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I've had three expert reviews with no feedback and don't really expect to become a Pioneer at this stage. I've spent a lot of the last 30 weeks in the top 50, bounced in and out a couple of times. I still enjoy the community, giving and getting feedback and have had some really useful points made by the other members so I'm not going anywhere. I'd like to think I've given at least twice the value I've received, especially in the weekly calls.
I'm aware of some of the major weaknesses in the product and they will be addressed but possibly not demonstrating the kind of rapid progress that may be desired. It may take until this time next year to have Touchgram deliver the vision and delight I want, along with a robust monetisation.
I'm stubborn - it took me nearly 30 years to earn my black belt in a tough, traditional kung fu style (they didn't really tell me what I was doing wrong either). A few years grinding to improve a product are nothing.
I blog occasionally on my technical side but not regularly as I'm more concerned with promoting Touchgram so I aim at design communities. I will email you as always happy to provide feedback especially to fellow wanderers in the mists of fuzzy-target-market-land.
Most of the people I know as technical bloggers are very active on Twitter and that's where they announce their new postings.
There's a difference between can't make visible on website and must keep secret.
I've become a fan of using public Notion or Evernote pages to allow people to see details of things being worked on and how you are thinking about that.
Design tasks, research tasks, can all be items on which you need to make progress.
Agree strongly, don't let participating in Pioneer drive what you're planning. I've slipped into that thinking a couple of times and regretted it.
Remember that internally there's some magic math about the strength of who you're compared against and, after many months in here, I have to say in general they do a good job of matching up the pairings. I've never seen anything where I thought it was an utterly ridiculous pairing.
Provide enough detail so people can see if you're putting in the work and progressing. If you don't have an app or finished website, put up Notion or Evernote pages - something shareable and link to them so people can easily see the progress. But, include a quick summary of the high points as not everyone will bother following links.
I see it as an early noise-filter.
I did YC's free Startup School a couple of times. There's almost no barrier to entry to be in there and the quality of founders reflects that - lots of dreamers with no ability to put effort into their startup. That means, when you end up on video calls with people, often those are time-wasting.
At the very least, requiring people to do this test is a filter that stops people from coming in who are not going to take the tournament seriously.
solo, international, w/o any users :)
YC reject for lots of reasons - they have a massive pile of applications to get through. I got rejected on applying in 2019 with a barely-launched product. A YC graduate I know, who'd recommended me, was unfortunately unable to review my application in time. Looking at it later, he said I was way too detailed - they have an obsession with brevity. (I thought that only applied to the summary section).
So I wouldn't dwell on not being good enough for YC
A year later, I'm still in the same boat, although Pioneer has helped a lot with focusing on where I want to go, unfortunately there's a lot of work to get there.
I generally prefer stuff that gives me either some useful tip - a new resource that's relevant - or if someone points out how to improve things. I've seen a bit of duplicate copy-paste general advice (hilarious when you see same comment repeated on someone else's Frontier feedback page) and lazy or hurried "nice job" comments.
If I spot typos or major layout mistakes on a website I'll call them out.
I save every review I make so will often compare people's progress to what I'd said last time. It is really gratifying when you see a suggestion carried through, especially when someone finally nails their one-liner or a fuzzy website becomes a lot clearer.
group session ... it's not well structured to boost our progress towards our goals
What, specifically is wrong with the current discussions? You can pretty much drive them any way you like, as a participant, to get focused feedback.
understand the startup way of thinking
I have only the vaguest idea what you mean by that. I've been a founder twice, worked for other startups and been studying it for years. There's no one startup way of thinking - that's about as useful a categorisation as European way or African way as startups vary wildly depending on their access to capital, mentorship, founder's backgrounds and society surrounding them.
I really recommend https://thisweekinstartups.com/e1016-substack-ceo-co-founder-chris-best-empowers-writers-via-his-email-newsletter-platform-shares-insights-on-driving-change-in-the-attention-economy-raising-15m-from-a16z-providing-value-to-r/
monetize it directly instead of having to go through an intermediary like medium
I have no idea what you mean by that. You're going to be a medium-like intermediary.
Do you mean something different to Medium in terms of how payments are set? If so, be more explicit in what you say, like authors set their own prices (which is how Substack works - they just take 10%).