How We Started Strong in a Tumultuous Marketplace

Hello! What's your background, and what are you working on?

Hello, my name is Mohammad. I'm a computer science graduate and have been working at one of the top tech companies for five years now. CryptoSuite is a suite of tools in the cryptocurrency space that allows you to discover new coins, set up price alerts, track your portfolio, research ICOs, discover arbitrage opportunities, and a lot more.

CryptoSuite was launched eight months ago, and we've made over $350,000 in sales so far.

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What motivated you to get started with CryptoSuite?

Cryptocurrencies were trending in the news and, as a result, the crypto marketplaces were getting flooded with a lot of people looking to invest and build out portfolios. There were a bunch of ugly investing and trading products that were good for experts, but for newcomers there was lack of simple tools to help with getting started, building knowledge, and jumping into the marketplace. I really felt like there was a gap. I did some trading on my own, buying a few alt coins and investing in some crypto funds. Overall, things seemed pretty overwhelming, even for me as a software engineer, and it seemed like there was no one place to get all the information you needed to kick things off.

So we decided to build a basic version of Cryptosuite with an early access webinar where we sold a one-time purchase version of the tool. We explicitly stated that it was a beta tool still in the works, but we wanted to give early access in order to get some feedback as we continued to build out the product and iterate. That webinar alone grossed $40,000.

What went into building the initial product?

I started off with sample code around crypto APIs which I extended to build some alerting functionality. I also focused a lot on the design—I wanted to make cryptocurrency look more accessible and enjoyable. There are a lot of ugly exchanges built entirely in boring, ominous all black, but I wanted CryptoSuite to look fun and enticing.

Identify a target audience and work towards improving the experience of that core audience.

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From a feature perspective, we were clear about our target audience: Newcomers to the crypto space. We intentionally dropped a bunch of the more complex features in the interest of casting a wider net and making the tool accessible and useful to those potentially looking at crypto for the first time. We also decided against features like automated trading as there’s more risk in managing these kinds of services than we were willing to take on.

How have you attracted users and grown CryptoSuite?

We drew potential customers into a launch webinar by sending out a blast email to a list of users who had previously bought products from us. At that point, the software was not complete, and the purpose of the webinar was to gauge interest and get some early feedback and validation. We sold a lifetime license with the caveat that the product wasn't fully ready. The webinar was a great success and saw around $40,000 in revenue.

The response to the webinar affirmed our confidence in the product and we used the $40k to buy a premium .com domain for $5,000, recruit affiliates, and run a sales contest. A good portion of our sales came from the launch competition we organized, which had a $20,000 prize pool.

I definitely recommend that you start selling as early as possible to gauge interest. Beyond validation for the market viability, the early adopters are also really keen to give good feedback, which you can use to prioritize features.

What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

Our business model is based on a monthly subscription model and a discounted yearly subscription. Our revenue has mostly come from an affiliate launch competition we held with popular marketers in the internet marketing niche. We also regularly run some private promotions in conjunction with popular marketers to gain more subscribers from their audience.

As of today, we have around $150,000 in yearly subscriptions and around $12,000 monthly subscribers. The subscriptions have been on the decline due to the fall of cryptocurrencies. While the popularity of cryptocurrencies did give us a quick boost, it seems that the instability of the market may lead to our eventual demise as well.

Our primary distribution model relies on affiliates, who get a 50% cut of the revenue. This is definitely our biggest expense but also takes care of promotional aspects. We have spent near to nothing on ads. Our server expenses are minimal, with the biggest being transactional email expenses, which used to run us $100 or more each month. Moving to Amazon SES has reduced that to around $5/month, which is nice.

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What are your goals for the future?

Given the fall of cryptocurrencies, we're not too hopeful for the future.

What are the biggest challenges you've faced and obstacles you've overcome? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?

I believe the biggest challenge we have is that we're totally based on top of cryptocurrencies. Our success or failure is closely tied to how cryptocurrencies perform.

Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

It was helpful to have a focused audience, i.e. people that were new to cryptocurrencies. Time and again, we've received feedback from customers who have asked for complex features that would cater to advanced users. We were clear that we didn't want to address those markets and it was good that we didn't spend time on them.

What's your advice for indie hackers who are just starting out?

Identify a target audience and work towards improving the experience of that core audience. Avoid feature bloat and launch early. Reid Hoffman of LinkedIn has offered some advice that I’ve found particularly helpful in saying that, “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."

Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about the tool at app.cryptosuite.com. Let me know if you have any questions, I’m happy to help. :)

Mohammad , Founder of CryptoSuite

Want to build your own business like CryptoSuite?

You should join the Indie Hackers community! 🤗

We're a few thousand founders helping each other build profitable businesses and side projects. Come share what you're working on and get feedback from your peers.

Not ready to get started on your product yet? No problem. The community is a great place to meet people, learn, and get your feet wet. Feel free to just browse!

Courtland Allen , Indie Hackers founder

  1. 15

    This site is the epitome of everthing that is bad about the crypto community. Spammy, highly misleading and aggresive tactics with no real long-term entrepreneurial skills on display. This is an awful case study, just awful. You're dropping your standards Courtland.

    1. 4

      I have to agree 100%. They have produced tracking and alert software and then attributed ICO flip profits and rising crypto prices to the software... which has nothing to do with earning that profit, only tracking it. Anyone invested in crypto from June 2017 to Jan 2018 could have claimed the same thing through their own "proprietary software (Google Sheets for example).. I would also love to see the updated 2018 returns from the shitcoins promoted on their sales pitch page. This is complete garbage.

    2. 3

      100% agreed.
      This is basically a mere cointracker where i should pay 300$ per month for to get some webinar videos?

      Im kind of disappointed this trash makes it to IH. I used to love this site, there were awesome projects here but lately the quality of companies kind of went down.

      1. 1

        Completely agree! How did this interview made it to Indie Hackers?????!!!

  2. 6

    So this is basically a mere cointracker where i should pay 300$ per month for to get some webinar videos?

    Whats going on Indiehackers ?! This company seems like a LEGIT SCAM. I think Indiehackers needs to start reviewing some of the companies that post here.

    Just read lines like:
    "This literally makes it a risk for you not to try!"
    "OR you can take me up on this licence, bonuses, a risk free double your money back refund policy AND start making a killing with me inside the members area in just a few minutes."

    Even the interview is BS if you ask me:
    "I also focused a lot on the design—I wanted to make cryptocurrency look more accessible and enjoyable."
    HOW is that different from all the other cryptosites?
    The first thing you notice is that the overwhelming majority of all cryptotrash products are focused MAINLY on fancy design and "cool" looking colors.

    And the supersketchy founder videos seem to proof my theory.
    Also: Who is this muhammad posting here? Are you the founder?
    Why do all the videos on the page include a sketchy australian guy with weird looking hair then?

    1. 0

      IH is full of other sites and interviews which are spammy. In fact bitcoin in itself does not have a good reputation.

      I think, the thing that irritates you most is perhaps the name of the founder. You cannot digest a fact that a guy from india with muslim sounding name is making 40K a month. with a kind of service which normally white guys do and spam and scam.

      Being European and white I have experienced that we always get some extra privileges in every regard be it positive feedback, while people from other religions and cultures got bashed at various forums like IH and now perheps IH as well.

      IH is doing a good job by being diverse. Maybe IH should take notice of such racist comments.

      1. 2

        so you think something and based on this very subjective opinion (which is not true, his arabic name does not irritate me but the fact that the founder whi posts here seems to be different than the one who is in the videos) you accuse me of racism? Maybe Ih should notice insulting aggressive posts like yours..

      2. 1

        with a kind of service which normally white guys do

        This is ignorant and untrue in my experience. Many, many cryptocoin users (and scammers) are Asian as well. It's a world-wide phenomenon.

