Robert James Gabriel (@RobertJGabriel) never had it easy growing up. Before he was finally diagnosed with dyslexia at age 17, he had teachers counsel him to drop out of school and was told he would never amount to anything. But with some positive encouragement from a few helpful mentors and individuals, Robert found his way, learned to code, and became a prolific indie hacker. In this episode Robert and I discuss the psychological effects of being trapped inside both negative and positive feedback loops, his strategy for coming up with dozens of product ideas, and the story behind how he bootstrapped his app Helperbird into a six-figure business that helps others with learning disabilities like dyslexia.
What’s up, everybody? This is Courtland from IndieHackers.com and you’re listening to the Indie Hackers Podcast. On this show I talk to the founders of profitable internet businesses and I try to get a sense of what it's like to be in their shoes. How did they get to where they are today? How do they make decisions both in their companies and in their personal lives? And what exactly makes their businesses tick?
The goal here, as always, is so that the rest of us can learn from their examples and go on to build our own profitable internet businesses. Today, I am talking to Robert James Gabriel. He's the founder of a company called Helperbird. Robert, welcome to the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure.
Thanks for coming on. Tell us about Helperbird, what is it, exactly?
Helperbird was a side project that I initially about three years ago. What Helperbird is it's a tool for any browser to help you with learning difficulties, such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, light sensitive disorders or even people who have epilepsy.
What Helperbird does is it allows the user to have complete customization over the web. What do I mean by that? Some users can find the background colors a bit harsh, so you can customize it to a blue color or a green color. They can change the fonts, the color of the fonts, add overlays, text-to-speech, speech-to-text, add a built-in note system.
You can remove all distracting images and ads and customize the web to your own needs and we also do, for epilepsy, where we could remove flashing images as well. You can mix and match all these features and make the web easier for you, to make it easier to learn, to browse the web a lot easier.
I know that Helperbird started off as a side project. You've grown it to five figures a month in revenue. Are you full-time on it, yet?
Yes, full-time as of November last year, 2018. Before that point it was when I got a little time after work or just doing a few support emails. Then, just after I started on full-time, we got a surge in users. It was just over good SEO and that's what I put the real credit down to and just constant updates.
Every two weeks, I try to release new features and then January 2019, it just bloomed up to 29,000 users. Then, the next one up to 39,000 users and then it's just been growing, growing, growing. I've made a lot of mistakes along the way and some users have left, they've come back, and I've got emails saying, “You messed up a couple months ago,” so it's been a fun ride. It's been just over a year now of being on full-time.
Very cool. We're going to dive into some of those mistakes you've made along the way and some of those successes, too, which sounds like there are quite a few of. First, I'm interested in your motivations as an Indie Hacker. Why did you start working on Helperbird?
You're the first person to ask me this question. About May 2018, I was feeling very burnt out and very down from not managing my work life and not managing my personal life and I just needed a break. I decided to take a sabbatical from the place I was working full-time as a software engineer and a manager.
I decided to travel the world and regrow and rediscover what I love, which was engineering and helping people. Along the way, I was doing these different side projects and different apps and just exploring the world and I went to France, Greece, Spain, across the U.S., across Canada, saving up all of this money, so I was very privileged in that way to do it.
Along the way, I made this Netflix app and with that, all it did was, using the puppeteer script, scrapped all Netflix's hidden categories, hidden menus, their whole site, and made a Chrome extension that would allow you to browse these very easily and save you favorite hidden categories.
If you love movies with Steve Martin that are horror, they have a category for that. Two months later, it got bought out and, it was thanks to your site and thanks to Product Hunt from them discovering it, that was a thrill and in that itself, it kind of relit something in me.
I knew that I always wanted to work for myself and I was always browsing Indie Hackers and I was always browsing Hacker News and Product Hunt and Reddit. Then, I discovered that when through school, I didn't have the tools. If I hadn't mentioned already, I am dyslexic.
