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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#18: What keeps me up at night - Beachhead market

2 months
I am laying here in bed wide awake. I have a very clear idea of the problem I’m trying to solve as an entrepreneur, but finding the right starting point to build traction with an initial market is tough. How do you discover an initial customer base that has a distinct problem that you can provide a solution for?

I’ve tried a number of hypotheses and the general excitement was there, but actions spoke differently than words. I’ve been tapping into a space that draws interest, but haven’t nailed a pain point that is triggering an immediate response. I haven’t quite landed on the right value proposition for my customers.

I’ve done some early experiments which included a brief survey and some customer conversations. What has been generally universal is that creators are pressed for time. Many are doing their creations as a side gig with aspirations that one day out could become a business. I need to provide them value by saving them time in some way.

Another interesting point is that there seems to primarily be interest in video creation (YouTube and Tik Tok) and/or podcasting. Some are blogging but most seem to be focused on video or audio. I think I need to really focus my attention on these specific kinds of creators. This is a popular niche that has momentum and a growing need for value.

So that’s it. My beachhead market is YouTubers and podcasters that want to save time. See how easy that was? Ok now to figure out exactly what the solution will need to be... 😆

Photo by Michael Olsen on Unsplash

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#17: I am invisible to the algorithm

2 months
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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#16: A week after the survey for my big idea

John Dodson 2 months
The big idea fizzled.

I did, however, get ten responses from the survey. I believe that the responses probably came from maybe seven or eight unique individuals. It was a good idea to pull back from putting money into the responses because of extremely limited reach. As mentioned previously, I'll save that for a future "fundraiser". Despite the small sample, it did provide a little bit of insight.

Some interesting findings:

YouTube and podcasts covered the entirety of responses. Some were classified as different types of content, but all links were directed to YouTube (8) or a podcast platform (2). All ten responses were marked as never having financially supported the creator, but also would be willing to support that creator if it didn't require their own money. (A couple more responses were shared in the comments of my post, and it include one YouTube channel and one podcast.)

Videos & Podcasts


These results matched one hypothesis that I was interested in finding out. As we consume content for free, people would still like to be able to support their favorite creators more.

No disagreement in the responses


Again, the sample was very small, but it did point me in a direction I had been thinking about. How can I create an environment where audiences can support their favorite creators without the use of cash?

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Inside Pivvt Inside Pivvt

Who are your favorite creators?

John Dodson 2 months
🔥 Independent content creators are the future of media. YouTube channels and podcasts have blown up in recent years, and there is so much amazing content available. With the abundance of content comes obscurity. It is hard to discover great creators because there is just so many of them out there. BUT where are they?

👀 I want to discover great content creators. Who are the creators that you check out regularly, whether if it's watching their videos, reading their articles, or listening to their podcast? Who are these hidden gems that you follow, whether once a week, or even every day?

⬇️ Please fill out the form below. I am working on compiling a list and will share it at the end of the survey. This survey will be open for just one week, so please submit your answers and share the link to this post (or survey) to your friends.

🙏🏼 Thank you so much for your input!


(The form asks for an email address; your address will NOT be shared. I will send a follow-up at the end of the survey, and will also be sending a thank you note to each person that responds via the form.)

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#15: Quick update on the little big idea

John Dodson 2 months
It was a busy week/weekend working on getting some final pieces wrapped up for our app and landing page, and also putting in some work on my Y Combinator application (more about that later).

I finally had the chance to get around to preparing my survey to send out to people tomorrow. One thing that I thought about was that my test was actually more complicated than it needed to be. I thought about simplifying it a bit, especially it being the first one.

I'm removing the money and making it just a survey. Will people respond to share who their favorite creators are? I also ask if they've ever financially supported this creator, and if they would give if it didn't involve their own money. Very curious about answers to that one.

In the future, I would like to give out money, but perhaps that's something to be done in the future AFTER I gather a bit more traction, so we can raise even more money to give to creators.

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Inside Pivvt Inside Pivvt

New landing page launched

John Dodson 2 months
Just released: An updated version of our landing page. We hope that it does a good job of sharing with you what we do and how we can help you.

Use one of the buttons on the page to let us know if you would like to get started!

The Internet, For You

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#14: Will this work? My next little big idea

Pivvt Feed 2 months
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An idea came to mind late last night of a way for me to quickly test some of my ideas, and to connect with an audience that appreciated independent content creators. As a brand new entrepreneur, this is a very challenging time as you are new and have to convince others to buy in to your big idea.

Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash


I want to test if people would be willing to simply share who their favorite independent podcasters, bloggers, and YouTubers are, with a chance for those creators to receive some money in return. Here's to a successful test!

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#13: What's keeping me up at night - Team

John Dodson 2 months
It's getting late, but HR is on my mind. Well, not exactly since we are just a team of two people. We have been able to accomplish so much on our own, but if we had another person or two working with us, we could accomplish so much more. Or at least I'd like to think so. Yeah, we would.

We started our company with four cofounders, but chose to dissolve that team as we ended up deciding to scrap the idea we had been working on. Fortunately for me, I was able to retain a tech cofounder since she's married to me and is in a position where she really needs me to get things going with Pivvt!

There are a number of things on the horizon, especially as we focus at this stage to bring in customers. The more people that use our app, the more holes they will poke in it, and the more features they will demand. As mentioned in the last episode of the podcast, if we are able to secure a spot in one of the top accelerators, we would benefit by having another developer or two to help us grow faster.

I have worked in software for a number of years now, but most of my friends are fairly risk intolerant, so it has been hard to get someone to bite. You really need someone to trust in the vision, and someone that can be as excited and motivated to push forward with you, especially when you don't have the funds to pay salaries quite yet.

We are fortunate to be able to handle the needs of our business up until this point in time, but finding the right person has definitely been on my mind and is keeping me up at night.

Photo by Charles Forerunner on Unsplash

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#12: It's startup accelerator season

John Dodson 2 months
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Time for episode 2 of the podcast where I introduce the topic of startup accelerators, my experience with two programs, and what's next for Pivvt.

I participated in the inaugural cohort for Newchip, an online accelerator out of Austin, and went through the free Startup School online program. I learned a lot between the two and am ready to prepare for the big leagues.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash


Applications for Y Combinator just opened for summer 2021 and Techstars and 500 Startups have year round programs that they interview for. I will be working toward landing a spot in one of these, and I'll be sure to post updates on how that process goes here on the blog.

These programs are a mix of investment capital and mentorship, and with what we are doing now, it will be a great springboard as we would be able to tap into the respective network of the program we eventually land at. Crossing my fingers for good luck in the application and selection process!

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Vulnerable Founder Vulnerable Founder

#11: Sometimes you just have to...react

John Dodson 2 months
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2020 was quite a year for us at Pivvt. We began the year by diving in headfirst, completely turning away from a reliable salary, and started working full-time on our idea as a couple. Little did we know that the year would be bookended by a global pandemic and political turmoil in the United States.

I recorded episode 1 of our podcast and shared some brief reflections on what was going on in our mind and what we had to deal with in such a tumultuous year.

One thing I forgot to point out is that all of these changes were out of our control. We had to forge on with what we were doing and keep on grinding forward. Sometimes simply reacting is what you just have to do. And that is exactly what we did.

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