Hey, indie hackers!
My name’s Arsen. I am here to tell you a story about my failure. I’ll try to do it in the least boring way, but if you are still bored - then go to the last paragraph right away. While reading this, some questions may arise - feel free to ask them in the comments.
Everything began from the moment a severe Reddit addiction started to develop, it went so far that I fully stopped visiting Instagram and Facebook. I liked that everything there is anonymous, there are no friends and the communication is built around the interest but not the people. There are websites like Reddit in Russia (where I was born and grew up), but they are 99% about memes, thus there’s no place to discuss music, life or business problems in the way it happens on Reddit. A scary thought crossed my mind - to build my own Reddit with blackjack and hookers. Left my job, got down to business.
THE NAME OF THE BOAT AFFECTS HOW IT FLOATS (Russian proverb)
I decided that without a name - there wouldn’t be a line of code. It took some time and MEERKAD eventually emerged. It was formed from the English "meerkat”. I like it when a product is associated with some character or an animal and these cool guys are excellent examples of those who dwell in packs or small groups, thus forming communities.
THE FIRST ATTEMPT AND THE FIRST FAILURE
It is impossible to launch hundreds of communities all at once, that is why I started to choose the idea of the first community. Sergey - a school friend of my spouse helped me with that. Together, we decided to start from a community of students. We all know that you bump into lots of questions while studying: how to prepare for a subject, why are there cockroaches in the dormitory, why does the local cook pour so much oil into french fries. I developed the website with simple functionality: auth, write and read. Sergey took over the contents and the process of creating activities. The first traffic came from the search engines and targeted advertising on VK (the biggest social network in Russia). Well, it led to nothing. At all. Traffic was too little, the engagement rate was low, expectations were overestimated.
THE SECOND COMMUNITY
Cancer - another topic that became our second attempt to launch the community. People, who were diagnosed with cancer, turned out to be very communicative, they support each other and are able to empathize. Their relatives too. Built the second version of the website with calls-to-action and email notifications to boost the rate of return, launched an advertising campaign in social nets & search engines, got the first traffic, the first users, posts and comments. https://yadi.sk/i/Gl8QCiLtIv3WAA Sergey did a lot of work, attracting people from different forums, where people, diagnosed with cancer, wrote their thoughts, shared experience and supported each other. Unfortunately, the growth of free traffic went really slow, paid promotion cost a lot and the way of generating return-on-investment wasn’t clear.
During all this time we’ve been trying to gather people into the community built around one certain topic - students & people diagnosed with cancer. We liked the content in askReddit - millions of users are subscribed to this sub, discussions get thousands of upvotes and hundreds of comments. What if we start to translate the top posts from this sub to attract the first users? We acquired users from Telegram right into a Telegram bot, because marketing inside the platform is cheaper than into your app or the website. I designed and developed the Telegram bot, Sergey bought advertising in entertainment communities and catalogs of bots. The result: 697 installations of the bot, about 50 users active daily. We planned that interesting content would be shared among friends, but that never happened - viral growth didn’t happen at all. https://yadi.sk/i/9gLIf5rDGmL1Og
Let me draw the bottom line. 10 weeks are spent to create and test 3 different hypotheses. Money expenses were mostly focused around marketing and totaled $1900. Too many failures and destructive thoughts. This - is my post to say farewell to the start-up community. I wish good luck and commitment to those who are still trying. I am jealous of those who succeed. That’s it. I am looking for a job.
BTW Anyone hiring remote developers and marketers?