March 11, 2019

Office hours with Alex McClafferty

What's up indie hackers!

Hi, I'm Alex McClafferty. I co-founded WP Curve (productized 24/7 WordPress support service) in 2013, helped bootstrap it to $1MM ARR by 2015, and then worked through the sell-side of our acquisition by GoDaddy in 2016. In 2018, I quit GoDaddy to go full-time as a coach to founders / entrepreneurs / CEOs.

I am super-excited to announce that I'll be on a live #office-hours this Monday, March 18 at 12PM PST.

If you're interested in joining, we can talk about everything from:

  • how to mentally and practically prepare for an acquisition
  • how to build an amazing team and scale yourself out of your business
  • common mistakes I see SaaS & productized service founders make
  • the reason I pretended to be crushing it... when I was the one getting crushed

If you can't make it but there's a question you want answered privately, feel free to email me at [email protected]

  1. 2

    Hi Alex - sounds like you have a lot to offer the community. At the moment I’m spending quite a bit of time thinking about how to systemise identifying problems that can be solved through technology. Would be amazing to hear your thoughts on that.

    1. 2

      Are you working on any projects in particular?

      1. 1

        I am, though my question was a bit more meta - I’m thinking a lot about what to work in next, and I’m interested in hearing how successful people identified problems to solve. Apologies if not relevant.

        1. 2

          Totally relevant! Thanks for sharing.

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            Hi Courtland. Thanks again for hosting this. Are there any plans to add the video anywhere?

    2. 1

      I would love to chat more on this.

      I have a pretty simple question for problem identification: "Does this problem elicit a significant enough emotional response that I feel compelled to pay someone else to make it go away?"

      That's about as high-level as I can take it. Then I drill down from there into the details of how to solve the problem.

  2. 1

    Hi Alex! I'm working on a productized service in the area of customer communications. Basically -- I want to make it easier for companies to help their customers and prospects. Unlike everybody else, I don't want to write yet another CRM.

    My project is still in the early phases, but I would love to chat with you about some specific challenges I see and how you solved them at WP Curve. I read Dan's book, but I have questions beyond what the book covers.

    I've grown a successful SaaS in the past. But designing a people-heavy business (significant COGS!) is a different challenge. I have questions about the practical differences between the two.

    Oh, I'm also looking at selling my existing business.

    It really sounds like this office hours would be super helpful for me, and I'd love the chance to speak with you!

    1. 1

      Great to meet you! I would love to have you on the office hours. If you can't make it, feel free to email through your questions or we can jump on Zoom.

  3. 1

    Hi Alex,

    I am a developer who has been working in the digital agency world for 8+ years. I'm working a digital product & service to help agencies who do in-house development. I help them improve their ability to manage internal development teams, increase employee satisfaction, and decrease churn for talent AND clients.

    I think it’s key to educate agency leaders on what it takes to properly manage a development team, and why it’s different than running a product team or running the team like a bunch of freelancers.

    I'm having some trouble wrapping my head around the productization of this service -- so far, it's about my experiences. I believe the ability to properly manage a development team is sorely needed in the agency world, and I want to help improve developers lives and make agencies more profitable.

    If you have any thoughts on this, I'd love to chat!

    1. 1

      Great Mike. I'm happy to chat either on the office hours or via email. If you have specific questions, please send them on through.

      1. 1

        That was a great session, Alex. Thanks so much for your time!

        1. 1

          You are welcome :)

  4. 1

    Hi, Alex, I'm working on a web app ( https://netcrumb.com ) that helps people build one page Wordpress themes faster and easier.

    How I came up with the idea

    I used to make Wordpress websites for me or for other people and I thought that the process to create a simple website Wordpress website is too complicated. It used to take me 2-3 hours every time to find a theme, install it, understand how it works and how the builders that it uses works.

    Long story short, almost 1 year later, after I paid an agency to build an MVP, I launched and 2000 visitors later, I got only 1 customer. Would love to know your feedback on my product and I have a few more questions as I'm struggling a bit with the direction to follow.

    1. 1

      Awesome, thanks for sharing your journey so far :)

      Please come along to ask your questions or if you can't make it, pop them in here and I will answer them.

      1. 1

        Hi, Alex, Thanks for your answer.

        Here are some questions:

        1. Having worked on WpCurve, did you ever think about the problem I'm trying to solve with Netcrumb ( Help people build Wordpress websites much easier than it is today ) ? If yes, what would be your approach?

        2. I had 2000 users on the website and 1 client. When would you stop working on an app or pivot?

        3. I'm thinking to change my price from $29 / theme to $9 per theme, but do you think it matters for users? I'm thinking that maybe I ask too much, even if I'm saving people a few hours with this MVP.

        Thanks!

        1. 1

          Hey @ivandrag - great to hear from you. Congratulations on building a product and taking it to market, few people have achieved that milestone, so well done!

          I would challenge you to deeply understand the use case, the user and the frequency of use for the solution you've built. I have been trying to understand who the ideal customer is and why they would use the product. Is it a web agency who spins up multiple sites? Is it an affiliate blogger? How do people solve this problem today?

          Here are some responses to your questions:

          1. I was never on the site builder side of the fence, because there were already some excellent solutions like Elementor and Beaver Builder.

          2. Where were the users from? ProductHunt? I don't get too carried away with traffic vs sign up ratio. For example, if you send a bunch of people who are interested in Pepsi to a Coke website, you might struggle with conversions too. If this were my app, I'd hit pause and get into some customer research. I'm making an assumption that you haven't been through this research phase yet, but I might be 100% wrong. If I am right, this is a good summary of customer dev: https://www.slideshare.net/evanish/how-to-do-customer-development-interviews

          3. I would first focus on who uses the product and then figure out how much to charge for it. Pricing is a function of value. First figure out the value, then figure out the price to go along with it.

          If you need clarification or have more questions, let me know :)

          1. 1

            Hey, Alex,

            That's a lot of good feedback. Thanks a lot!

            You are right with the customer development phase. I spoke with a few people prior to launching, but not sure if they were the good ones. I built the app with more niches in my head and I should have built just for one.

            How do you establish what people should use a product when for a Wordpress builder there could be several type of target customers? As you said, it could be a web agency or someone who needs a simple one page personal Wordpress etc

            Once you establish who is your target customer, I think it’s much easier to see how they solve that pain. ( I think I’m struggling with this )

            The problem I’m trying to solve with Netcrumb is helping people with the pain of having to look for a theme, install it, understand how it works , understand how the builder works, and what other plugins it requires. My vision is to be able to deploy everything to Wordpress with one click, but currently the MVP solves just the first part of building a one page WP site fast and easy.

            Where the users came from? Prior to launching it on Product Hunt:

            • I wrote a 4 part blog series blog series where I explained how I’m building Netcrumb etc

            • I built a mailing list of close to 200 people,

            • I talked to people on Facebook and LinkedIn.

            The problem I see now is that I have no idea who all these people are. I think you are right and I should go into customer research. Do you have more resources or maybe some books?

            Thanks again!