In this episode I catch up with Samy Dindane (@SamyDindane), the creator of Twitter growth tool Hypefury. I'll ask him how he found his co-founder from an Indie Hackers post, how he grew Hypefury past $20K MRR, and why indie hackers don't have to solve a completely unique problem to be successful.
• Hypefury Twitter: https://twitter.com/hypefury
• Hypefury Podcast: https://hypefury.com/podcast/
What's up, everybody? This is Courtland from indiehackers.com and you're listening to the Indie Hackers Podcast. More people than ever are building cool stuff online and making a lot of money in the process. On this show, I sit down with these indie hackers to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, and the strategies they're taking advantage of so the rest of us can do the same.
Samy Dindane, welcome to the Indie Hackers podcast.
Thank you. Thank you for having me.
You are the founder of Hypefury, which you describe as basically the ultimate Twitter growth tool for personal brands. How much revenue is Hypefury doing today?
$22,000 a month. And how long ago did you start Hypefury?
It's going to be two years in a few days.
Wow, cool. Pretty good milestone. That's what? $22,000 a month. That's something like $264,000 a year. It's been two years. I think most people's goal is to try to get to ramen profitability in one year, and you've gotten to that many times over in a couple of years.
I wouldn’t call it profitability. I wouldn't call us profitable because we spend a lot of money reinvesting most of the money we're making in order to grow faster.
That makes a lot of sense if your business is doing well.
I found you by looking you up on the Indie Hackers product directory, and then I had seen your posts on Indie Hackers for a long time. You have a very detailed timeline full of updates that you posted about Hypefury from the very first second you came up with the idea all the way through last month when you hit, you broke through $20,000 a month in revenue.
The whole time it's been, you've been super-focused on growth. I mean, even early on in your history, you hired a co-founder to help you focus on growth. So, I'm not surprised that you're sort of reinvesting your profits. Are you reinvesting your revenues?
I think one of the cooler things about your business is that you're essentially helping people grow their Twitter accounts. It's a tool where you can go in, you can create threads, you can schedule tweets, you can do all sorts of stuff.
You're not the first company to help people grow the Twitter accounts. You're not even the first founder I've had on this podcast with an app that helps people grow Twitter accounts. Tet you've still been able in the last couple of years to get your revenue to a pretty high dollar amount.
What do you think accounts for the fact that you can create something that's not 100% total unique and yet still do well as a bootstrapped indie hacker?
Well, there are two answers to this question. First part is that I personally don't see Hypefury as a way to grow your Twitter. Mainly it’s a a way to monetize your Twitter. There's a difference.
There are a lot of people that have 100,000 followers and they barely make any money, so that's not the goal. The goal is not to have the biggest number. The most important thing is how to monetize your presence.
Second reply to this question is for example, all the people that are using Buffer and Hootsuite and all these big Twitter automation tools, they are not 100% happy about the tool they're using, even though they're using it. There is always room to improve and to create something new and to create a new way to do things. That's what Hypefury did in the beginning.
When I started Hypefury at first it was just a fun project. Okay. It had no pretensions, no crazy goals or anything, but I made some people try it. I was like, I built this to scale to threads. Do you want to try it? Then they started giving me feedback and saying, it would be great to add this, to add that, I want to do that or this.
Then I was like, oh, there’s room for the the tool. There's room for a new tool, for a new way to do things. And in the case of Hypefury, what we did different is that we really focused on Twitter.
If you use Buffer, Buffer is a good tool. It does a lot of things. Does Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and all these networks, you know, it allows you to schedule it in a very shallow way. If you wish, it doesn't go deep into the platform. What I did was going deep into Twitter.
Let's talk about the actual process of you creating Hypefury. I'm going to pull up your product in Indie Hackers and scroll down your timeline and find your very first posts where you talk about the fact that you came up with the idea.
You were already on Twitter. You're already using other, basically Twitter automation tools at the time. You wrote that basically, you hadn't seen anyone else who had a tool that would let you create Twitter threads.
Twitter supports you, not only sending one tweet at a time, but a whole thread of tweets that are connected to create a story. If you're using Buffer or using these other tools, they just wouldn't let you do it. You had to actually go to Twitter's native UI to do that.
You said, okay, well, the answer is, nobody told you about any tool that could do this, and you started working on it right away. This is August 2019. What was your goal? What did you think you were going to accomplish by building this tool that had this one feature that no other tool had?
Sad to say, but nothing. It was just to use it and see, okay, let's see how it's gonna work. See what I can do with.