I didn't have the tools or the support until I was about 17 and that's very late to get the support you need to be dyslexic or learning difficulty and I was even told to drop out of school because I was considered dumb or wouldn't be successful.
At that point in November in Spain with my fiancé, I decided to register the name helperbird.com, which was kind of a pet project of mine, up to that point, where all it did was change the font.
Overnight, I started talking to people with dyslexia, started understanding what the needs were and a personal family friend gave me an idea of a bunch of different features I should add. Then January came along and there was 20,000 people after discovering it from good word of mouth and the constant updates and the good SEO.
The reason I worked on it is because I know what the issues of people who have dyslexia have and I don't want anyone to grow up with those struggles or issues or don't have that level of support.
That's why the price is actually quite low. People are telling me I should increase the pricing, but no. It's very affordable for every kid, for every school, because they don't have a high budget.
On your product page on Indie Hackers, you talk a little bit about growing up with dyslexia and you said that, "As somebody with dyslexia who was told to drop out of school before I was diagnosed, as my teachers told my parents that I wouldn't become anything," you say that you wish you were making this up.
You understand the struggles that users have online. It gets me to thinking about the feedback loops of encouragement and discouragement and how when you have people telling you're not going to succeed and really discouraging you, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, where you might not try as hard because you don't think you can do it.
The opposite is also true, where I was lucky enough to have a lot of encouragement from adults when I was a kid. A lot of people telling me that they thought I could accomplish things and could do things and as a result of that, I tried harder because I expected it of myself.
How do you turn things around when you've had so much discouragement from a young age and make something of yourself that you're proud of?
It's actually very funny. Similar to what you said was I had one teacher in particular, my Physics teacher, of course, it's always the science teacher, who was mentoring me and encouraging me to always go forward and he actually got me into programming in an earlier age, just after I got diagnosed.
He helped me and got me internships and got me into the right path because before that point, as you said with the loop of encouragement or discouragement, you can go down a bad path and I'm very lucky that there at least was someone in the educational system to help me.
With him, his name is John Foley, if he happens to listen to this, he got me into programming, he drove up to Dublin, which is a four hour journey, he brought a student to go to the competitions and we ended up winning the school €10,000 in a scholarship off a program I wrote.
The reason I bring that up in particular is I had a teacher, not even two months earlier, who told me I didn't deserve the A I got on out state exams because my English wasn't good enough. She didn't know my English grammar was ignored because I had dyslexia, they were just looking for the content, not the grammar or spelling.
She came up and apologized to me after the award came through and she goes, "I totally underestimated you and I shouldn't have said that to you," and stuff like that. Some people just aren't educated in terms of some learning difficulties in schools.
It's really tough. I look at the things you've done since then. I'm on your personal website, RobertGabriel.ninja, and you've got a section that says, "Apps and Projects" and you say in your spare time, you work and maintain all these different apps and there's nine of them plus more on GitHub.
You've got Helperbird, you've got an app called OpenDyslexic, you had the one you mentioned earlier that got bought, Netflix Hidden Categories, Sync Snip, Markdown Editor for Chrome, just app after app after app. How are you so prolific? How do you create so many things and see them through to completion?
A lot of those are boredom or, in particular, when I look for an app and if it's not there, I'll go off and try to make it. If more than 100 people like it, I'll start developing it or spend half a day a week doing it.
In most cases, if the issue is annoying me, I know it's annoying someone else and that's why, especially with Chrome extensions, they're so quick to get up there and out to a huge market. That's why I always encourage people to do it.
There’s two up there, if you don’t mind me telling this story, that got me cease and desist letters. One of them, I was listening to the Rooster Teeth podcast about four years ago and they talk about the Xbox One. I don't know if you have one.
You know how you can record your videos and photos and your screenshots? They were talking about how they wished they could have a website where you could see your friends or easily download them on your computer and at the time, you couldn't. This was 2 a.m. the day before New Year's Eve and I was on the Xbox website and I noticed the API was not private, meaning it was open without authentication.
