🇲🇽 10/’18 — Idea to build a platform that connects hotels & travel influencers
🏗 06/’19 — Started building Hotspot
💼 01/’20 — Quit my job
🛫 03/’20 — Jumped on a plane to Asia to chase our digital nomad dream
🦠 03/’20 — COVID-19 hits
🛬 03/’20 — Flew back home after 2 weeks to go in lockdown
🩸 07/’20 — Lost half of our clients & realized COVID-19 isn’t going anywhere
💡 08/’20 — Decided to pivot and build Tally
🚀 09/’20 — Launched our MVP and gathered our first 1.500 users
🐣 12/’20 — Welcomed our baby girl
🐱 03/’21 — Launched on Product Hunt
📈 04/'21 -- 3.500 users & $1k MRR
End 2019, me and my partner Filip Minev decided to chase our dreams.
I was marketing manager at a Digital Product Studio in Belgium and Filip had left Delta, a crypto portfolio app he had built and was acquired by eToro. We wanted to build a product for the rising influencer marketing industry while traveling and working as digital nomads.
We got the idea a couple of years ago when traveling in Mexico, a hotspot for travel influencers and bloggers. Hotspot was going to become a platform that helps hotels to connect with travel influencers and set up collaborations. We were going to build the platform if we could find 100 hotels that showed interest in our idea. We made a landing page and reached out to hotels we found on Instagram. We used a Google form to collect data and weren’t really happy with the way it looked, but we didn’t want to spend too much time on it and moved on. In no time, we found 100 hotels that were interested in our product and noticed most of the traction came from Asia.
Beginning 2020, we had a growing number of hotels and influencers on the platform and we decided both to go for it. I quit my job, we rented out our apartment and booked a plane to Bali, with the first stop in Bangkok. Once we arrived in Bangkok, the pandemic hit and countries were going into lockdown. Customers started churning or asking to pause their subscriptions. Flights were being canceled, and suddenly going to Bali and being stuck on an island with limited healthcare facilities didn’t seem like the safest thing to do. Borders were closing and to be able to stay in Thailand we had to leave the country to extend our visas, without knowing if we would be able to get back in. We ran out of options and had to fly back to Belgium, bummer...
We felt like Hotspot had the potential to grow and didn’t want to give up on our startup idea so easily. So we decided to keep building and prepare for better days.
Fast forward to summer 2020.
COVID-19 hit Belgium hard and hospitals were overwhelmed. We decided to organize a fundraiser and donated free hotel nights to healthcare workers. Again we needed a form for hotels and healthcare workers to register and again we struggled with finding the right one. Google Forms is very functional but doesn’t look great, and established form tools like Typeform, Jotform, Formstack make you hit a paywall fast and can be very expensive for early-stage startups or indie makers.
By now we had lost half of our Hotspot customers and with still no perspective on when the travel industry would recover we decided to pivot and build our own form tool. We wanted to make a simple, yet powerful form builder that allows you to create any type of form without breaking the bank. We set off building Tally, a new type of form builder for makers and no-coders.
We launched our MVP in September 2020 and started asking for feedback from makers, Indiehackers, and start-ups on Twitter and in Slack communities. Tally works like a document (you can just start typing and insert building blocks) and our first users seemed to love the form-building experience we offered. Our user base started growing, while we kept talking to existing and potential users. We went above and beyond to make our first users happy, offered instant support, and shipped new features every week.
In December 2020 we welcomed our baby girl Lucy and lost some speed for obvious reasons 🙃, but we were happy to close the year with a small, but very engaged community of 1500 users. By March 2021 we felt ready to share our product with a bigger audience and we launched on Product Hunt. We lost the race for #1 product of the day after being in the lead for 23 hours. A roller coaster for sure, but nevertheless we were really happy with the outcome of more than 1.400 upvotes, hundreds of positive reviews, dozens of investor calls, and +600 new users.
We can’t wait to see what the future holds!
How was 2020 for you? Did COVID-19 make you pivot? Would love to hear your stories!