September 10, 2017

Should I stay or should I go? (a.k.a halfway through MVP, no customers yet)

7

First off: I’m not going to delve deep into the SaaS itself, because I'm not writing here to get feedback on the idea, but rather what you would've done if you were in my current state.

UPDATE: I've written a follow-up article: https://www.indiehackers.com/@insats/getting-down-and-dirty-validation-budget-and-mvp-6001c46804

A few months back I decided to try out an idea I'd had for a while. I did all the appropriate things:

  1. Performed a survey regarding the problem I wanted to solve. The data I gathered indicated that others were having the same problem.

  2. Interviewed a couple of the survey participants in order to get a deeper understanding - which further affirmed my initial belief, although in hindsight it might as well have been due to confirmation bias.

  3. Created a landing page which I drove traffic to via Adwords to see if anyone would be interested. I got about 5% “early access” signup rate.

  4. Wrote an MVP specification

  5. Started development of the MVP

  6. Started to get in touch with companies to get them to want to try out the MVP

So - I’m currently on point 6, and nr 5 is ongoing. I figure that I want to get some users to try it out during the MVP for two reasons: To make sure that it works as intended (i.e. better than existing solutions) and to gather feedback that could lead to improvements. But basically it’s a way to prove that the product “works” and is something that the testers want to continue using.

This part has proven more difficult than I imagined.

The first thing I did was get back to the companies that I had interviewed initially. Their interest this time was mild. Now - I hadn’t actually spoken to them earlier about the product itself, only about their problems (because I only wanted to gather data, not propose a solution). But they were also acquaintances of mine - business contacts and such - and not random companies. This means, as I’ve learnt, that they might have gladly helped when I wanted a short interview about their problems, but that they were not as eager when I wanted them to try out my solution. So, I figured that I had to try another way, not using existing contacts.

I bought a list of ~200 e-mail addresses matching my target audience (certain execs at companies with > 25 employees and in specific industries) that were local, i.e. in my city - to make it easier to get a more personal message across, and also to be able to offer a personal presentation of the product.

Last week I sent out messages, and so far it has yielded nothing in return. A little less than 10% have responded and they’ve all been negative.

And that’s where I am right now. I don’t have any pilot customers for my MVP (which is under development, circa 50% ready for initial tests) and I’m not sure what I should do. I could spend more time getting potential customers to agree to try the product, or I could decide that I should accept the fact that my product might not have a market fit and kill it before it costs me more time and money. I'm not really the sentimental type, so killing it off is currently closer to mind since it's also the "easy way out" rather than start making cold calls..

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Ps. I’m also alone in this venture for the first ever and I’m a bit surprised in regards to how much more difficult it is to handle setbacks when you have no one to bounce ideas around with (which led me here! :))

Ds. For those interested, this is the project: http://trench-app.com/


  1. 5

    A few thoughts

    • do at least 2 follow ups to the non-responders (if only 20 ppl in the list, consider calling them up and referencing your mails)

    • follow up on the no's too, call them and ask them to share the "why" behind the No

    • do they understand the value proposition if you tell them?

    • can you reduce the barrier to "try" it? Like doing the work for them, onboard their Team, do a live Demo? I guess if they are managing 20+ ppl they value their time.

    • can you offer something in return? They might ask themselves why they should invest the time to try it themselves

    • if they are not eager to solve the issue your SaaS is solving it might not be a big enough problem

    1. 0

      I think you have a lot of solid points here.

      do at least 2 follow ups to the non-responders (if only 20 ppl in the list, consider calling them up and referencing your mails)

      There's 200, not 20, but yes, I will do that. I don't have their phone numbers but I will send a second e-mail.

      follow up on the no's too, call them and ask them to share the "why" behind the No

      I did this, and those that did reply mention that they are happy with their current solutions (physical meetings or internal newsletters mainly).

      do they understand the value proposition if you tell them?