I think I remember when I literally created the MVP of Hypefury, I was like, it would be great if I can scale to my friends. Then later on all this process I have on spreadsheets to put it in a software. The funny part is that it took me one year to actually build the Google sheets, the similarity, into Hypefury.
But back then, I was trying to do fitness coaching on Twitter. I was actually doing fitness coaching on the side. I wanted to do a side hustle because I had a consulting job that was pretty chill. So, I wanted to do something on the side.
I started using Hypefury to help me post, and I also was part of communities. That's why I tell people to join paid communities. I was part of something called Sovereign Uni and it’s basically a group of people who want to grow on Twitter and build new stuff on Twitter. I remember we had a Telegram group. I posted Hypefury there and I give everyone access. I did something where it was like, only 10 spots left or something like that.
It’s so good to be part of these small groups of people working together and motivating each other. Almost everyone I know who's super successful has some chat group where it's them and life five friends. Some people are more successful or less successful in those groups, but it's good just to have that cohort of people motivating you, kind of sharing their tips, pushing each other. We're social animals, we're social creatures. We're not meant to do things by ourselves.
You mentioned that it took you a year to get Hypefury to the point where it was really duplicating the functionality of your own ad hoc Twitter process where you're putting tweets and spreadsheets. Based on what you posted about it, it took you a few days.
You said it worked, I finished the MVP. This is three days after you posted that you came up with the idea, and you were super happy with it and you shared it with a few people, but none of them used it. You paused a little bit more and found 10 people to join. You started getting feedback.
I think that's remarkable because obviously this is a cool tool today that's making multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in revenue. It took you three days to get something out the door that actually worked and had the feature that you sort of envisioned in the beginning.
Back then, I wasn't even using a theme. I was doing plain HTML and CSS. First, try to find the users, but if you're like, yeah, I'm just going to go build it, build it in a few days and not in a few months.
It's just hard for a lot of people, because it's difficult to draw the line between what do you actually need for that very first version and what do you not need? Then a lot of the stuff you don't need as the stuff that people get the most excited about.
People really want to have a flashy, glitzy website and they want to play with the colors and they want a really good name and they want business cards and they want this feature and that feature. You somehow have the discipline to not do any of that. Have a super ugly website, super bare bones thing, and have only one feature, which is the smart way to do it. Most veterans do it that way, but people who are new usually don't know to cut all that other stuff out
For 4, 5, 6 months. I didn't have a website. Or maybe I had some landing page with coming soon or something like that. I still remember I did the website in December. I had Twitter accounts. The logo is like a Pokémon. What is it called? Zappados. So that's what's the logo for six months before I got the logo, it was just the Twitter accounts, trying to hype stuff, post some GIFs, posts some screenshots.
You really don't need all that stuff. All you need is users. If you find three users, they can start to give you feedback. Then your vision could change because Hypefury, when I created it, was a thread posting tool but now it's not. You can still obviously post threads, but posting threads is not a business. Nobody wakes up in the morning saying, I’m gonna scale some threads. It’s amazing.
Well, I think it's cool that you're able to start so small. The advantage of doing that is lost on a lot of people who are super embarrassed. Like, I don't want to build something and then be embarrassed to launch it, so I got to add all this stuff.
But if you do it really small, you can kind of skip that whole process where you’re embarrassed to launch because you can't be embarrassed to launch something that took you three days. You could show it to anybody and they'd be like, oh, this looks like shit. You're like, yeah, it took me three days inside a week. They’re like, oh, okay. Okay. Okay. I get it. They'll judge it based on the amount of time you put into it, so it's way better to keep it small.
It also helps you hyper-focus on whether or not people like the value that you're creating. If you have like all these cool bells and whistles and like 15 features and people kind of sorta like it, but kinda sorta don't, it's gonna take you so much testing and questioning to figure out what they do and don't like about it.
But if you only have, like you did, one feature and it's not even a website, like basically nothing, then there's not that much for people to critique. If they stick around, you know what your killer feature is, if they don't, you know you need to go back to the drawing board. What was the process like for you when you launched it, sorta put it in the hands of these 10 people and they started giving you feedback?
Back then, it was pretty much they request something, I put it there, as long as it's not something too crazy, that doesn't make any sense.
At some point you had to have some sort of switch in your attitude though. I mean, if you just have this curiosity you said you had, and you're like, okay, what if I built this tool, how would that work? Then you start switching from that to collecting feedback from users and iterate, I assume at some point you decided, you know what, this could be an actual business or at the very least a product that people enjoy using.
