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52
Stickied postModerator of r/startups

Tell us about your startup!

/r/startups wants to hear what you're working on! Contest mode is on, so remember to select 'Show All' to see all the replies. If you don't see your post, you probably need to load more comments at the bottom. Also, all posts are sorted randomly, so the sort function doesn't seem to work.

2
Stickied postModerator of r/startups

Create something? Let's see it!

Feedback or Support Requester

Please use the following format:

URL:

Purpose of Startup:

Technologies Used:

Feedback or Support Requested:

Comments:

Post your site along with your stack and technologies used and receive feedback from the community. Please refrain from just posting a link and instead give us a bit of a background about your creation.

Feel free to request general feedback or specific feedback in a certain area like user experience, usability, design, or code review.

Feel free to request support with hiring talent, finding a job/clients, recruiting a co-founder, getting your pitch deck made, or anything objective based that is specific to your startup.

You can also receive advice and feedback in instant chat using the /r/startups discord.

Feedback Providers

  • Please post constructive feedback. Simply saying, "That's good" or "That's bad" is useless feedback. Explain why.

  • Consider providing concrete feedback about the problem rather than the solution. Saying, "get rid of red buttons" doesn't explain the problem. Saying "your site's success message being red makes me think it's an error" provides the problem. From there, suggest solutions.

  • Be specific. Vague feedback rarely helps.

  • Again, focus on why.

  • Always be respectful

  • /r/startups would appreciate your expertise on our discord.

Support Providers

  • Please post some background information about yourself and why you're capable of providing support

  • Feel free to share a relevant URL

  • Be extremely clear what you are offering your support in exchange for: money, equity, barter/trade of services/products, or a mix of those--or if you are volunteering your support for free

78

6 months ago I started a new startup project. 6 months ago I also started a new job as a software developer.

My app is *almost* done. It's really about polishing it now.. but I'm curious for other technical founders. How much coding do you do after you get home from work?

During the week I'm *happy* if I even do 1 hour of coding after work each day. I'm just too tired usually. During the weekend though is when I'm most productive. I probably do about 5 hours on Saturday and Sunday.

So overall I do about 13-15 hours a week.

It's fascinating to me though, as even though I work 40 hours at my job, I think I'm more productive with the 13-15 hours I do on my startup. When you don't have *that* much time you really work *smarter* and not harder... at least I do anyway.

How is it for you guys?

11

Hi all. A little background. I have 3 successful businesses with 15 years of industry experience, with my current bottom line being continued expansion. However, developments in my industry require large amounts of capital expenditures to finance (in the millions). Thankfully, because of my credit history/strong financials/available collateral, I have qualified for and acquired SBA construction loans for all my past projects.

Recently, in pursuit of my desire for rapid expansion and having a “team,” I have begun preliminary talks of partnership with my long-time CRE broker and friend. It will be my first partnership. He did the loan on my first project about 6 years ago. He is very much so interested, but I have some reservations about his proposal:

We both contribute half of the down-payment of the loan for a 50/50 equity stake in the corporation. Additionally, because I have the experience, I will head operations with my son. He has expressed to me his intention to remain a silent partner, essentially leaving the management burden upon us. For this, he has offered a salary per location, but no increase in equity. My personal sentiment is that I feel that I am entitled to more equity because I am assuming all the financing risk, operating the business, and frankly, putting in all the effort. As he is a younger guy, he does not have the credit history to acquire a loan of this magnitude or the financials for an all-cash development. Which, ultimately, gives me all the leverage in the situation. So...he’s lowballing me, right? It just doesn’t seem fair. If qualms are justified, what would be a counteroffer that you feel would not be of insult to him?

I have bounced the dilemma off my peers, but wanted to seek other professional input from others. Additionally, as it will be my first partnership, any input on specific language or clauses in an operating/shareholder agreement would also be appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

3

Hello,

I am a developer. I would like to know how I can learn how to do the measure section of the lean startup method. Are there any simple guides that can get the ball rolling. I have a product and would like to know how the features I add directly effect my product. Did this feature improve retention? Did this feature improve engagement? What happens if I remove this feature? I would be happy with a simple guide that I learn the principles of and then I can move to more complicated things.

I have been reading lean analytics but I would prefer something more (short) to the point and actionable for right now.

