Making New Mistakes

by Adii Pienaar

Now working on @InPublicBeta. Founder @WooThemes. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

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The Tortoise finds clarity (and still finishes the race)

We’re all familiar with the fable of the tortoise & the hare. I’ve learnt something new about this, my life and ambition in the last ten days.

Today is the one month anniversary since I moved into a non-executive role at WooThemes to work on my new startup (and baby), PublicBeta. In this time, I’ve been working hard and pushing myself to launching / releasing as quickly as possible. At times it’s felt like this mad dash down a rabbit-hole, which only serves to fire up those endorphins that comes from being on such entrepreneurial rollercoaster.

My biggest challenge in the last month has been that I travelled up to London for a week (PublicBeta will be based there; so I had to wrap up administrative stuff), which meant I wasn’t as productive as I would’ve been in the office at home. I also had a 10-day, second honeymoon pre-booked to the East with my wife, which eliminated the last

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Writing For Myself

A little while ago I read Wade Forster’s blog post about how writing for himself helped him to write more, more often. I was especially intrigued by how he said that his blog became a journal and every post were to serve as a “reminder” or beacon for his future self.

Whilst I’ve had similar experiences about writing and publishing here lately, I’ve found that by writing for myself I had uncovered a totally different benefit.

Yes, since I’ve been writing for myself, I’ve found that I write more and I publish more often. I think though that the main reason for that is that I don’t decide whether to publishing something based on the traction / reception that the post will receive within my audience; instead if I want to publish something, I do so. For myself.


You’ll see by browsing around here a little, that 9 out of my last 10 posts could be classified as “being personal”.

The reason

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Premium Pricing, Exclusivity & A Higher Demand

How aggressive can you be with your pricing strategy? Can you use premium pricing? Will that breed a perception of exclusivity and increase the demand?

I don’t know.

I’ve been chatting to Ryan about my pricing strategy for PublicBeta & he encouraged me to write about it as part of this weeks’ Startup Edition (which asks the question ‘How did you choose your pricing model?’).

So this is an attempt at putting some of those thoughts / considerations out there and doing some customer development. :)


When I started conceptualising PublicBeta, one of the challenges would be the value perception of what we will be offering. I knew I wanted to charge more (from Day One) rather than less and that marketing its value would be my greatest challenge.

PublicBeta offers two main benefits: the educational content and community of like-minded individuals.

To that extent, my elevator pitch for

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Making New Mistakes

A couple of weeks ago, I renamed my blog here on Svbtle to say “Making New Mistakes” (previously it just said “adii”).

In doing so, I was paying tribute to two things:

  • My legacy and journey to where I am today, which has many more mistakes than you can imagine; and
  • My desire to try new things going forward, which inevitably means that I’ll be making new mistakes.

The thing about me is that I wasn’t born with the silver spoon in my mouth. I might have an aptitude for certain skills that have helped me in business and I might have certain entrepreneurial characters. But that’s not been what has shaped me on this journey.

Instead most of which I know today is due to trial and error. I’ve tried so many different things in the past and because I didn’t have pre-existing knowledge about these things, they had a high likelihood of failing.

I’ve made loads of mistakes.

Ultimately I’ve

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The Once-Off Startup

A couple of weeks ago I first saw Know Your Company, the new product by the 37signals crew. Since this sounded right up our alley at WooThemes, we’ve gotten a demo. We’ll be signing up and have high hopes for the value that it’ll bring.

The thing that intrigued me most about the product was that it veered away from “traditional” recurring, monthly pricing in favour of a $100 fee per employee once-off. Yep, you read that right: you pay $100 (per employee / seat) only once and you get to use the product for as long as you want or need.

At Woo, we’re a team of 31 now, so a $3100 once-off investment (into anything) isn’t something we just shrug off. 37signals explains that this pricing is designed to get your buy-in i.e. if you pay that kind of money for anything, you’re bound to actually use it.


