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Riding the Roller Coaster: My Nine-Month Journey
Deciding Between Returning to a $400k/Year Job and Continuing to Pursue $10k/Month Through My Product Portfolio.
Leaving Amazon nine months ago was a leap into the unknown, a step away from a well-trodden path to explore new possibilities. So, when an email from a Senior Amazon Recruiter landed in my inbox last month, inviting me to rejoin the company through its Boomerang Program, it wasn't just an offer to return – it was a crossroads.
The program promised a seamless re-entry to the role I had left with a compensation far exceeding my current entrepreneurial endeavors. For example, the average compensation for these roles in NYC, according to Levels.fyi, ranges from $371,980 to over $500,000+. This is way more than $10,000 / month I pledged to earn by myself by the end of next year. All it required was a simple conversation with the hiring manager. The opportunity seemed perfect, with an excellent return on investment for minimal effort.
This moment of choice brought me to reflect on the past nine months. It's been a journey akin to a roller coaster, filled with hits and misses, ups and downs. In this newsletter, I share with you a glimpse into the last three months, building on my six-month update.
One of my proudest achievements has been the development of SOAPNoteAI. Surpassing all my expectations, it grossed over $1,000 in revenue this October alone and is now utilized by more than 1,200 users across the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
I initially launched SOAPNoteAI for Physical Therapy providers for fast and efficient documentation using the latest developments in AI. I discovered that users were retrofitting SOAPNoteAI for Occupational Therapy purposes. So I added support not only for Occupational Therapists but also Nurse practitioners, Mental Health providers, Veterinarians, Podiatrist and Massage Therapists.
Observing and interacting with customers has been the real learning for me. For example, when a customer reached out to inquire for a subscription plan they also mentioned that they found SOAPNoteAI to be the best one out there.
There are a lot of platforms out there like yours that are coming out and they have monthly subscriptions.
However, I tried a few last night and I really do feel like yours is the best one.
- SOAPNoteAI customer
It is clear that customers are always looking for best value for the price they pay. I plan to experiment with pricing to get deliver more value than they expect.
Encouraged by SOAPNoteAI's success, I recently ventured into launching two new applications: MassageNotes.com and DAPNotes.com. MassageNotes, specifically designed for Massage Therapists, leverages the SOAP Note framework for streamlined documentation.
Similarly, DAPNotes caters to mental health professionals, offering a specialized platform based on the DAP (Data, Assessment, and Plan) structure for their note-taking needs.
In contrast to SOAPNoteAI's pay-per-use model, both these new platforms operate on a subscription basis. I will learn more about customer behavior through these platforms. For now, these apps are almost unknown to the internet. In the coming weeks, I will deploy marketing strategies similar to SOAPNoteAI to acquire customers.
The advancements in Generative AI have particularly captivated me. The new possibilities unfolding in this domain are thrilling. For instance, take GPT4-V's ability to identify food items on a plate and calculate their nutritional value - this is a game-changer.
More significantly, these technologies have revolutionized my productivity across various projects. I utilize ChatGPT for crafting SEO-optimized content for my apps, drafting customer emails, and enhancing my technical knowledge. GitHub Copilot serves as my coding sidekick, assisting in software development. This integration of AI assistants makes me feel like I’m part of a team, transforming the way I work and innovate.
Single income stream - While SOAPNoteAI has started to generate revenue, I currently rely on a single source of income. To achieve my goal of reaching $10,000 per month, I anticipate that multiple income streams will need to contribute. For instance, I devoted more time than expected to enhance the technical architecture of both MassageNotes.com and DAPNotes.com. While working independently accelerates progress, it also brings the risk of losing the bigger picture due to lack of oversight. I'm learning the importance of disciplined focus in such a setting and plan to apply these insights moving forward.
Review Hero AI's growth has reached a plateau, and it currently costs around $65-70 per month to maintain. I have yet to develop a monetization strategy for it. Nevertheless, I've come to realize that the domain's value has increased over time. To illustrate, ReviewHeroAI.com boasts a domain rating of 7, which holds significant importance in our SEO strategy.
