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.:
One of my clients was especially happy to work with me. So happy he offered me to quit freelancing and make a company together. That was an opportunity!
The new journey had begun. We stopped working with our clients, settled together in a small apartment to reduce costs, and started making our own company.
Our company was producing HTML and WordPress themes for sale. At some point, we reached $30,000 yearly revenue.
I learned how to research markets, how to sell, how to communicate with clients, how to promote stuff on the Web. It was a huge step forward on my path as an entrepreneur.
But most importantly, I learned how people create websites. This understanding tempered my vision of a website builder that this world needs.
My partner also had a vision of a website builder. Unfortunately, his idea was different from what I was thinking about. So I quit and started my own venture.
After a year of hard-working, Unicorn Platform was ready for a launch.
I re-posted it on Product Hunt. And again, the tool was warmly welcomed. The MRR jumped from $800 to $2,000.
Product Hunt is a perfect place to launch a startup. This community is full of talented designers, coders, entrepreneurs, and marketers who are eager to discover new tools. If you wish to learn about launching on Product Hunt, watch my YouTube playlist.
But the Product Hunt launch is just a first step. You need to constantly drive traffic to grow.
"Made by" links
Every free website has a branding badge with a direct link to Unicorn Platform.
The badge helps to build brand awareness and constantly brings new users. Every 3 of 100 users signs up Unicorn Platform by clicking the badge.
We have a special 2x times cheaper plan which includes the main features but still does not allow a user to remove the branding. It is a good tradeoff: pay less, but help us grow.
It took me 2 months to create the initial version.
I coded an HTML generator. The tool was able to compose pages to export as HTML. There was no online editing, no hosting.
I was absolutely sure about my vision. I knew people need this. This is why I was not worrying much when I was posting Unicorn Platform on Product Hunt.
Unicorn Platform on Product Hunt.
The crowd was amazed!
I got so much positive feedback. And the most important, some cash as absolute proof of demand.
But the MRR was about $500\. Which was not enough to pay my bills. I launched a private Lifetime Deal round and instantly raised $10,000 through the help of Nitesh’s Facebook group.
Cash boost after the LTD round.
The 50 people who bought the LTD access were promised they will get a complete website builder with an online editor and hosting in 1 year.
I’m an honest man. I knew I could not break the promises of people who believe in me.
There was huge work ahead.
By the time I had cash and the deadline I was a solid HTML coder. But to build a website builder you need more programming skills.
So back to the nerdy books
Same as previously, I needed something to push me to learn. Something to motivate me to keep grinding boring books till deep night.
I’m a human. I need fuel to go.
My fuel was the promises given to the LTD owners and my passion.
The motivation was epic.
I was waking up each morning and rushing to the co-working space. I did not need stimulators, I did not need any Pomodoro techniques and other productivity hacks.
I was a machine that was only learning and coding 14 hours per day.
Notion is everything for me.
What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
Open startup reports
We publish our main metrics such as MRR, churn, new users, and website visitors. People are curious about numbers. This type of content has good engagement and successfully attracts new users and potential partners.
I try to chase trends and benefit from them. For instance, we created a template for an NFT project.
NFT is hyping right now. Hundreds of project pop up daily. We offered users a simple and quick way to get a neat page for their collection in minutes.
To make sure we rank well on Google for the “create NFT website” keyword, we created a page and a blog post:
Currently, every 7th new user comes from these pages.
Big competitors do not have this level of flexibility as a small project does. We benefit from it.
We made a fun commercial.
We made it to send a signal to the world that we are not a boring company but a team of cool and fun folks. Everybody wants to hang out with cool folks.
I hoped the ad will go viral, but it did not 😭
We had an AppSumo campaign which I plan to tell about in detail in the next blog post.
Besides cash boost, we also surprisingly got a lot of attention. The AppSumo community is giant. There are plenty of Facebook groups that share deals with each other.
The listing brought us 2,949 new quality sessions (bounce rate: 10.6%, time on site: 4:38).
We create free side-projects with our ad placed there.
UI generator screenshot.
A side-projects is a separate tool that follows 2 rules:
Is free. A free thing is much easier to promote.
Is useful to our audience. We make sure it brings value to your potential users, not to random strangers.
We made: uigenerator.org/ - generate mockup UI to place on your website.
Startup Booster - get top-notch creatives for your company's social networks.
Making side projects has some side benefits. It forces to learn new technologies and test new tools. It also helps to avoid burning out.
Tim Ferris show, Lex Friendman