Whit Anderson: From "bad" to BadUnicorn
Welcome to “Procrastineur”, a newsletter about struggles and successes in modern entrepreneurship. Thanks to all 13 of you who have signed up since the first issue released!
It’s Thursday, May 6, 2021, and this week’s founder is Whit Anderson:
An average student makes a great founder
Silly products make for great business
BadUnicorn To the Moon (or Mars)
Parkinson’s Law meets strict deadlines
Starting Slow in an Accelerator
Whit Anderson's younger self was, by his own admission, an average student. Math was never as interesting as whatever sport was in season. He made it through high school with no real direction, as many of us do.
In college it was more of the same. Whit played lacrosse at the D1 level before transferring to the University of Georgia to finish up his degree.
It was there that Whit's true journey began. He joined an idea accelerator offered through the Entrepreneurship program at UGA, and it was off to the races. Sort of.
In an accelerator, a person comes in with nothing but an idea. They take a few weeks focusing in on just that product to test out whether it can be built, how it fits with the market, and generally whether it's worth diving in and selling the product to the masses.
Whit spent the next eight weeks designing a sound amplifier for the then-new Alexa Dot. Visually, it was going to be very appealing, surrounding the Dot with an R2-D2 design.
The problem came in the market discovery process. Whit admits that he led witnesses and made other beginner mistakes. He could have iterated through the process more to find a better market fit, or failed more quickly. His R2-D2 amplifier didn't beep or boop its way into the market, but many of his creations since certainly have.
No More Physical Products
Looking at Whit's products today with BadUnicorn, you can see that he has found a fit between technology and silly products.
The path to his budding success has been a long one though. After his physical product didn't work out, Whit realized that he wanted to work with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), delivering products that anyone can use who has access to the internet.
Building software as a non-technical guy is a hard job though. Whit had trouble finding a co-founder he wanted to work with and trudged along for a while, creating business plans here and there for things that never made it off the paper he was using.
Finding NoCode – technology development programs that don't require coding – was a game changer. Whit was finally able to build MVPs (Minimum Viable Products, otherwise known as “things that work just well enough to test them”) and was able to get feedback on his ideas. Suddenly, Whit could iterate as he wanted, on his own schedule, and without a technical background.
The first success Whit launched was called Random Pizza (randompizza.io). Pay $19.99/mo and have two pizzas delivered at a random time to your home.
RandomPizza earned Whit his first dollar from the internet, a key point in any founder's life. It was a hit. With over 50 customers right off the bat and plenty of social media clout coming his way, Whit has taken off like a rocket.
To top if off, RandomPizza only took two days to build. It was silly. It made people smile. Whit had found his niche.
Bad Startup Ideas FTW
BadUnicorn was off and running.
Whit and his co-founder, Ash, decided to work with local, easy-to-access NoCode.
They drop a new edition every other Friday, with ideas ranging from betting on which date Elon Musk will land on Mars (aptly named MuskOnMars.space) to the Dollar Doer Club, combining goal setting with the ultimate motivator: embarrassment.
Whit currently works at TechStars in Atlanta, helping other founders reach their lofty goals of self-employment and running a successful business.
He has learned to spot a founder willing to see their plan through, knows how to evaluate ideas, and see the qualities that make both a business and founder worth betting on.
Breaking into the startup space was always a tricky. Whit likens building a product to physical work. The more you practice, the better your muscle memory becomes. It's very hard at first to know what you're doing wrong and why. Eventually, though, that pizza comes knockin'.
The vision for BadUnicorn is set, in a way. In others though, it's still just getting starting. Whit and Ash are building a content creation company that happens to create SaaS products. They view themselves in many ways as more similar to YouTubers, as they put out new products regularly to entertain us.
Everyone is a Procrastineur
Whit is a “mega, mega procrastinator.” He is certainly detail oriented, as shown by the products that he spins out every couple of weeks. Setting up systems to keep him on track have been a key point of emphasis as he works full time and pushes toward going full time with BadUnicorn.
Whit self identifies as a “habit freak.” He has years of habit data stored in Excel spreadsheets, helping to combat his procrastineurial tendencies.
Perhaps the most important of those habits is that he writes down 10 product ideas a day. For hundreds of days, Whit has written down ideas ranging from connecting Reddit and Tinder to watching the rise of Dogecoin (up 12,000% in just 2021!) through the lens of Elon Musk's Tweets.
Whit and Ash have a framework for how to move ideas from “bad” to BadUnicorn. If something doesn't fit, they move on.
All of this has to be done quickly. Tasks needed to get the next product out in time won't happen without set systems. Whit knows himself. His work will follow Parkinson's Law – the concept that work expands to fill the time allotted to it.
Parkinson's Law in mind, Whit and Ash are set to ship every other Friday. That consistency is powerful both for their brand and for their personal motivation.
You can connect with Whit on Twitter at @whit4th or through BadUnicorn.vc. His cofounder, Ash, can be found on Twitter as @ModernAfflatus. Drop #017 goes live on Friday, May 7. Don't miss it!
“Procrastineur” is a newsletter about new business, modern founders, and other entrepreneur-adjacent topics, written by Will Whittenton. You can connect with me through my website, Twitter, LinkedIn, or send me an email at email@example.com. If you enjoy the newsletter, I’d really appreciate it if you would share or forward it to others.