What has intrigued me most about this though is the fact that the pricing model is swimming

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How Anyone Can Create A Tech Startup

I often talk to prospective entrepreneurs and startup founders who are on the edge of taking the plunge to work on a startup. But most of them never do because of a variety of reasons.

I hear excuses like “I’m not technical”, “I can’t find a co-founder”, “I don’t have time” or “I don’t have the money”. I could address each of those excuses on merit, but instead I’d like to suggest a really simple way for absolutely anybody to create a tech startup:

  1. Stop being in such a rush. You have much more time than you think you have.

  2. Teach yourself to code and build your own MVP. Even if you’re a business guy.

  3. Can you possibly create an e-mail-first startup? Or how about creating a concierge MVP? Both are technically easy to execute.

  4. Learning to code & getting a MVP out there, might just help you find a technical co-founder.

  5. Stop being scared; all of us are scared. JFDI.

PS. Join me at

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The Worst Mistakes

I love mistakes. So much so, that I’ve recently renamed my blog to “Making New Mistakes” as I start on my new startup adventure.

Making mistakes has been the primary driver of my learning curve. It’s through trial & error that I’ve figured things out, developed as an individual and refined my entrepreneurial skills.

Making mistakes has always been a big part of who I am and it’s thus also a big part of my success as an entrepreneur.


In this week’s Startup Edition, the question is “What mistakes have you made?”. Instead of chronicling all of the mistakes that I’ve made over the years (there are tons), I want to tell you about the two worst kind of mistakes that you can make (in life and business):

1) The Mistakes You Don’t Learn From

Cringe. I’m not generally scared, but these kinds of mistakes scare the heck out of me.

IMO the only value of making a mistake is the fact that you

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The Little Guy

“What to work on?”

That’s a difficult and ultimately very personal question to answer. Only because the best choice we can make isn’t always overly obvious.

Last week I was hanging out with Jon Gold at MakeshiftHQ and Jon was telling me about how they - as a team - decide which products they should be building & working on.

I can’t remember the whole list, but one of the criteria that any idea had to meet was that it had to give a leg up to the little guy. Jon explained that if the idea didn’t meet all of their (pre-defined) criteria, it wasn’t a good fit for them and as such they wouldn’t pursuit it.


I love that approach and it reminded me quite a bit about the recent spate of companies that have published their culture codes.

If you read HubSpot’s Culture Code, you definitely get a sense of who they are and why they’ve build the products they have. Similarly, Buffer’s

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Your Heart is a Weapon

I was out for dinner last night and the restaurant had a fantastic (beautifully designed) poster on the wall that read:

“Your heart is a weapon the size of your fist. Keep fighting. Keep loving.”

I love this, because I believe that everything in life (and especially our dreams, goals and ambitions) starts with ourselves. Which in turn makes our heart - the source of the passion and the fire - a vital cog in the machine that drives our pursuits and exploits.

I also love the reminder that we should always keep fighting. As long as our hearts are beating, we are in with a (fighting) chance of surviving and achieving. (Pun intended.)

My dad always told me (when I was a kid): “You can’t keep a good man down.”. It’s that never-say-die attitude that I believe separates successful and happy people from the wannabe’s and pretenders.

Always keep fighting the good fight.

And keep loving.

I

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Scared To Start?

Thinking about starting or joining a startup? It’s pretty scary, right?

Good news is that you’re not alone in that notion. Fear (of failure) is generally quite a prevalent reason why many people never attempt many things. For would-be entrepreneurs that fear of failure is many times the ultimate stumbling block to failure.


I was talking to good friends of mine (who are fellow entrepreneurs) last night about the things that they were working on at the moment. It was obvious from what they were saying that they had fears about certain things; many of which were holding them back on even trying.

So I told them that I’m absolutely no different.

Heck, I’ve recently decided to start up again. And I’m scared shitless.

Yes, I have a major success (WooThemes) under my belt and can fall back on the experience that this has given me. This success has also lead to me growing a fantastic base

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