Ideas and Validation October 28, 2020

Just gave a demo to my first potential customer, the result was not good.


After drinking tons of coffee and losing sleep in many nights, I finally have my product ready to show the public. My product aims to help small business owners run appointments smoothly since many businesses transitioned to be by appointments only during COVID.

I started distributing flyers to local beauty salons and barbershops. However, ~ 10 flyers generated 0 leads. And then good news came, I got connected to a massage shop owner who is my friend's friend. The initial conversation was great. He showed interests and said he would introduce my product to his friend as well. I was stoked and promised to gave them friend discount. He asked if his friend could join the zoom meeting? I said that would be great.

And then things started going south from there. He postponed our first meeting and did not show during the second. We finally talked tonight. I was a little surprised that he knew so much about tech as a massage shop owner, he asked me what APIs I used for the VOIP, what was my pricing model, etc. And then I finally learned that he was building a similar product by hiring 5 part time developers. The only purpose he joined the meeting was to learn what I have built! And his "friend" is one of his developers. Oh my gosh. I have heard a similar story happened to one of friends. Did not think that the same crap could also happen to me.

Be careful when you talk to others. They may just want to steal your secret sauce. Lastly, my product is here If you have friends who need a clean and affordable scheduling software, please pass the link to them. The software is free till the end of 2020.

  1. 2

    I think the result, while frustrating, was good for learning:

    You learned that you’ll need more than 10 flyers to find customers. You’re expecting at least a 10% conversion rate if you need one customer interview to come out of 10 flyers.

    You learned that you’ll need a unique value prop to beat competition.

    You learned that qualifying leads is a good use of time. Ask the prospect why they are interested, what problems they have, etc. the goal is for them to talk more than you.

    Your landing page is nice, BTW.

  2. 2

    Reality is that if you business model would be vulnerable to such conversations, you're doing something wrong.

    From the perspective of my business, I occasionally conduct "research" calls myself. And I constantly end up seeing my competitors doing the same to me. That's an opportunity to learn something new, and reflect on your competitive position.

    That's alright. Even though entrepreneurship is truly more a poker than a chess, the strong hand wouldn't be beaten by a bluff.

  3. 2

    Welcome to the world of sales (and being an entrepreneur)! This happens all the time. Takes it as validation. Speaking of which, there are tons of appointment scheduling apps out there, what’s your unique value prop?

    1. 1

      Yeah. Sales is hard.

      In a world with SaaS explosion, it is rare to identify an area without competitors. So I ruled out the criteria of entering a field with less or no competition. I would rather listen to customers and deliver something better.

      My app is based on phone numbers. Not the automation numbers that businesses would share. Each business gets their own number and the number is fully integrated with the SaaS I built. This allow me to build something deeper. e.g. Automated text replies with booking link if customers calls go unanswered, IVR or bots to do more automation. Today, phone is still the most efficient way to communicate and make appointments. However, online booking is also supported.

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