I create a little website app that allows you to put in anyone's gamer tag and then it would show all their videos, show all their photos for any gamertag, even if your friends are not. I tweeted the founder of Rooster Teeth and he tweeted it out and just went mini-viral.
I posted on Reddit and then Reddit started tagging Major Nelson, their community manager and he goes, I still have the screenshot, "I don't think the Xbox team is going to like this," and not even a week later, the API got shut down and a week later the cease and desist letter came in.
I have it framed up in my parents’ room back in Ireland. This was last year, I don't really like having too much social media on my phone, but my brothers and sisters all use Instagram messaging to stay in contact. I created a Chrome extension that would allow you to have direct messaging on the desktop version of Instagram.
From there, it got very popular very quick overnight because that feature is missing. And got off the plane in Greece and I got this huge letter, "You must take this down immediately. This is against our copywrite, our Terms and Conditions" and that one was scary, so that one went down immediately.
The reason I told you these two is just from when you create new projects, it's always from issues that you personally have. In that case, I wanted direct messaging, so I went off and made it.
It's really common to see founders starting things because they solve their own problem. I also talk to people probably everyday who tell me that they can't come up with any ideas, they don't have any ideas and they're looking for problems in their life but they just can't seem to find any that are worth solving. What do you think is the difference between you and people who struggle to see problems in their life that they can build something for?
That's actually a very good question. I can't give you a proper answer but what I could give you is an answer of what I think. I think it's curiosity and I think people have different levels of curiosity. My parents, if they ended up listening to this as well, will remember times when I ripped apart phones when I was 12 years old just to see how they worked or painted them over.
I just love taking stuff apart and seeing how the mechanics work. In that case, if I know there's an Xbox feature, again, I would look through all the network logs until I find that open one and develop it first. I do think it's down to curiosity. Not necessarily motivation, but curiosity, yeah, because people can be motivated at different levels but curiosity is a different thing that people have different levels with.
Let's talk about curiosity as it applies to Helperbird. What were you curious about when you first started Helperbird and what were some of the first steps that you took to bring it to life?
It started in, I think, January 9th, 2015. It was the first head project stage, where I was starting an internship with a project management software company called Teamwork.com in Cork. Going from college to an actual working environment in an internship is a huge jump.
They gave me a month of time to get familiar with the stack and get familiar with the code base and any tools. I decided to make a very simple Chrome extension using Knuckle JS at the time using SaaS and different technologies. I said, "I saw it was opened. I have dyslexia, I might as well try and find a font," and I found then OpenDyslexic font. I made this Chrome extension, all it did was inject the code on the page and change the font.
That's all it did, very simple, looked horrible. I wanted to learn how to publish it, so I published it. Then, I forgot about it and never actually used it myself, to be honest. Two months later, my friend came up and I happened to log-in to the dashboard. I saw that there were 2,000 users just using it.
No promotion, nothing. I went, "Woah." The next version, I cleaned it up and added a bit of performance and set up an email so if anyone had any issues, but no one really did. Then, Abbie, I can't pronounce his last name, who created the OpenDyslexic font, which is a free, open source one, he came along to me and asked me did I want to help develop the official font Chrome extension because it was getting riddled in bad reviews because it didn't have a feature of being able to turn it on and off.
He goes, "If you can install a Chrome extension, that was it" so I went off and then rebuilt and all I did was add a toggle button and it grew from, I think, 42,000 users to, I think as of last night, just under 250,000 people are using that particular one and that's where I saw that there was a lot of people out there who were looking for tools.
From there, I decided to do more research and I got family friends involved and I have even a friend from back home who is helping me out with the website and some of the marketing for it as well. We're going from strength to strength at the moment and adding new features.
One thing I do have to say to people, and I see it a lot on Product Hunt or Indie Hackers and the question keeps arising. I know this is a bit hard to say once you have customers or users is do listen to them. Especially when you're at that early stage where you can rapidly put out stuff is even one new feature can help bring on ten more users.
