December 20, 2019

120+ active users later: learnings as a novice

Fabien Herfray @FabienHerfray

It’s been a while since I posted an update but hey, here is a first big milestone for me: Frenl has now over 120 active users 🎉
It feels like a big milestone because I am a developer that started with a near zero experience in product/marketing. I'm happy 😬

Here is the one thing that I learned on the way: the goal and the value of your service needs to be crystal clear to you. It is definitely not breaking news but even knowing about it, it's easy to make the mistake.

At the beginning, I started with the idea that I wanted to do a tool to help with networking, focused on 1 to 1 interactions.
I chose a first headline (“Networking for lazy people”) then a second one when I decided to try to plug on existing communities (“Meet your community”). I iterated so many times on this idea, tried some new features and built separate community landing pages (Indie Hackers, Hacker News…) to be able to target people more precisely. I could get people to join but I was never satisfied. I was building things that were having zero impact. Something felt wrong.

Then I had an epiphany. It may sound stupid but I realized that a tool for networking wasn’t a value. It was just a way to do something. It made me think: What is the actual value of networking? Why do people say that it’s so important?
To me, networking is about getting out of our usual social bubble and feeling supported: hearing about fresh point of views, learning from some usually inaccessible expertise and getting new opportunities.

What I did: I kept the original concept but reworked the matching system, user profiles and rephrased my landing page to aim at this value.
I was able to remove a lot of code, custom landing pages and even reduced the needed user input during the onboarding, while sounding more useful.

Results: The conversion/signup rate raised a bit (to ~20-30%), engagement from the new users seems higher (they tend to spend more effort filling data, which may indicate that the value is now appearing more clearly) but most importantly, it really allowed the service to be simpler and more focused. A lot of the things that I was developing were in fact useless. I feel like I can start building again 🙂

  1. 1

    Awesome idea and real clean site. Best of luck!

  2. 1

    Thanks for sharing Fabien!

    1. 1

      You're welcome! Maybe I wrote a bit too much though 😄

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