Week 4 : Sending 300+ cold emails / Failing the challenge.
Bootstrapping 1kB2B Challenge 7 months ago

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash
This is week 4 of the #1kB2B challenge,where I try to validate and ship B2B products and get to 1k MRR. Check out Week 0 if you need more context.

If you read last week's post, you know that I was pumped to start cold emailing people left and right. For some particular reason, I had this feeling that it would be easy and that we would get at least 5 signups. Boy was I wrong.

Here's what happened :

  • We sent around 200 emails. Every email was personalized and written manually. We did use a few templates just to A/B test which approach worked best.

  • Almost everyone opened the email. Some opened it like 10 times ( ??? ).

  • Most didn't respond, so we sent a follow up email to half of them.

  • At the end we ended up with around 10 responses.

  • Most weren't interested, usually saying that they have an internal tool to handle budget monitoring.

  • One person was interested, but after some back and forth, stopped answering.

What we learned

Although the amount of emails we sent is relatively small, I feel like I we did learn a bunch of stuff that I think could be valuable :

  • Cold emailing doesn't need tools : We used a gmail address, and wrote emails manually. There was no automation. We used MailTrack to track opens and clicks, and that was enough to get started fast.

  • People answer requests for feedback / advice more than sales emails.

  • It's easy to write emails that get opened. Almost all the subject lines we tested had a high open rate.

  • Outreach for sales takes time. We could've done this a bit faster with some automation, but it still takes time to wait for answers, follow up, A/B test subject lines, A/B test emails. From my modest experience, I feel like if you're completely new to this, and stuck to it for 3 months, you should have a working process for outreach with some kind of success.

Mistakes we made

In retrospect, there's also a bunch of mistakes that we made :

  • We didn't qualify our prospects : We directly started asking for feedback, or trying to sell. Instead, we should've asked a few questions to determine if the prospect has the problem we're offering to fix.

  • We weren't ready to get on calls : AdWatch costs 29/month, it felt like the price was too low to get on a call with everyone. So instead of a "let's get on a call to discuss further" as a CTA, we asked "Sign up for our free trial, no credit card required". Since we're still just validating, it might've been better to have a phone call and learn more about our prospects.

  • I built the goddamn thing before talking to prospects : I can't remember how I justified this to myself at the time, since I know how wrong it is. I guess I thought that similar tools already existed, so there was no need to validate.

Bottom line & What's next

If I'm going to do b2b, I'm going to need to commit 6 month + timeframes. It doesn't seem to me like I can whip up an MVP in a three weeks and get customers on the forth like I'm used to with previous products. It also seems like that's the case for every bootstrapped b2b software I've researched.

Unfortunately, I'm having trouble committing to products I don't relate to ( see last week's post ), and I don't see myself committing longer periods of my time unless I absolutely love what I'm working on.

So, bottom line is this challenge has basically failed, at least for now.

One of the main reasons I've started this blog / challenges is to find something I can and want to commit to, which is something I've always struggled with. So my quest for meaningful projects continues.

As for AdWatch, fortunately I'm not alone on this one. My partner will be taking over for now. Hopefully he'll be more successful in getting some traction than I was, and I can get back on it.

I'm not going to start a new challenge right away, I will write more blog posts while trying to come up with the next thing to work on.

Some good news : 1kprojects from my previous challenge has just been acquired, details here.

Thanks for reading!

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