It started with a phone call.

My friend from the university called me and asked me if I was still working on that Thunder thing. Thunder is sad story of mine. I started Thunder a couple of years ago. I just wanted to build and launch something. I couldn’t come up with any original idea so I took the Cloudapp’s idea and just copied it. The point was to get some experience and practical knowledge. I didn’t know how Amazon S3 works or how to attract users. So it was an interesting and exciting journey. I thought that it would be cool if I could make some money out of it, but if not — well, I won’t care a lot.

Guess what, I was working on Thunder version 1 for about 8 months (quite a few for a simple file sharing app, huh?) and by the time I finally launched it, I already hated it. I couldn’t stand working on it. I haven’t touched a single thing from that very time I launched it. Unfortunately, I haven’t even implemented the payments. So, even though I had some users, I never figured out how many people would pay for it. I learned a lot, oh yes I did, but still, I consider Thunder a failure. Plus I spent a lot of time working on something I really loved and yet, I ended up hating it. Quite a sad experience in a way.

Now, let’s go back to my epiphany. I hope most of you are familiar with this whole Customer Development thing. It says that instead of focusing on your product you should focus on your customers and their problems. Now I realize, even after reading The Startup Owner’s Manual a few times and working in several startups I never fully understood the concept.

But now I do. As I mentioned, my friend called me yesterday and he asked me if I was still working on that Thunder thing. Turned out, he has a friend who works in a 30 people company here in St-Petersburg and they need something to share files inside the company. He would pay for something like Thunder, he just needs a few more features.

Boom. This was the epiphany moment. When my friend told me that someone’s willing to pay money for something that I built, It all flipped upside down. I stopped hating, I love my cute little project again.

It happens to many of us, especially to those who’s trying to start a business on their own, when you don’t have anyone to count on but yourself. You start a project, you work hard and you love it. But as the time goes by, you have to spend more and more time motivating yourself. And the whole process slows down. And your project dies. It happened to 90% of all my projects.

Now I know at least one way of dealing with it — find someone who’s willing to pay.