No Food, One Problem. Have Food, Many Problems.

2 min read

I have been a huge Econtalk fan for over ten years. On his podcast with Sebastian Junger, Russ Roberts brought up what he called a Chinese proverb. No food, one problem. Have food, many problems. The wisdom of this saying really resonated with me.

We started Liquidata in August 2017 to build an online data catalog. As we iterated towards Dolt and DoltHub, I was fond of modifying the proverb above to "No product, one problem. Have product, many problems." I even tweeted it.

After spending the last twenty years or so at rapidly growing enterprises, this judgment seemed really wise. All we need is a product. After we have a product, everything will explode in a good and bad way.

Boy, was I wrong. Over the past six months we iteratively launched Dolt and DoltHub, first in private beta and then publicly. It didn't take long for me to amend my wisdom to "No customers, one problem. Have customers, many problems."

Getting people to use something you build is the hardest thing about being a start up. Obviously, we believe we built something really cool and useful. Convincing other people to first pay attention and second do work to adopt your technology is difficult. Dolt and DoltHub have some users and we cheer every time a real user shows up and gives us feedback. Thank you to everyone who has tried our software.

One of the things we're doing to attract customers is writing this blog. We want as many people as possible to know how we are thinking and what we are doing. We hope as people learn more about us and the product we're building, they will be inspired to use it.

This whole process has given me a deep appreciation for early adopters. Early adopters are the heroes of the startup world. We deified founders and investors but there is a financial incentive in it for those folks. Early adopters take a risk with your technology with the only upside being that it solves a problem for them and they get to claim pioneer status if and when the thing gets big. Early adopters are the real heroes of the startup community.

We have a product for you to try but if versioning data is not your thing, at DoltHub we use JustWorks for HR/Payroll, Carta for equity management, Notion for our product backlog, and Egghead.io for online learning.

Be an early adopter. Go create problems for an entrepreneur. They are starving for it.

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