Month #2 Update : Building a B2B product live on Twitter.
Maker's search for meaning
11 months ago
First of all, last month's side project ( ChallengeBot ) completely failed. Absolutely no one was interested.
Somehow I was kinda expecting this to happen, but I built it anyway. It was a fun learning experience, and an easy first project to get started with this challenge.
The rest of this post describes my 30 day journey building & launching Squadist, while regularly tweeting about my progress on Twitter.
The original premise of the idea was simple :What if I could get my existing customers to help me achieve whatever goals I'm working on at any given time.
Goals like "Increase social proof", "Get more customers", "Get more testimonials, case studies, reviews, or feedback" can be achieved way faster, if you can mobilize a handful of your happiest customers to help you out.
I had this idea in Bali like 5 months ago. I designed the LP and started working on it, but for some reason I can't remember, I just stopped and deleted everything.
Then 3 months later, while brainstorming ideas for the maker's search for meaning challenge, I found myself describing pretty much that same idea.
Usually, I would just move on to the next idea, but after dozens of abandonned projects, I learned to give ideas that keep coming back a little more consideration, otherwise, they just keep coming back.
Turns out the idea still sounded good on paper, the business plan made sense, and the tech was simple enough, at least for an MVP. Most likely, I just lost motivation when I first started working on it months ago.
To make sure this doesn't happen again, I started a Twitter thread committing to build & launch it in 30 days, and regularly tweet about my progress.
FROM IDEA💡 TO LAUNCH🚀- A 30 Day Twitter thread.— Othmane E. (@get_eo) September 2, 2019
I'm documenting my process going from an idea to launching an MVP in 30 days.
Will be sharing stuff about : MVP Code, Customer Development, Pre-Launch & Launch.
I used Laravel's excellent framework to build the MVP, and bootstrap + a UI kit to make things pretty enough.
Initially, I had so many features planned, but by the 15th day, I had to start taking some off the list.
Fortunately, I had already implemented Single Sign On ( which allows Squadist users to let their customers sign in using their existing accounts ), as well as a the onboarding part of the app, which I think is important when launching MVPs. I'd hate to have people sign up just to bounce without using the product.
I really wanted to create a JS widget for users to integrate their portals on their websites, since that would make the process of getting existing customers engaging with the portal more straightforward, but sadly it was going to take too much time to do correctly. Instead I wrote a small doc on how to recruit customers, which I'm hoping will be enough for the early adopters.
Overall, the MVP took exactly 28 days to build completely.
Customer Discovery through cold emails
Mid-way through the code, I thought I'd do this correctly and start talking to customers.
Over a period of 4 days, I sent 90 cold emails & 30 follow ups. Here's what I sent in the first email :
My name is Othmane, I'm a Co-founder of Squadist and I promise to keep this short.
We believe Squadist can help PRODUCT_NAME grow twice as fast by turning your existing customers into an army of advocates.
We created a demo advocacy portal for PRODUCT_NAME so you can check it out. Would it be OK if I send you a link to your demo ?Just reply to this email with a Yes or a No.
Othmane from Squadist.com
My cold email campaigns always sucked, mostly because I usually just followed some random script. But this time, I had high hopes because I felt like I could deliver some value by sending prospects something to look at.
Sadly, I only had like 5 replies.
Maybe it didn't work because I asked for permission instead of directly sending the link, but at the time, I didn't have enough of the code ready to dynamically generate portals for prospects. Also, landing page was too minimal.
I thought I'd improve the landing page, write a better first email, and start again. But then I realized, it would take me the same amount of time to code the MVP as to spend a few weeks sending cold emails.
Getting feedback wherever I can.
It felt wrong completely skipping customer discovery. Although it made sense in my head to just build the MVP and see what happens, conventional wisdom has it that talking to prospects must be done first.
I reached out to a few friends for whom I thought Squadist can be valuable, as well as a few people on Twitter, and last but not least, I posted on indie hackers. To make things more fun, I promised $50 to the user with the most upvoted comment on my IH post.
In retrospect, I should have just done more of this instead of the cold emails. Not just because it's easier, but mostly because it feels authentic.
Overall, I was able to get some great feedback, while doing progress with the code and hitting all my deadlines.
Here's what the landing page looked like before the IH post.
On the benefits of sharing progress on Twitter
Sharing my progress on Twitter has been extremely helpful in keeping me motivated and confident about what I'm working on.
Usually, I tend to constantly be on the lookout for reasons why it won't work and why I should quit before I invest too much time. This time, I haven't done that once. Even now, I still feel very confident about the road ahead.
To me, that's the biggest ROI of regularly tweeting about what you're working on. But, I also got a boost in followers, and 10 waiting list subscribers.
Although that's a small number, I'm pretty sure that it would've been higher if the product I was working on was targeted specifically towards solopreneurs and indie makers.
Now that the BETA is open, anyone can sign up and get started right away.
However, I am not planning on marketing this more than necessary until I have a better idea of who exactly needs it the most. Since there are a lot of potential use cases for Squadist, I'm not sure yet which one should I focus on first.
The plan is to slowly get beta testers, talk to as many of them as possible and double down or pivot based on their feedback.
During october, I'll be starting yet another product to keep going with this challenge.