Table of Contents
- Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
- How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
- Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
- What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
- What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
- Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
Upsum.io is a powerful AI text summarizer tool that enables users to quickly and easily consume long documents. As someone who has been working with generative AI for four years, I have witnessed the explosive progress in LLMs. While many founders have focused on developing tools to generate content for marketing and social media, there have been concerns about AI "hallucinating" and producing factually inaccurate content. Therefore, I began exploring other use cases for LLMs and came across the edition of the Microsaas newsletter, which highlighted the untapped potential of using GPT models for content analysis.
I was particularly drawn to the idea of creating a summarization tool that could help individuals read articles, watch lengthy YouTube videos, or listen to podcasts more efficiently. In professional settings, such a tool could be invaluable in boosting productivity by allowing high-paying employees to quickly and easily understand contracts, reports, and other learning materials. With this motivation, I set out to build a product iterating quickly and focusing on the customer rather than building technology for years without a real-world usecase.
I built the first functional MVP in just a week and showed it to my network to collect feedback. It required no login, anyone could try it for free, I was focusing on understanding what people use it for and finding and fixing bugs. On average, I had 5 new users trying the app every day organically. After a few iterations, the product was ready for the next stage, I started Google Ads one month after the first MVP was ready. This brought 100-150 new unique free users in every week. Two months in, I launched the paid version of the app and successfully converted 10 free users to paid subscribers within 3 weeks. Overall, in less than 3 months Upsum attracted 800+ free users and 10 paying customers propelled by Google Ads (with a small budget of 10 USD/day).
I use no-code tools and heavily rely on templates that allow me to iterate fast. The frontend is built in Webflow, the backend and database in Bubble, and the API communicates with external APIs. For login, I use Memberstack with Stripe. While these tools come with great documentation and they are easy to build with, they don't support that much customization. Still, they are the best to start with.
Besides Webflow, Bubble, Memberstack and Stripe for the product, I use Google Ads and Google Analytics, Hotjar and Google surveys for analytics and Sendgrid for email campaigns.
What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
I started my first business 4 years ago, and since then I have built 3 companies, 4 products, got VC funding, built a team of 18 people, acquired 20k+ USD enterprise customers and I went through a break-up with my previous company.
I learned too much to summarize here, but some key points are the following:
1. Quick iterations: Don't worry if the product is not ready. As soon as it delivers one value put it out to the public. Initially, you will need feedback more than money. Don't worry about a scalable product, login, payments, analytics, bugs, anything, as long as you have people trying the app.
2. Focus on the customers: You might have an initial idea of who is going to use your product for what reason. Don't be too attached to it. Build a general product that anyone can use and you might come across a segment that you never thought of. Be customer-centered: talk to them, and understand their problems.
3. PLG strategy: The best way to grow an early-stage startup is to go with a Product-Led-Growth strategy. Have a limited free plan that delivers value to the general public and drive traffic to the site. The free users will convert if they like the product and they will tell you about their usecase and needs. They are also low-touch, don't require a lot of attention like enterprise clients and they can be converted super fast.
The CEO within
Lost and founder by Rand Fishkin
No Rules Rules
The Pragmatic Engineer