When do I start building?

I'm designing/building a niche product for file sharing. It's something I'm intimately familiar with and I feel like I have a good idea of where to go. I sent out a survey and got about 10 responses in the first couple days that confirmed my idea and gave me some new directions/competitors to look at. However, that leaves my mailing list at only 10 people. I've been sharing our landing page with an intro video, a product demo, and a beta access signup (offering free extra space and discounts on premium tiers) but haven't had much luck in the last week.

When do I stop trying to build the mailing list and start building? I've had a history of building products and being unable to find a fit or be unable to market it. This time feels different in that I know exactly what problem I am solving and for whom I am solving it for, but I'm trying to tread lightly. I'm a software engineer, so I'm trying not to jump the gun and do "the fun part" before it's time :)

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    Hey Kerry,

    trying to build a mailing list and speaking to your customers is a great start! Many engineers skip this step and go right to building. Kudos for over coming that fear :)

    Building something to scratching your own itch is a good way to build a useful product, but here is the thing – although I'm sure many people have the same problem, what you really want to know is whether this is something they will be willing to pay for.

    I see many indie hackers (myself included) building products that are useful, but not useful enough to get people to pay for them. If the problem you're solving is significant enough, people won't hesitate to pay upfront.

    One thing you could do is find a few communities that would benefit from your product (on Reddit, HN, FB, Twitter, Forums, etc) and try to pre-sell your product. This is one good way to gauge if there is commercial interesting for what you're offering. Explain the benefits of your product as best as you can, offer an exclusive deal for early adopter, and see what happens.

    I know it feels a bit awkward to sell something that doesn't exist, but it will save you a lot of time and effort.

    And remember to not give up too early.

    Best of luck!

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      That's a very interesting idea. I might try that out before we build - offer a pre-sale discount. Thanks for that idea and all the advice!

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        Hey Kerry,
        just came across this post that I think might be useful to answer your question: https://www.indiehackers.com/post/how-to-brainstorm-great-business-ideas-ab51c3d51c

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    Gabriel Weinberg (DuckDuckGo founder) wrote about this, and he said to split up your time 50/50 between development and growth:

    Having a product or service that your early customers love, but having no clear way to get more traction is a major problem. To solve this problem, spend
    your time constructing your product or service and testing traction channels in parallel.
    Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction.

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      Good note, thank you!!

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        to go a level deeper with this, I recommend reading Paul Graham's maker vs manager schedule essay where he talks about time management when you're involved with -- or in your case, leading -- both the engineering and "business" aspect of the project. I'm a co-founder and the sole backend engineer on our product, and this essay (among many others) are really helpful to learn how to ensure that progress is being made on both sides without stretching you out too thin.

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    You have good powerful features which may be a few people missing, but I am not sure if it is going to help you build a killer product

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    hey kerry! i provide some high-level here on my own process — but, you'll want effectively start talking with your customers (subscribers) immediately... so, you're effectively doing both at the same time. 50/50 isn't right. it's 100/100.

    lol, but, you get what i mean. always building, always talking to customers. do both:


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    Define your target niche, try to understand where they are hanging out and just reach them. You are either looking in the wrong places or you're building a product that has no market fit

    Also keep in mind that normal people don't feel so excited about your beta access signup list. I have never in my life tried a signup list, other than from very well established companies (e.g game releasing companies when I was a kid).
    The reason? I knew what that game was looking like, what it would be and I was excited. Maybe your access list comes out as not so exciting and that's why you don't see results. Are you just posting around a message with
    "hey guys this is my file sharing website, join this beta list" ?
    That's boring. Make it nice

    1. 1

      Thanks for the advice!

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