September 13, 2018

$1,440 launch week using just a Google Sheet


  1. 9

    Good work! Great example of of selling the solution, not the product :)

    1. 1

      Thanks - first time I've focused on the solution rather than the code :)

      1. 1

        This is great!

        Your approach to getting something live quickly is exactly what I built my own product, Trolley [ https://trolley.link ], to support!

        Trolley lets you put a payment button on your website and capture email addresses of paying customers immediately - just like you've done, but without needing to build a Stripe integration in the back end. Even as a developer it saves you a few valuable hours.

  2. 5

    A lesson to all IH's reading. Don't over think and over design and over develop!

  3. 3

    Awesome. Reminds me also of an Paul Graham Quote:

    I like to find (a) simple solutions (b) to overlooked problems (c) that actually need to be solved, and (d) deliver them as informally as possible, (e) starting with a very crude version 1, then (f) iterating rapidly.

    Another Question: can you share a little bit more about how you gathered those informations? I am on a similar topic right now, trying to find niches with google keywords for given interests.

    1. 2

      Thanks.

      And sure I can, its all publicly available information - the value is in how I aggregate and group it I guess. I get it via the Amazon API and some frontend scraping. Best of luck with your project!

  4. 2

    Can you elaborate more about how you analyze products/categories? What makes you unique? What is your value proposition? Have you used it as an Amazon seller yourself? What makes your data and insights valid?

    1. 1

      Its a list of every Amazon subcategory (28-40k depending on how you count them) with metrics on profitability and competition. Its unique as no one else provides it. Its value prop is that you can filter sort and find out where money is being made with little competition.

      1. 1

        I understand, I think you should provide a use case of how you use your tool. Same as junglescout are doing. How did you fetch all data? Amazon's API? How do you know which of the subcategories are profitable or not? I'm selling on Amazon and you have a customer here. Please explain what is the value proposition?

    2. 1

      Exactly. I'm in the Amazon space as well and fools often rush in as the saying goes but if you don't understand the nuances of private label or wholesale selling on Amazon...this list could be worthless. Not knocking it if there is gold in there but I don't think the "done for you" research thing ever bears the best fruit.

      1. 1

        I agree its just the raw data aggregated - its up to the users to filter and sort it to find a niche that suits their criteria.

  5. 2

    Thanks for sharing this and congrats! What a great MVP launch

    “Unfortunately these view-only users do see each other’s Google icons if they use at the same time which is a bit weird […]”: social proof built in ;-)

    1. 1

      Haha never thought about that, thanks.

  6. 1

    Thank you for this great write up.

    Motivated in part by your great experience, I'm working on launching a spreadsheet in a different niche (ROI calculation for software projects).

    Could you share some tips about spreading the word, and acquiring customers?

    For instance, did you rely on a pre-existing network, was it targeting those niches in social media such as reddit and facebook?

  7. 1

    Impressive, i'd like to have such a good idea! Can you help me describing where did you host your static landing page and how is payment integrated?

  8. 1

    Remarkable. Thank you for this. I love reading about MVPs and truly what they mean. The importance of getting really MINIMAL Viable Product out and then enhancing and tweaking based on user input -- most important thing. Thank you.

  9. 1

    Hi @d12zy, awesome result. Did you pay for BetaList launch?

  10. 1

    Very nice idea. Love the Google sheet approach 🙌🏻.

    At my dayjob (www.proteges.eu) we're working on a product that we got a paying customer for. I set it up based on Google Forms, Zapier, Webmerge and an Excel that gets completed, calculates stuff - based on expert insights - and WebMerge sending an email with a PDF report based on the Excel.

    This kind of stuff is sooo powerful and it only took about 2 days to get it done and test the first version with a real customer 💪🏻

    1. 1

      that's if you want to be google's bitch, these free tools are just spyware, and used to either make money of you, or finding profitable areas they should expand next, etc.

