Start up in 7 days series:


One week ago I set myself a challenge to build a business in seven days and for less than $500.  Today at 1.17pm, AutoCarLog, the product of that challenge, was launched.

Over the last week I had come up with and researched an idea, registered a bank account, credit card gateway, setup secure website and domain name, developed a marketing strategy, built a fully functional back end and database, designed the interface with a focus on the user experience, and built my very own SMS gateway.

The launch itself consisted of uploading the signup page, sending an email to everyone who had pre-registered and posting an update on Twitter.  I must admit, as soon as it was launched, I found myself refreshing my database admin page every few seconds to see if and when I had my first customer.

After 15 minutes AutoCarlog had its first customer! (It was my mate, who had problems with his paperback logbook and inspired the idea.)


There were two motivations for doing this challenge; to inspire others and to see if it could be done.

Can it be done?

The challenge was to build a business in seven days and for less than $500. So can it be done? Yes. Just.

To reduce costs AutoCarLog used my existing company structure, but if you’re starting from scratch you can operate under your own name.  If you didn’t want to operate under your own name you would need to factor in the cost of registering one ($110-$160 depending on state).

I also did all the software development, which saved further costs.  If you haven’t built a website before you could teach yourself (and sacrifice time) or hire a third party developer (and take a hit on cost).  Alternatively you could negotiate a partnership with a developer and graphic designer for a share of the business.  (I might even be interested!)

Another thing this challenge taught me was to think outside the box, particularly with the SMS gateway.  If money wasn’t a tight constraint, normally I would have signed up with an aggregator.  However this challenge forced me to look at alternative ways, which is how the idea to use a Mobile phone and PC was born and why I eventually built my own hardware SMS gateway.


The best thing about this challenge was hearing about the ideas it inspired others.  It is such a great feeling to be able to help out other people and here is some of their comments I received throughout the week:

From Manny (on

I found the info you provided VERY useful for my own website, which will need an SMS gateway! Thanks for the links you posted!

From Royce Fullerton (on

Thanks for sharing your experience in such transparency and detail Seb. I look forward to your new posts everyday. I am planning on doing something similar in size of scope when I have enough time to devote to it.

From Marney Perna (on Anthill Online)

OK I am now very interested. I agree with the many comments re not having sufficient skills as this is my one single most frustrating aspect of creating online products. Look forward to reading the next 6 days…. fabulous and thanks.

From Marfi (on ReadWriteWeb)

Wow! Great story, I wish him good look, he is an excellent example to everyone complaining and hating when the real obstacle is… [their] own lack of motivation 🙂

From TheNextCorner on Twitter

TheNextCorner @sebeckmas You already inspired me…!

Where to from now?

Whilst the AutoCarLog service is fully operational, the business is still in its infancy.  Like a new born, AutoCarLog requires a lot of attention to grow and I have no intention of sitting still.

In the next few weeks I have meetings with the Managing Directors of several Tax Accountancy franchises and will be selling ‘prepaid’ accounts to National stationary suppliers, hopefully to sit on the shelf next to the humble $4.69 paperback.

AutoCarLog will be expanding internationally and I have already been approached by people wanting to discuss licensing the service overseas.

Finally, I have a large PR campaign planned to promote the service in the offline space.

So I hope I’ve been able to inspire you to give your great idea a chance.  This series of blogs has shown it is possible to limit your exposure to just seven days and $500, which is a challenge you could easily set for yourself.  If you do, please let me know – I would love to hear about it!

Now time to get some sleep.

A very tired Seb Maslin at the end of the Challenge

A very tired Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin at the end of the Challenge

Filed under:   7 day startup   autocarlog   challenge   start up