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37 Comments

We are all just hypocrites. Prove me wrong!

Now, this might come off too hard, unfortunately it's just how I really feel. I hope to make sure this story is short and straight to the point.

While we all strive to build something valuable, I honestly feel we owe it to ourselves to truly support eachother. We all curse the large corporations for issue like privacy, data breach etc but when smaller companies try to genuinely create a better alternative, only very few people show support for such products. Why??

Myself and 2 other close friends created a file transfer app and launched few weeks ago, we reached out to a few tech bloggers and it's amazing how everyone wants to swindle you just to get a shout-out from them even when they have tested your product and seen that it's truly solid. Yet, they give free publicity to products by these big corporations. Why??

Now, alot of people will see this as being insensitive, I really don't care actually. Like I said earlier, it's just how I feel. We posted a story about how and why we launched MiDrive Transfer (https://transfer.midrive.io) as well as our earliest challenges on Hacker News few days ago and we slightly got just a few responses. I logged into Hacker News today and saw that Dropbox Transfer (https://www.dropbox.com/transfer/about) is trending on page 1..lol. How will you feel if you created a better alternative to a product and didn't get any good responses and then an exact same product created by a bigger corporation is posted and in 1hr, the whole internet community is talking about it?

I really don't intend to piss anyone off with this post, some might see me as being a little emotional...lol, well, it's just what it is. I don't expect anyone to respond to this post as usual and I don't expect this to be a trending topic. But if you have read my post to this point, I only ask that when next you see a product that catches your interest, show some love by supporting such ventures. If you are a writer or blogger and the product seems like something you can talk about, vet it and if you think it's good enough, share with your audience.

If you are a top gun on Product Hunt, indiehacker and all the other amazing communities and you see a product worth sharing, please show some love. You never can tell if your single input is the catalyst a product needs as a foundation to be the next big thing.

Compliments of the season

  1. 5

    One thing I'd like to add to some valid points down there is that these bloggers you're contacting are running a business. Promoting Dropbox "for free" isn't actually for free to them. Yes, Dropbox maybe didn't pay them directly. With that post they have a different goal, get more people to read their blog so that they can sell more ads, more affiliate clicks or whatever. Writing about that gives them power to write about your product for money.

    So I wouldn't take it personally, it's probably not hipocracy, to them it's just business.

    What you could do is ask some of your actual users who like your product and ask them if they can write an article or at least tweet about your product. They don't have the reach of a pro, but they will probably also do it for free for you. If my friend tweets about a new service and I need something like that, I would trust my friend and likely give it a try.

    As for your post title, I find it a bit off-putting. Yes, all people are probably a bit hypocritical, but what's that got to do with your topic here? How am I a hypocrite because some blogger is asking you for money?

    I hope these comments help.

    1. 2

      You know, a part of me still believes some of these guys won't hurt their users if they sometimes write about a brand new product they believe their audience will find interesting.

      The angle about me reaching out to some of our actual users is good though. Thanks

  2. 4

    It's not about your product, it's about the other things. Having the best product doesn't guarantee success, it's a combination of factors that need to be right. For them you are a nobody, doesn't matter how good your product is(some get pitched better versions of existing popular products almost daily), unless it does something super new and innovative that impresses them, they don't care and you should be ok with this, after all they run a business.

    Not sure if you want to build a business out of this, but if you do, you shouldn't let this affect you, this happens a lot for a startup.

    1. 1

      Well, I truly want to build a business out of this but you have raised a valid point, this should affect me. I am just voicing out my mind because in reality, nobody comes forward to speak the truth and truly voice their opinion. I truly believe the startup world will be a better place with more genuine support from the tech community

  3. 3

    I don't think people don't use your product because they are not 'supportive'. Being supportive is not what business is about, unless maybe if you are running a non-profit. Also, what is 'having a better product'? We all know the things we are building are not unique, there are a million equal alternatives. You need to put it out there, in a way customers respond to. Maybe have a landing page, explain what your product does and why I should use it. You can't blame people for not using what you built. That's just the wrong attitude. If no one is responding to it you should tweak it, make it better, until you find who your users are. But don't give up, you can't compare yourself to Dropbox, you need to see what you can offer customers that Dropbox can't. Maybe a more personalized support? Integration with some other tool like Google Drive? I don't know.
    Goodluck, hope it helps.

