would download the app when it came out, hundreds of students who said they would love to use the product and would give it a shot. I spent yesterday texting all these students, I texted them all genuinely, using their individual names to each person. I got 6 replies and 4 app downloads. Before even starting development of this app as well I talked to hundreds of college students to make sure it was something they wanted, and had a 90% positive feedback rate. This is why I am so confused. But, I will keep going!

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

September 30th, 2019

Well, this is evidence that you did not start your enterprise with marketing strategy and validate your strategy before beginning development of your app product. Although it's a bit late, stop all other activity and work on your marketing strategy so you don't spin your wheels any longer than necessary. It's not uncommon to hear that a company has skipped this crucial step and started with development first, but now you see why marketing was supposed to come even earlier than development. Validating your marketing strategy also informs your development process so you are designing something with product-market fit that will be welcomed by the customer community.

Your idea sounds interesting, give a ride to get a ride. But here in Boston for example, it's so rare that college students have a car, yet we have so many colleges, the ratio of who could give a ride to who needs a ride is probably 1:50

Yes, nationwide 46.8% of college students have cars, but many don't bring them to school, and even fewer bring them where the city offers easy public transit options or is walkable. Boston University has 2% of its students who have cars at school. MIT has 5%. In other cities, Johns Hopkins, Princeton, Georgetown, University of Wisconsin (Madison) all have 0% cars. Do you see the problem? The cars are much more prevalent for community colleges where people don't live on campus and commute from home every day.

Anyway, I don't know in what channels you are advertising or what your advertising looks like. Everyone has already figured out how to get to and from school. So, where are they getting rides to? University campuses are set up to be walkable to all student needs. Getting a ride elsewhere is pretty exotic.

When you go back and validate your marketing strategy, it may inform you that your product needs changes and will need to be re-worked before you'll find adoption.

I'm sorry I don't know what to tell you about motivation. Mistakes are made. Spend the time fixing this mistake and determine whether this product even has legs so you'll know whether to stick it out, and exactly what the cost of user acquisition will be and where you need to be approaching future users. With permission, maybe it requires leafleting cars parked on campuses.

I can imagine that this app has many points of resistance. Parent-owned cars with rules, one-sided relationship (if you own a car you will never need a ride), liability concerns, time concerns, and more. I don't know how it's supposed to work so that all parties benefit. Uber/Lyft/Via all work because the driver gets paid as an incentive. If you have a car and don't need a ride for yourself, what's the incentive to drive anyone else for free? Do I at least get gas money?

Lion Burger CTO

September 30th, 2019

First of all, you've found out the hard way that people may not usually DO what they SAY they would do. This is probably a lesson to treat people's OPINIONS about your upcoming product to be far less than FACTS. This is why surveys are not that useful in VALIDATING what you should or should not build. They are still a valid form of input, as long as they are used cross-checked with other validation tools.

Validating through marketing gets you to see whether or not your target audience behaves as you expect them too, so you can use a "smoke test" to see whether or not they pressed that "Download Now" button.

Sadly, if too few of them press it (as usually happens), it doesn't matter what features were implemented.

However, there's more to it. Usually, we do not validate the PROBLEM at hand, as much as we should. We validate a possible SOLUTION. People, being polite, may say that the solution sounds cool and neat, but they do not really have the problem that the app solves, so they would not go on and actually use it, or recommend their friends to do so.

Nischal [ Nic ] Hathi Founder - Director : Startups Mantra Private Limited OPC

September 30th, 2019

Hi Nick, first of all congratulations for your MVP Launch. I would like to know since how long has it been since the Launch & since then what have you done to get your Launch reach the Target Audience. Have you sorted for Feedback after the launch ? Any Launch you do, requires a feedback from the potential clients [ College Students ] in your case. They may come up with suggestions / advice which no body on this platform may be able to give. It's cz they r the final users of the app.

