December 6, 2018

FairMeadow - 6 month update

6 months ago tomorrow, my wife, a close friend, and I decided we were going to start a company. At the time, we had no idea what we were going to do really, just a list of potential ideas to test out and validate. After a few attempts, we got traction on an idea that solved an acute pain point we had all suffered from: we hated doing laundry, and every service we had tried was absolutely awful, and super expensive.

As a result, we launched FairMeadow (https://fairmeadow.app), a laundry service that was designed from the ground up to be customer-centric, and is continuing to evolve daily based on things we are learning about our customers and prospects.

After 6 months, here is where we are at:

$14k invested in the business

$8k MRR

$21k total revenue

10.6% compound weekly revenue growth rate since launch

HOWEVER

  • Our landing page is awful

  • Our metrics are a mess and don't help us optimize our advertising

  • Our referral program is extremely inefficient and needs to be redesigned

  • We desperately need to make our first hire and our revenue isn't high enough to support it

Just felt like sharing. Happy to answer any questions anyone has, and feedback/suggestions on any of the points above are appreciated.


  1. 2

    Hello Javier, thank you for sharing! I think your landing looks OK.

    I have a question, do you have a specific area where you work? Or you pick up the laundry anywhere in the US?

    About your 4th point, I think that you should jump and hire a new person, it will probably handle more work = more business = possibility to afford it.

    1. 1

      Right now we only serve 4 zip codes in Denver, Colorado. Our plan is to expand to serve all of Denver next year. For other cities we are weighing options. Several people have reached out looking to potentially franchise.

      In terms of hiring I think you are right. Just need to build up the courage.

  2. 1

    Can you talk about your marketing efforts and the way you acquire customers?

    1. 1

      Absolutely! The first thing we did was acquire customers, and we did it not just with no code, but with about an hours worth of work. We created 2 things: A Google Form that posted into a Google sheet, and a Facebook post that described our experience with existing services, and that we were going to create something better.

      From there, we established our target market, and identified Facebook groups that would likely contain our target customer. We posted the same post in a number of the Facebook groups we identified, but not at the same time! We started with the smallest group and worked out way to the largest, adjusting the post slightly each time based on feedback from the previous groups.

      After this process was done, we had a number of interested customers, and had already iterated what the service would be a number of times. From there, we called each interested customer and explained to them that we were building the service and we would start operating in a month's time. The day we launched, we had 6 customers that had already signed up. Some of them even wrote us checks so they could get service on the first day!

      Most of our online marketing is still in those same Facebook groups. We post whenever we make a change to the service or launch a new feature. Our customers also post about us and how much the like the service, which is HUGE.

      Outside of that, as I mentioned we run Google Ads but it isn't optimized very well. It still generates 1-2 customers per week for us on a $50/mo spend though.

      As you can tell, we aren't marketing geniuses, but I do feel we did a decent job following the Lean Startup model and not spending any $ or doing any work until a customer showed serious interest in making a purchase.

      Hope that helps!

      1. 1

        Awesome, thanks a bunch for the long write-up.

        Always good to hear how other (unrelated) businesses market their product.

        Best of luck in the future! :)

  3. 1

    Looks good. The main question I have is, what are you tracking, and how are you measuring it, both in terms of what apps like Google Analytics, and processes, such as what you do with the data.

    Remember, what doesn't get tracked doesn't get improved. I would advise that you go through a Google Analytics or other type of course. I highly recommend this book by @julian: julian.com/guide/growth.

    Also, do you know of Launch27? They're a SaaS for service businesses, they act as a backend and give you a GUI to run your business.

    1. 1

      Thanks for the links! I will definitely read the growth guide and see what I can glean from them. I think we are already pretty far past Launch27 in terms of the things that matter for our business. For example my current focus is building a route optimization system that utilizes unsupervised machine learning to determine the best way to serve our customers on a given day.

      Right now tracking, especially on the customer acquisition side, is lacking. Another IH member posted something that will help us with GA. The next step is getting GA hooked into AdWords so that I can optimize our ads for lead generation and conversion instead of just visitors.

  4. 1

    Have you worked with your wife previously? How has that experience been? Any tips or lessons learned besides the obvious?

    1. 2

      Great question. My wife and I actually met at the last company that I founded, however we've never worked directly with each other until now. It definitely has its ups and downs!

      In terms of tips and lessons learned, I think the big thing for us has been to ensure that our work time together doesn't replace our relationship time together. You still need to make time for each other outside of work, otherwise your marriage starts to feel too much like a business partnership.

      Also any issues you already have with each other that may have seemed like a small annoyance before will be multiplied 10X as you operate a business together. Keep in mind that is a function of the situation you are in, and not who you both actually are. Remind yourselves of that daily :)

      1. 1

        Thanks! Great answer. Best of luck to both of you.

  5. 1

    Very cool stuff Javier! I can help you out with graphics if you need it. Im just curious

    1. How do you afford it at $15 per bin? Seems costly to

    Pickup

    Do the actual laundry and fold

    Deliver it back

    1. Did you try direct mailing neighboorhoods i have a strong connection with a large scale printer who can help you out. Basically give them zipcodes you want to tackle and they charge cents per house. Goodluck
    1. 1

      We are deep, and I mean deeeep, into optimization. Our model also helps there. Being able to know exactly how many customers and bins you will have on a given day, and being able to cluster customers together into routes allows us to have an average of less than 5 minutes between pickups and staff each day nearly perfectly to demand.

      We haven't don't any direct mail marketing. We are starting to experiment with door hangers. We currently have two different hangers that we are A/B testing at small scale to optimize messaging. The low response rates on both versions however have made it difficult to identify a winner or even determine if it's a strategy worth pursuing.

  6. 1

    Can you elaborate more on where the pain ports are with your metrics / advertising and what you're looking to improve?

    1. 1

      We started with Google analytics but our site is in angular and the metrics have never seemed to have worked right. I'm an engineer by trade and have no idea what I'm doing with Google AdWords or SEO. It's not so much that I have a particular pain point as much as it's something I have to learn but haven't had the time to focus on due to our growth. A good problem to have now but if I don't solve it soon eventually it will catch up with me.

      1. 1

        I checked the network requests and I can see that GA isn't firing on route change.

        Call this every time a successful route change occurs:

        ga("set", "page", location.pathname);

        ga("send", "pageview");

        With a single page app the "set" "page" is required so that the url is set correctly for subsequent events on the page, otherwise your events will get tracked against the very first url the user loaded.

        Make sure you remove the "send" "pageview" from wherever you load your GA snippet, because the code above will take care of that for you instead.

        More info here: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/single-page-applications

        1. 1

          Awesome. Thank you so much!