      Maybe, maybe not. I'm not sure, it's not always easy to define the value and package it in an optimal way. I just don't really know here.

      Can you reduce the barrier to "try" it? Like doing the work for them, onboard their Team, do a live Demo? I guess if they are managing 20+ ppl they value their time.

      Hmm, yes, I probably could.. Especially if I narrow down my scope to those who already use a tool to solve their problem today. The e-mail I sent out gave the impression that the product wasn't ready, but I could make another attempt with another angle, it wouldn't really be that hard to make a fake demo.

      can you offer something in return? They might ask themselves why they should invest the time to try it themselves

      Yes, I can offer them the product for free for an initial period.

      if they are not eager to solve the issue your SaaS is solving it might not be a big enough problem

      Definitely true, which is what I'm currently worried about. But I also know that I myself wouldn't have responded to an e-mail like the one I sent out. Most of the time, even if it's an important issue, people are defensive about their currently used tools.

  2. 3

    The basic problem you have is that you don't yet have a working MVP.

    There's nothing in it for your potential customers to help you with the development and testing. It might solve their problem; it might not. You don't indicate how costly the problem is for these businesses. Quite frankly, unless it is causing them thousands of dollars / pounds / whatevers a week, they are simply not going to invest time and effort in your idea.

    Once you have a fully worked MVP, then is the time to offer it (perhaps free) to selected businesses. That way, they have something with which to solve their pain point and, provided you have a feedback mechanism within the product, suggestions will start to come through.

    The main thing you have to understand here is that every business you contact is busy running its own business and not yours. You have to run your own business and - as you are finding - minding your own business is hard enough without minding everyone else's!

    An MVP is not perfect. Windows, for example, was not launched as the sophisticated product it is today. Some of us are old enough to remember the early versions ... Bill Gates probably blushes purple when he thinks about them now!

    Your MVP is thus stage 1 of a process, not an endpoint. Make it work to the point it solves the problem, launch it (with beta users if you can get them) and then adapt and change in the light of the business environment, the technology, customer feedback and whatever other factors prove to be relevant to its continued success.

    But don't expect anyone to put time into running your business for you.

    1. 0

      Quite frankly, unless it is causing them thousands of dollars / pounds / whatevers a week, they are simply not going to invest time and effort in your idea.

      Agreed. In the first interviews I did, the participants listed the problem as a top 3 priority which is one of the reasons I continued to the next stage. Now, just because a few people said so in an interview doesn't make it a fact, but at least it's a hint.

      Once you have a fully worked MVP, then is the time to offer it (perhaps free) to selected businesses. That way, they have something with which to solve their pain point and, provided you have a feedback mechanism within the product, suggestions will start to come through.

      Yes, ideally I would have my MVP ready when I approach potential customers. My dilemma comes from the fact that building the MVP isn't cheap, and because I lack motivation to finish it when there's no users waiting to get started using it. I also have a financial offer, that covers the rest of the expenses for the MVP, which relies on me getting a couple of signed LOI's from potential customers.

      I guess I'm sort of trying to offer the software without it being built yet. The presumed customer don't have to know all the details of the current state of the product, and I don't think anyone would be in such a hurry that they couldn't wait for 1-2 months.

      The main thing you have to understand here is that every business you contact is busy running its own business and not yours. You have to run your own business and - as you are finding - minding your own business is hard enough without minding everyone else's!

      Oh, I get that, I wasn't expecting customers to pour in via e-mail marketing. I'm just not sure how to get past my current state.

      An MVP is not perfect. Windows, for example, was not launched as the sophisticated product it is today. Some of us are old enough to remember the early versions ... Bill Gates probably blushes purple when he thinks about them now!

      Agreed

      But don't expect anyone to put time into running your business for you.

      I think this is a rather snarky and unnecessary remark. I don't think anyone in here or wherever in their right mind would expect that. I regret giving you that impression.

      1. 0

        Trying to sell a product without it being built yet.

