Pioneer Fatigue
Shared by adriankrebs · 27d ago · 30 comments

Don't get me wrong, I received so much valuable feedback from Pioneer users and the weekly updates really helped me to get things done.

However, I sometimes feel the pressure to publish some awesome new updates in my weekly report, even though I just wanted to work on some basic UX stuff or refactoring for a few weeks. It almost feels like the goals have to be "instagramable" in order to get upvotes. Anyone else has the same feeling? · 27d ago

After 52 weeks in the top 20 I've seen little correlation between major value inflection points and upvotes.

What I have observed is that applying diligence and care when you are giving feedback to other people's projects will ultimately come back to you in the form of value over time.

Eventually, you will help others striving to help their customers. Some of those will help you with honest feedback that's a useful sounding board as you try to help your customers. So on average, after many weeks, some value will be created.

The marginal utility of that value may decay depending on the mix of players, the focus of your efforts from week to week and the vagaries of the platform in general. Just my opinion but hope it helps.

jeremyorr · 26d ago

How bad is your project that you have been in the top 20 for a year and can't 'graduate' out of Pioneer?!?! maybe not the kind of project one should take advice from... just saying. It doesn't even look like they read your concerns, just some cut-and-paste blah blah. · 26d ago

Thanks for your kind words Jeremy.

I don't judge my project by whether or not I "graduate" from Pioneer. The month after I joined Pioneer I had 64 installs for the month. Last month I had over 10,000 and it's been growing at about 170% per month with zero ad spend.

To your hypothesis, I know of three projects that weren't selected by Pioneer that have raised over $500K in seed funding while they were active on Pioneer as players. Also, one of my favorite projects on the platform,, was in the top 10 for the whole time me and my co-founder were on Pioneer. They didn't "graduate" until three months ago.

Have a great day!

dantop · 25d ago

You shouldn't have responded, he doesn't deserve it.

I do want to thank you for your honest advice and opinion on Jobshive, it actually helped us to go from pre-revenue to our first $2,500 in revenue.
Since then we've been growing massively.
Rooting for you mate. · 24d ago

Thank you for saying that Daniel! I had no idea! That really makes me feel even better about the whole process. Thanks! Go JobsHive!

inbalshenfeld · 24d ago

I'm sorry, no reason to respond to that pointless comment. You have written so beautifully. You are embedment or the pioneer community. His reply had zero added value. Keep it up man!!! · 22d ago

Thank you Inbal! I greatly appreciate you saying that.

Have a great day! · 26d ago certainly does not need my or anybody's approval here on Pioneer. may be just too grown-up for Pioneer at this point. It is a successful company and an inspiration to me. I still get valuable specific advice even when I present no updates. · 26d ago

Hey, thanks a lot for that! It really means a lot to hear you say that. I've been a fan and follower of since the first time I reviewed it many months ago.

This month my four year old co-founder, and daughter, was able to accurately factor multiple quadratic trinomials (through inspection) independently. If it wasn't for the work we did together on Brainsprays I don't think a system to teach that useful exercise to very young children would exist today. In that regard, Brainsprays is a no-loose proposition for both of us.

She follows our progress on Pioneer, interjected occasionally on calls and she also sets many of our goals :D

Thanks again!

jeremyorr · 26d ago

I don't see any reason to harsh @adriankrebs any more and I apologies to you mate for starting something so controversial when you just wanted a pick me up, that was not my intention. As I said, keep up the good work on!

DesignForHappiness · 26d ago

Anything that happens again and again and again will give fatigue. When you feel a bit of fatigue, just drop out for a little bit and come back. You'll feel more positive and energised to submit progress that is meaningful. · 25d ago

Pioneer fatigue is real. That said I agree with what Brad & Andy et al have said. Here's what I've learned over the last 7months:

1. Pioneer doesn't have all the answers. They operate very much like a startup running experiments and seeing what works and what doesn't. It's flawed reasoning to judge a company by how successful they are in the tournament, as Brad pointed out.

2. I've found a total of ZERO accelerators/incubators that offer as much value to super early stage and solo founders as Pioneer.

