I always dreamed of going to Harvard as a teenager, but they rejected me despite a high SAT score (oh well).
But today Harvard Medical School has signed up for an annual plan for Zlappo.
It's not a big deal, but they really are the biggest brand sticker I can put on my landing page... so far.
MRR has been growing steadily, thus validating my product development and marketing efforts, so things look good.
Just wanted to share a small victory with you guys, hope everyone is doing well!
What a roller-coaster ride it has been so far!
I'm not one of those cool guys who put out an MVP and then get to $1,000 MRR in a month and $200k ARR in a year. I can honestly say, in the past year that I've been trying to start side projects and get them off the ground, I've had some good days, and some bad months. Yes, it's that bad.
But today is one of those good days.
A customer came in from the ether (not sure where he came from), started using my product on a daily basis (with a use case I wouldn't have expected/foreseen), maximized his 14-day free trial, never needed customer support whatsoever, and then on the last day of his free trial upgraded to the annual plan ($89.99/yr).
What have I learned?
Just add an annual plan if you haven't. I added it just a week ago because I was building an affiliate program, and I wanted to pay my affiliates more meaningfully with fatter margins (hence the higher-ticket annual plan), but surprise surprise users opt for it even before I could set up my affiliate program. Score!
Nurture your trial users with a drip campaign. I don't have the data (haven't looked into it yet), but I suspect my 10-email drip marketing campaign for my trial users highlighting how my app can solve their problems and also how we're thoroughly differentiated from the competition led to more engagement. I even included screenshots/animated GIFs. Since I'm hacky, I wrote a cronjob to send these emails out daily instead of using an email marketing service (for now).
Focus on your active trial users. They're the ones who have made it through the entire gauntlet of discovering you, getting to your landing page, being convinced enough to sign up for an account, getting engaged and excited enough to use your product regularly. They're way more likely to convert to a paying customer than some random new traffic. Talk to them, nurture them, cater to them, study them and see how they use your product. Aside from actual paying customers, these are the users who should be your topmost priority.
Patience. MRR is a VERY lagging indicator. Users are only starting to use on a daily basis my app that I wrote almost half a year ago. Just because you aren't getting traction right away doesn't mean your product is doomed. Keep grinding, and magic tends to happen if you keep putting in the work. A corollary to that is that just because your product has initial traction doesn't mean it's destined to take off, so never let complacency set in either. Bottom line: if you take care of the input, the output tends to take care of itself.
Hope this post has been helpful!
It wasn't easy. I'm not cool like most people here. I'm a huge laggard, but I'm glad to finally join the club.
I started coding my first product around November last year. I took 6 months just to build and release it. Big mistake. And then I quit my job cold turkey to go at it full time. Another big mistake. And then 3 painful months followed when I tried to sell it to my target market relentlessly, I did everything I could and tried everything possible, but I just couldn't close a single damn sale. I guess I'm really not built for B2B, not to mention the pressures of not having any income really got to me as I became more desperate the more savings I burned for what hitherto still was a $0 side project.
I abandoned the product and looked for another job again. The product is still online by the way (https://www.OKDentalPlans.com). Then I went into search mode again to look for my next idea. Decided to scratch my own itch (I'm practically addicted to Twitter), this time I launched my MVP in under a month (https://Zlappo.com). It's basically Buffer on steroids, but Twitter-specific. Started getting users right away, iterated on feedback, and a little under 3 months later, on Friday the 13th no less, I got my first paying customer.
Literally screamed my lungs out when I saw the Stripe transaction email where it said "Congratulations, ..."
It has been a long journey. More than a year from my first idea to my first dollar. Holy Christ. Honestly it was super-demoralizing whenever I read milestone posts on Indie Hackers where people were making thousands in MRR while I struggled so bloody hard to close one goddamned sale. It really tested my resolve, and I was so close to tossing in the towel at several junctures.
Fortunately I kept in mind something my friend told me:
"Don't give up. If you're tired, learn to rest. Then try again."
That's what I did. I took breaks. I went out of town. I turned off my laptop for one whole week. And then I tried again.
I feel like all my hard work and more importantly my idea has been validated. It's really harder than it looks; I had to do everything myself, being a solo founder and all. Worst of all, I have no support system, as I keep my endeavors secret (so that I don't embarrass myself should I fail).
Today has been a good day. I'll keep working on my product and really get it off the ground. Just wanted to share my happiness with you guys and also say THANK YOU for being here for me.
Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Your Evergreen List is a list of your best tweets/"greatest hits" that you intend to reshare with your audience from time to time. Whenever you have an empty time slot in your posting schedule, we'll automatically retweet a tweet from your Evergreen List, randomly, keeping your queue full and audience engaged.
Schedule a quoted tweet
After letting users schedule Twitter threads (our users love this), we're now letting users quote a tweet and schedule it for later. We launched an in-built feed feature where you can see tweets from people you follow and respond to them/provide your insight, which is more and more an increasingly common use case. Buffer can't do this yet.
Honorable mention: PWA is now released! Add the Zlappo icon to your Home screen for easy access whenever you have inspiration and want to schedule a quick tweet.
Once we've fine-tuned these new and existing features further, we'll start ramping up our marketing. Right now, we're in open beta, and I invite you to try our app out, especially if you already use Twitter a lot and want to build and engage your audience with what I believe is the best Twitter-specific productivity tool by far. ;)
You know what Buffer can't do?
Schedule long-form tweets. It's becoming increasingly popular to tweet long prose to build and engage your audience. Why not schedule it and make it seem real-time?
Long-form tweets are more authentic and shareable.
Our latest threading feature allows you to schedule Twitter threads like a true pro.
After my last MVP failed to gain traction, I decided to work on what I know, to scratch my own itch. I already use Twitter obsessively, so I thought I'd create a Twitter marketing automation tool.
For the MVP, I'm just creating a simple scheduling feature, along with some other ideas that I hope to validate with my initial group of early adopters. Ultimately Zlappo will be a robust social media management tool that helps brands get the maximum out of their social media presence.
I built this while holding on a regular day job waiting tables at a French restaurant, mostly investing about 30-40 hours a week of coding on top of my day job. It was grueling, but I guess I made it work. I'd say it took a little less than a month from the idea to deployment/launch. I learned my lesson after spending close to 6 months on my last MVP. Launch fast, learn fast, fail fast (if it comes to that). Time is of the essence.
My stack is Python/Django, Django Celery, PostgresQL, mostly just HTML5/JQuery/Bootstrap on the front-end, and running on Ubuntu, served by nginx and Gunicorn.
I'd like to know what you think.
I'm a passionate Twitter user. I believe I know what it takes to market to an audience on Twitter. I'm building a tool to help crystallize all those strategy and tactics into an automated workflow.