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Is "skin in the game" more important than anything else?

More and more I've read IH's stories every week, I've felt that running a good business is a long game, and you're supposed to have skin in the game.

It took 18 months to reach $1,000 MRR. Finally, BlockSurvey entered the one comma club. It was not easy at all. I owe a lot to this community as I knew nothing about SaaS and learned all of it from here over this period. I'm humbled and grateful to all of you.

Sharing a quick journey here on how it happened.

How it all started: Hacking from a 2-day hackathon in July 2019 to a full-time adventure. Today, BlockSurvey is an alternative to SurveyMonkey with a focus on privacy and security. Uses Blockstack blockchain to bootstrap privacy and security.

Road to monetization: It was free to use the platform for the first 12 months and moved it to be a fully paid subscription platform. No more free tier. Most of the customer acquisition has come from Twitter(sharing to people who are in need, just in time... without any shame) and through Newsletter sponsorships.

Ethical marketing all the way: I have never asked for an email id, never ran any analytics, or have sent any onboarding emails or used email marketing. It was a difficult choice to be this way but stayed true to the manifesto at all times.

Not an easy path: The road to 1,000 was certainly difficult and not easy. The main goal was to be in the game longer. I and my team stayed frugal as much as possible and worked in heads-down mode the whole of this year without much noise. Feels like a spiritual journey.

When I reflect back this year, I felt staying in the game shows to your audience and market that you are here to stay. And it exhibits confidence to your customers that you are here to serve and help them with your product and services.

Should we call this "skin in the game"? Is this more important than anything for IndieHackers? I would like to hear about your journey this year. Did you find it difficult? How are you approaching this coming year? I'm staying in the game. How about you?

  1. 2

    Hi Wilson,
    The most important thing is to help your customers and they're willing to pay you. Your paid customers want more and real survey, so you need to answer the questions: Do your customer get more survey results with your help?

    I think your idea is cool and I'm not in the industry. I may be wrong. Here's my opinion. If some one is concerned about privacy, maybe he will just get rid of the survey. Focusing on privacy improvement may make users think about privacy issue and he may not join the survey if he cares about his privacy very much.

    Carry on!

    1. 2

      With BlockSurvey, it is the zero-knowledge way of you running your surveys. Both the data collector and data provider do not share any of their data with the platform provider. Respondents can continue to share the email id with data collectors and it isn't prevented.

  2. 1

    Hey, Wilson!

    Read over your product's story and Blocksurvey`s milestones - it is really invigorating and inspiring!

    As I see, you also used to get stuck on minimum profit and then unleashed just all the Growth-hacking Powers to simply smash product sales! That's amazing...

    MetaSurvey has grown from a 2-day hackathon in end-2019! And is now overtaking the same obstacles and realized that the "Build it and they will come" concept doesn`t work. You need to read a lot, constantly learn new growth-hacking techniques and do heavy networking on IH and Ph-like platforms.

    Building a product for months and even years - is not that hard. Getting early traction and first paying users - that's the hardest part!

    Keep going to the 4-zeroes club!

    p.s. Can you kindly advise what I may do wrong? Maybe some inadequate Pricing and Plans or Free plan removal is needed? MetaSurvey has some active users and conversion to sign-ups is pretty high, but users just don`t convert to paying!

    1. 1

      Hi Stan,

      This means a lot. Thanks for writing in. Probably, we can connect sometime in the coming week. I can help with whatever I have learned so far and learn from you as well. Here is my calendar https://blocksurvey.io/wilson

  3. 1

    Congrats Wilson! Question though, is asking for an email to provide updates on your product unethical? Can you share why? I'm confuse tbh.

    1. 1

      In my use-case, an email id is never used as an account; hence it is not an onboarding requirement. I was looking at how to do frictionless onboarding without any private information. I looked at how standalone desktop apps offered value a couple of decades ago without any information about their users. It is an experiment to see users and product builders can remain anonymous and still provide value. Today, I deliver product updates within the platform and also send a monthly newsletter to paid customers through email(taken from Stripe) for sending updates. I'll be stopping this once the feature development stops. I don't see sending product updates as unethical, but using its vehicle to nudge and convert may be.

  4. 1

    congrats on the awesome milestone, Wilson!

    your definition of "skin in the game" is definitely one that I would use myself. I'm currently working on an 11-hour time difference as the sole engineer on a massive SaaS product being built under the eyes of many large organizations, and I feel that staying lean and frugal, confident and transparent with clients, and fighting the urge to put up a corporate mask by reminding your clients that there are humans working on the product they're buying is definitely more than enough to establish that feeling of "skin in the game" for both founders and clients which definitely drives growth.

    1. 2

      Mohammed, that's very well said. Glad to know your hustle. Wishing you the best for 2021!

      1. 1

        Thanks Wilson, you too!

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