74
Comments are locked

Say I live in Texas, and I have an awesome team and product for an online marketplace for marijuana, but marijuana is illegal in my state. Can I start the company, launch the service, and have distribution centers where it is legal, shipping to clients who buy in countries & states where it is legal? Or will i get Dread Pirate Robert'ed ?

Technically I wouldn't hold any inventory in Texas, and probably would incorporate in another state/country, but can I still live in Texas or do I have to move to a place where it is legal in order to just RUN the business? I technically wouldn't have any Marijuana product AT ALL on me, it would just be stored in the distribution centers. I would just be providing the marketplace for it to occur.

8

Hi all. I would appreciate some opinions on a funding dilemma I'm facing.

I'm currently evaluating a deal for additional capital for my product business. The options on the table are a royalty agreement and straight equity trade.

I'm wondering if having a hefty royalty agreement (5% on gross sales with a clause that takes priority in a liquidation event), means making the business less attractive for new investments/buyout, and harder to borrow money later on? I imagine I would have to have really strong sales and profit margin for an investor or bank to overlook the royalty expense for any engagements.

2

Having worked the startup realm - it is very common to use numerous online service (SaaS) that ultimately help with processes and such. Ultimately, every bill you pay will have some sort of online invoicing process. Once you're fairly set up, you have billings coming from a good dozen or so companies.

The startup I'm with has about 30-40 different services we pay for and it's a mess collecting invoices at the end of the month. Some companies are great and email the invoice, but my biggest pet peeve is getting a company that sends an email that simply states "Your monthly invoice is ready. Please login to retrieve it".

To make the accountants life easier - please email the PDFs! Please also don't summarize the amount and have a more detailed invoice available on the website. Us accountants need all the line items, including taxes.

80
Crossposted by1 day ago

Good day everyone! I'm CEO and Co-Founder of Hostfully, an early stage SaaS startup in the vacation rental space. We are based in SF and raised $500K Pre-Seed.

We were recently featured on this episode of The Pitch (http://www.gimletmedia.com/the-pitch/hostfully-when-two-startups-love-each-other-very-much-36#episode-player) where 4/4 investors were interested.

I am also 38 weeks pregnant with my 3rd kiddo.

Ask me anything about early stage startups, growing a team, and fundraising. Happy to help.

I will be on live from 9am - 12pm PT.

UPDATE: Ok, I'm signing off of the AMA now (4pm PT) - feel free to reach out with additional questions!

56 points
29

Hey everyone!

My last post about my PR pitching process had a lot of really awesome comments so I thought I would do a follow up to let you know the three elements that made my client’s ICO promo so successful.

  1. Killer PR
  2. Bounty Program and Community Management
  3. Paid Advertising and Sponsored Content

To kick things off, I want to be clear, although we did generate a ton investment in a short time, it was all the result of months of hard work from many dedicated individuals to develop a company that was worthy of investing in. If you’re new to ICOs, basically, they are like IPOs - a new company looking for investors to believe in them. The goal is to get in front of audiences that are likely to support the ICO through investments.

Let’s get started!

_______________________________________________________

1) Killer PR

It all starts with developing a killer PR strategy. In my experience, there is no magic involved here. Lots of testing went into coming up with our strategy, plenty of grunt work, and a little bit of luck.

At the beginning, we quickly noticed that our pitch wasn’t getting any traction because it was heavily focused on the client’s platform.

Moving away from “selling” the ICO and the platform, and toward creating a narrative around users and their experience got the attention of journalists.

The first line sets the tone. So make sure it grabs their attention and let’s them know you reached out to them specifically or this story.

For example:

Hey [Name],

Big fan of your work, especially where it comes to empowering women financially! So I thought you’d be interested in hearing about...

Do you want to connect with [Name] to hear more about her research for a future story?

Best regards,

Lama

With each round of outreach, our pitch got shorter and more personal - targeted individually to the journalists interest and experience.

Journalists are looking for awesome stories to share with their readers. They are not in it to help you make money, so it is very important that your pitch NOT be entirely centered around your ICO ---> There are 1000s of ICOs, so no one is going to care about the next one.

My advice for a great pitch is…

**Get personal*\*

Understand who you are pitching and the topics they cover. Make it clear that what you are pitching ties into their interests.

For example:

I’ve been a long time reader and I’ve noticed you’ve been covering [insert topic] a lot recently.