    1. 1

      Well said. You have said some good points. Thanks

  4. 2

    So, I'll chip in as well. I feel your pain @tobby123. Nevertheless, I'd also like to point out some additional things the others have yet to mention.

    TL;DR

    • Communicate how your product is better
    • There is no free advertising
    • Update website with some additional information

    try to genuinely create a better alternative

    Not so sure about that, and how am I supposed to validate your statement? Being better could mean a lot of things. For me that's performance. For others that may mean a better user interface. Others may even think pricing, data security, privacy, anonymity, etc. Let's assume you really are better in all of that, then you have to start screaming about it and the the world how you can be better than other multi-billion dollar companies who have been doing this for years. There is really no better story to sell than the small startup disrupting the big ones with something they lack or can't do themselves. ;) Tell that story first!

    Coming back to the performance side, your landingpage took me exactly 10.25 seconds to load. Dropbox Transfer's landingpage on the other hand took a tenth of that (1.21 seconds). These were your examples from the top. I did not check Box, OneDrive, Google Drive, WeTransfer, Gett and the many other competitors out there.

    Competing with the top dogs is no easy task, making sure to communicate what you want and why you think you have the better product could make all the difference! As a marketer yourself, you understand the importance of good copy and communication. Target it specifically to your niche and your target audience within that. Then, when you approach influencers in your niche, they may be more inclined to talk about your product for free, because they know their audience already know about your product and want to see that.

    everyone wants to swindle you just to get a shout-out

    Well, @Zlatko already pointed this out. The influencers you reached out to run businesses. They more or less run with any story that their viewership want to see. If you don't fit in 100%, they will charge you.

    Want to have free coverage? Make sure that these people (and their audiences) know about your awesome product before you approach them. Let's take Dropbox for example: They started with giving away free 500MB online storage. Great, but nobody knew about it (or understood why you need it) until they got their PR/Marketing staff reach out to tech journalists. Not one, not two, but hundreds. Worldwide. Constantly. Some picked up the PR story, most didn't. Rinse and repeat. This is called branding and that is how you get the ball rolling. The oldest and most used growth hack in the book (which still work).

    sharing is caring

    I don't want to sound rude, I feel I am giving you real honest feedback here. If I understood you correct, you are complaining that very few people cover your startup's idea and/or share it with their peers? Being emotionally attached to one's own product is totally fine, reaching out for help and making accusations is not. I've had nothing than positive experiences and people are genuinely helpful here.

    Now, back to MiDrive

    I took a look at your landingpage and the homepage. Here are a few (unasked for) suggestions. These are just IMHO, so skip them if you think I don't know what I'm talking about:

    • Your homepage is missing contact details. Who are you? Where are you located? How can I reach you? Do you even have an email address?
    • Remove the beta-branding. I never understood why people did that years ago. Does it sometimes break/not work and the "beta" acts as a scapegoat? If I pay for it, it better work.
    • Where and for what do I sign up to on your homepage form? A newsletter? Your own database? What emails would I receive and how often? Only on launch? When is the ETA?
    • No legal notice, no cookie notice, no privacy policy. Being from the EU myself, this alone is a red flag for me and renders your tool for most europeans - post GDPR - useless. I can't even vet it for that reason.
    • Looking at your code, you seems to have several Google Analytics tracking snippets generated? The homepage runs with -4. Your posted landingpage uses -6. So there are actually 4 others somewhere... What do they do? A privacy policy would be great. :)
    • Your usage of fonts, font sizes and colors on the homepage is way better than the landingpage. Maybe you could streamline that to the landingpage as well?
    • I like your idea to force-center everything on the landingpage, but it comes with a big caveat: on smaller screens this leads to a pretty hefty jump. I.e. ticking the "Enable password lock", makes the whole form jump, leaving me - as a user - clueless where I was and what was added to form.

