Jaisal Rathee is the founder of Startups.fyi - A free weekly newsletter that features real life examples of profitable online businesses and side-projects
1. Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
Startups.fyi is a free weekly newsletter where I share real life examples of money-making online businesses and side-projects (and how much $$$ they make).
I've always been fascinated with discovering new startups and online businesses and the various ways you can make money online. Last year I noticed a build in public trend on Twitter where founders were sharing their revenue and other stats publicly, which inspired me to create a simple database of the best projects along with how much money they make.
I already had some experience with newsletters and had recently sold one, so I decided that a newsletter was the best way to get started. I set up a basic website on Webflow, seeded it with a few startups to kick-start the database and launched publicly on Twitter.
2. How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
Startups.fyi is a free newsletter and my subscribers don't pay for content. We're now just under 11,500 newsletter subscribers and it's taken me ~7 months to reach here.
My first 50 subscribers came organically from Twitter and word of mouth within the first day or two. I started sharing newsletter issues on Twitter which helped drive traffic.
Twitter has been one of my best performing marketing channels so far. I'm constantly engaging with people in the startup and indie hacking community, commenting on relevant posts and also shamelessly promoting my projects. Every week's newsletter issue is shared on Twitter.
Other channels include Reddit, Product Hunt and cross-promotions with other newsletters.
1. Some useful subreddits for founders are r/SideProject and r/Startups to name a few. Reddit can be a tricky platform because they're usually against self-promotion so you need to be careful when sharing your startup.
2. Cross-promotions with other newsletters can work so long as they are of a similar size and audience interests overlap. For example, if your newsletter is in the startup or tech niche, don't cross-promote with a newsletter about food recipes.
0 to 1,000 subscribers in ~30 days
1,000 to 10,000 subscribers in ~6 months.
3. Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
I've built the website using Webflow - it's a custom design and took me a few hours to set up. Webflow's probably not the easiest platform to start with but I already have extensive experience in using it so it was the right platform for me.
I use Substack for sending the newsletter and maintaining the archive almost like a blog. I started with Substack mainly because it was easy to use and free. I've experimented with other newsletter platforms in the past but keep coming back to it. The platform lacks advanced analytics, segmentation etc. which is why I'm now considering switching to a more advanced (and paid) platform.
I use Tally forms to manage the startup submissions, payments and listing queue.
4. What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
- Webflow for the website
- Substack for the newsletter
- Tally forms for managing startup submissions
5. What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
- You don't need a huge audience to build a successful newsletter. Some people on Twitter talk about building an audience before you build a product or newsletter. This is completely wrong advice.
- A newsletter helps you become a trusted expert in your niche and opens many doors. You also suddenly have access to though leaders and other experts in the field.
- Consistency is key. It takes time and effort to build a startup. Overnight successes don't exist. Just keep at it and be consistent - don't give up if you don't see instant traction. Whenever I start a new project it's very easy to give up in the early days.
- Don't listen to what others say. Shamelessly promote your startup every day. If you don't promote your startup or talk about it, then no one will care.
6. Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
- InternetIsBeautiful.substack.com (newsletter)
- How to get rich by Felix Dennis. (book)
- My first million (podcast)
- Indie bites (podcast)