        It's the classic Buffer dream, get customers basically paying before building anything. My gut (in no way right or wrong) tells me this would need a very specific need. Team communication is ridden with millions of possible solutions ... so if you want to solve this particular problem I think it'd be best to understand two or three places, look at the overlap and figure out if there's a business there.

        In my mind improving internal communication is SO MUCH a people issue rather than a technical one. This one is about people agreeing on an approach of communicating with each other. Very high risk of it becoming political internally within that company.

        Depending on your preferences, helping companies solve that challenge might be fun.... or frustrating. Decide which it is and either double down on fixing one place, and then the next, and the next... or cut away the loss. :)

        1. 0

          In my mind improving internal communication is SO MUCH a people issue rather than a technical one. This one is about people agreeing on an approach of communicating with each other. Very high risk of it becoming political internally within that company.

          I totally agree - and I need to become way more specific in the description of the product and who I'm targeting. I've decided to try focusing solely on companies that already use an internal e-mail newsletter, and go from there. The product is already made for that purpose, I just haven't realized until now that I need to narrow my audience scope. If I can make something that is truly better than say, Mailchimp, for internal news, then I think there's a market for it.

          1. 0

            I'm sure you considered a history/archive of some sort. Historical context may be something people struggle with.

            Anyway, good luck!

      2. 0

        I didn't mean to appear snarky and I apologise if that was the impression I gave. I did pick up on a mood in your original post which I may have misunderstood. The written word is a poor medium to use to convey mood and I may have read more despondency into your post than was actually there and thus thought you were ready to give up more easily than might actually be the case.

        As others have said, demos would be good to show how the application keeps people current and sorts content. The other thing which struck me is that, if your tool is written appropriately, a big selling point would be compliance. Business can get itself into big financial and legal trouble if it fails to comply with the latest rules and regs ... is this something for which your tool could also be used, perhaps with version control?

        1. 0

          I did pick up on a mood in your original post which I may have misunderstood. The written word is a poor medium to use to convey mood and I may have read more despondency into your post than was actually there and thus thought you were ready to give up more easily than might actually be the case.

          You did indeed pick up my mood correctly :) I am feeling rather low regarding the project at the moment, and I'm having trouble finding motivation. I have plenty of experience so it's not that I don't know "what it takes", I've been in the trenches before (pun intended). But this time I'm lacking motivation, for various reasons - most probable because I'm alone in this one.

          Business can get itself into big financial and legal trouble if it fails to comply with the latest rules and regs ... is this something for which your tool could also be used, perhaps with version control?

          Hmm I don't really see how. Trench is meant as an upgrade for companies using internal e-mail newsletters to spread news internally.

  3. 2
    1. Don't do fake testimonials, it will hurt you.

    2. I suggest building a simple Slack extension related to your product and launch it. It's a lot easier to build than your main product, you'll already have the environment to launch it an you'll be able to see if people will use tools like this or not.

    1. 0

      Don't do fake testimonials, it will hurt you.

      I agree. I did them way early when I was trying to validate the idea via Adwords. I hadn't edited the site since then, and I haven't used the site actively since I ran that campaign. Now - people may have different opinions on whether even that is defendable, I personally don't think it's an issue at that stage. I've removed them now.

      I suggest building a simple Slack extension related to your product and launch it. It's a lot easier to build than your main product, you'll already have the environment to launch it an you'll be able to see if people will use tools like this or not.

      Interesting suggestion and something to take with me

    2. -1

      This comment has been flagged. Click to show.

  4. 2

    I honestly think the best way to see if an idea works is to just release it and see if people like it.

  5. 1

    I feel like this post describes my situation exactly except you are just a few steps behind.

    I...

