Ok so I stole the title of this post from my daughter's Harry Potter box set, hope you don't mind. tl;dr: I am selling my side hustle (a Microsoft Word add-in with active users) and you could be the lucky buyer!
Several months ago I became obsessed with building Microsoft Office add-ins. Don't even ask why, I don't know. Maybe it was something I ate, but whatever it was I got the add-ins development bug hardcore.
I went searching through the existing add-ins to see what might be missing, and I discovered a gigantic hole. When I first found it I thought, "this can not be real. How can nobody have built this yet?" I found that search terms like "bible", "christian", "jesus" etc. got exactly zero results. Nada, nil, zilch. Nobody had built an add-in yet for this gigantic market.
This got me thinking. If there are more than one billion christians in the world and more than one billion MS Word users, surely the intersection of those two groups must also be enormous?
I like to do things scientifically. Richard Feynman is my homeboy. So I came up with a hypothesis that I could disprove in order to see if this was a good idea or not.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.
-- Richard Feynman
My hypothesis was this: there must be people out there already searching for Microsoft add-ins with the term "bible" and finding no results, and feeling sad because of that. I can make them happy.
So I built it. I made an MS Word add-in for searching the bible and inserting the verses into your Word document. I banged out a light front-end and a very efficient backend search API that I could run on a $5/month VPS and deployed it. I went through the arduous app store submission process. Finally the day came when my first MS add-in was listed live in the store, hooray! I sat back end played the waiting game.
Then it happened. The hypothesis was proven right. People were searching "bible", finding my add-in and installing it! The line was ticking upwards. Hooray, all was golden.
But wait a minute. What do I do now? I have no idea about growth and marketing. I have no idea about the target audience. As a non-religious person I have basically no interest at all in this space. What have I done? I have built a product that people are using, but I am completely the wrong person to bring it to its full potential.
So that's where we're at now. I've proven there's a need for this thing and people are installing and using it with zero marketing so far. Now I need to find somebody with the growth skills and persistence to take it over and carry it through to full potential.
Is it you? Are you the growth expert who can turn the snowball into an avalanche? If so it can be yours.
Stay tuned for part 2 the sale!
On this day the Add-in was approved by the testers at Microsoft, and the app went live. I had finished writing the code a few days before and had a working MVP. There was a bit of back-and-forth with Microsoft testers as they uncovered issues which I had to fix, and then finally it was live. Almost immediately I started seeing usage as people passively discovered the Add-in through Appsource search.
A few months back I was doing work for a client which led me to learn how to build Microsoft Word add-ins. While I was in the add-in store I remembered some things I'd heard on the IH podcast about looking for ways to provide value. I thought about what kind of thing might be missing from the add-in space that would bring value to a large group of people.
So I typed in a bunch of different searches. Soon I struck gold. A search with zero results, which seemed like an absolute no-brainer in terms of market size. The word I searched for was "christian", then "christ", and "bible". Nothing at all came up. Zero add-ins existed for this.
So I built this MVP: http://wordbibleaddin.com/
It's an MS Word add-in for searching the Bible. It makes it super easy to find and insert right verse into your Word document. Check out the animated gif if you want to see it in action. Simple right?
The story of how a non-religious open source developer came to build a Microsoft Word Bible search plugin is one for another time.