**Keep it short*\*

Get to the point as quickly as you can. Journalists get hundreds of pitches every day, so the faster you can tell them what’s in it for them, the better. Give them enough information to wet their whistle.

For example:

Hey, [Name],

I’m working on an article entitled [Headline]. Would you accept it as a guest post?

Here are examples of articles I’ve recently had published: [insert links].

**Be authentic*\*

Don’t try to sell them on anything. Instead, offer them genuinely valuable information or data. Put

yourself in an editor’s shoes, not that of a publicist. A journalist is not interested in your company.

They are interested in a newsworthy story.

For example:

We’ve recently conducted an experiment testing [insert topic] that would really resonate with your readers. We found...

Are you interested in connecting to hear more?

Keeping those golden tips in mind really helped us get closer to the perfect pitch. Our biggest hit was when we caught the attention of a journalist at Venture Beat who ended up writing an article about my client. It all just snowballed from there!

In terms of the guest posting, it is imperative that you have an incredibly talented writer on your team to be able to tell your story really well without getting self-promotional. Luckily, this client had a team of writers ready to church out content regularly. That made my job of getting their articles published a cinch.

______________________________________________________________

2) Bounty Program and Community Management

It’s no surprise to any of you that ICOs are a really competitive world, especially now. One way to get a leg up is through a bounty program.

This means that a blockchain startup incentivizes their token by having users complete specific tasks - often as simple as spreading the word about the ICO through social media.

Here was the process of my client’s bounty program and community management:

Step 1: My client set aside a small portion of their tokens

Step 2: Through smart contracts they used the tokens as rewards for users

Step 3: The rewards are paid out in tokens that can be invested in the new cryptocurrency

Step 4: Eventually the tokens are turned into fiat currency once the ICO is over

I could go on and on about different types of bounty program tasks, but here I want to briefly explain a few of the tasks my client involved in their bounty program:

Signature campaign and avatar campaign

  • This involved posting a signature or avatar on select forums based on a code that was provided.

Blog posts campaign

  • Here, if you have a blog or Youtube channel, you earned big time by promoting the ICO.

Social media campaign

  • This one is really straight forward. My client asked users to promote them on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

The rewards for these tasks are often relative to the users ranking or number of followers.

In general, ICO bounty programs are a great way to use your new platform to maximize your marketing efforts. They’re awesome because they’re a relatively inexpensive way to move your ICO forward, build investor and user loyalty and increase hype in the crypto community.

My client reserved 40% of the total supply of their coin to incentivize developers/publishers on their platform by allowing them to sell these tokens to their community and keep up to 100% of the proceeds.

Without writing an essay on proper community management, I will say that it is super important for a successful ICO to have a consistent team brand as well as to host online discussions and answer any questions posed about their coin or project. My client had their own forum and was actively present on social media, Slack and Telegram.

In the end, we knew our PR efforts were working through the bounty program and the efforts of the active community managers because they were able to raise over 115% of their preICO goal.

__________________________________________________________________________

3) Paid Advertising and Sponsored Content

This is my least favorite way to do PR. There’s nothing organic or revolutionary about it. However, if your ICO is coming up and you are in a time crunch, sometimes throwing money into advertising or sponsored content is the way to go.

PR is most effective when there is a sustained strategy that is repeated as a part of your overall marketing effort. It is not a one-off because you’re looking to get as many investors as possible. However, if that’s the short term goal, sometimes you need to spend money to make money - and this is an exact case that paid in dividends based on the sponsored posts that were purchased by the client.

That being said - whenever you pay for a sponsored post you need to make an educated choice. Think about the publication and its reach - Is the post worth the cost?

With each sponsored post we paid for, we made sure to note the domain authority, traffic, and reader niche. We created profiles of the typical reader of each publication and we used this information to craft content that would resonate most with them.

BEWARE: As a warning to present and future ICOs, and with the current bans of ICO-related ads on Facebook, Twitter and the like, it is now more important than ever to stay on the SEC’s good side.

___________________________________________________________________________

The Results!

The client spent $1440 for 2 months of outreach, plus the additional costs of sponsored posts and banner advertising ---> And raised over $18M in their ICO.

You may be thinking, “this is BS!” or “huge PR scam!”.

But, I pinky-swear you, it’s not! The amount they paid is the cost of outreach. Sponsored posts were out of the client’s pocket. They had a really awesome team that was on top of everything, from crafting excellent content, to staying abreast of questions/issues that came from their community. But I had their backs on their PR efforts and it totally paid off!