        If I understand the comment you're responding to correctly, the parent commenter doubts that the white, "sketchy australian guy with weird looking hair" in the video (who calls himself Luke Maguire) is actually "a guy from india with muslim sounding name", as you put it.

        It's entirely possible he is and that there's an elaborate explanation, but having doubts is entirely reasonable. In fact, given the particulars in this case, I'd say you'd have to be willfully ignorant not to have any doubts.

        It's also hard not to notice that your account was created just an hour ago and its one and only comment was in defense of an obvious scam.

  3. 3

    Same as selling courses for dropshipping or affiliate marketing - not much value for the customer, just a chance for the course seller to make some profit from hopeful customers.
    Thanks for the article, though.

    1. 4

      Seeing this trash here makes me angry though.

  4. 2

    I've been a bit wary of IH of late becoming a place to dump low effort content marketing but this is something else - it's a straight-up scam. And it's officially endorsed no less!

    There are plenty of places to learn how to make high pressure scam-sales sites. I though IH was better than this?

  5. 2

    Given the fall of cryptocurrencies, we're not too hopeful for the future.
    Your tools doesn't allow to earn when prices are falling (AKA shorting)?

    1. 0

      Automated trading is something we did not build given our core audience was mostly interested in keeping track of prices

      1. 2

        So everyone has been rekt since Jan this year? Have the profit claims on your website been updated to reflect this?

  6. 1

    I don’t really want to pay 300 bucks a month for regular webinari. It seems to me that such information can be found on the Internet. Or I'm wrong?

  7. 1

    Guys, cool down.

    at least he is honest by saying:

    Given the fall of cryptocurrencies, we're not too hopeful for the future.

  8. 1

    While I whole hardly agree with the comments, I think (esp. for indie hackers that by definition are very tight on budget) to try to bring out something useful out of it, i.e. to learn. My question to @mohammadshabaz is how did promote your webinars/app? You mentioned affiliates, but can you unwrap it more? Where and how did you find them (JVZoo, clickbank, trafficjunction...) What was the commission structure etc. I am asking because i developed a very simple chrome extension gets prices via APIs and displays neatly in a tab, which I want to promote (for indie hackers - no, I am not planning on monetising it, it is a pet project and a learning experience for me in coding). Fb demands integrity statement of me to run an ad. Part of that integrity check is to verify an ownership of domain by uploading either an html snippet or making DNS record, which obviously I can not do given extensions are being uploaded to google cloud. Of course, fb is oblivious to this, while the rest of platforms (google/bing) outright ban anything crypto related. So I would actually appreciate the insight on how to work with affiliates.

    Again, I am not in any way shape or form encouraging the business practices, just trying to take away useful bits.

    PS: @csallen as much as I enjoyed Christy Laurence interview (I hold her story as a platinum case on entrepreneurship) I think this interview has a place at least as an experiment and reflection on "how to profit from fads". But alas

  9. 1

    @csallen this interview does not belong on Indie Hackers...

  10. 1

    Very insightful. Thanks for the interview.

    Could you help understand how you go about contacting affiliate marketing experts to help promote your product? I
    Do they write their own copy for your product or do you guide them?
    And do you have to increase the price of the product so that you can still split 50% and turn a reasonable profit?

    1. 1

      There are a bunch of marketplaces that have a lot of affiliates already on board. Some of these include jvzoo, paykickstart.
      You can check the leaderboards to find out the best affiliates and marketers. Also partnering with a good marketer who already has a good affiliate network would help immensely.
      If you can write the sales copy, you can speed up the launch process.

      Having a good funnel for the product will help. You should break your product into modules and offer upgrades that could push your product price from 30-50$ product to 250$ to those who're really interested

  11. 0

    A very hopeful case study to how to get the benefit of trends..

    and the use of affiliate marketer is very easy if you can correctly identify your potential customers.