I first heard about 12 startups in 12 months from Pieter Levels. The idea is to build a startup each month for a whole year. When I say ‘startups’, I’m really talking about products. Small MVPs that can be built in a single month. The idea appeals to me because last year I spend months building a product only to give up on it and ship nothing else for the rest of the year. Shipping a new product every month takes the pressure off. The emphasis is on shipping not building the perfect product.

If I keep making products I believe that one of them will eventually show traction. It’s a manifestation of the phrase: “throw things against the wall and see what sticks”.

The Good

I took up the challenge in July and shipped CommitCheck then PR Scheduler in August.

  • I learned to cut scope and build the simplest thing users would find valuable
  • I created forward momentum to keep working on my projects, every day
  • I got more involved in communities like IndieHackers and ProductHunt to see what other people were building

I recommend the 12 startups challenge to anyone who wants to make products but has put it off.

The Bad

Pieter Levels didn’t finish. I don’t think anyone would. In fact, I don’t think finishing is a good outcome. If you’re shipping useful products people will start using them. They will find bugs, request features and send you emails. This is a drain on your time but you shouldn’t ignore it. It’s the early signs of product-market-fit. The thing startups are searching for.

In my case, I’ve had some traction with both products. CommitCheck has around 30 users and PR Scheduler about 10. I’ve fixed numerous bugs, implemented many new features and spent time emailing customers.

I’ve decided not to neglect my existing projects in order to ship a third in September. I will build a third product but it will be a few months down the line when my existing projects are further along.

Do it but don’t expect to finish it

To summarise my thoughts: Anyone who wants to build products but has trouble shipping should absolutely try 12 startups in 12 months. But I don’t think you’ll finish it and that’s just great.