3. The number of players continues to increase, so the margin between 1 & 50 is getting slimmer and slimmer. It takes just as much (perhaps more) work to stay in the top 50 as to get there in the first place.

4. New companies can reach the top and be selected very quickly. Conversely long term players can also succeed. Companies have pivoted completely and then been selected. That is to say, anyone can make it.

5. The tournament optimises for real world pitching/raising.

6. Giving feedback is the most important part. It forces you to analyse another startup's strengths and weaknesses and think differently about your own.

7. Even if you don't have a lot to "show", itemise what you "do" in your updates. The voting scores vary wildly from week to week but with consistent reporting you will rise.

Showing up every every week has made Miit a better startup and made me a better founder. This week I handed over the keys Pioneer to my tech lead because he wants to learn more about the entrepreneurial side of running a startup. I couldn't think of a better tool to get him started than going through the Pioneer system. Thats the real value.

brugeman · 26d ago

I've had the same feelings. There have been weeks when I had almost nothing to post in my report, because all I delivered were thoughts in my text file. However, I think your concerns about upvotes is misplaced:

1. Most of points needed to reach top 50 come from thorough useful feedback you give to others, not from your own reports. I've been at top 50 for several weeks and then slid down after I started spending less time on giving feedback.

2. Personally, when I think about my project objectively, I believe I just don't deserve a place in top 50 if my reports aren't impressive. Working on basic UX stuff or refactoring for several weeks might be something I believe is necessary, but that's just not the right time for me to get reviewed by Pioneer team.

So, you're not alone. Discomfort exists, and that's fine. If you believe you're doing your best, then upvotes don't matter. The discomfort pushes you forward, and when your reports do become impressive, that's when you should start caring more about upvotes (by giving great feedback to others) to get reviewed by Pioneer. Until then, keep doing your best.

PaulGustafson · 15d ago

Pioneer updates aren't perfectly aligned with progress towards your/our goals. It would be better if there weren't weekly deadlines, but rather completely incremental updates. Update whenever you want, just like regular games.

johnking · 25d ago

Also, I've always taken a friend's advise, "Do you, Be you, and just Show Up and try your best" don't feel pressure about exceeding expectations -- just keep building a kick ass product that delights your customers (winning your actual customers matter most). Again the feedback here has been amazing as a solo founder trying my best during a covid-environment to build what my team and I love. Keep up the good work @Adriankrebs. And thank you for the on-point advise (you've helped TAPP become our better-selves). · 25d ago

Wow, thanks for saying that John. It means a lot. BTW, your app and site keep getting better. The food images are awesome. They market to the senses and it definitely worked on me (got me to keep scrolling to other categories) :D Thanks again.

johnking · 12d ago

Hey Brainsprays hope you're doing well! I just want to congratulate you for getting to Pioneer level . Your positivity, insights, & feedback to others have always been "on-point" since I joined Pioneer. I've been just concentrating on my current active users and re-iterating to make TAPP on-boarding and engagement seamless -- so I haven't been able to participate here. Also attending Craig ZIngerline's courses from Launch University -- to learn more about growth and all among other things. Again, congrats!! · 12d ago

Hi John, thank you so much! I really appreciate it! My four year old co-founder was super excited "we won!", she said :D

TAPP is looking great! I checked out some of Craig's courses - looks like a lot of people from Pioneer are using his strategies. That's cool!

Thanks again John!

johnking · 25d ago

Honest feedback has been great from Pioneer community so far. Just need to keep iterating and listening to everyone's feedback here and most importantly the customers that we serve :) I haven't been here as long as others, but I find great value in just keeping track and asking questions and feedback. I've learned from many of you and thank you for encouragement and feedback -- I love giving back to newbies and founders who seek real feedback and suggestions -- look here as a community. The tournament is just a neat way to gamefy what I do weekly anyways iterate, improve, streamline and track metrics -- and if anyone will find TAPP useful willl be an added delight to me and my team.

huongngtm · 26d ago

Yes, it does feel a bit pressured to keep everything up, especially when you really need a slow phase to figure things out. But as I thought about whether I should keep 'playing', I found that it came down to the question WHY am I in it?