Looking at your timeline on Indie Hackers, it seems like that was sometime in the first three months, because you built the product in August and then by November you had connected it to Stripe probably or something like that and started taking payments and got your first 20 customers. What was it that convinced you like this could actually be a real business?
It was more in the first three weeks than three months. I still remember there were some people were using it daily. They were using it more than I did. That's when I was like, yeah, there's something here. If that guy is not using Buffer or Hootsuite and he's using Hypefury, well, there's something there to do there. It would be stupid not to keep working on this project.
Did you have any vision at that point in time that maybe you're not going to do fitness coaching, you can kind of do this and this is going to make tens of thousands of dollars a month?
Not back then. I was still trying to do my side hustle on Twitter. It was actually back then when I got one expensive coaching client. That's when the coaching business started to make sense, but I had to stop after. I was speaking to a great friend who was like, dude, stop working on this fitness thing.
Yeah. I'm looking at your Twitter. I have this app for Twitter called Twemex and if I go to anybody's profile, it'll show me sort of their all time, most popular tweets. Your most popular tweet was November 2019.
Yeah, your before and after. It was exactly around the time that you decided to start charging for Hypefury. So, you're working on this, trying to decide whether or not to quit your coaching business.
You've got this before and after shot of you sort of looking pudgy and kind of sad. It's like the classic before photos, the lighting's bad, it's dark and you look unhappy. Then the after photo you're shredded, you’re jacked, you have these huge muscles. You're smiling. Great hairdo. You said, me before and after. How? Eat meat, read daily, lift weights, own your shit, don't eat for fun, start a side hustle, wear clothes that fit, invest in your education, sleep eight hours every night, cut out distractions while you work, and replace video games with a purpose.
At this point, it seems like your purpose was make this Hypefury thing into a real business. What was it like getting these first paying customers in the door? Because I think a lot of people are afraid to put a price tag on something.
You have this app that you've been working on at this point for a few months and you still hadn't even officially launched it to the public. I don't know if anyone could, you didn't have a website, people couldn’t just go sign up for Hypefury.
You're inviting people and pitching people to join and you decided to put like a sort of paywall on it or a timer. You can use a product for as many days or use as many features. I'm not sure how it worked, but then you released it and it got 20 paying customers within the first few days of you turning on the billing. How did that feel?
Fucking amazing, man. It's amazing when you see that somebody is giving you their money. That's the ultimate validation. I knew there was something in the product because I was seeing people using it every day. Again, when you set up the payment also, I was relieved because I wanted to set up the billing since so long, but I was postponing it every time because I was busy working on features and working on the app.
I set up the billing. I used service bots. I created my Stripe account. I didn't create an LLC or a company, or I didn't get a logo. I didn't see a lawyer. I didn't do all that stuff.
I didn’t do any of that for Indie Hackers either; I just started building.
At some point, you decided to stop working by yourself. I'm curious, what is your skillset? You're doing all this by yourself. You're a software engineer by trade?
Okay. So, you have a software engineering skills. Then you decided, you know what, that's not enough. In December, so this is four months after you started Hypefury, you made a post on Indie Hackers and you said I'm looking for a marketing/growth person. You said Hypefury is a Twitter growth tool. It's kind of Buffer on steroids making $500 a month at the moment.
So that's awesome. It’s been four months, you're already at $500 in recurring revenue. Then you said, I'm looking for a partner who can take care of the growth so I can focus on the products and the development, which is kind of a cool post to make on Indie Hackers. That's one of the most common posts that people make looking for co-founders.
And that's where I met my co-founder. The story was simple. I was almost burnt out. I was working all the time and doing the development, doing the support, doing the calls because I've been doing a lot of calls. Every week, every person I knew, I was like, please introduce me to someone who could use Hypefury.
I was doing this with everyone. And I was giving demos and the demos were 30 minutes, one hour or sometimes two hours long so I can understand what people wanted. Also, I was doing the support. It was still too young to have too many bugs, but then I started to have bugs.
At some point I almost had PTSD from Intercom notifications. I was like, I don't want to do that for another year. I've done it for six months. I don't want to do it for a year. I was like, let's build a real business here and not be the only guy that does everything, because it was obvious that as the product grows, I would have more support to do and more bugs to fix and more features to create. I was like, okay, let's set up the foundation for a real business here and do something about it. Also, there were all the competitors popping here and there.
What was it like when your co-founder reach out to you? I mean, did he just message you on Twitter or email you? How did you actually meet?