      1. 1

        🤨 if you're saying that Google utilizes every way possible to see how customers are using their services to optimize them and create solutions for issues or approaches that seem to be trending? Then yes, let them.

        This is exactly what everybody on IH is saying you should do when you're creating a product and maximizing value. 🤔

        Look at WHO your users are, HOW do they use your product and WHY they make hacks or operate differently from how you designed it. Talk with them and learn from them and build a better version that creates more value. 🔁

        You're free to use other services outside Google's services. Use www.typeform.com for all I care if you're worried about them hitting you up with ads or spying on you. The WWWorld is big enough for everyone. 🌏

        1. 0

          that's a naive reply, for example amazon is trying hard to push their payment processing services, with "candy" like zero fees, but brands are resisting in fear of giving them the data of what sells on their website, profit margins, etc as amz could then easily offer same products, also many startups got closed by big names copying their "feature".

          Also you're wrong, they are no looking at how you use the product, Google is scanning for example your gmail emails contents to give you adds, selling your location data, etc.

          Has nothing to do with using the products, they probably scan what users type in those forms and give them ads based on, I bet those people who fill your heath-care forms get after healthcare adsense ads from your competitors.

          1. 1

            You're right on that I mention only one part of the story, namely "the tale of them, looking at how you use their stuff". Not looking at the user's content information to commercially exploit that. That is another story.

            That they do that doesn't take away that they also enable entrepreneurs to create their own business with easy to use tools.

            Besides taking, they're enabling.

            (I don't mind getting personalised ads. What I do mind is that they don't offer me accessoiries after I already bought the damn thing.. They lag behind haha)

            If you're scared for other parties taking your idea and putting it in for themselves, you won't be able to ship one damn thing.

            And if they DO grab your idea, your idea or your strategy for it is too common and/or weak. If being the first with the idea is your advantage, go on with another one.

            Big 4ss companies will always be able to create what you - indie hacker - build over the course of months - in a shorter amount by tossing some money and opening a can of developers for it.

            So, I'm like this: before blaming all those companies on what they might do, and how they monetize my data, I will work out ideas that give me more advantage than "just" being the first one out there.

            For all those folks who built AR measure tape apps, or Flashlight apps on iOS: it was a matter of time before features like that get build into the OS. They profeted for as long as the demand was not enough to "awaken the giants".

            So either get in and make as much money in the shortest period possible or go out and find a niche idea that doesn't interest the giants (IOW: doesn't have a lot of chance of competition) and get your game on there.... Hey, wait a minute?! isn't that exactly the gap that the Google Sheet was solving for Amazon sellers? 🤪

  11. 1

    Great read! Fabulous that you had the courage to run with it 👏

    It feels like there is a trend of looking top notch from the get-go. Definitely something I fall into regularly in all areas of like. But in reality, so many processes and companies move far faster (thus achieving more success) by building as you go. Superb example that initial perfection isn't good.

    How did you approach selling to the first few customers?

    1. 1

      Just social - sharing on Product Hunt, Betalist, Hacker News, and just yesterday, Indie Hackers and reddit.

      1. 1

        Awesome write up mate. Thanks for sharing.

        I was just thinking - might be worth looking into Facebook Groups full of Amazon sellers..?

        I would have thought they are the perfect target for you because they have joined the groups in part, to learn what to sell, no?

        Also, some Shopify owners scan Amazon to look for products to sell. Might be worth joining those groups too.

  12. 1

    What an amazing story! Proof sometimes you do not need a polished product to start charging if value proposition is there.

    1. 1

      Thanks Xing

  13. 1

    This is super cool! Congrats on the successful launch!

    If you're looking for content marketing options it would be sweet to see a list of 10 items with high margins and sales but low competition.

    1. 1

      Yep I have a free newsletter that sends out 1 every few weeks :)

  14. 1

    Congrats, solid example of an MVP!

    What website template did you use for this, if you don't mind me asking :)

    1. 2

      I used one from start bootstrap for the skeleton, but then copied other sites' design (tons of whitespace), simple icons and font afterward.