Once you have an established user base and established multi-features, you can start making priority levels that of what is more efficient than others. I know that differs depending on the scale of the app in itself.
You were working on this on the side. In fact, it wasn't even a business for you. You didn't seem to have a revenue model up front. You didn't expect anyone to use it. At what point did you start thinking of it as something that might be a higher priority than your other side projects and that might be something you can turn into a business?
It really kicked in on September 2018, kind of when I said, "This is six months, now, of me traveling the world and relaxing and talking to people and doing workshops and getting back into the coding world."
This is three years after you first launched Helperbird?
Yes. It's been around for a while. If you go to the Wayback Machine, you'll see all the horrible designs and all the mismatched colors and before I actually sat down and designed it.
It was in September, I was like, "I could take this forward," because, I said, "If I were to properly focus one year at it and see how it goes, and if not, I could always rejoin the company, hopefully. If I gave it my all for one year.”
In October, we were in France and I decided I want to buy it. I started designing it a website and I didn't buy the name. Very luckily, no one took it. Then, in the start of November, I bought the name. Mid-October, November. From then, I said, "I'm just going to charge $3 dollars for it for life," But that isn't a very sustainable revenue model in the long term.
The current revenue model only came in the last three months after proper mixing and matching the pricing and discovering what that sweet spot was. We discovered it was the $4.99, cup of coffee, per month or $50 a year for all features and all upgrades and unlimited users if you do the educational pricing as well.
It was October, November, and I decided I'm going to sit down and spend one year, and it's been one year, more or less, as of speaking to you, and I think it's one of the better things I've bet myself on.
It's been a pretty amazing year. You're talking about your user numbers and your growth, earlier, and it breaking 20,000 users, 30,000 users. I'm looking at your Product page on Indie Hackers right now and October, you posted a milestone where you said you broke 50,000 users, which is just crazy. How do you grow an app so fast?
One of the things I'm proud of over some of the other educational apps is that we do zero tracking. We're CCPA-FIPA compliant and what that means is that you don't take any information, you don't store any information, you don't analyze any information, you don't know what the user is up to.
I don't actually know how people are using the app unless they talk to me. When they're on live chat or they email me, I'll ask them, "Do you have any feedback?" In terms of growth, it literally does come down to good word and me constantly tweeting, constantly talking to people, constantly organically plugging it, and even talking to people who are on subreddits or even on forums saying, "My kid is suffering" or "I don't know what to do."
I'll give them it for a year or I'll give it to the for two years or I'll give it to them for free for life because, for me, it's all about giving a good personal relationship. I know what these kids have gone through or even these fully grown adults. Giving it away to 10 people, they'll tell 10 more people who are willing to try it out and who are willing to spread the word.
That is probably the real reason it's grown. We've had articles written without even pressing for it and it's just been good natured and honest towards people. That's definitely been the main reason for the growing, especially as you said, from 50,000 to 65,000 in a month, my socks were off my feet when I saw that.
Because we do zero tracking, I can't actually tell where they're coming from without me plowing through Google search and doing tools, "in the last week, has Helperbird been mentioned anywhere?"
You mentioned that there have been a few things you've invested in. For example, Google Search and SEOs worked out. Just thinking about the way that Helperbird first picked up traction, when you weren't even using it yourself, you checked in on it and it have 2,000 users a few years ago. I wonder how much that was just people finding it through the Chrome Webstore search?
I do have to put a lot of credit in that and I think because luckily, when I did Helperbird, as a side project, I did a lot of key words on intentionally, like 'dyslexia', 'accessibility tool'.
If you search those, we were number one across all of them and I do think that has a lot to do with it in terms of people organically finding us through the Chrome Store. I think it was a stumble-upon mistake.
What about nowadays? Are you doing any content marketing too intentionally? Write articles that could help people and maybe get the app found on Google?
