How we launched an SMS based product for less than $20, got 6000+ sign ups, #2 on Product Hunt and reached $500 MRR in two weeks

Hey Indie Hackers!

We’re Whit and Ash from Bad Unicorn - a product studio that launches a new bad business idea every other Friday.

Recently we launched a product called ElonStocks.com


In just 3 weeks we:

  • Built the MVP in two days for less than $20
  • Got #2 Product of the Day on Product Hunt
  • Received over 6000+ sign ups
  • Crossed the $500 MRR mark
  • Had a ton of fun and learned just as much!

Here’s a bit of the back story and things we discovered along the way:

Originally a product like Elon Stocks was created to address the rising interest in stocks and trading from the Wall Street Bets hype.

The concept was based on the idea that when Elon Musk tweeted about a stock the price would fluctuate (a lot in some cases). This SMS service would filter through all his tweets and notify the user when there was a tweet that was specifically stock related (other than Tesla and SpaceX).

We chose a stack that would allow us to notify users when they signed up and doing so with no code so we chose:

Carrd (for the landing page)
Airtable (to collect phone numbers)
Twilio (to send SMS messages)
Zapier (to trigger text messages)

When the product was launched the first Friday night we almost instantly had 100 signups within the first hour 🤯
...and then they kept coming throughout the weekend.

By Sunday night, two things happened that really added fuel to the growth:

Elon Musk announced a Clubhouse appearance
We launched on Product Hunt the day after and reached #2 of the day!

The signups kept coming in after that and crossed the 2000 mark. We knew we needed a new solution. There was room to scale in the no-code space but there were some challenges:

  1. Despite adding a ‘template’ for submitting your phone number, users would still leave out their country code which made it impossible to have a consistent format of numbers.
  2. We were running through all of our Zapier plans
  3. Our Twilio bill was racking up fast, especially since we were not only sending texts but receiving them as well.
  4. We also came across some bugs in the tool we were using to bulk send messages which would block a batch of numbers we were sending.
  5. Elon could tweet at any time of the day so we had to constantly keep watch on the notifications

Our next move was to start addressing each of these to ensure a smooth transition into monetization. We are very fortunate to have a developer help us with some custom code to validate both sets of numbers and this has greatly improved the sign up process.

The tool creator has also been working behind the scenes to improve the service and make it more user friendly.

As the build stabilised we discovered a couple lessons learned that we wanted to share with anyone implementing SMS.

  1. Note the formatting of your text messages. Services like Twilio may appear cost effective at first but charge by the amount of characters. Phrases with emoji’s reach the limit faster than those without. Here’s a helpful tool to make sure you know how many messages each text uses https://twiliodeved.github.io/message-segment-calculator/

  2. Decide early on if you want to accept local AND international numbers and add a validation into your forms early as Twilio accepts a specific format for sending texts.

Last week we had our biggest test yet and introduced monetization with an introductory $4/month plan. We had over 100 sign ups bringing us $400 MRR!

From last Sunday we increased the price to the regular $10/month and have still been getting signups crossing the $600 MRR mark!

This has been a fulfilling milestone for us at Bad Unicorn for so many reasons! It has taken us 11 drops to make it to this point where we are making consistent revenue and we are even more excited about the next steps! We also learned A TON from this experience in such a short period of time.

This year we’re launching 21 products so if you want more of our insights we write a newsletter that goes out every other Friday.

We also have an Angels community where you can find more notes from our Product Studio on no-code and building products.

Some fun media mentions:

Thank you for all your support!

The Bad Unicorn Team 🦄

  1. 3

    I always knew there was some seriousness to the BU game -- truth comes out! Thanks for sharing @whitandersonIV and @modernafflatus

    1. 1

      Thank you @vikdug - appreciate you as an early believer and bringing so much energy and incredible advice to building a business.

  2. 2

    Great lessons!! Thank you for sharing such valuable insights.

  3. 2

    Thanks for sharing those great lessons. Love these breakdowns.

  4. 1

    Just discovered Bad Unicorn. Love the idea, I think I'll be subscribing. The link to Bad Unicorn appears to be taking me back to the IndieHackers home page just so you know.

  5. 1

    Haha Craziest but fun ideas. You guys are cool.

  6. 1

    Really inspiring story! @whitandersonIV what was the trigger for new text messages being sent with Zapier? When you manually entered a new Elon Stock to your Airtable database?

  7. 1

    This is fantastic, thank you for sharing some of the details of your journey. What other use-cases are you thinking about? One idea:

    • Market-Movers Advanced Notifications: notify paying users of major market-mover actions such as announcements from the Fed, big announcements from companies, intel, etc. I think people would be willing to pay upwards of $30/mo for something like this.
  8. 1

    You are crazy. 🦙love you, your ideas. Your world !
    Thanks for sharing this insights.

  9. 1

    What a great journey! I'm glad the perseverance paid off, and this detailed post gives a lot of insights for others to build an MRR business. 🙌🏽

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