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Deciding to Move On from Yazi: A Reflection Essay

Over the last 18 months, Yazi's growth has been notably subpar. On 10 December 2023, a realisation dawned: the opportunity cost of continuing with Yazi is significantly outweighed by potential alternatives. This was prompted by a fundamental question: how much value have I created, both for customers and monetarily, and at what rate is this value growing? I feel it is not enough.
In life, every choice bears opportunity costs. When the cost of missed opportunities eclipses the benefits of the current path, a strategic pivot becomes necessary. I must ask myself, am I truly the right person to scale Yazi to a significant level?
The Decision to Move On:
Resilience vs. Opportunity Cost: I've always valued resilience and determination, traits underlined in texts like Ben Horowitz's 'The Hard Thing About Hard Things'. However, a ruthless evaluation of opportunity costs makes me feel that pursuing other ventures promises greater value creation, both for potential customers and my professional growth.
Golden Zone vs. Skill Utilisation: The concept of a 'golden zone'—where one's skills and passions intersect—guides my decision. Currently, my work at Yazi falls outside this zone, suggesting a mismatch between my abilities and the company's needs. Currently, my efforts are not aligned with my 'golden zone'—the realm where my skills and passions intersect most effectively.
However, the prospects for Yazi appear limited. Can Yazi realistically achieve a $10m Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR)? The challenges are manifold: the African market's limitations for low deal sizes, Yazi's inability to substantially outperform competitors, and reliance on Rather Chat for the development of chatbot and database features. Furthermore, Yazi’s value proposition—speed and access—remains vulnerable due to the simplicity of our software, offering little defence against competitors or new entrants.
Recent events underscore this vulnerability. Yazi's WhatsApp account was disabled for the third time on 9 December, citing policy violations. This reliance on a platform over which we have little control places Yazi's destiny precariously in the hands of another's Terms of Service.
Considering the alternatives for revenue, two paths emerge: abandoning the WhatsApp component to focus on proprietary recruiting and data partnerships, which could be used to build tracker studies or monthly reports. Or, concentrate on a the white-label solution for market research agencies and enterprises. Each avenue, however, comes with its own set of challenges and limitations which I will unpack in my next piece. In essence, myself and the company, Yazi or not well positioned to execute either of this paths.
What has gone wrong?
A critical misstep was not owning the end-to-end product experience, depending heavily on external platforms like Rather Chat for crucial infrastructure.
The assumption that using WhatsApp would mitigate survey fraud proved erroneous. Challenges with IP address verification and the prevalence of multiple phone numbers in our target demographic complicated data integrity.
In conclusion, after careful evaluation, it seems prudent to explore new opportunities that align more closely with my skills, interests, and the potential for significant impact and growth. Yazi, while a valuable experience, may no longer be the best avenue for these aspirations.

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