Funny enough, we're starting to do that but only if they're actually useful and not key word stuffing because I think that looks awful as a brand. Especially in the last two or three months, we've taken a brand a lot more seriously.
My friend who is helping me out, we're making sure all of the branding is consistent and things like that. We were going to start writing articles, but in college, I wrote a piece on accessibility and coloring and fonts and that thing still gets about 500 visits a week, alone. That brook drives a lot of traffic just in terms of SEO.
Tell me about your friend who's helping. At some point, you brought your friend on, but it was you for quite a while. How did you decide to partner up?
My friend Ruckus from Cork, I met him during college. We were working on several other little projects together. We'll build this piece of software, we'll build that piece of software and I decided to focus on Helperbird full-time.
Then, about July of this year, he wanted to experiment on a bigger level, in terms of sales and marketing and a little bit of web development, as well. I said, "Of course, you can join on and see how everything goes," and he's been a great help in terms of software testing and from the website testing and even generating ideas about how to go forward.
He's going to be at my wedding pretty soon. Friends for life and it's been a great ride to be with him on it, as well.
It seems like everything is blowing up for you. You're growing your team, you're growing you user base, you're growing your revenue, you're full-time on this. What's the future look like? What's the ultimate goal of Helperbird and what are you imagine in your best dreams?
We have some very exciting stuff. I can't just say it, but in about a week's time, I'll send it on to you. There's some very exciting news next week. Then, in the future, we're hoping that we're going to spread across more schools and more users and then have an iOS app potentially in the future.
That's the one major thing that people are screaming out for is an iOS app and the way we have it set up is you pay once, and you have it across every device. The end goal is to be the number one tool for accessibility for anyone.
Be it an elderly person who just needs the font increased, people would go, "You should get Helperbird." Kind of like when you say, "We should Uber there.” We want to be into that scale, but on accessibility and tooling. For the moment, we're going to try to keep it remote, a remote team first, because from my philosophy, people work their best in their own comfortable situations.
I found it struggling to work in a cubicle because you get distracted by chats and you only end up doing three hours at work or I prefer to work in an actual cafe with headphones on and do five or six hours and then do an hour or two of calls. You build up a lot more trust that way.
I do think it's remote first in the future and that's one thing I'll hope to do as we grow the team, so I'll try to keep the team small, tight, but I think about five or six people, hopefully, in the future as we need them.
Sounds fun to do a remote first company and I know you spent what? A year and a half just traveling the world? Are you planning to go back on the road or are you going to stay settled down?
I'm getting married on February 29th, so as I said, I can only forget it once every four years and we're going to do a bit of traveling. We're going out to Japan and then come back to the states, then, at that point and then settle down somewhere. Where that is a good question. I'm not sure quite yet.
Earlier, I promised we would talk about some of the challenges you've gone through, not just the good stuff and we've talk about a lot of good stuff, so far. What have been some of the hardest parts of running and growing Helperbird?
One of the major issues about running a Chrome app or an extension app is, I didn't realize until the error happened, if you didn't properly test the app like I did, there was a very nasty bug that if someone paid, it would lock some of the code away so you couldn't use some of the features, even though that was after paying.
That was because of a prettier change and some of the poor lines of code added that were doing the if statements, were coming back invalid or null. That might not even seem like a big issue, just push out the patch. The issue I discovered is that the Chrome extensions actually roll out different patches and updates over a course of a week.
If you do version 1.1, only a quarter of your users are actually going to get it the same day. Then, the next 10% might get it a week later and then it will be spread out over a couple of weeks. It didn't have an issue of this nasty bug is slowly being spread out and even if I roll out a new one.
It takes a while for that to go out.
Yes and I got so many complaints, users left, and it was a real learning lesson. Again, I just told people, "I am sorry," after messing up, and, "Here's a free month. This is a genuine mess, it won't happen again".
I put in procedures now using code validators just to make sure that this doesn't happen – and proper testing. That really shook my boots. Then, there was another situation, too, and this is a big struggle I think a lot of people listening might actually have, is when you try to get promotion or try to get your app out there or your project out there, there's a lot of places that aren't willing to do it for free because they think if you're going to make money off of it, they might as well make money off of it, as well.