He emailed me and we liked each other really fast. We were really a great match. He flew to Paris a few days later. We're both into the bootstrap mindset, let's not raise money or anything. Try to build a product.
I spoke to many people for this co-founder position who were like, oh, you know what? We're going to sell a course for $500 to 20 people. Then it's 10 K a month. Yeah, but I want to do SaaS. I want long-term revenue, long-term users or occurrence revenue. I don't want to make quick cash and Yannick my co-founder wasn't into that mindset.
That's something I liked about him. He promised to start after a few weeks, he worked for free and if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. So yeah, that's how, that's how it happened.
That's pretty cool that you're able to convince them to work for free. I mean, it's not like you had enough revenue to pay either one of you at that point in time.
Yeah. That's true. It was his personal bet to join. He actually Tweeted about it. It's his words, not mine. It’s his way of really making it happen basically.
So, let's talk about the aspect of your business where you're talking to customers. You mentioned in those first months you were calling people constantly. I think this tends to get kind of neglected in the early days of people's businesses.
Some people start businesses and are like, ah, it just never really worked out. I didn't get any customers. Then there’s people like you and you're like, I have 20 paying customers a few days after I launched my paywall. I had a hundred users in a few weeks. People are like, oh, that's cool. I guess you just got lucky. Well, no, actually you were calling people dozens of times a week or a day or whatever.
Someone should totally do this, give you an idea for a startup, first customer as a service. Where you're a startup founder and you're an indie hacker. You're like, I've had no customers. You go to this website, you pay them a hundred bucks or something. Suddenly they send someone to you to become your first customer. You're losing money on it but now you've got a real person using your app.
Maybe that'll get some of these developers who are not motivated to talk to their customers move the ball forward to be motivated because it really does change once you get that first person who's expecting things from you. Then it's a little bit more like a normal job. Now you have real people who care about what you do and your work matters to people who are more than you. It's not just discipline that motivates you, but it's also social accountability and excitement and status and reputation.
I mean, you went on to obviously hit like $10,000 a month in revenue last November, and you've doubled since then to over $22,000 a month. How much of that growth was due to your marketing efforts and testing all these different channels, affiliate marketing, and podcasts and SEO and that kind of stuff, and how much it was building the right features and your product because you're talking to customers and understanding what they want?
I think marketing is better because one year ago we already had a good product. You can have an amazing product. If you don't have users using it and people and people don't know about it, it's completely useless. The product and the marketing should go hand in hand.
Yeah. People underestimate that too, especially developers. Cause if you're a software engineer or anyone who spends a lot of time on the internet, you tend to know about things pretty quickly.
If there's some new framework that comes out, everybody talks about it. Doesn't matter if you live in California or you live in the Middle East, you're gonna see a post about the software framework and talk about it.
You kind of assume that that's how the entire world is like when new things are out, everybody learns about and everybody knows. The reality is, the word travels slow, and you could have the best product for Twitter power users out there and 99.9% of Twitter power users have no idea it even exists because you're not marketing.
I went to a restaurant actually in Seattle the other day with my buddy and we ordered the chicken fried steak and it's like one of the only restaurants in Seattle that has chicken fried steak. It’s not common here, even though it's a delicious and I love it. But if you go to Texas, everybody eats it all the time down there. And it's like, I don't know if, for whatever reason, the marketing for chicken fried steak just hasn't made it up to the Pacific Northwest yet.
Products are the same way. Even if something exists and it's good, not everybody's heard of it. Not everybody is going to adopt it until you get the word out and cause it to spread.
I'm curious how you knew how to do all the right things. How did you know how to build an MVP? How did you know that you needed to find somebody to help you take care of the marketing? Had you already built online businesses before, were you reading books, listening to podcasts or did you just sort of intuitively grasp the right decisions to make?
I still have to ask myself the right questions. Are we on the right path? We have done some decisions that were not smart. You can always make mistakes, so always be asking is what I'm doing the right thing? Is it serving my customers? Is it serving my vision?
Right. You talked about marketing being super important. I meant a list of the different growth channels that you've written about on your Indie Hackers timeline. You've talked about affiliate marketing. You've talked about tweeting and creating these huge Twitter threads that do really well and promote Hypefury there. You've talked about having a course that you offer to help your users become better at Twitter. You have a newsletter, a podcast. Out of all these channels, which one do you think has been the most useful?
We are on Twitter. We are Twitter tool, so we have to be on Twitter. It wouldn't matter, even if it sucks, we should be on Twitter because it wouldn't make sense for Hypefury to not be on Twitter.