In two months, 539 pitches were sent. Out of those, 265 were opened, 54 received replies. And there were 34 successful placements - from guest posts, to article mentions, to sponsored content.

All of this PR work is easily repeatable. Like I said, no magic here, no bells and whistles. Just hard word and a lot of testing to get it right. Luckily, I’m a patient girl :)

$18 million seems like a pretty sweet ROI for 2 months of outreach, don’t you think?

Let me know if you have any questions. Happy to elaborate on my process!

Thanks for reading!

-Lama

0

Hey guys, so people have been talking about how the economy is bad and been saying they are poor because of the government, because of the capitalists, etc.

Whichever situation the country has been in, I always saw successful good businesses. I see movie producers still making money, new restaurants rapidly growing, apps making money.

I think with technology and with the power of startups, partnering up internationally instead of just looking for investors locally, I think there's still lots of market in Myanmar.

Right now, I see potential in restaurant industry, liquor industry and most of all the software industry. I've seen some very good solutions using technology for the problems of certain businesses that took years for them to do it, and the software solved their problems in a matter of few months

I'm pretty confident about it when it comes to art, design, UI, UX, psychology and colors. I've been working with developers across the world and local developers too. Been developing some apps together which, one of them will be ready in a week (so excited!). And have also been talking with some locals about setting up a company to build a restaurant. Now also working as an advisor for an gentleman who owns two alcohol factories.

I'd love to team up, build startups and then target the local market or the international market as it fits.

What can I do through startups internationally and partner up so that I can finally get out of the rat race?

Thank you so much.

2

The team is made of tech people building software. We are not expected to launch for another few months, and so we will not be doing any transaction with anyone in the state while we code.

It seems the term used in corp code is "transact intrastate business" which is defined as "entering into repeated and successive transactions of its business in this state, other than interstate or foreign commerce".

The company has no offices, no employees.

Do we have to register in CA or can we wait until launch? (or some other milestone? what would be the trigger?)

comment
5

Hi all! I'm working on validating some product concepts, and taking the following steps:

  1. Initial survey with friends and family to tighten up the concepts - DONE
  2. Broader survey with SurveyMonkey Audience panel (about 50-100 people)
  3. Landing page test using Unbounce and Google Ads to drive traffic (aiming for ~100 clicks per concept)

My questions are:

  • Is it okay to not be aiming for statistical significance for both my survey and landing page test?
  • Does this process make sense? Should I be considering other ways of doing this?

Thanks in advance! 😊

1

The company was just incorporated and doesn't have a bank account yet (and may not need one for a while - devs are just cranking code), so nowhere to deposit a check.

Should the transaction be a check or can it be cash?

If it's a check, can it be held by the founder (who is acting as President & Treasurer) until such time that a bank account gets opened (and the check deposited), or is this going to be an issue later to "prove that the transaction happened on the right date"?

Of course, the company (C Corp in DE) could simply open a bank account, which isn't that difficult, but in order to do that, it should first be registered in CA (because banks require it), which is a whole other set of paperwork + ~$500, + the privilege of paying $800 an extra year. So it's all doable but at this stage it may make more sense to work on the product than paperwork...

Thanks in advance.

0

Hackathons are a very popular thing recently. However, I would argue that Mentors bring some of the most value, but often don't receive much in exchange.

1) The organisers benefit from crowdsourcing a solution, which improves an experience, saves money or makes money. Sometimes make money from grants, which are meant to boost innovations. Also, it's marketing for them. Not even mentioning potential investors.

2) The participants often have a chance to win something.

3) Mentors share their training, work experience and processes, often making the great projects possible. Normally, they would probably be selling those. However, they are expected to do this for free, but they do significant work for all the others to benefit.

Curious what your thoughts are on this.


I've been asked to mentor a Hackathon upcoming weekend in a city 3h away. It seems they expect me to do it for free. However, the winning teams will get monetary prizes. The institution who organises it will obviously benefit from the solutions.

My issue here is that I am a trained Product Designer and part of my job is to come up with new products and services. It feels strange giving my time and experience away for free, while one of the teams might get the prize with a lot of my input.

Is my thinking correct or am I missing something in here? Should I ask for money for being a mentor?

