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From idea to 200+ users from 50+ countries in 72 hours.

Hey!

A landing page and a google form are enough to get 200+ users from 50+ countries in 72 hours. We built the product in a day on April 29. We shipped it to Product Hunt on April 30.

👉 Here is our website: https://www.papapal.me/

What did we learn from that?

1. No fancy app/forms/design needed

If your idea/product attracts people, the product by itself is enough. We always hear people saying they need to develop this feature or this mobile app to get those users. You know what? YouPorn has no mobile app. Still, people go every day on their phones.

2. Launch now

Launch as soon as possible with as little as possible. You never know if it's going to interest someone... You need to adapt this rule to your product. For example, if it's a SaaS, launch with a simple mockup.

Our original idea was not to build an email service. We wanted to do an app. But before, we needed to validate the idea, step by step. We thought a free email service was faster to ship. No crazy hypothesis about how to price. Nothing to dev if no one is interested. Plus, we wanted to build something that people wanted. So we thought it would be easier to attract and talk to users with a free service.

3. Do things that don't scale

We basically launched without any automation setup. We thought about matching people by hand. But no, there are too many people to do it by hand... It's a side-project, we should not spend too much time on it. So we made a Google "Apps Script" to match people and send emails. We knew nothing about "Apps Script". Took 4 hours of work. Let me know if you want to know how we made the script in details. Our back-end is nothing more than a Google Sheets + Apps Script.

4. Organize everything the day before the launch

Prepare everything the day before the PH launch. What you will post on FB, LinkedIn, Slack, Reddit. Think about the timezone. For example, post in French groups/forums the night before if you are in PST.

Launching a product takes a full day. You have to answer comments and post everywhere... Don't expect to do anything else than promoting the launch everywhere.

👉 Now, we have to check the churn and build the community. Do you have any advice?

Hope it will inspire some of you to start simple and launch now ❤️

  1. 20

    If your idea/product attract people, the product by itself is enough.

    I do applaud what you've done here, but lets not get carried away here. You're talking about something that's free, and that will attract people almost no matter what. Had you tried to put a price on it, things would have turned out very differently.

    Different ideas will take insanely different time to properly develop. Yours is an easy one -- that's not always the case.

    1. 1

      You are 100% right. What I mean is we tend to overestimate the power of design/another feature/etc. instead of just building something that people want.

      1. 1

        With that, I agree 100% :D

  2. 7

    Congrats on your launch and acquiring initial users. Getting 200 users and getting 200 paying users are totally different.

  3. 4

    Can u tell us more about "Apps Script" Thanks!

    1. 4

      Hey, I'm co-maker of Papapal! 😊 Apps Script is a super neat way of automating tasks and adding triggers on almost all Google Apps such as Sheets, Drive and Calendar with javascript. If you want to read more about how we used it in this project I just wrote an article here: https://dev.to/fredrikalindh/how-i-used-google-apps-script-and-sheets-to-build-a-matching-service-for-papapal-4fi9
      Or start here with Google's guide: https://developers.google.com/codelabs/apps-script-fundamentals-1#0

      1. 1

        I love this approach! Would you mind sharing more about it. When I look at your post I'm missing some points.

    2. 1

      I'm thinking about a tendency that consists of building MVP back-end on Google's free products. Honestly, it could be even faster than with no code tools. What's interesting is the precision you can get to solve your problems quickly. Can you even match people based on criteria and do multiples round without matching the same people with no-code? I'm curious if you think about a solution.

      👉What do you think about that "Google AppScripts" tendency? Could it become a trend like the no-code wave? Why?

  4. 3

    Thanks for sharing and congratulations. I wonder, what is the business model?, or you are waiting to gain some traction before you figure it out?

    1. 1

      We didn't think too much about a business model to ship faster. You got it, we are waiting to gain some traction, see how the community grows and see what people want. Do you have a business model idea?

      1. 1

        How about every email contain a links for ads?

  5. 3

    When you put the price tag, things might change.

    1. 3

      Yeah definitely. TBH... Who would pay for a simple email service like this? Probably not many people. The mains goals here were:

      1. pre-validating the idea
      2. attract some users to talk to
      3. start to build a community
  6. 2

    This is so fantastic, and I've just signed up! :) I think the extra gifts are such a nice touch - especially the brain hacks. Think we're all wired to think gifts have to be discount codes, but these kinds of gems work just as well. Well done! :)

  7. 2

    Really great. Congrats.

    Pricing is being discussed a lot. It would just need a tick to offer online course.
    If retaining audience is the key, then regular fun test is helpful.

    1. 1

      Thank you very much for your ideas 😍

  8. 2

    "Do things that don't scale"
    This is one of my favorite hacks. Reminds me of how AirBnb was emailing people on Craigslist when they first started.