    -surveyed a bunch of network contacts, close and extended. Almost all validated the idea but I was later concerned my questions were too leading/worried about confirmation bias

    -built relationships with a few of the survey participants that ended up not being as enthusiastic when it came to becoming beta users

    -also ran a successful digital marketing agency but eventually became bored with it + always wanted to get into software

    -could go on

    I'm a few steps ahead of you in that I have launched an MVP and have a few users actively giving me feedback. I had to go through about 50 unanswered cold/warm emails and 10-15 no's before getting those few users and they have been extremely helpful to the product so far.

    Have you tried putting it up on https://betalist.com/? I received about 200 interested sign ups from there that I then reached out to directly heading into beta.

    It's been a while since I worked for a large company but I feel like I used to see high ranking admins handle the distribution of company news (think: CEOs/SVPs admin). I might try reaching out to them via linkedin/twitter, etc.

    Personally, I think it looks like a cool idea. It would be cool to have a well designed, easy to navigate dedicated space for interesting company news you could blast links out for.

    Also, I'm a solo founder as well. I started and ran an agency solo for 10 years and never experienced the difficulties of being the only one at the wheel until this piece of software. It can be a soul sucking endeavor for sure. Shoot me an email if you ever want to bounce ideas (mike@tryaerial.com)

  6. 1

    This is the tough part, the "selling out of your trunk" phase. We all hear about MVPs and getting validation - but getting people to take time out of their day to use an early version or prototype and give you feedback is a huge challenge. I think the truth is the bar is set pretty high for software and products, so while building an MVP is the best thing for the creator, it's not something that a typical user may take time out of their day for. This is especially true if your target audience does not actively seek out tools and is notoriously busy. We're fighting this battle right now as we're targeting product managers and product teams. You have to ensure that your MVP creates value in exchange for the time users will put into using it and giving you feedback. Otherwise it's missing the "V" and isn't Viable.

    FYI - great idea on communication within companies. We're chasing a specific angle of this (roadmap prioritization decisions) but after one of the same root issues - how do you align an organization with clear and consistent communication.

    https://vspr.ai/beta-signup-secret

  7. 0

    I looked at your app ... and one thing I've found to be true when it comes to successful communication is repetition. What about making it easy to automate reminder updates?

    Like all the social network scheduling apps do—add the update, choose a rollout schedule and the mediums (slack and email) and send it out. Now sit back and the email will be sent three times, or the slack message is sent first once, then one week later, then the day after that, then an hour before.

    It's notoriously difficult to get people to do stuff ... maybe automate that repetition and that can be valuable to someone?

    1. 1

      Yeah, I have a lot of features similar to those in mind already. Basically, if an employee has failed to absorb a piece of news that was meant for him/her to read, then the app has failed. That could mean that an article is sent along with every digest that a reader receives until he/she reads it - or something along those lines.

      It's easy to come up with features like you describe but I want to start really simple for the MVP.

      One major piece of inspiration for the app comes from our Swedish "Högertrafikomläggningen" and how effective that campaign was. This episode from the podcast 99% invisible is really worth listening to: http://99percentinvisible.org/episode/h-day/

      1. 0

        I was wondering if you nickname was Swedish. I'm a fellow Swedish indie hacker.

  8. 0

    You also need to have patience. For ex., on one of my side-projects, I waited 2 months until I got my first sale($50/month range, after working 8 months on the project) and 6 months after that I reached $1.5k/month. I was very close to close it.

    However, on 3rd month after the first sale(at $300/month) I made a small pivot to another market that helped with growth.

  9. 0

    First, great job following a disciplined approach!

    As for the question of "should I stay or should I go", how about time-boxing? Define metrics that constitute success for each milestone (X paying customers, Y leads etc etc), then set a dollar budget and a time limit to reach those goals ($XXXX and Y months from now). If you don't hit those goals, kill the project. In case new information comes in that's material to your success, review and adjust the goals, budget and the time limit. Rinse, repeat.

    You said you aren't sentimental about these things, but I'll comment anyway: every once in a while you hear stories of entrepreneurs that "never gave up", persevered for years, ate ramen noodles for months on end, ignored advice of their loved ones etc, then broke thru and "won". For each one of those, there are a 100 stories of miserable failure after years of trying. Only winners live to tell the tale, so there's selection bias going on there.