    Wow, this came out pretty long. Sorry for that.

    1. 1

      @dakl this is so comprehensive with some interesting points you have raised. However, a statement caught my attention which I would like to first of all comment on.

      You said our landing page took exactly 10.25 secs to load. This is practically impossible! Our monitors (that run every 5s) from US, Australia, and Europe have never reported anything over 0.1s average load time. Not sure what is going on there but thanks for mentioning it.

      While you have truly made some point as regards the landing page of MiDrive, we have never really mentioned MiDrive on any of our articles and writeups really. This is because, well, it's a landing page. MiDrive Transfer is the first and major product (atleast for now and hopefully forever). All other things you have mentioned missing as regards MiDrive is present on MiDrive Transfer (maybe except the contact details or who we are)

      Still, thanks alot for the feedback.

      1. 2

        Ok, I don't know about that. I checked the landingpage you linked in the OP as well as manually checking www.midrive.io.

        As for the loadtimes, yep, I just rechecked again with no caching enabled (first time visitor), and my loadtime is still well over 10seconds on a DSL 100mbit line, and 4-something seconds on fiber (500mbit up/downstream) from Germany. If you like, I can supply you with my waterfall .har file for debugging.

      2. 2

        Landing page takes 1.5 seconds to load for me over fiber and 10.5 over 3G. Monitors sitting on large server infrastructure won't say much about performance in the real world.

  5. 2

    I’m sorry, but I think you’re approaching this from the wrong perspective.

    Do you know how many pitches tech bloggers get? Do you know how many indie makers are out there building tools? These tech bloggers have as much responsibility to their audience writing about products they think will be successful and interesting, as you do by making one of those products.

    Of course Dropbox Transfer is going to get more traction. It’s Dropbox.

    Your job is not to be the next Dropbox and do it their way. Your job is to be the first you, and do it your way.

  6. 2

    I understand your view, and get what you are thinking. I think most people get this wrong.

    Building a better product and advantage via product is just half the battle. Getting advantage on distribution is the other half.

    Dropbox has spent millions of dollars on building there brand and acquiring distribution.

    If I was you I would look for underserving groups of people that drop box over sees. I would start with them, build for them and grow into other groups slowly. The easiest way to get past a larger competitors brand is to talk directly to a single person and connect with them. Go where they hang out. Be present and help them.

    Goodluck

    1. 1

      Well, you raised some valid points and some valuable hacks. Thanks

  7. 1

    The big players are always going to get more attention, just because of how human nature works. You can talk to your friends about someone famous like Trump, but you can't talk to them about someone obscure that only you know about unless you're willing to spend a whole lot of time and effort providing context and bringing them up to speed. Same goes for companies, movies, hobbies and interests, etc. Thus discussion forums and the like are almost always going to trend toward popular subjects where more people can chime in, because by definition those subjects will have more people chiming in.

    This is really the essential challenge shared by every indie hacker: How do we break through and gain a foothold in a world that doesn't care about us because we're tiny nobodies?

    Even if every indie hacker were to support every indie hacker, that wouldn't work, because there are just too many. The world would end up full of noise. The front page of Hacker News would literally just be a blur. We need power laws and leaderboards to make sense of anything and filter out the noise.

    The best answer imo is to start small and take it one step at a time. Don't worry so much about the massive channels. Don't worry where the industry leaders are getting traffic from. Instead worry about customer #1, then #10, then #100, and so on. Brute force it, do things that don't scale, hit up all the smaller corners of the internet, treat people right, and generally do all the things the big companies can't afford to do anymore.