LLMFineTuner.com - Another app I developed in the past three months was LLMFineTuner.com. LLMFineTuner featured a straightforward user interface that allowed users to create Fine-Tuned GPT-3.5-turbo models. At that time, OpenAI only provided APIs for creating fine-tuned models, which posed challenges for non-coders who wanted to efficiently create such models.
Recognizing this as an opportunity, I dedicated two weeks to create LLMFineTuner, providing a user-friendly interface for non-coders to generate fine-tuned models. Unfortunately, the app became obsolete when OpenAI released a native UI with the same functionality. However, I did glean an important lesson from this experience. Companies like OpenAI are rapidly advancing in the Gen AI space, introducing new features and capabilities. Therefore, having either a risk appetite or foresight can help minimize resource losses, whether it's time or money.
A key goal of my year-long journey was not just professional achievement, but enhancing my overall well-being, personal satisfaction, and lifestyle. While I haven't uncovered the prefect recipe just yet, there are promising signs that things are headed in the right direction. For instance, since the beginning of the school year, I've been responsible for dropping off the kids at school around 9 am every day, while my wife takes care of the afternoon pickups. In case the schedule encounters unexpected disruptions, our flexibility helps alleviate any potential anxiety. Moreover, I embraced a personal health challenge: consuming 800 grams of fruits and vegetables every day for the entire month of October. My transformed lifestyle made it feasible to stick to this regimen throughout the month, a testament to the positive changes I've made.
Incorporating regular exercise, mindful eating, and quality moments like pumpkin carving sessions with my family, I've begun to experience and truly appreciate the perks of a balanced life. These are the joys I intend to hold onto and cultivate further as my journey continues.
Navigating through uncertainty often brings challenges, including bouts of anxiety and self-doubt. For instance, my mind frequently delves into a series of questions: Am I dedicating my efforts to the right project? What if my apps lose popularity overnight? What if I encounter failure along this path? Why am I subjecting myself to this journey? Could I be falling into the trap of laziness or complacency compared to others who work tirelessly? Or am I being overly ambitious and discontented by constantly seeking more in life?
These thoughts can significantly impact one's mental well-being. Thus, it's crucial to prioritize mental well-being alongside physical health. During these moments of uncertainty, I find solace in reflecting on my small wins such as the first dollar I made on the internet. I take time to celebrate each new order for SOAPNoteAI, expressing gratitude for the support of my loving and caring family that surrounds me.
In late August, two of my friends and I visited Six Flags in New Jersey. The first ride we chose was Kingda Ka. For those unfamiliar with Kingda Ka, it holds the title of the tallest and fastest roller coaster in the world. It had been over 12 years since my last visit to Six Flags or my last ride on a roller coaster. I had experienced Kingda Ka several times before, and I've always enjoyed roller coasters.
However, this time felt different. As I approached the roller coaster, its towering height was intimidating. While waiting for my turn, I observed them dispatching one roller coaster after another. Kingda Ka shot up in a straight line, seemingly defying gravity, performed a 180-degree turn at its peak, and then plummeted down at a 90-degree angle, simulating a free fall. I couldn't help but think about all the things that could go wrong. As my turn arrived, I found myself questioning, "Why am I subjecting myself to this?" I tightly gripped the handles in front of me and closed my eyes as it accelerated to 128 miles per hour in just 3.5 seconds. When it momentarily paused at the top, I opened my eyes to a breathtaking view. The clear blue sky, adorned with a few clouds, offered a panoramic view of the entire theme park. The experience was surreal, and the thrill was undeniably real. I continued to relish the view with my eyes wide open as the roller coaster descended back down. In fact, I returned to that roller coaster two more times.
I've learned that life, much like a roller coaster, offers its most exhilarating experiences not in the predictable straightaways, but in the surprising twists and turns that challenge us to grow beyond our comfort zones. It's filled with thrills, excitement, and nervousness - it does make me feel alive.
So last week I politely declined an offer to return to Amazon. The journey continues.