How do you come across as genuine? Like, "Hey I made this. Will you help me support it without going, “Hey, give us $1,000, we'll write you up a blog post.'" That was a big struggle. That was absolutely a big struggle. We did, initially, email a few places, but they were coming back, "We want $1,000, we want $2,000, we want half revenue of your referrals." Or "No, we don't do paid articles," and that was a big setback.
When you don't have a lot of money to do marketing, how do you go about it? The one thing I do tell people is just, as you mentioned, write blogs, and get involved in communities. That's why I love Indie Hackers as a whole because even people asking questions can really help. Another big issue I had was, again, the Chrome developers, as much as I love them and I was even down with the Chrome so much, don't do a great job when they make changes or alert people soon enough.
We had a Chrome extension. Our old version had a 16x16 icon and then the updated version of Chrome for Windows didn't support 16x16 pixel icon, so then we had a blackout of about 5,000 users who couldn't open up the app. Every time they opened up Chrome, it would go, "This Chrome extension couldn't load," and we got a mass of uninstalls.
I don't think most of those users actually came back. It was a lot of errors and cautions and issues there. Dealing with taxes, also, has been an interesting one because it was personally registered just as myself and self-tax. Then, as it grew and more people started coming in and different colleges and different high schools and different users from all around the world, that is a scary thing to deal with.
Setting up the proper structures to deal with all of those has been over my head, but luckily, we've had someone to come along and help to set that up. We're using Stripe Atlantis to set up the U.S. based one.
It's funny because a lot of these challenges, or challenges you have, is growing pains. You're still working on small side projects for yourself and so you're not testing everything and everything is not bullet proof and you just release changes willy-nilly, but then you suddenly find yourself with a huge user base and it's risky.
You have to change your habits and change the way that you're use to writing code. Do you feel like you like running a bigger company? That you like added responsibility or do you miss running the smaller side projects?
It's funny. When I was working at Teamwork.com, the CTO and CEO, Dan Mackey, and Peter Coppinger, when I was an intern with them, I was number 13 employee and when I left, it was 220. I saw that scale happen and I learned a lot from their philosophies.
I didn't really appreciate it until this started growing. I know they listen to this, so I want to say thank you, first of all. I didn't understand why they were doing certain things until I grew into these pains. I appreciate it more.
I do like the scaling a lot more. It's more challenging, but I do have these old side projects I do work on, besides Helperbird, in my spare time. I enjoy the growing pains and it's interesting. I always try to make sure I do 50/50 in terms of development and growing pains and management and CEO or founders type stuff.
What have you found to be the most helpful for you and your journey and supporting you as a founder, learning things that you don't know yet? Are there books that you read, are there mentors that you turn to?
I find, it might sound cliché, is friends and family, especially for periods where I'll be un-contactable for three weeks or I'm very hard to get a hold of.
Them just guiding me through and them giving me honest feedback or saying, "Rob, I think you're going down the wrong path here with this feature or strategy." Or even my pal, Ruckus, giving me feedback like, "I don't think this is right or I think this is the right direction." Then I had former work colleagues who I go to and even Indie Hackers. I know this sounds like a plug, it's generally a good site because you start to—
Feel free to plug Indie Hackers all you want.
I will. I didn’t want to do it too much. When I go on there, I find every question under hood. People have given me different feedback and different levels of growth, from small people to big people.
I even saw one person who passed $1 million in recurring revenue and that was just amazing. There he is writing a blog post and that's a very rare thing to have. The most amazing thing I found on Indie Hackers versus the rest is how friendly everyone is and genuinely friendly versus where if you go onto some other sites, you're ripped to shreds for asking just a simple question about taxes or, "You're an idiot, you should have known this."