    When you see another indie hacker doing well with press or major channels, be supportive, but don't think that's the one-and-only path, or even that it's the most common path early on.

    1. 1

      The best answer imo is to start small and take it one step at a time. Don't worry so much about the massive channels. Don't worry where the industry leaders are getting traffic from. Instead worry about customer #1, then #10, then #100, and so on.

      We've heard this in various forms from so many of the guests on the IH podcast and I find it really motivating and actually relieving in a way.

  8. 1

    You sound as one who feels entitled. Sorry, no one owes you anything.
    You have to truly earn it.

  9. 1

    I've actually seen your product first, then a few hours ago I saw dropbox transfer on HN and thought that looks familiar (but wow they have a good landing page).

    1. 1

      Lol.. when you say they have a good landing page, how do you mean exactly? Just curious

      1. 1

        I was staring at the animation for a bit :)

  10. 1

    World is a tough place. You should work hard as you can, yell about your product, spam everywhere to find out that nobody gives a fuck. It's sad, but true. Maybe not today, not tomorrow, but some day you will succeed.

    P.S. one thing that pisses me off is marketing. I am developer, i want to be a creator, to deliver a great solutions to people, but it's clearly obvious for me, that without proper marketing all efforts are useless.

    1. 1

      Yep, ultimately getting a product in the hands of customers is necessary. You could invent the cure for cancer, but it'd be worthless if you never talked about it or sold it to anyone.

    2. 1

      It's quite sad really. Thanks for the encouragement

    3. 1

      This is true.

      Source: am marketer

  11. 1

    This happens a lot... For example TechCrunch... It's mostly VC backed companies...

    1. 1

      Exactly. It's crazy.

  12. 1

    It can be hard creating a product you think is amazing and no one will listen.

    I had the same experience when I created something in the crypto space, I talked with youtubers and they wanted to charge me $10k+ to share with their audience.

    The web app was very fun and I had a few users but struggled to grow due to the community.

    1. 1

      It amazes me when people who are suppose to support you in their own little way will rather want to take advantage of you. It's really sad

      1. 1

        They worked hard and now they want some profit from advertising your product. Every work must be paid.

  13. 1

    You shouldn't be too sour about it. A product that a company like Dropbox releases should be trending and performing better than yours, it would be strange if it wasn't. And in the short term, it's not about which product is better, it's about who yells louder and has more money. Maybe there's a way you can feed off of their efforts?

    You should be happy and proud that you created a better product, that's huge.

    1. 1

      Lol. Well said. Truly, it's who makes the loudest noise that get to sit Infront. Unfortunately, when you don't have the resources to make as much noise as you should, then you begin praying for luck. I sincerely feel smaller startups can compete over time if they get as much support from other smaller communities. E.g, imagine a writer from Techcrunch picking a new valuable product from indiehacker and writing about it, even if once in a while. Unfortunately, they will prefer to write about the already big boys raising millions on dollars. Sad.

      1. 2

        This is not how PR works, I'm afraid. Journalists have no time to scavenger hunt for gold nuggets on the internet to write about. They open their inbox every morning, scan through 500 PR articles they got sent from the marketing/pr departments of 500 companies, pick 3-5 of these articles that may fit their daily scope/topic and reprint those.

        You are better of investing your time to get an emailing list of the top 2000 journalists in your tech niche and sending them well created PR articles about every little thing you just did.

      2. 1

        Technology has leveled the playing field but I think being a solo founder puts you at a disadvantage because you have to invest an equal amount of time promoting your product which requires a dedicated body. The same thing applies to successful writers, they spend an equal amount of time promoting their content.

      3. 1

        I feel the OP's pain, but am reminded of some YC advice that a startup should try to build something that some customers somewhere will scream about when they encounter it, as in "YES THIS IS WHAT I'VE NEEDED FOR SO LONG!".

        And then those screaming customers spread the word. Advertising can help prime the pump but for a small startup, a growing base of raving fans will take you much further.

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