What matters most to us is (1) feedback, (2) getting funded by Pioneer if possible and/or (3) having a sense of community to stay motivated. So when our progress is slow and nothing changes much, we know that we shouldn't expect much for (1) and (2). Upvotes and ranking don't matter then. We stayed for (3) only, knowing that we will resume on making progress later.

And it turns out that we still receive meaningful feedback despite humble progress. Also, giving thoughtful feedback to other players helps us maintain decent ranking too. So after all, when getting funded by Pioneer is not a goal we are working on, we needn't worry much about getting upvoted.

gandalf-016894 · 26d ago

Of course...
Because of this 'instragramable' tendency, I decided during five month to leave pioneer. Then come back.
I knew I had a big difficult technical thing I had to do on my software. It would take me 4 month before I could show anything.
Hence this 5 month pause.

If sharing feedback is the strengh of Pioneer, its weekly fix rythm is perhaps its weakness.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 26d ago

I disagree strongly.
As I posted already in this thread, it's not hard to provide details of work you're doing and show incremental progress. In that 5 months you missed 20 opportunities to ask for feedback. That could have been as many as 200 different people looking at your project & probably at least 80.

I've worked on some fairly demanding technical projects (stereoscopic movies, 3D CAD, database engines). Very little stuff is that technically demanding you cannot explain things you're thinking through and get feedback. (Maybe yours is in that esoteric level.) I don't ask people here to provide feedback on the internals of data encoding or touch feedback algorithms in Touchgram but very little of that happens without some more user-facing concerns.

I'm pushing back quite hard on this thinking because it's semi-public and I dont' want others reading it to think that they need to show off polished pretty stuff on Pioneer updates. Unless you're doing very deep technical work, most things need to be tied back to potential user scenarios.

johnking · 25d ago

Welcome back! Feedback is the strength here -- I'm sure you can get it elsewhere, but I find value once you've worked out most of the kinks. I held back signing on to Pioneer until I have something really to show -- but its also a good place to see what others think about your initial idea -- so I hope you'll find some nuggets from feedback. Some founders like to build publicly and others in stealth. The 3 of us are just scrappy iterating for PMF and getting great feedback along the way and paying it back to others.

AndyDent-Touchgram · 26d ago

Yes and no. I've not put out a new version of Touchgram for many months, partly because of outside factor delays, partly due a monster bug and then frankly some meandering whilst deciding how some stuff works.
(Unlike almost all other products here, I have a major document compatibility issue because a binary message is sent so new stuff needs to be coded in there otherwise people are constantly forced to update.)

A few weeks ago, as part of being more thoughtful about design, I started publishing longer-form updates via Evernote which lets me show the degree of thinking and technical work occurring, even before it's visible on the app store. Even though I'm just a solo founder, I tend to think out loud with such design documents. This makes it easier to show progress even when it doesn't always end up in a release or instagrammable moment.

A design example -
Marketing and product directional thinking -
Core engineering example - · 26d ago

I just published my first "mail it in" update - and started with "slow week...took the kids to Orlando"
you are totally normal!

jeremyorr · 26d ago

Got to agree with this! Start-up is a marathon, not a sprint, especially if you're a solo-prenuer. Your website looks great and functions well, so take the time you need and know at least one person wishes they were where you are at! · 23d ago

I agree to some extent, but personally I'm able to better judge someone's progress not just on what they wanted to do last week and what they accomplished, more so when some projects come to me for 2nd or 3rd time is when I'm able to make a connection and understand their path better.

On the other side, publishing awesome new updates does have it's own effect on the people reading, some times it's a set of new ideas for myself from someone's update, some times it's something inspiring. But I come across those ones who write things in a straightforward manner in terms of where they are stuck or were not able to meet their deadlines and am able to connect with them equally. I do think if someone has all the checkboxes ticked, has a higher probability of upvotes.

At the end of the day I'm in this without expectations, it just keeps me going week after week and most importantly being in a community of such a diverse range of products' founders gives good learning in terms of success, struggles and feedbacks. The day this learning saturates, or I'm unable to put this into my priority list, I graduate. :)

davidcrombie · 25d ago

Add some team members.

inbalshenfeld · 24d ago

that's such a great idea · 22d ago

Would be great if you could give access permissions