In 2022, more than 90,000 jobs were cut at tech companies in the United States. That trend has continued into 2023, when more than 240,000 tech workers have been laid off. Closer home, African tech startups have laid off more than 4,000 employees, according to data from Intelpoint.
While researching how he could help individuals get new jobs, Chris Adolphus stumbled on an article stating that job seekers could improve their chances of getting a job by including a cover letter. After speaking to a handful of people, he decided to build a solution, CoverAI, to help job seekers auto-generate cover letters.
In May 2023, he teamed up with a software engineer friend to build the first version of CoverAI. That version allowed users to input their experience and achievements, after which it generated a cover letter for them. The solution quickly caught on, attracting more than 200 users in the first two weeks. After getting feedback from the first set of users, the duo returned to build an MVP.
In September 2023, Adolphus listed CoverAI on the startup acquisition marketplace, Acquire.com, where it eventually sold to Writesea for an undisclosed amount. Per Adolphus, the team fielded offers from 15 potential buyers before settling on Writesea.
“For us, from day one, we were building for acquisition because we actually have other ideas we want to explore. We have ideas we've started exploring as I speak with you, so it was about positioning, getting the right metrics, and getting the right buyer.”
At the time of its sale, it had 13,000 users, all gotten organically, and Adolphus puts this down to solving an important problem.
“I think the majority of it is due to the fact that everybody hates writing cover letters. Let's face it. I hate writing cover letters, and my friend also hates writing cover letters. It was just, ‘we all hate this stuff’ and it's like a collective hate. I only posted on my LinkedIn, and that was it.”
With CoverAI under his belt, Adolphus explained that he’s currently working on a second product, which he hopes to sell for six figures within six months. But he admits that the process could have been easier if the team had understood its potential users and how it could serve them better.
By the time it completed the sale, the product had evolved from just an AI-powered cover letter writer to include features that helped users improve their CVs, build their professional networks, and prepare for interviews. Having done little marketing or customer engagement for CoverAI, Adolphus says he'll be taking the lessons learned into his next venture and marketing the product from day one.