    There is a blurry line between perseverance/never-quit attitude and being honest with yourself about your chances of success. I think the real magic is in setting the success goals correctly and knowing whether the car has enough gas to get to the next gas station.

    Good luck!

  10. 0

    As a first time founder of a start up I am having trouble with the part in your story where you spoke with companies about the problem but did not propose a solution as you were in research. It seems to me if you have to "research" to see if there is a problem means that you don't seem to have a grasp of the industry for your mvp. One of the criteria for mvp is know the industry you are trying to disrupt really really well. This cannot be understated. I am currently in development and I don't have a MVP or traction and I am not technical but 80% of VCs I cold-emailed have emailed me back. I believe it's bc I am proposing a solution in the industry I am intimate for over 2o years. I know this may sound harsh but you cannot research via adwords and talking to a few companies. Market fit seems to definitely be your problem not working product.

    1. 0

      I can only congratulate you for having such a success. I don't think it's very common to find problems to solve where you have such a great fit and market gap that you end up with the result that you seem to be getting. There's a difference though between getting a response from an investor and getting a response from a proposed customer. Are you getting the same response from your industry?

      One of the criteria for mvp is know the industry you are trying to disrupt really really well.

      You might be entirely right - maybe I don't know my target audience well enough. But there are a lot of services that succeed under those circumstances as well, depending on the problem they're solving. Someone who sells e-mail marketing software doesn't have to understand how all companies that want to use e-mail marketing works, what make them tick, what their problems are etc. They only need to understand the specific problem they're solving, not their respective industries.

      I've been a manager myself and know that it can be difficult to reach all the staff with information. I didn't (and to some extent still don't) know though how big of a problem it is across the board which is why I did research in the first place.

  11. 0

    I like the concept, and I wish my company would use something like this. That being said, I am not in a position to make that decision.

    If you suspect you may have introduced some bias into the process, have you considered doing a few more open ended interviews?

    Have you considered doing any content marketing to promote the long tail?

  12. 0

    Hi Insats,

    I would like to ask you, did you check alternatives first? I worked in small & big companies. Nowadays, execs send emails through mailing lists or ping @general on Slack to send news to all employees. How is your product being better than these current tools? Maybe that's the part missing from your presentation so far.

    Keep up with the good work, I know you can do it ;)

    1. 0

      I would like to ask you, did you check alternatives first?

      Yes

      Nowadays, execs send emails through mailing lists or ping @general on Slack to send news to all employees.

      Yes, that's right. But - Slack messages has a tendency to disappear in the vast sea of messages. If ppl are not located by their computers they miss important messages. If you're sick for two days, will you scroll back through all channels and check what you've missed? Slack is awesome for a lot of things, but not so much for one way communication. Also, it requires, you guessed it - Slack! While Trench only requires an e-mail address or phone number in order to be a recipient of the information.

      In regards to mailing lists: Yes! Correct, that's a common solution today, however, a lot of employees receive too much e-mail and have no way of deciding for his/her self when and how to get the news. Trench makes it easy for the boss to publish the news - and for the employee to decide when to get it.

  13. 0

    Your design is great, but I feel lost because the value proposition on your website is not clear. My questions:

    1. The header is good, it hooked me

    2. It was really hard for me to project myself into your solution, without examples or demo.

    3. Why Trench will change my life?

    4. Why should I use Trench over spreading the news by email?

    Keep going !

    1. 0

      The header is good, it hooked me

      Thanks! Took some iteration.

      It was really hard for me to project myself into your solution, without examples or demo.

      I agree and I'm aware of this issue. I need to make a video that explains it more thoroughly.

      Why Trench will change my life?

      Good point

      Why should I use Trench over spreading the news by email?

      Because it's more effective. But yes, I should perhaps talk a bit more about that on the site.