28

I had this idea for an app a year ago, and hacked a quick version during the Techcrunch hackathon. It seemed well received. Didn't touch it for a while after.

Three months ago, I met someone at an event and they liked my idea and we began designing and coding it together. I found a content developer two weeks ago, and we all meet once a week and spend 5-6 hours each session adding features and content. Progress is slow, but steady. The content developer and I have well paying full-time jobs and the designer/developer is still in school, so we're okay with this pace. Our plan was to have something fully functional developed by the end of the summer, and then begin to market and add more content. I have friends who are good at those aspects, so i am confident it will work reasonably well.

Today, I see that Snap has announced an incubator for media startups, and our idea seems exactly what they are looking for. So we plan to give it our best shot. They are going to take only ten startups, so I doubt we'll make it, but one can hope.

Now assuming I get accepted, what's my out?

One of the main reasons I wasn't planning on getting any investors was because I have ADHD and I'm easily stressed and I don't do well under time constraints. I wanted to do this at my own pace and having investors would mess that up, it seemed to me. I wanted to run it as a side hustle and scale up very slowly so that I get the hang of it. The idea was to have a small business, not a growth oriented company.

So what happens when you go through an incubator? Can I refuse any funding opportunities that come my way if I'm not happy? I don't need that much money to begin. The incubator cash will do wonderfully for a year at least. Will that make the incubator mad? Will they have their claws in me even after the incubator period has ended? How much control will they have, if so? Can they take my idea and replace me if I'm not delivering fast enough?

I am not very familiar with startup funding, so I'm curious how all this works.

280
Posted byfounder & investor3 days ago

[Edit] Below is a story posted on Medium by a friend of mine, /u/mottlemike which I wanted to share with you here[/edit]

Startups are Financial Suicide

In 2009 when I left Google, I had over $100,000 in my bank account. I don’t say that to boast. I worked hard to save that money, and did so because I wanted to create a startup.

Nine years later, my bank balance contains a fraction of that. I also don’t expect to ever see a return from my startup.* It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve gone backwards. (No need to feel sorry for me — I’ll be fine! This article is actually about you.)

Today having a startup is all the rage. They’re basically fashion accessories. On one hand, that’s great! The world needs more innovation. There’s also a massive amount to learn when you run things yourself. But please, be smart. Don’t be like me.

The problem was my mentality. I felt certain, one way or another, the startup would succeed. That made me feel really safe! In fact I would often drift off to sleep enjoying that beautiful (but irrational) thought. Consequently I didn’t take my immediate money situation seriously. It was temporary! Saving didn’t matter. 401K / superannuation didn’t matter. All I needed to focus on was “maximising shareholder value” and the rest would follow.

Over the next few months I want to publish more of what I’ve learned in the last 9 years. But, before I do, I wanted to make one thing clear: startups are extremely dangerous!

That should have been obvious to me, right? For some reason it wasn’t. I thought the rules didn’t apply.

Don’t get fooled thinking raising lots of money will save you, or having lots of customers will save you. We raised over $25m and sold millions of dollars of product to real customers. Over 90% of startups die. Statistically speaking, yours will too.

Things I wished I did:

improve the financial fundamentals of our business sooner,

raise less money,

live even more frugally, saving at least 20% — ideally 40%,

cut up my credit card (even though I always paid it in full),

obtain a second or a third source of income — driving for Uber on Saturday night doesn’t sound so crazy now, and

take my 401K / superannuation seriously.

A great book — particularly if you live in Australia — is The Barefoot Investor. You might think that advice only applies to people with real jobs. That’s what I thought! Turns out, I did have a “real” job — just a low paying one.

By all means, start a company. It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do — even if you fail. But if you’re a founder (or an early employee) please don’t rely on your shares to make you rich. That’s quite improbable. Instead, focus on getting rich today, slowly. One dollar at a time.

If you’d like to read more of my articles, please subscribe.

(* To be clear, my startup is still very much alive and, apparently, well. I left the company over a year ago. Although I might get a return in the future, I have no way of knowing what the probability of that might be. I’ve now made peace with the fact it might be zero.)

Link: https://medium.com/@mikeknapp/startups-are-financial-suicide-e36143e4c3ca

8

We are evaluating some fresh ideas that we have been working through over the past few months - one of the most intriguing ideas for us has been AI/Bots in the local government space. As a web dev agency, we have spoken/worked with city government entities who are interested in the idea of AI/bots in their workspace, especially with interacting with the general public - from an education standpoint and from a processing standpoint.

