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You can go from idea to revenue in 24 hours

Think this subject line is clickbait? You’re dead wrong. Over the last few weeks, I’ve seen a dozen teams do exactly that.

These are their stories. dun-dun

Read time: 3 minutes.

The most powerful thing any early-stage founder can do is find evidence of buying behavior.

It’s a whole chain of increasingly compelling evidence:

  • Are the customers out there?
  • Can you find them?
  • Do they have the problem?
  • Do they want a solution?
  • Do they want your solution?
  • Will they pay for it?
  • Can you retain them?
  • Will they refer friends?

If you want to convince investors, cofounders, or early hires to run with you, find robust evidence as far along that chain as you can.

Unfortunately, founders are fantastic at throwing up roadblocks that prevent them from getting validation from the marketplace:

  • I don’t even have a product yet!
  • Lemme just set up our website first…
  • We just need X, and then we’ll do it.
  • etc.

And it’s all bullshit — sorry.

Want some motivation? Maybe a few ideas? Here are the stories of 6 founding teams I met over the last couple of months, all of whom found strong evidence of buying behavior in less than 24 hours.

Gather around, kids — it’s story time. 👇

Jay discarded the uninteresting, and did things that don’t scale.

detailGo is an Uber-like app connects those who need their car cleaned with the mobile detailers who can meet them where they are.

Like Uber, they take a small percent of transaction, so collecting money isn’t the important part. After all, if the customer will pay $175 for car detailing, the marginal transaction fee shouldn’t kill the deal.

So they didn’t focus on getting revenue — but on facilitating the transaction. That’s the critical hypothesis.

But, despite the overwhelingly strong positive response from detailers, they couldn’t make on-demand work, because the biggest problem detailers have is scheduling: they’re just too busy and book too far out (due to inefficiencies with which the platform would help).

So, what did they do? They used simple text messaging as a prototype, and cleaned the cars themselves. Because scalable doesn’t matter — software is easy.

Jay and team were able to facilitate multiple transactions on a single Saturday.

Aryan leveraged crowdfunding in an unusual way.

LuxVest is a platform to allow fractional investment in luxury goods, like Hermes handbags.

Crowdfunding might be an obvious choice: will people to pay you to develop the platform? It’s not bad, but it’s not the most interesting question. It’s less do customers want the platform to exist, and more will they would use it to invest in a handbag.

And therein lies the rub — these luxury handbags run a cool $10k, and you can’t sell fractional shares of something you don’t have.

Insert crypto joke of choice.

What did Aryan and team do? They targeted their crowdfunding on the thing of value: the bag itself. Crowdfund the purchase in exchange for fractional ownership thereof.

In less than 24 hours, they raised more than $1k from dozens of customers. Yowza.

Brielle pre-sold a consumer good.

Silent Trash Day is a silicon band that wraps the wheel of municipal garbage cans to dampen the sound.

Quick aside — the idea stemmed from the personal complaints of the team’s founders, 11-year-old Brielle and her 8-year-old brother Garrett, who were tired of Dad waking them up each week with the “dinosaur roar” of the can making its way down the driveway.

They took the most straightforward approach possible: they created a working demo by finding a rubber band of the approximate size required, and filmed a video demonstrating the 49% reduction in sound.

They then put the video in front of suburban homeowners with families, and made $240 in pre-orders in less than 24 hours. Boom.

Rachel bet on customers’ willingness pay her to solve a big problem.

DeepConnect is an app that facilitates capturing, categorizing, and following up with new connections to help conference-goers maximize the value of the people they meet.

Rachel and team also took a fairly direct route: they found potential customers at niche events, empathized with their pain, talked about the value proposition, and showed them a clickable prototype that got the whites of their eyes to pop out.

Eagerness + urgency + acute pain = profit.

In one day? $500 in revenue from 77 early adopters. Heck yeah.

For Jonathan, it was more about distribution than dollars.

Pickup-Pack is an insulated, fireproof truck bed organizer that’s easy to set up and tear down.

We’re ending with the one that’s not like the other: no money changed hands.

Jonathan and his team of mostly high school students created a 3D model to demonstrate its rough features and appearance, which they then put in front of customers. They loved it.

Now… they could have crowdfunded or pre-sold, but they didn’t. Why? Because whether they could get a sale wasn’t the most interesting question.

Pickup-Pack’s go-to-market strategy didn’t include direct-to-consumer sales, so the team hit up local retailers of outdoor equipment and got commitments from several to sell it in their stores.

Letters of intent. With an idea and super primitive schemata. Damn.

Bottom line? Founders are running out of excuses.


It always seems impossible to find early revenue, until you start really thinking about it.

The broader lesson? Most obstacles you encounter in the startup journey are self-imposed, and getting around them is often just acknowledging that they aren’t real.

And, here’s something to think about — if you can’t figure out how to induce buying behaviour in short order, there might not be a there there.

So just get started, my friend.

Whenever you're ready, there are 3 ways I can help you.

  1. If you’re still in the idea-to-seed stage, trying to get early traction, I’d recommend starting with some coaching:

    → Book a 1:1 coaching session to tackle one key challenge, from prototype to pitch.

    → Apply to my Traction Coaching program, and we’ll find traction together.

  1. If you already have early traction, I’d recommend running a Traction Sprint to find the traction you need to get from Seed to Series A.
  1. Of course, you can always ask me a question for my weekly office hours livestream.

3-2-1 Traction Newsletter

Every Monday morning, you’ll get three big ideas from me, two curated ideas from others, and one thought-provoking question for you — all to help you find traction for your startup, or fail fast trying.