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Looking for advice on growing an app that needs user generated content to prove value

Hi all,

I need some advice on how to potentially grow Lurnby.

General overview

Lurnby is a tool that helps you read digital content more actively and remember more of what you read. It stores your highlights and helps you build a personal knowledge library of sorts.

General Audience

  • People who read a lot of digital content.
  • People who want to remember more of what they read.
  • People who have a need to store and reference quotes and passages
  • People who are actively engaged in self improvement through reading and learning.

Challenge

How do you grow an app that has a bit of a chicken and egg type of situation?

To really understand the value, you need to put in a lot of your own content and get a sense of using it over time.

But when you start, you don't really have any content there and it's hard to then get a sense of what it will be like for you.

Conversely, the ideal audience has a lot of barriers. Because although they understand the value and can picture the system right away, they have their own systems already and there's a massive amount of switching cost.

So it seems that the audience needs to be people who want to start reading and learning more effectively but either don't know that about themselves, or are just discovering that and don't have a system yet.

It's a bit of a vague question. Sorry for that. Happy to give more detail if needed. I guess I'm interested in learning about strategies other people used for similar types of challenges. In some sense it's kind of like a marketplace conundrum, where you need both sides in sufficient volume to have value, but it's not the same, because this only requires your commitment and use to grow value over time. The more you put in, the more value you capture. But in the beginning, that value is very hard to see.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.

  1. 6

    I would start by studying how similar apps/extensions jump-started the process. Vladimir Oane from Deepstash comes to mind (app for saving insights from articles + social network for user-generated article summaries) hypothes.is, getpolarized.io, readwise.io etc.

    You can join a movement (for example Deepstash is anti-facebook or social media antidote). Jump on the personal knowledge management train. Join similar communities and participate.

    One way to grow would be to create plugins for integrating your tool into supplementary apps and sharing them. For example obsidian.md community would be a perfect fit. They crave new plugins and would welcome you with open arms.

    I checked lurnby.com and would change the question-answer format to one that would showcase how your app works. For example: similar to your question-answer format but highlighting insights from a great example article along the way so that at the end they have those saved in their new account. That way you onboard and jump-start their content at the same time. Would be great if they could paste their article at the beginning (but that would take too much work on your part).

    Good luck!

    1. 2

      Thanks those are all really solid thoughts. And I had no idea about some of those tools. It's possible I would never have started making this in the first place if my initial research discovered them XD.

      I really like the plugin idea. I've been humoring that for a while now. I've done the basics for something like that which is just exporting content. But didn't want to do any specific integrations because I wasn't sure of the value. I know readwise had done a roam integration and that was crazy valuable for them.

      It seemed like a power user / quality of life feature to consider once I actually had users, but I never considered it from the perspective of acquisition actually. But it makes a lot of sense.

      I appreciate the thoughts on lurnby.com -> that was initially made to scare away most people and be hyper specific about who the intended audience was. It needs a major rethink now that the app is more or less developed from a functional perspective and i'm planning to start acquisition efforts.

      I think I understand your point about the changes. Basically switch it from what it is now, to specifically showing what you can do and what value it brings to them?

      But it seems you also mean an interactive demo that onboards, demonstrates value, and creates some initial content at the same time?

      Sounds really cool actually.

      Not to ask you to do my research for me, but do you know if any of those apps have shared their early stage growth processes?

      Also, the plan I've been running through my head is fairly similar actually.

      If you are only interacting with my app at the most basic level, then it simply functions as a 'read it later' app similar to pocket but with more types of content.

      That also happens to be the minimum requirement for doing any of the more advanced stuff too. You need content in the app in order to access any of the other benefits.

      So I was thinking of just focusing on that entirely as my starting point.

      Framing it as a slightly more useful read it later app. And then showcasing the other values over time as users get more invested and build the habit of reading things in there in the first place.

      That would simplify a lot of my challenge as it's much more specific of a need and use case. But then I guess I'd still run the challenge of answering common rebuttals such as - we already have Pocket, Instapaper, etc.

      But maybe that's easier to solve for than trying to somehow demonstrate the value of a new scrappy PKM system.

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        I think I understand your point about the changes. Basically switch it from what it is now, to specifically showing what you can do and what value it brings to them?

        But it seems you also mean an interactive demo that onboards, demonstrates value, and creates some initial content at the same time?

        Yes to both :) do what's easier for now.

        Not to ask you to do my research for me, but do you know if any of those apps have shared their early stage growth processes?

        Not really, but I found the best early growth advice usually hides behind a podcast with the founder.

        Framing it as a slightly more useful read it later app.

        I like the idea of "niche down", but "a slightly more useful read it later app" might be too generic. Take inspiration from getmemex.com vision (next to their pricing tab). Find your killer feature by adding a "privacy", "extend-ability", "self-hosted" twist etc.

        A solo founder behind pinboard.in outlived Delicious just by focusing on privacy and speed.

        But maybe that's easier to solve for than trying to somehow demonstrate the value of a new scrappy PKM system.

        Don't try to be a full PKM. That's hard. Try other PKMs and see where your product can bring the most value.

    2. 2

      A clear plan of action well articulated. Thanks for sharing.

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