Most of the requests have been positioned in a way that could be manipulated into a potential SaaS opportunity and creating a "middle" to make that bot development more intuitive and "smarter" for city government management. All of that said - Is this local government a place where a bootstrapped startup can play in? With B2C/B2B software, you can sort of find those few initial winners and slowly build up, but it's usually at a lower price point and with less "red tape" at the start. Just curious if anyone has had experience in this area and what they have noticed from the initial goings.

11

TL;DR I wish more people documented the gritty truth of start-up life. So I decided to.

There is one thing that I wish more start-ups did: I wish they had kept a regular step by step process document and logged their experiences throughout the company’s growth directly from its initial conception. There is so much we can learn from the successes and failures of other companies, and it would have been fascinating to read how other start-ups secured their first customers, dealt with uncertainties, and when they made their big break (if ever).

Therefore, I’ve decided I would write a weekly journal about my experiences of running a start-up to date (currently in Beta, a strong number of clients, upward week on week growth) and then document my future thoughts/feelings of start-up life. I’m just a regular guy, running a small team, at a regular start-up (definitely not Richard Branson or Elon Musk), but I want to help people who are looking to take the plunge, or have already taken the plunge, into entrepreneurial life and remove the bullshit glamour that seems to precede people's need to found their own company.

To kick things off I will take you back to the very start of the decision to run a business and provide some tips (from experience) on how to nurture an idea, set the groundwork, push through early funding hurdles, and deal with the endless disappointments.

Why did I decide to start a business?

Simply put, the 9-5 lifestyle sucks. I wanted to be in control of a day to day that had unlimited upwards potential...and a load of risk.

Getting a ‘normal’ job just didn’t cut it for me. I had my heart set on becoming a lawyer at university and completed numerous internships and interviews before realising that life was way too short to work for someone else. I refused to work on things I didn’t particularly enjoy, for people I don’t particularly like, in order to buy things I don’t particularly need. It seemed like a boring and too predictable way to live the rest of my life.

So, following my graduation from university, I decided to take the path less travelled and co-found a business. I knew this route would give me the freedom to live my life without regret. Each day I now have the opportunity to wake up and work on what I love. There are no Monday morning blues and there is no ‘working for the weekend’ mind-set because each day is a holiday when you are working on your passion. It all sounds cliche and isn't always this rosy, but at least I'm not slaving away for someone else and I believe in our mission and process.

If you are undecided about whether or not to start a business here are my top 3 things you should consider when making that decision. You need to really prepare, think, ask very tough questions about how many years you have set aside to make it work. Too many people think 6 months will cut it - when 3 years will offer a much more realistic runway:

Passion: if you aren’t happy or fulfilled at your current job then there is little reason to stay. Not even money. Everyone should work on their passions, and if you aren’t doing so today hand in your resignation.

Opportunity: if you see a market gap or a particular opportunity then it is worth investing some time and energy into solving it. This is key. Find the market. Speak to people. Build on a clear problem.

Learning: if you feel your current situation isn’t pushing you to be the best version of yourself and you aren’t learning, then there is no better way to remedy this than to start a business. Everyday brings new challenges and new obstacles to overcome. It is a steep learning curve but it is incredibly rewarding at the same time.

Creating a business idea

This is something that a lot of people struggle with, but "creating an idea" shouldn't necessarily be the goal. I’ve just coined this (very loosely) to be the 3 Ps of starting a business:

The first thing I considered when creating my business was what I am truly passionate about. And, if you are uncertain what to do, this should be your starting point too. Forget about the money and think about what you would do if money were no object. For example, before starting Impulse, I regularly bought and sold football/soccer boots and sports memorabilia online at a 500% ROI to help pay for university. This ignited a passion in small businesses and online commerce – I wanted to find a way to help businesses grow and help them gain exposure to new customers in a collaborative way. The small business world is tough, whether it's dealing with Facebook algorithms, early orders, growth hacking, retaining customers and users - I wanted to help level the playing field. 

