Now that Fantasy Congress has revenue, I'm excited to share it and be part of the open start up community. Almost all of the revenue so far has come from my mailing list. But I've noticed an exceptionally low open rate in the past couple of weeks. Wondering how many more sign ups I could have got if I was able to reach closer to half my list! Alas, this will be one of the things I focus on in the coming month.
Last week I launched Fantasy Congress and so far I've acquired 13 paying members for a total of $166 in sales. It was a simple, quiet launch and overall I'm content. I didn’t have the time or energy to coordinate something big, so the launch consisted of two emails. The first was sent on Monday to my full list of 1,900 subscribers. Normally I send emails out on Wednesday and see a 40% - 50% open rate. So I was surprised to see my open rate for this past Monday hovered around 20%. To capture any low hanging fruit, I decided to send a second email on Thursday targeting subscribers that had not seen the launch email. This one had an even lower open rate (~10%).
I’m not sure what’s happening to my emails. I’m planning to send another tomorrow to the full list. Perhaps I'm picking the wrong day/times or there’s something bigger at play.
There’s quite a bit of clean up I need to do with the site before tackling the next big challenge: setting up a marketing strategy. I’m dedicating the rest of February to tying up loose ends and hope to focus mostly on marketing in March.
Finally! After a frustratingly slow year, Fantasy Congress 2.0 is live! It's 2am, I'm exhausted, and all my plants have died from neglect, but I couldn't be more proud of what I pulled together in the last few months. Excited to participate in the community more now that I have something launched!
I wanted to avoid mistakes and get lots of feedback before launching. Throughout 2019 I shared what I was developing with my audience and collected plenty of feedback. Was planning on doing a beta before the official launch but I have a year's worth of feedback so, why wait? Fantasy Congress 2.0 comin at ya in February.
During my second customer interview for Fantasy Congress, we discussed a big upcoming conference that the customer was attending (national social studies educator conference). She will be hosting a discussion at the conference and brought up the idea of passing out Fantasy Congress freebies or materials to the attendees. Unclear if Fantasy Congress will be part of her discussion, but she is very supportive of the project and using it in her classes this semester.
I'm going to send her a bunch of stickers. Stickers are great right? They don't have the full website url (they just say "Fantasy Congress"), so I'd like to attach them to some little cards that have the url and social handles. Time to get a crafty.
I was absolutely dreading this but it ended up being really fun. I scheduled it for a half hour, but we easily could have talked for much longer. This individual was a previous customer from my MVP and participated in the closed alpha for Fantasy Congress 2.0. I tried to focus less on Fantasy Congress and more about the problems it could potentially solve for her. The customer was very supportive of this project and gave me lots of great insight. I'm looking forward to my second customer interview tomorrow.
Thought I would be more bummed reaching this point in my journey. My savings are wiped and I have to go back to working for someone else. But I'm actually excited. The company is cool and I'm only working part time so I can still make headway on Fantasy Congress.
Fantasy Congress isn't fully launched yet, but I have a competitor who is trying to copy the concept. A bit frustrating to see someone benefit from your hard work, but this might work in my favor in the long run. I have some unfair advantages when it comes to the domain and SEO. Promotion of their product will likely send some people to mine. And I think there's something to be said about blindly copying someone else versus iterating off of customer feedback.
This week was bittersweet. It was the first week of the alpha's Fantasy Congress "season" and I had a lot of momentum and hype built up. The wind was promptly taken out of my sails when I realized Congress was not in session though. Obviously, when Congress is not in session nothing happens in the game. I should have checked the schedule before setting up the alpha but I was so consumed on getting it up as fast as possible I didn't bother (plus they had only been back for three weeks since their previous 5 week vacation, what the hell!). Congress is scheduled to be back on the 15th. So hopefully this week makes up for the last one.
On top of that, I've been living off my savings for a year and a half and my nest egg is nearly spent. I've learned a crazy amount during this time and still think pursuing Fantasy Congress full time was the right choice for me. But I've decided to look for a part time programming job. It feels a bit like selling out. I tried to start Fantasy Congress as a side project while working 9-5 and I was miserable. I'm not great at splitting my time between projects. Even though I aim to get a part time job I'm worried Fantasy Congress will fall on the back burner and never be finished.
However, the one major highlight of this week came when I checked my Buy Me a Coffee page. A stranger had bought me a coffee and said they were anxiously awaiting the final product to use with their 8th grade classes. Seeing that made me feel, validated? redeemed? Not sure the right word to describe it. Regardless, after a week of feeling bummed out, this small act of kindness really lifted my spirits.
Kicked off the Fantasy Congress alpha on Monday and took the rest of the week off(ish). It was a mad dash to tie up loose ends in time to start on Monday (I spent three days fighting with Django's CSRF settings, grrr). Throughout the week I still had to help trouble shoot issues and send out emails soliciting for feedback, but I didn't do any work on the site itself. I've received lots of responses from alpha participants about how excited they are for Fantasy Congress. And the feedback they are giving is very constructive. Most of all, some of the team names they've come up with are pretty hilarious. Taking a short break and watching people enjoy what I've created has refreshed my energy and I'm ready to jump back into it this week.
Fantasy Congress: a fantasy sports platform for U.S. politics.