    1. 1

      And we see where they are now 🤩

  9. 2

    I definitely love the idea! Waiting for my "first contact"
    Congratulations!

    One question: What about a native language? Why you do not ask about it?
    I think a nice feature would be to connect people speaking different languages. For example, connect the polish speaker with an English speaker to learn one from each other.

    1. 1

      Yeah, that's a good idea. We thought people don't have the patience to talk their native language with beginners. We will try to launch this feature!

  10. 2

    "Je veux apprendre le francais pour draguer".....ahahahaha0. Good job ;)

  11. 2

    Great advice! Thanks for sharing. How did you get those 200 users? Just PH alone?

    1. 1

      Mostly from PH and from my posts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram.

  12. 1

    Awesome idea Mathis. It is soo convincible!

  13. 1

    Great job, would share with friends who want to start for inspiration 🙏

    Yet I agree with guys here that free product differs very much - you could acquire free users that would never pay and would follow their feedback in product development that would never get you to some revenue.

    Having performed many launches 🚀 like this I would recommend to think about business model from the very beginning. You could not implement things like cards processing (guys form Basecamp did it just after the billing cycle ended - only in 30 days from the launch date) to ship faster. But I think that during the launch the key hypothesis to test is not about some products mechanics but the hypothesis about creating value for users. So you need clearly formulate value (solution of some problem for specific group of customers) for the client on such One-pager site and have some price tag, add short description of what it is and what it does and what benefits it gives you as a client - and measure the fit by the number of sign-ups. If customers see the value you could work on features list then and start developing.

    Great example: www.collective.com
    One-liner with clear value for businesses-of-one:
    S Corps made easy for your business-of-one
    What it is?
    Collective is the first online back-office platform designed for self-employed people
    What it does and what it gives you?
    We handle company formation, taxes, accounting, compliance and more. Our trusted advisors have saved our members an average of $16,845 in taxes.

    Wish successful launches to everyone! 🎊

  14. 1

    How do you plan to monetize it?

  15. 1

    Hi @Mathis, congratulations for the early success! I am on a similar journey with my idea and actually the fundamentals of my website involve matching users after they give their requirements to products.

    I’m currently using Wix for my website. Do you think the google sheets and app script can be used on Wix for this?

  16. 1

    Hyper intéressant Mathis ! Très lean, ça rappelle les "correspondants étrangers"

  17. 1

    In the past, I used to send messages to random foreigners on Facebook with an offer to learn a foreign language. I remember I was talking to a girl from France, but I could not learn French at all. :D At least I tried. :)

  18. 1

    Awesome project. Just signed up 🥳 Looking forward to have a email conversation to someone

  19. 1

    80% of the advices are worthy but... only for Free products.

    When launching a startup the first thing is to ask 1 question: Am I honest with myself and with the audience? 🤔

  20. 1

    This is awesome! Congratulations on your initial success!

    How will you make money out of this since there is no cost involved? I think that is where you may see the churn.

    One way to avoid churn could be to solely focus on the value that your paying clients will get. If it's learning a new language, this biggest piece is practicing the language. Like you, I've tried Portuguese with both Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. The issue is not learning the language but practicing it.

    1. 1

      We didn't plan too much about making money to ship faster. Thank you very much for your feedback. Do you have a business model idea around this practicing language issue?

      1. 1

        maybe 1st connection is learning then they are paying for practice.

        1. 1

          I think they could maybe offer ad spaces to language learning companies in the emails somehow.
          Or maybe find a way to create a lesson or system where both people collaboratively have to complete "homework"... 🤔

          1. 1

            @Mathis Can you create a homework model where they practice and learn a new language in a no pressure situation?

            1. 1

              Maybe "homework" might not be the correct term. Maybe gamifying it, since people would rather "play" than "do homework" and homework evokes that feeling of a burden that one has to complete.

  21. 1

    Congrats for the successful launch !

    Very funny, I made with a friend the exact same product last year, but for startup founders ahah (we even used google sheet + script :p )

  22. 1

    YouPorn have no mobile app

    Time to make one 🤔

    1. 2

      Do they need it? A website adapted for mobile seems to do the job perfectly 😂

  23. 1

    Congrats for the launch! You advise to launch a product as soon as possible, but how do you make sure it is ready to face its targetted audience? Especially if you haven't built the community beforehand?

    1. 3

      By launching and seeing what happen 😂No seriously... You never really launch too early, because you can launch again the week after... As Reid Hoffman said: "If you're not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you've launched too late."

  24. 1

    Congrats 🎉 you guys. We're building a tool to help sass companies localize their content, website and applications. Feel free to check it out.
    https://www.locale.to/github/ but we're still looking for some confidence to go PH. I think this post just made it a bit easier.

    1. 1

      I would recommend to change the flag of Germany on your website to this 🇩🇪

    2. 1

      If the product is out, what are you waiting to launch on PH?

  25. 2

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