And I got rejected. Back in 2014, when I was trying to submit my website templates at open marketplaces, it rejected me like anything. I had gotten rejected for the NINTH time and out of frustration I started my own templates/themes website to express my designs.
I had around ten designs that my clients had rejected. In spite of this, I decided to share them to the world for free, if in case someone wanted to use it. I then contacted (literally spamming) some of the top bloggers to make them feature my website and designs. And guess what, I started getting amazing replies from these bloggers. In JUST 15 days, my website got 1600+ views per day. I was also fortunate to have a lot of friends who were technically assisting me voluntarily or sometimes simply with a cup of coffee treat.
For almost five months, I was giving away my website templates for free and I was making some money out of the google ads. In April 2015, I decided to make my templates ‘paid’, which eventually turned out to be a good decision. I started making around $14-$38 a day, which was a pretty decent side-earning for me. After some weeks, Nepal got hit by a massive earthquake. Now, I was completely lost as to how the market of Nepal will go. This website was my only hope since I was getting good flow of money in my account while living under a tent outside my house. I did have a full-time job of my own but this side-earning was adding confidence during that disaster phase. My earning use to go from $200 to $500 a month.
With this product, I applied at startup-accelerator programs in Nepal and again I got rejected often saying ‘The product is not viable’ or ‘We don’t understand the business model’ or ‘We cannot give you the mentorship this business needs for its growth’. I was struggling to find the kind of mentor I was looking for, investors were the least of my concerns.
At this point, I wasn’t as excited as I was in the beginning because I could feel that the product cannot grow if I do it alone only with my expertise. There was also a point where the site had started losing its traction.
In 2017, we were in the process of pivoting the product to wordpress themes and during this course, I met a friend at a blogger’s meetup at Coffee Pasal, Durbarmarg. I came to learn that he was also involved in the same business. We met again after the meetup to talk more since he showed his interest to invest in and help grow my business. Right after a week, I sold more than half of my business’s share to him and one more friend. Losing my portion of share could lessen down my earnings but I also knew that making them a part of my business would make the size of the pie itself bigger. We three teamed up and decided to add investment to hire a great developer, designer and writer. I then had a talk with one of my friends, who was initially helping me in developing the product, to join us as a full-time developer. He happily accepted the offer and joined our team.
In the first month, we were hardly making any money but in the next two months we grew tremendously. In six months, we were already in profit and were now able to pay salary from its sales. We could now also afford to make savings for the company. The spike in our growth was pretty strong but at the same time we realized that some improvements needed to be made in the product for its sustainable growth. We also understood that the level of expertise needed for this kind of enhancement is not in our hands.
In September 2018, we decided to exit from this product as we could see the potential for its growth but it required a different level of expertise. From the same bloggers’ network, we had a friend who was ready to help us find a potential buyer. After several meetings and connections, we finally landed on someone who was interested to fully acquire the product. We then went through two months of due diligence and successfully handed over the ownership.
We wanted to share this blog to encourage people to accept rejections and trust your idea, you never know where it can go. Don’t be afraid to take chances just because some people do not nod along with you. And yes, always say yes to side projects.
Connecting the dots:
- Had I not been rejected, I wouldn’t have never started my own product in the first place.
- Had I not been rejected in the startup-accelerator programs, I wouldn’t have met new co-founders.
- Had I not sold out the share of my product to them, the size of the pie would never grow.
- Had I not attended bloggers meetup, I would never have found a mentor who helped me make my product bigger. I eventually became WE!
- Had we not exited, this product would not grow to the best it can.
We have strong NDA(Non Disclosure Agreement) with our buyer so cannot mention the products URL and Financial details.
Next: Hello World, new product on the line…