I do put a lot of credit there and I do put a lot of credit to Product Hunt, as well, because Product Hunt, in the last few months I've noticed, it use to be a lot of friends upvoting friends from communities and they've balanced that out now. I don't know how their algorithm works now, but it's a lot more fair.
I think even seeing what people are actually building and the feedback they're getting is valuable for when you're growing your own because, again, there's different levels of scale there. I tried to listen to a lot of How I Built This, with Guy Roz. I think that is so fascinating and you learn a lot from founder stories there.
I'm sure there's a lot of people listening to this who are founders, or aspiring founders, who also have dyslexia and I've never had anyone on the podcast who had dyslexia or said they had. I would love to have you share some advice for founder who are struggling with dyslexia or other learning disability and how they can go ahead and build something that's successful or really do their best and feel good about it.
The only bit of advice I give people is that you should never be ashamed of it and I think that runs true with any disability or quirk people might have. If you tell people you have dyslexia, they'll never say it again, they'll never make fun of you. If anything, they'll think you're more inspiration and dyslexia is stanch (ph), considering all of the other famous entrepreneurs that had it like Steve Jobs or Richard Branson, just the two off the top of my head.
You should never give up and I mean that. Even I make silly mistakes all the time. I even misspelled my fiancé’s name on our boarding passes, recently, and we had to call up the airport quite quickly. Even if you make the mistakes and you own it, people will always be more inspired and trustworthy of you.
You made the mistake, even be it spelling, or being more honest, people respect you a lot more. With that respect, it gets you further in places. Even if you're talking to someone online and going, "Hey, I'm sorry I misunderstood this message, but it might be a little be late." And that's a lot better than not replying back at all, in that situation. The other thing is just consistency.
I saw this thread on Indie Hackers about people launching on Product Hunt or launching on Indie Hackers or launch in on other places and giving up when it doesn't go well, or it only goes okay. That' s where I always tell people, try to stick to, in YouTube they say an "upload schedule", but in software or even products, just stick to an update schedule.
I try to do it every two weeks. Some days, I miss it a little bit, but every Friday, every two weeks, there's a new update, even a small one, a big one, just something. I think with that, I've noticed that we're encouraged by the SEO a lot more. People are saying, "This is constantly being maintained and updated," and there's a lot more trust.
I found the same thing with the podcast. Consistency really works and I love the fact that you pointed out that people find it easy to give up when things don't go well. It's back to that feedback cycle. You launch, no one uses it, you start a business, it doesn't work out.
It's easy to get discouraged and stop, but if you've got this consistent schedule you're working towards and you're not reacting to how people react to what you're putting out, but you're reacting to your schedule, it doesn't really matter what the reception is. You're still going to release something new in another two weeks. I think that's a great way to get more shots on goal and keep going.
You talked about issues or mistakes or problems I had. Just one more I thought I'd throw in. If people listen, going to Product Hunt, we actually launched three times over the course of a year and a half because you are allowed every six months. The first one, we got 100 upvotes, which is very good, in my book.
We ended up number five at the end of the day. The second one, we only got forty. It was awful. It wasn't any real traction. The third time we did it, we ended up with 500. It was just, again, consistency and learning from the mistakes that were previously done, which were we rushed it, we didn't explain ourselves correctly, the copy was a mistake, we didn't have enough features and by the third time it came around, that was the one that set the match a-light.
Listen, Robert. It's been inspirational to hear how you've learned from your mistakes and gotten to where you are today, and I wish you the best. I'm looking forward to more of the milestones that you're posting with your insane growth on Indie Hackers. Can you tell listeners where they can go to learn more about Helperbird and also follow along with your story?
If you want to learn more about Helperbird, you can go on helperbird.com. We're Helperbird on most social medias. Then, if you want to follow me, I'm robertjgabriel on everything from Twitter, GitHub, LinkedIn. I'm happy to answer any questions and my DM's are always open. I just like talking to people. It's the gift of being Irish.
Thanks so much Robert.
Thank you so much and thank you for having me on.
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