Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?
I am Dinesh Agarwal, founder of RecurPost — a social scheduler that lets you recycle your best updates on social platforms. I'm a tech-savvy person with a Ph.D. in computer science. Towards the end of my Ph.D., the entrepreneurship bug caught me and turned the research scientist in me into an entrepreneur.
RecurPost helps people share updates on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Instead of just sharing an update once and then forgetting about it, we let you recycle it over time. Once an update has been posted, it goes and sits at the end of the queue to be posted again once everything else has gone out once.
Let me start with some statistics. We launched in August 2016, and so far (mid-April 2017) we have gotten close to 5,000 users. Many of our users are enjoying our forever-free plan, but we do have users who contribute towards our $4000+ recurring revenue every month. We are growing at the rate of 15% month-over-month.
What motivated you to get started with RecurPost?
After finishing my Ph.D., I started working with startups and entrepreneurs in various capacities. While working together, we realized that the biggest problem we faced was spreading the word about our companies.
I began looking into various channels to help us market our businesses, and found that social media platforms were a great way to engage and connect with our audiences. Digging deeper into this, I realized how time consuming it was to manage social accounts.
So I searched for tools which would handle all this work for us automatically. Most of the social media scheduling tools in the market were either prohibitively expensive or only allowed their users to share content once. But this was a waste — we wanted each of our best updates to keep bringing us traffic each month. This is why we created RecurPost.
What went into building the initial product?
They say that "idea is everything". Let me tell you they couldn't be more wrong. We tried a lot of ideas that were far better (or so we thought), but none of them worked out. RecurPost was a simple idea by comparison, and that's probably why it's been so successful.
It took us about four months to get it ready for launch. We wanted to make sure our tool was easy to use while still being powerful enough to do the job, and I'm blessed to have had a great team capable of doing both.
For those who are interested in knowing our tech-stack, we use PHP as the programming language and MySQL as the database. We use Windows Azure cloud to host RecurPost and store our data.
People ask us why we chose Microsoft Azure over other options like Amazon's AWS. One reason is that during my Ph.D. on cloud computing, Microsoft gave us a grant for $250,000, and I became a lot more familiar with Azure than AWS.
RecurPost is completely bootstrapped — we haven't received any funding yet. We paid for it with our own savings and through other products and services available to us.
How have you attracted users and grown RecurPost?
We shared RecurPost with our network of entrepreneurs as soon as we launched. They started using it and found it useful. Some of them even upgraded to a paid plan, so we knew things were working.
We then started reaching out to social media influencers to see what they thought of RecurPost. The idea clicked with a few of them. They shared it with their audiences, and we started seeing a few people moving over to us from other tools.
This was a great feeling, and it gave us another idea.
We created a page which compared our offerings to those of our competitors, and we promoted it heavily. As a result, people shared it on sites like Reddit and Quora. These threads then became popular among people looking for alternative social media management tools, and improved our rankings in search engine results for keywords like "[competitor name] alternatives".
What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
We ourselves have enough entrepreneurial experience to know how much of a barrier-to-entry cost can be, so we've offered a forever-free plan from the beginning, and we intend to maintain it. This plan allows users to manage up to 3 social media accounts.
As they grow and need more power, we grow with them. Our paid plans start at $25 per month, which is still a lot less expensive than our competition.
We serve customers all over the world, so it's important for our payments infrastructure to support regional tax differences. Our customers in Europe, for example, have to pay a value-added tax, which popular payment processors don't support.
We're almost at the break-even point with salaries and other expenses, and we're hoping to grow considerably in the coming months.
One thing that helped us grow faster was to implement features we noticed people asking our competitors for. For instance, our competitors did not have the ability to schedule videos, so we implemented and offered this feature to our users.
Similarly, we implemented a feature which allowed users to expire a post after a set time. Our competitors didn't support this, so it was well received.
What are your goals for the future, and how do you plan to accomplish them?
We are trying to give every budding entrepreneur and small business a level playing field. We want RecurPost to give them the power to clobber the "big dogs".
As far as the product is concerned, we're currently working toward the launch of our mobile app, which will support scheduling on Instagram.
We've also gotten approval to share on Google Plus and Pinterest, so those features are coming soon as well.
Many of our users are social media management agencies, and at their request we're building an agency mode that makes it easier for them to assign different team members to manage different client accounts. This new mode will allow them to customize their reports as well.
What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome?
The biggest challenge is always finding talented people to join the team. That's the way it's been for us at least. We've wanted to grow faster than we have, but the availability of tech talent is limited.
Formerly, we struggled to stay in touch with our users and keep them posted in a non-intrusive way. We overcame this by creating a Facebook group, and we recommend that all budding entrepreneurs use a network like that.
In order to learn more from our users, I make it a point to have customers book calls directly with me and no one else. I walk them through our system to understand their pain points. This has helped us to identify some areas in which our users were getting confused. Based on the feedback we received, we redesigned our UX and resolved those issues.
What were your biggest advantages? Was anything particularly helpful?
We make sure we ask every new user how they heard about us. This gives us a good handle on where our users are coming from. It also serves as an icebreaker that opens the communication channel.
Users have often replied to this initial email when they have a question, instead of going through our Contact Us page.
What's your advice for indie hackers who are just starting out?
If you are new and financially challenged, you have to be creative. In our case, we spent a lot of time on social media looking for potential clients and then engaging them.
Most of our growth has been from word-of-mouth marketing, which we could not have counted on without our users liking our product. RecurPost is the most attractive option in the market because of its free plan. Every person we convert therefore has the potential to mention us to their community, which helps us grow. This has led to the snowball effect that we've seen.
One of biggest mistakes I made with RecurPost early on was to depend entirely on advertising for growth. For a product like ours, a human touch is essential. Once we started reaching out to people personally, the love poured in, and we quickly started growing. I'd recommend that growth hackers treat their hacks as a way to find and engage clients, but not as a do-it-all tool.
Where can we go to learn more?
We'd also love to hear from you either on Twitter or below in the comments.