When I knew what my passion was, I knuckled down and focused on what problems existed within that area. If you are interested in space, maybe the issue is with the cost of space travel. If you are interested in cycling, maybe bikes could be designed to be more aerodynamic. And so on. With Impulse it was clear there are a lot of independent companies and products from across the world that aren’t getting the exposure they deserve. In fact, most of these companies are creating products that are cooler and of a higher-quality than that produced by their multi-million dollar competitors. We knew I had to find a way to help them get their shit discovered. Cheaper, more efficient, and personal solutions to help them fulfil KPI's.

Finally, think about pay. How exactly am I going to make money from the problem I am passionate about? Obviously some businesses are easier than others, but I really cannot think of much that cannot be monetised. Even if you have your heart set on travelling for the rest of your life, if that is what you really want it is possible to make money from that way of living. Ultimately cash is king and you want to ensure there are enough revenue streams to keep your future company profitable. With Impulse our initial priority was to help smaller businesses reach wider exposure and build a platform to let people interact with these stores and products. However, this route meant a lighter focus on cash flow and a greater focus on long term business development. Of course we do have potential revenue streams in place as we grow (and we're slowly curating and expanding these.) The point being, ensure you know the importance of cash to your start-up, how quickly you need it, and how long you're runway will be.

Finally

I want to help as many people as possible by learning from my own success and failures to date and the trials and triumphs I shall have in the future. We're 3 years into our Start-up lifecycle (with 18 months runway left) and have been through an un-holy number of ups and downs:

  • Concept Design

  • Market Traction

  • Rejected $100,000 Seed Funding

  • Business Loans

  • Crowdfunding Failure

  • Building the Platform (This was tough!)

  • Preparing for Launch

  • GrowthHacking Pains

Why did you decide to start a business? How did you come up with your business ideas?

If you have any questions, let me know and I’d be happy to help.

11

So I sell a notebook like product on many e-commerce platforms and some mom and pop shops and have a rather large catalog, we also manufacture them ourselves ($80,000/month on ecommerce). I was in a college bookstore the other day and they had similar products and I know we could offer more value. What would be the best way to go about getting my products into bigger stores like Barns and Noble or college bookstores? Are there any publishers or distributors who will consider journal, notebook or kit like products?

2

Hey everyone, as I did last week, I want to share another article we wrote related to mobile development. I thought some of you might be interested in learning more about the Mobile development business and the process that comes with it. Hopefully this brings value to some of you!


The importance of your first users

 

Last week we wrote about building a first version of a mobile product in Building a true mobile MVP. However, building the product is actually half the battle (I’d say even less than that, but “half the battle” sounds too good to pass up). Marketing your application, working on having a decent growth, getting your first users and keeping them engaged are a different story. A lot of successful entrepreneurs say that ideas are worthless, and that execution is key. You can have the best product in the world, but it won’t be successful if you have no users.


 

Pivot pivot pivot

Unless your product is out there, you will never know how users will or would use your product, which is why you need to move quickly and get that first version out in the stores. Focus on the core problem you are trying to solve and ship it! Your first users should define, or at least help you define, the direction in which your product is going. Do you know Justin.tv? Maybe. Do you know Twitch.tv? Probably. Did you know that Twitch came to life because the founders of Justin.tv noticed that a lot (if not the majority)of their users were using the platform to stream themselves playing video games? They decided to focus on that segment of users, and Twitch.tv was born. The faster you launch your product, the faster you will be able to get that kind of insights and make the required changes to (hopefully)get that hockey stick growth.

 

Version Updates

Being in close contact with your users also allows you to easily plan out your updates! When you buy a gift for a friend or a family member, is that gift based on the person’s interests or yours? Most of the time, it’s based on theirs. The same concept applies in product development. Why would you spend time (and money) building a new feature when you’re not even sure that is what your users truly want? What if there was a way of knowing what your users would like to see next? Well there is, you just have to interact with them.

 

Marketing

It is imperative that you pamper those early adopters and closely listen to what they have to say. If you do, those same people will become promoters for your app, and this is the best possible marketing you can get: word of mouth from happy customers. There is not a better way (or cheaper way!) of getting new app installs than having people who love your product AND your team to refer it to their friends.


 

At the end of the day, creating a product is about offering something of value to the customers. There are great tools available to learn more about your users’ behaviour, such as analytics, when you’ve reached a point where you cannot keep up with every single one of your users. In the beginning, you need to Do Things that Don’t Scale. But in the early stages, keeping it simple and interacting with your users can provide priceless information, which could be the main factor between a successful or unsuccessful business venture. And it’s free!

