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16 Comments

The Big Pivot

TL;DR, a few days ago I launched a new project bannerbear.com effectively pivoting away from the "mojosaas" brand mentioned in my milestone updates prior to this.

https://www.bannerbear.com

Lesson learned: By trying to do everything, you end up achieving nothing.

On Wednesday I launched Bannerbear.com which so far has had an awesome response:

https://www.producthunt.com/posts/bannerbear

Bannerbear scans your website and helps you auto generate Instagram Stories, Pinterest Pins as well as Open Graph images. It is the spiritual successor to another product I built (Previewmojo), which only did Open Graph. In startup parlance, this is a "pivot" :)
https://www.bannerbear.com/resources/introducing-bannerbear/

It's been a rocky path for me over the last year. I've gone through one of the most prolific periods of my life, launching 9 products in the space of 12 months. I even enjoyed some success towards the end of 2019 as two of my products were acquired!

https://blog.yongfook.com/promomatic-and-montage-have-been-acquired.html

However, Previewmojo kind of flopped. It was a tool that auto generated open graph images. In the two months it was live, it struggled to find market fit. This was a shame to me as it's in a space I find really interesting - automated design tools.

The good news was that I got a ton of great feedback from early users. And that's what led to this pivot. This is how startups work - you have an idea, sometimes you get it right, sometimes you get it wrong. But regardless, the way forwards is the same: get your idea in front of people, get their feedback, iterate and improve.

I've written up a full post on the pivot over at mojosaas, with more reasons why, including why start a whole new brand:

https://www.mojosaas.com/articles/the-pivot/

Bannerbear is the successor to mojosaas / previewmojo. I was trying to do too many things with mojosaas. For Mojosaas, the original intention was to create a few distinct products, each with its own little marketing ecosystem, and to document the entire journey transparently on the mojosaas site along with hopefully noting down some helpful advice along the way. Now I realise what a crazy stupid amount of work that is and how by trying to do everything I was achieving nothing.

From now on, instead of drip-feeding app and blog updates across multiple products, I'm focusing on Bannerbear.

In 2020, I just want to do this One Thing Well.

2020 is the year that I have to make this indie hacker life sustainable. It's time to focus and grow, or fail! Wish me luck.

And yes, I'm still keeping things open and transparent - Bannerbear has an Open Startup page :) With a Mojo Meter (TM) showing my progress towards 100k ARR

https://www.bannerbear.com/open/

Happy New Year!
Jon
Big Bear @ Bannerbear.com

  1. 4

    Congrats Jon, the new site looks great! Thanks for being so open with your startup journey. This makes a lot of sense to me, particularly for e-commerce. A Shopify plug-in that allows shop owners to grab media right from their shop dashboard might be cool. Just a thought!

    1. 2

      Thanks Gabe. I agree, tighter integration with the Shopify API would make the experience better. It's quite a lightweight integration so far.

  2. 3

    The logo is simply amazing, love it.

  3. 2

    Really great post Jon, I can't see this not being a really successful product. Wondering if you can talk about your customer acquisition strategy, since this product on the high end is around $2,400 for an annual subscription, I imagine you'll need a more high touch process involving getting in front of customers, live demos etc before companies might commit to that kind of money, how has that process been like?

    1. 1

      Thanks for the vote of confidence!

      Yes absolutely. I don't really expect anyone to sign on for the highest price tier without some back and forth with me first, demo-ing, possibly even building new features before they sign on. The good news is I have a strong sense of who the target is. Primarily it would be split between large ecommerce companies who want to create 1000s of assets for retargeting campaigns, or agencies managing multiple clients with large sites.

      However, I already tried the cold-outreach approach at the end of last year. It got me absolutely nowhere just emailing people out of the blue with demo materials and such.

      This time, I'm going to try a "warm" outreach - I'll focus on the high end clients who have already signed up and maybe not really used the app yet. Help them get their import settings defined, show them a "before and after" demo, understand their requirements - that kind of thing.

      So from a marketing / sales perspective my job is content marketing to bring those sorts of folks in, and then having a CRM system in place to know where the high end prospects are in the sales funnel. All sounds pretty standard when I type it out like this, but it's very different to what I was trying at the end of last year.

      1. 1

        Great question @ReubenH I was curious about the same thing.

        @yongfook, congrats again on being basically the product of the day on PH. Did you have any specific launch strategy when you went live?

        Emailing a bunch of people in your network to check it out? Etc? Was it just 100% organic & no marketing needed?

        Thanks! Keep up the great work. I really liked the intention behind Mojosaas, it was sort of an entrepreneur-ride-along.

  4. 1

    I really like your logo, brand name and website. Great job!

  5. 1

    Good luck Jon! I hope you will reach your goal.
    Also really like your logo :)

  6. 1

    Hi Jon, that is amazing.
    Would it be possible to connect and chat a bit?

  7. 1

    I also suffer from the "trying to do too many different things" syndrome. I've found a good rhythm by having one main focus and then allowing myself to occasionally work on some other small (very small) project.

    Congrats on the acquisitions! Are you able to share how much promomatic sold for?

  8. 1

    I love your transparency. Most people write only about their successes and this can be misleading: the harsh reality is that 99% of new ideas fail.

    Having said that, I want to give you my feedback: while automating social media could be tempting, from a marketing perspective I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

    To stand out, especially on Instagram, you need to tell a story and engage with your audience. You can’t do this with automated product photos taken from your website. After a while people will get bored and stop watching them.

    Anyway, good luck and keep us posted 😀

    1. 1

      I don’t think there’s a single user on IH who is in my target market, so don’t feel bad :)

      My main target is ecommerce. If you’ve ever worked at an ecommerce company you’ll know that there’s a lot of friction involved in creating different size media. For every product you upload to your catalogue, you’ll need to create appropriate assets for social media, newsletters, etc etc.

      Bannerbear completely automates all of that.

      So for small ecommerce shops with no design team it enables them to reach a scale they never could before. And for larger ecommerce companies it allows their design teams to focus on more creative tasks.

      Edit: I see you've edited your post and now you're questioning the value / quality of automated content. I think that's entirely subjective territory. But you touch on an area of friction, for sure - Bannerbear works best with excellent source material. So if you already have amazing product photos, Bannerbear can make them more engaging by overlaying customer quotes, or ratings, or your current promo code, etc. But if you don't have enticing photos to begin with, then you might not derive much value.

      1. 1

        Can attest to this, there are retailers/shops creating these assets daily. Eventually the load adds up.

      2. 1

        could tell us about your stack ?

        1. 1

          It’s plain, vanilla Ruby on Rails :)

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