      1. 0

        You got my point. Even if I was interested in your project, I didn't see why my life will be better and how.

  14. 0

    I can't speak to your product or market. I think it is trying to be Yammer. That product got acquired and killed. Or maybe it's still living, but I'm totally clued out of Enterprise..

    Where did you get your testimonials. Are they real or fake? If they are real and the product is really delivering value then start charging. Also, demand they give you referrals!

    Your design is pretty darn great. Maybe try selling design services!

    1. 0

      I think Yammer was a Facebook clone for businesses. Trench is more like an internal e-mail newsletter service on steroids.

      Where did you get your testimonials. Are they real or fake?

      Fake. I should've taken them down, it's kinda shady to use fake ones, I only put them there for the Adwords landing page I did, and haven't edited that site since.

      Your design is pretty darn great. Maybe try selling design services!

      Thanks! :)

      I ran a web agency with over 20 employees for a couple of years, so I've kind of been there, done that :)

      1. 0

        Fake. I should've taken them down, it's kinda shady to use fake ones, I only put them there for the Adwords landing page I did, and haven't edited that site since.

        You seem like a nice guy and well-spoken too, but IMHO this is more than "kinda shady". Putting up landing pages for a product that doesn't exist yet is one thing (pretty acceptable these days and you stated that it was early access), but pretending that your product is being used by fake executives when in fact that's not the case is a serious breach of trust. Maybe this is just the one time you've accidentally crossed the line into unethical behaviour, but if it isn't, I would worry that it would affect your potential customers' ability to trust your offerings.

        Did you existing contacts know these were fake testimonials and were they ok with that?

        edit: I've realized this comes across somewhat harshly. I guess what I was trying to articulate in essence is this: I read your OP and thought "This guy seems to be doing things the right way, is articulate, has a network of real business people, etc., etc." and thought that even though you may not be experiencing success, in my view, when you tick all those boxes, success will be headed your way at some point. However, then I saw the fake testimonials and that brings to mind more of a hustler/"growth-hacker" image and leads to questions marks about whether that initial impression was off.

        1. 0

          I totally understand your concern. The website has been used for a single purpose: As a landing page to see if there would be any interest for such a product.

          Did you existing contacts know these were fake testimonials and were they ok with that?

          The people I've e-mailed with are not people I've sent to the website, mainly because those are quite ordinary businesses that normally never even see a software website in their entire lifetime. They might have heard of Dropbox but Slack is still way off in the future. Sending them a link to a website in english (I'm Swedish) that briefly describes a product that I can explain better in e-mail would almost be a little weird in that context.

          Anyway - I should have removed them a long time ago, and I've done so now.

  15. 0

    So what happened to the 5% of people who signed up for initial access? If you haven't already, definitely hit them up.

    It's really hard to say where this is falling apart for you - it could be that your idea is toast, or that your email pitch sucks, or that 90% of the people on that list are stale contacts and that you're doing much better than you think you are.

    1. 1

      You do have a point, the reason why I haven't is because I don't want to bother them before I have an actual product that they can try. But - maybe I should reconsider.. I might get som valuable information from them in regards to why they signed up in the first place.

      1. 0

        This thread might be helpful re: your pre-launch list: https://www.indiehackers.com/forum/post/-KssxDjPbhZ7Jg5ELHAu.

        As mentioned above, I don't think you've pinned down the core problem you're solving just yet. Fighting with email/slack without a laser-focused proposition out of the gate makes for a product that's too general to help anybody.

        1. 0

          As mentioned above, I don't think you've pinned down the core problem you're solving just yet. Fighting with email/slack without a laser-focused proposition out of the gate makes for a product that's too general to help anybody.

          I agree, I've started being a bit more clear in my follow up e-mails and I will try to go after companies that currently use internal e-mail marketing and offer Trench as a better solution, to make it easier for them to visualize the transition. Otherwise it'll just be "a tool that somehow is supposed to make some stuff better"

  16. 0

    have you tried promoting on reddit and hackernews?

