How a single ChatGPT mistake cost us $10,000+ | Asim Shrestha

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2024-06-09 21:00:02

We first turned on monetization for our startup last May. We had low expectations but were pleasantly surprised when we got our first customer within an hour of launching. It was a magical moment. We sent them a thank you, gave each other a toast, and, given we’d just spent two late nights getting everything ready, promptly went to sleep.

We woke up that morning with over 40 gmail notifications of user complaints. E v e r y t h i n g seemed to have set on fire overnight. None of these users could subscribe. We had no idea why.

For some background, May was the start of the S23 YC batch and we were unsure about the optimal direction to take post launch. Dalton, our YC group partner, advised us to use paying subscribers as a compass and told us to double whatever monthly price we already had in our heads. Eventually (and reluctantly) we landed at $40 a month. Following the meeting, we immediately got to work getting monetization set up. Our project was originally full stack NextJS but we wanted to first migrate everything to Python/FastAPI. We got this done (with some help from ChatGPT), got stripe fully integrated… and then followed this up with five days of the least sleep we’d get the whole month.

During that stretch of five days, we started to dread waking up—knowing we’d just be greeted with 30/40/50 emails of complaints. I still like to ponder exactly how many customers we lost through this. 50 emails/day x 5 days x 40amonth=10,000 a month in lost sales—and that was only from people who cared enough to complain. We’d respond to these emails like clock-work everyday. They would complain about an infinite loading spinner when they clicked subscribe, we’d investigate by opening a new account, verify that subscriptions were completely fine for us, and then carry on with our day confused. Nothing we did would replicate the issue, and even more strangely, we got close to zero complaints throughout our actual working hours.

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