Do you continue a startup when circumstances are bad, but interest is there?

In mid-2020, I had first pivoted my startup to something else (because of COVID-19)  and then stopped working on it because I didn’t know exactly how to continue.

Now, the Substack at (that is also on hold) is getting traction. Every day (since Nov 8) I’ve been receiving signups and I don’t know where they’re coming from.

I’m at 75 now. Yes, it’s not a lot but I feel like being kicked in the arse that now after (!) I stopped working on it, there are people showing active interest.

My question is: Do you continue a startup when circumstances are COVID-19-bad but interest is there?

I’d appreciate your perspective or another question to ask to find an answer.

- Alex

Really difficult questions, there are so many unknown parameters.

My 2cts:
As long as there is interest (And by that I mean a REAL interest, not just some curious people), there is a market. COVID or not COVID.
Trust your instinct, you are the expert on your own problem.

That’s great advice! Thank you, Florian :)

Trust your instinct, you are the expert on your own problem.

I like this one ☝️ a lot!

You haven't got anything to lose by talking to your users and seeing what they want. If it looks viable build the next step

You’re exactly right, Matt. There is no need for me to fear their feedback.

Which just made me think of one of my favorite mantras:

rejection > regret

Thx Matt!

I'd reach out to those email subscribers and ask what made them sign up. What they are hoping to get out of it.

Their response, or lack thereof, hopefully tells you where to go from there.

True and spot on!

Cheers Marc 🙏

Looks cool! I think there’s plenty of opportunity to pivot this to a remote, COVID-friendly world.

Another interesting route could be a productized service. Get some good contractors on board, find a niche within voiceover actors, put up a landing page, and sell a service.

Then if and when it works, start automating pieces of it and maybe turn it into a product.

That’s very cool feedback, Tim!

I just remembered, there were a couple of voiceover artists who filled out the complete questionnaire and they sent me all the details.

And then I got scared and didn’t know what to do with it.

I believe you got me on a great thinking path - now thinking out loud =>

There is nothing out there that actively and transparently gives voice actors work. It’s all relatively secretly and with a “I’m scared to risk my reputation” kind of thinking.

What if there was a way for VO artists to publicly talk about their work by simply showing what they did, e.g.

VO Artist voiced Project Name for Company Name.


“Gordon Shumway voiced ALF for Melmac LLC”

Tagline: Show off your work by showing your work. What did you get done today? For REAL.

This would be a very inspired idea 💡 ;)

And this would show hiring companies who worked on what by the simple presentation of their timeline, not by bla bla marketing text on their website.

Yea that's cool! Very "WIP-py".

It'd be awesome if it worked, but building out a 2-sided marketplace from it would be tricky as a single, bootstrapped founder (ie a community for voice actors - supply, and hiring companies - demand). Maybe focus on only 1 side of it?

I'd try and zero in on the top problems voice actors face (just some ideas; you know better than me)

As a voice actor,

  1. I struggle to find work.
  2. I need community and accountability.

Or, the other side:

As a business,

  1. I struggle to find high quality voice actors.
  2. I struggle to manage voice actors.

Once you zero in on one top problem, you can narrow your your product to solve that problem as simply as possible.


You’re spot on with the problems that VOs face.

ACTUALLY, through my prior work (I connected to 100+ Recording studios in Morocco, Spain, Portugal, UK, and the US by going there in person and connecting f2f) I have a list of prospects that also have connections to hiring companies and that want to fill their studio because I initially connected studios and traveling voiceover artists (“voiceover nomads”) but now that I pivoted - COVID-caused - the voiceover artists and the studio have become one and the other side are hiring companies.

So, I’m pretty strong on the studio side (offering the supply), and the hirer side (the demand) is something I need to work for on the most.

building out a 2-sided marketplace from it would be tricky as a single, bootstrapped founder

That’s right, it is tricky but imagine it ACTUALLY worked. The vision of it alone makes my eyes grow :D

You got me thinking and I’ll start having some conversations with the people (actors and hiring companies that I’m connected with).

Thank you! That was really helpful already :)

I like this tactic! I used to start random meetup groups, just to see if people sign up. Actually, I still have a group with 40-something signups (…) and never ever organized anything for it. Maybe you can try to start a conversation with them? Or organize some sort of event to start to create community and discover what they are looking for?

haha that’s cool!

I actually have done something similar on LinkedIn. There’s this group I created and it’s called “Digital Nomads Around The World”….

I created it a while ago and without any promotion there are currently 925 people inside. I still don’t know what to do with the group though.

And, just to clarify... on the Substack publication for Studiolist I had published stuff (on a weekly basis) so it’s not only a placeholder.

Maybe you can try to start a conversation with them? Or organize some sort of event to start to create community and discover what they are looking for?

Yep. That’s a good idea, and it’s probably the direction I’ll be taking.

Approaching the people who signed up seems to be the bottom line of what you and the other WIP folks that generously shared their feedback here recommend.

Thanks Adriaan 🙏 😊

That is a big group! I never started a meetup to start a company or business around it. It was more like, I want to learn more about this, let's see if other people are out there. I wonder how digital nomads are dealing with all the travel restrictions these days. Do they stay at places more long term and wait for things to clear up? A friend of mine is on the move and he tends to go to places he thinks are safer and less restricted.