August 9, 2018

Dilemma: To launch or not to launch

Hey all,

Big admirer of IH and the indie hacker movement. A few weeks ago I was inspired by IH to create something, so I created https://pitchfront.com (this was actually built inside Bubble.is, for those of you who don't code).

The big issue for me is whether or not to launch. I don't lose anything from launching, other than time + energy, which is valuable in itself. But I don't want to spend time on something people won't like.

The concept:

Essentially, you'd pay ($0.75c) to get in touch with a journalist, but with the guarantee that your message is read (if it's not read within 7 days, you get a refund).

One difficulty it getting the supply of journalists. I sent out some messages and had about 30 different journalists sign up, so not a whole lot of supply, but perhaps enough to start?

Is this concept something that would be valuable to anyone?


  1. 5

    Is this concept something that would be valuable to anyone?

    Better than any number of opinions from indie hackers: actually putting your service in front of people and seeing if they use it. Your currently in stealth-mode, but that should really be called head-in-the-sand-mode since you are basically protecting yourself from learning the results of a validation attempt.

    Also, WTF is up with that price? It's off by several orders of magnitude.

    If it's a dud, you can put this project behind you and not have to play the "what if" game the rest of your life. If it succeeds, then what more could you ask for?

    My advice: change the price to $75 and launch.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the advice. Do you mean $75 per each contact? I'll play around with the pricing but I think it's currently reasonable as users aren't going to be messaging Techcrunch journalists (yet) but a whole variety from different publications, from small niche blogs to larger media websites.

  2. 3

    75 cents?

    Even if all that went to a journalist, what rational person would work for that price?

    Minimum wage in CA is $15/hr, that is 20 pitches per hour. And I presume you want to get a part of that and you'll pay some to your payments provider.

    All you promise is that a message would be read. What's to stop a journalist from "reading" the message i.e. marking as read but not really reading? How can you ensure that they've paid attention to the message?

    For 75 cents there's no barrier to wasting people's time with very low quality pitches. Therefore most of them will be very low quality which will condition journalist to expect low quality and tune this channel.

    The biggest problem is that you can't guarantee results so regardless of the price (which should be closer to $99 per pitch) this is not going to work.

    If the price will be low, people will flood journalists with low quality pitches and almost none of them will get a good result.

    If the price is high enough for the journalist to actually pay attention to it and for the users to maybe not send low quality pitches just because $1 is less than a cup of coffee, it still won't work for most of the people (because there's a reason most pitches are rejected) but at high price those people will actually be expecting some results so you might expect them being pissed and writing twitter posts and medium articles about how your business is a scam that charges $X and delivers zero results.

    1. 1

      Great feedback, I think I need to play with pricing. I'll be looking at the $3 to $5 range. I don't believe $99 would be competitive - to mark a pitch as read, the user must first wait 6 seconds (inside the tab) - in this time, it's likely that the journalist will be able to scan over the content.

      Journalists should be able to get through about 4 pitches per minute, fewer if they're replying. If this equates to about $3 per minute, then it equals $180/h. Of course this would not be the case as they would need to have a backlog and constant stream of pitches, but this is just an example (some journalists do receive many pitches per day, and they can direct them to Pitchfront automatically).

  3. 2

    there is that earn.com or so company that do this, but they guarantee a reply I think too and have everyone not just journalist.

  4. 2

    I like this. I’d launch it! I agree with @Deep_Riser can you get the journalists to commit to a brief reply on why they haven’t chosen you?

    If so, this seems like a win. I’d pay for that ^

  5. 2

    I'd be willing to pay a little extra for a journalist to guarantee me a feedback-like reply e.g., "Sorry we aren't covering blockchain startups yet". Launch it anyway. If it fails, get feedback from people. Modify your product and retry.

    1. 2

      Great idea!

  6. 1

    Hi @TonyMaguire

    I think connecting with journalists is useful but paying them is a problem. In some places, that may be a problem - the term is payola journalism as you can see discussed in https://theoutline.com/post/2978/these-are-the-people-paying-journalists-to-promote-brands-in-articles?zd=1&zi=uok2ilgq

    Inc., Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Fast Company told me that taking payment for mentioning or linking a brand in an article is against their editorial guidelines. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for this kind of thing, our writer’s guidelines strictly prohibit it, and we take swift action,”

    How about letting the journalists pick a charity to which the payments go instead?

    I'm curious as to your experience with bubble.is which I have considered for some support sites I need to create. Although an experienced programmer in desktop and mobile, I only know the basics of HTML and CSS so there's some attraction to these low code environments. One concern I have is the pricing structures and how costs might skyrocket if I have people uploading assets. My main immediate need is to create an online asset store.

  7. 1

    Hire a designer, or at least reach out to a designer friend. Your website is hard to scan. There are too many conflicting elements over and back. You want it supper clear. Top down.

    [Main Benefit In Hero + Sign Up]

    [How It Works in 3 Steps]

    [Price]

    [Sign Up]

    [FAQ]

  8. 1

    definitely build!

  9. 1

    Chicken and egg problem like all 2 sided marketplaces.

    Like all 2 sided marketplace, first figure out the supply side before launch.

    So best to make friends with journalists. Or best approach, get a famous journalist to go into the project with you.

    1. 1

      Will do!

  10. 1

    I'm reading your question like "Dilemma: To build or not to build a product".

    You already got the validation from journalists - supply side of your marketplace. Try to get validation from the demand side. If it is there - start building

    1. 2

      Yeah fair reply. I've already built out all the tech (I could change it from a pre-launch page to the live application), including the payments system, registration, messaging etc.

      I guess I have launch anxiety that is preventing me from actually launching, but the only way to know if it's something people will want is to launch I suppose.

      I initially built it to learn the Bubble.is platform, so the time investment was worth it from that point of view.

      1. 2

        Then it is a no brainer "LAUNCH 🚀".

        You have nothing to loose here. If it flops - you still have a launched product on your github account.