Whereas the Question of staying motivated arises, do not go by the number of downloads your App has reached. It may take a day to reach billions , considering one single feature which you may append/ edit to your App . You may be a day away from making history . So Nick, just take a step back , analyze what needs attention & propel with a force later on. Try working or finding out some features which you may have missed out/ would like to add to your app. Update your App regularly. Attend to reviews of existing users. Make some features which no other app would have provided yet . Experiment ,in other words. Staying motivated must not be just how metrics perform, rather its how you as an App developer make the app more useful to the end users on a consistent basis. Your App Update itself is your Motivator. I am sure that day isn't too far when you'll achieve the desired goal of your venture. Also if possible , try to connect to your end users personally & not just on virtual platforms. Go Get It Nick, the world needs your creative solutions indeed. Cheers :)

Steve Lehman Investor, Entrepreneur

September 30th, 2019

Hi Nick, You do not run a marathon until you've trained for the event. That's exactly what you're doing with MVP. Too often people launch an MVP without doing a pre-beta and testing prior to MVP launch. You need to get honest feedback from your users. Listen and pivot based on your research. Remember, this is the launch of your "minimum" viable product. Learn from research and beta and adjust accordingly. You may want to check out CoFoundersLab StartUP accelerator. Big value for any Start-Up or Growing Company. We have live one-hour video conferences for Accelerator members with Q&A and fine-tuning both pitch decks and pitches for capital raise. We are also going to be presenting Companies, when ready, to investors at 1000 Angels. You should take a look and consider it. Here is the Accelerator landing page with the link to the application: http://info.cofounderslab.com/cfl-accelerator-lp We are also in a BETA on a new Advisor program. If you'd like us to find you a perfectly aligned Advisor, let me know....

To your success!


Mark E Founder | CEO - Tovaris.io - Payment Technology & Services

September 30th, 2019

Did you business model include some sort of external marketing outside of AppStore?

Congratulations on launching your MVP! Big step, but now you have a shingle on the street; however, no one knows it exists or why its important to exist. Marketing is very limited the App Store. You need to consider developing a marketing plan that leverages SEO, social and content marketing approaches. This is usually the reason why good apps fail.

Melissa Farage CEO, Woman Business Owner, Digital Marketing Strategist, Go-to-Market Strategist, Marketing Analyst

September 30th, 2019

Hey Nick, congrats on the app!

I'd recommend starting with some awareness marketing on a few of your target college campuses. Test your message, branding and value props to see what resonates with your target audience. Consider taking your customers to a simple landing page that explains the product vs just an app download page.

Facebook and Instagram are fantastic channels for high-impact, low-budget tests.

Happy marketing!

shlomi podgaetz Strategic adviser, angel investor and entrepreneur

September 30th, 2019

You should focus on building a business and ten rationale for the business. The app is a tool that fits within that business model. Apps on their own hardly ever get the traction and revenues that people think they would. Think of it from a different angle. Investors invest in businesses not in apps so your focus should be around building a business and that's how you should keep focused and motivated...

Bill Flynn Catalyst Growth Advisors - We help startups and scaleups with People, Strategy. Execution and People

October 1st, 2019

Nick - Unfortunately, asking aspirational questions does not validate your product. People lie...mostly because they are nice and don't want to hurt your feelings. For example, if you ask a bunch of strangers what movies they like to see, most will give an aspirational answer - The Piano, Schindler's List, 12 Years a Slave. However, if you ask them what they paid to see in the last few months - The Harrowing, Thor, Dumb and Dumber, etc. You got the first group, not the second.

I recommend that you read Customer Development by Cindy Alvarez, Marketing to Mindstates by Will Leach. There are also some great YT videos about Customer Discovery/Development that may be useful. My favorite conceptual one is this one: https://youtu.be/sfGtw2C95Ms

Please note that I have done 10 startups and the S&M guy and have done hundreds of these types of interviews. I used to do them the way you spoke about and got nowhere.

I wrote a short blog post on how to conduct this process for maximum effect.


Good luck!


Erin Dames Looking for a co-founder who can code. Problem-solver with a medical/medicolegal interest problem.

October 2nd, 2019

How many of those users did you ask for preorder payments? Once users need to invest money, you find out very quickly who really wants and needs your products.

How did you construct the questions you asked users? The wrong questions can give you a false sense of validation regarding customer development.

Eric Gaze

September 30th, 2019

That's dope you went and met all those people.

You said that you just texted them yesterday? I'd say give it some time. I think early adopters are always limited in number; it's like a bell curve, with early and later adopters on the far ends.

Also, treat those that did download it like gold. Watch what they do, if they use it, how they use it, if they'd give you honest feedback about it.

But yeah, surveys are pretty unreliable. At work, we had 0% of people say that wanted feature X. When we ran a live test, 60% of users clicked on it. Just human nature, I suppose.

Keep up the good work!