Over 18 months ago, I launched ReplyBox, and we've finally reached $100 MRR. It's been a long journey, so it's time for a breakdown as to what held us back for so long.
🏃♂️ It's a marathon, not a sprint. You haven't reached the finish line once you launch a product. In reality, the race is just beginning.
I spent 6-8 weeks building the first version of ReplyBox. During that time, I spent countless hours in the evenings and on weekends to push out the MVP. I was burning the candle at both ends. But as soon as I launched, I did very little on the product, and there were months where I did nothing to push ReplyBox forward. I had burned myself out. Take breaks, stay healthy, and enjoy the process. Otherwise, you'll begin to resent the product and time you spend working on it.
🛠 Don't over-optimize too early.
Most of us have done it. We visualize our product launch, akin to opening the flood gates. Droves of customers will come rushing through the doors and throw wads of cash at us. Therefore, we have to be ready. We have to have the infrastructure in place to deal with the masses of customers, which means servers—lots of them. Don't do it! Scale when you need to scale to keep costs down.
Likewise, don't try to automate everything from the get-go. It's OK to handle repetitive, menial tasks manually. For example, we still manually email ReplyBox users about monthly overages. Eventually, we'll automate the process but not until it becomes a time sink.
💵 Freemium is hard.
The biggest mistake I made with ReplyBox was to give too much functionality away for free. But deciding what features should be premium, especially in the early days, can be difficult. By definition, an MVP is going to be light on features. Therefore, you're unlikely to have much of an incentive for users to become paying customers unless you severely restrict the free plan. In hindsight, ReplyBox should have been paid-only from day one because we didn't have enough premium-only features.
ReplyBox followed the freemium model for 16 months. We had 1.1k users, but only 2 paying customers. We dropped the free plan two months ago, and we're now at 10 paying customers. We did this without improving the product whatsoever. We may revisit the freemium model in the future, but our MRR will have to look really healthy before we go down that route again.
Thanks to everyone on IH for sharing their stories. Reading them has been a huge inspiration and helped push ReplyBox forward to become a profitable product. We have many new features in the pipeline, and we're excited to see where we can take ReplyBox.