Do the things that don't scale, speak with people. Reach out, cold email, cold DM. Ask for introductions. It's very powerful. If you have the users, ask them to introduce you to two or three other people who could use the product. This is really powerful because since you are introduced, they are less likely to refuse to speak to you. If you ask for free introductions, you know, there's a big chance that one of them is going to lead to a demo and then you can do something out of that demo.
If you want something like really quick right now, speak to people right away. Don't expect the podcast to bring you users in a few weeks. It's impossible. A blog, SEO takes time. Do the things that don't scale, ask for introductions.
On the product side of things, things could be kind of frustrating too. I’ve built productivity tools in the past, and one of the things that people tend to underestimate is churn.
If you're building something to help people to become better at their jobs or better workers, if you're building a to do list app, if you're building a Twitter scheduling tool or a Twitter power tool, it actually requires your users to be pretty motivated and to wake up every day and say, I'm going to tweet. If they get bored of Twitter of bored with tweeting, then they're going to stop using your tool and you're gonna have to deal with churn. How do you deal with that at Hypefury? Cause I'm sure you get a lot of people who have that exact process go down.
Don't say that word again, or I'll have a heart attack.
Churn is a nightmare. So many people underestimate it. It's crazy because there was this SaaS frenzy. This recent SaaS frenzy on Twitter where people are like, oh, just find a one-time the customer that’s paying $50K a month. I'm like, yeah, sure. Yeah, sure.
It's there. It could kill you. It could kill your motivation, your psychology. At some point we had 12% churn and that literally meant when we had 800 users, 100 users left per month. It's huge. It's a lot of people. If you have so many people giving you their credit cards to bill and then take it back, that means the service you're promising is not the right thing. It is not what it is. Or you are promising something to people who don't need it.
You need to review your product and your message. Be more straightforward and clearer in your messaging. Don't try to serve everyone. In our case, we're trying to serve people who are trying to start their brands. That was a bad idea because it's natural that most people who start something fail.
We had all these people who are just starting to grow and then they fail or just stop or are just like, I don't want to do it anymore. I want to be on Facebook, I don't use Twitter. At that point, there's nothing you can do. It's not about your products. There's literally nothing you can do about it.
It needs to start from top. It's the messaging. Who am I trying to serve? What is my pricing? Because if you sell a service for five bucks, of course, you're going to have people who are just wanting to try it out and then going to leave afterwards.
The solution where we're trying to find these increase the pricing, offer more power user features, focus less on people who are just starting out and more on people who have not necessarily established brands, but maybe people who have enough skin in the game that wouldn't leave tomorrow. People who have maybe 500 followers and maybe they have already a product out there, like an eBook on Gumroad and they're making some money and they're like, oh this Twitter thing really works and I need to just to put more effort into it to grow.
Not people are like, oh, I'm starting from two followers who are my real life friends. I don't know how to do this. I have no products. Maybe for these people, you can offer something for free. You can offer a free product and that's actually what we're going to do.
You've built this company from scratch where it's just an idea. It was a curiosity you had, it wasn't even an ambition to build a company. Today, you've got you and your co-founder, you've got lots of part-time and contractor employees, full-time employees. You're making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
What's your general advice to people out there who are listening, and who are struggling to come up with an idea who were struggling to get started, who are in the very early stages?
See what you like to do. What things you like, get into the niche, get into the community, speak to people and see what they need. Keep your ears and eyes open, because there are opportunities everywhere.
Before I started Hypefury, I didn't start anything, but I always had that mindset of what problems can I solve. Remember that there are thousands of ways to solve a problem. A user who uses Buffer doesn't mean he loves Buffer and he'll never quit Buffer. The proof is that when Hypefury was built, I still remember a user canceled his Buffer subscription to use Hypefury back when I wasn't even charging for it.
It's such a small hurdle to get over, it's a mindset shift or just the right motivation or the right idea. Then you go from thinking about building something to finally just doing it. Then everything after that, you might be fucking great at, but it is a tragedy when people get stuck on that first step and hopefully people will listen to your advice and get over that hump.
Samy Dindane, thanks for coming on the show. Can you let listeners know where they can go to find out more about Hypefury?
Twitter. Well, hypefury.com or twitter.com/Hypefury. Check out our podcasts on Spotify. If you don't want to, if you don't know how to start, you can start with our podcast. It's a great way. We also have an email list with actionable growth tips. It's not just advertising for Hypefury. We try to give as much free advice as possible because in the end, it’ll help us. Start with that hypefury.com. Twitter, @hypefury.
All right. Thanks again.
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