    1. 1

      No I haven't, the reason for that is that I have a feeling that I won't get to my target audience on those sites. There are a lot of fellow indie hackers there though, but my service isn't targeting them.

      1. 0

        Why not? Those indie hackers might also work at companies! We built an internal news blast/archive with Wordpress, they just type their message up and put it into Wordpress, they share the link via email and you can always go look at the post later.

        Potentially not fully understanding what additional value you're providing other than a place for the news/company notices to exist historically, and notify people of new posts, my feedback would be to do your initial pricing in a much larger block of users, and make it a fixed price and yearly commit after free-trial. If I'm understanding, I don't necessarily see the value difference to the end-user at the smaller levels of scale. As well, your costs aren't necessarily as closely linked to # of users as other socket-based applications (Slack, HipChat, Stride, Email, Google Groups, Workplace by Facebook) all come to mind for "communication" applications that charge on a per user basis.

        So, a user would either see the value of at $150/yr for a "small business" account, that would handle up to 50 users, or they wouldn't. I understand that you would need to protect yourself from rapid over-usage which is why you want to price based on users, but even the most active of users would likely not put a dent in the revenue once the multi-user dividends could pay off. You could also put an "Almost Enterprise" tier, for <500 employees, and charge a different fixed rate, after that I would likely just go with the "contact us" cop out.

        From the perspective of the value, if this solution existed a year ago and we knew about it, and it was $150/yr commit, we would have signed up after a short trial period. At the time/effort we spent to setup the Wordpress server, put a template together that matched company branding, put Google Auth on it, etc... I would definitely have made the case to pay a nominal yearly fee, even if we could only add our logo.

        Again, I might not have a full grasp of what you're offering, so I apologize if I'm making or have a glaring mistake or omission.

        1. 1

          Why not? Those indie hackers might also work at companies!

          Sure! But why put marketing effort into a group that's not my target audience? Single moms probably work at companies too, but it wouldn't make sense to target them specifically ;)

          Now - I know that's not a fair comparison, but I don't think your argument holds much water. But I will probably submit to those sites once I've gotten closer to having the MVP ready since the feedback could be useful.

          Potentially not fully understanding what additional value you're providing

          The main problem I'm trying to solve is that a lot of employees don't read the information. It's either something tucked into the intranet that nobody really wants to visit, or it's crammed into an e-mail newsletter. Now - that's good enough for a lot of organizations, but if you really want everyone "on the same page" you have to cater to the needs of the readers. So: Think of Trench as a newsletter system designed specifically for internal use. Readers (staff) can select themselves when to get their news digest (daily, weekly, only wednesdays in the evening etc.) AND through which channel (E-mail, SMS, Slack PM etc) making it more likely that he or she will read and absorb the information. That's the gist of it, albeit there's a lot of additional features.

          The winner? The person responsible for spreading the information. He/she is the one i'm catering to because it's that persons job to make sure people knows what's going on in the org.

          So, a user would either see the value of at $150/yr for a "small business" account...

          Yes, the price model will most likely need a revisit. The one I have now was just a starting point. Thanks for the feedback.

          From the perspective of the value, if this solution existed a year ago and we knew about it, and it was $150/yr commit, we would have signed up after a short trial period. At the time/effort we spent to setup the Wordpress server, put a template together that matched company branding, put Google Auth on it, etc... I would definitely have made the case to pay a nominal yearly fee, even if we could only add our logo.

          I don't think a lot of companies have in-house developers, do you? And if they don't, contracting an agency to build something like this would not be realistic.

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            Awesome response!

            Also agree with you, a lot of companies don't have in-house dev. But, my point was even those that do, would likely pay a reasonable amount for the service simply to pass the maintenance, support, etc of the solution given an appropriate privacy policy (we won't sell, read, or distribute your content...).

            Thanks for taking the time to respond, and wish you well!