Mistakes have been made

A close-up on the eraser at the end of a pencil. Source image ‘Clean up your mistakes and get to the point!’ (link) by Carol VanHook (link) is licensed under CC-BY-2.0 (link).

After releasing the latest figure I wanted to evaluate the project. Wise entrepreneurs say early validation is crucial. I was concerned about the direction of Figular, the feedback and the low traction I was seeing. Does it deserve to sink or should it keep swimming?

I returned to the project personas. These describe the ideal people and problems for which Figular should be the answer. Immediately a lack of critical thinking and bias jumped out. I was able to quickly invalidate my original assumptions. Disaster!


Figular was born to address problems I’d experienced when creating documents. However I don’t think the same way my personas do. I prefer:

  • Precision, neatness, systematisation.
  • Working in code or plain text.
  • Source control management tools for tracking changes.
  • Open source software over proprietary.

Those preferences obscured my view. I was far too optimistic:

  • The big office software products have highly capable graphic generators and anything they can’t handle is covered by big incumbents. There are loads of apps for making flowcharts, org charts, floor plans etc. There really is no gap here for a new entrant at all.

  • Designers will not want to convert their styles to Figular as the benefits are weak. It’s not a GUI tool and too far from their typical workflow. The promised reduction in repetitive work from Figular is also doubtful. Their clients often want to rework presentations in tools they are already familiar with. A recent Reddit discussion “How many designers have to use google slides or PowerPoint for work?” highlighted this:

    our clients often need something that they can easily edit or build themselves from a template

  • Many people will not care about absolute precision in their documents. Features like grids, palettes and snapping in office software already offer enough help.

  • Styling documents is highly visual and not suited to code. Figular will never replace the generalist design tools.

Wake Up

I realised I had to make a change. Reading Pivots in Startups I came across a line that made me understand why it’s easy to wait too long:

Entrepreneurs are afraid to reject an idea before its had a real chance to prove itself.

I knew I couldn’t put off Figular’s proof any longer. So I decided to take the rest of this month to re-evaluate, work out who Figular is for and validate it properly. Will it survive?