Double Tap

Last night I logged into Referly for the first time in a few weeks. I’ve been trying not to do that, because there are still so many things I want to fix and when I see them I just… and I was so in love with it and it’s just… and knowing that we aren’t continuing in this direction it just… hurts. It hurts.

I logged into the admin panel. I don’t know what I expected to see. If you’ve ever wondering what would happen if you stopped working on your startup I can tell you now so you don’t have to satisfy your morbid curiosity.

If you stop working on your startup, it dies.

None of this four hour workweek perpetual motion machine bullshit. It dies, or in our case it lingers on the brink of death. I’m still amazed that we have so many pageviews a day with nothing, no tweets, no Facebook posts, no blogging, no efforts to drive traffic or create new content at all (I had to let go of all our lovely writers). We turned off all our automated emails to customers, it’s been a month since we’ve sent them anything new, there are no new features (we let our engineers go too). It’s just me, Kevin and Andy now. The team went from 8 people to 3 in 24 hours. I couldn’t even go to our office for a week, it was too sad sitting there with those empty desks.

(But don’t you dare feel sorry for me, I did all this myself.)

It would be so easy to rationalize a case for “it’s working on its own, maybe you really have something here”. 8 new collections were made today, and 12 yesterday, and 5 the day before that… and I’m just wondering, who *are* these people? And 5 people signed up today. And 20 people logged in. Oh god, I’m actually tearing up because 175 new items were added to profiles today and these graphs look like… Actually, it kind of looks like the site is just doing its thing without us. It’s not growing, but it’s not dead.

This is why zombies are the worst, they suck you in and prey on your worst fear.

Did I make a huge mistake shutting this down?

I was so good until last night! I didn’t do this for 40 days… but on the 41st I gave in. I opened my editor tools to review all the new collections being created lately, the ones making the graph look like a weak little heartbeat.

It’s all spam.

Sigh. Now I remember why we shut this down. Back to work.


  • Mason

    In Tim’s defense, his advice about automating processes was for people who wanted to create a lifestyle business. I don’t think those rules apply to ambitious startups like yours, where there are lots more unknown variables.

    Thanks for the candid post, can’t wait to see your next move : )

  • Tyler

    Big congrats though on pulling the trigger. Boy is that hard. So many other entrepreneurs would see the same graphs, never dig any deeper, shrug their shoulders and say “well, it’s not great, but it’s doing something… I”ll just keep pouring hours and hours of my time in and hope things change”.

    Looking forward to the reboot as well!

  • James

    I think that you’ve missed an important point: you go on low maintenance when the business is successful, yours wasn’t. Great for you to pivot it but that’s not the meaning of lifestyle business. You build a simple business that can work without improving it a lot.

  • twintap

    Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Thank you

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