 

Link to Article on Medium: Article

0

I have been thinking about adding a service to help outdoor and travel bloggers monitize. Currently we have a peer to peer equipment rental platform. I like the idea, but the original goal was to help people get out and enjoy the outdoors, not give rental companies a place to advertise. And that’s what it’s becoming.

So what do you all think about this.

We create a token. When a blogger submits a post we use, they are given X amount of tokens. The tokens could then be traded with other users for equipment. People could then “tip” the bloggers if they found their info useful.

I would mostly be interested in your thoughts on how to do the token part of the idea.

Thank you all!

54

Hi all!

In the beginning of the year I took the leap and hired my first full-time developer. My plan was to find someone who could take over the responsibility for a significant portion of my software project. Running my little start-up has become very time consuming and nowadays I have only limited time to do any development myself. Also the scale of this project has become quite large and its getting quite difficult for me as a single person to work on everything at once. This is why I thought I desperately need to hire someone, and I hired someone who I thought would be right for the job.

Now fast-forward to today, almost half a year later. The guy is still working with me and has helped in many different areas of the project. He has done some good work on the more algorithmic part of the project, but he hasn't done so good on the parts that mostly depend on programming (and these are the parts that require most work). Overall I find that he is very slow. Also he asks for my help on every task and he frequently gets completely stuck and then I need to fix his code. He is distracting me quite a lot from doing my own work and when I don't help him he's unable to finish his. Also for all code that he writes I often need to do many corrections or ask him to do them.

His probational period is now coming to an end and I am thinking of firing him before it ends.

Perhaps I am overreacting. I don't think he's all that terrible. I have seen many developers worse than him in my industry career. I believe that I am a very fast programmer myself and thus I have high standards. Perhaps I am a little more productive with his help, but not enough to justify paying him a full-time salary. I need a developer who can work independently and who I can rely on. Otherwise this won't help much to reduce my own work load. So I think it's best for me to let him go and try finding someone more qualified, or keep working alone if I can't find anyone excellent. Any thoughts?

1

We are building a real estate app. It is doing fairly well. 3.75 months after launching, we have ~12k MAU.

Out of all the distribution channels, I identified PR as the most promising if we can crack it. We did manage to crack it and got featured on 2 major news stations. Our userbase doubled on the day we got featured. See our Google Analytics for last 30 days.

The problem with PR is that it is very unpredictable. There are tricks to getting featured regularly in major news station, but it doesn't feel sustainable. You get a spike and it dips after a few days. I want something that feels more sustainable. Perhaps PR is sustainable, and it's just too early for us to how effective it is. Maybe I'm overreacting, idk man.

I guess my overarching question is, without viral growth, is it even possible for a free consumer app to have a sustainable channel? By sustainable growth I mean you see something like 5-7% weekly growth, week after week. Our charts are erratic and inconsistent and it's bugging the hell out of me. I always feel like one day our userbase is going to tank.

0

I’m a recent graduate who studied industrial engineering. Ive been interning at a startup company and i’m now considering full time employment here. The company is a renewable energy company that focuses on thermo electrics. Our product has already crossed the threshold in order for the market to be interested. But we are still most definitley in the R&D phase. We are steadily making progress towards an even higher goal but the date that we make it there is unknown; if its even possible. Im curious, what type of offer I should expect assuming decent pay. I know i will recieve a lesser salary then what i can make elsewhere with the same experience. I’m thinking they will offer me $50k. But im more so focused on potential stock options or whatever else people find beneficial when working at a startup. I have little experience negotiating offers, so any insight will be appreciated. I guess itd be important to note that i could potentially make 70k starting at a larger company, but id have to trade the work freedom i have here at the start up for a more stressful, fast paced atmosphere. Not to mention these larger companies like samsung for example chew up newly graduated industrial engineers and spit them out. So im considering staying at the startup for lesser pay if there is some potential to cash out of stock later on. I dont know much about the likelihood of this happening to new employees at a startup. Would it be worth taking a lesser starting salary right out of college with potential ownership of stocks at a startup, or jump ship to a larger company with my work experience for a larger starting slalary; What do yall think?

1

Being more productive at work isn't rocket science, but it does require being more deliberate about how you manage your time. This post will walk you through 8 simple but effective strategies for increasing your productivity at work.

  • Minimize interruptions (to the best of your ability).
  • Give yourself something nice to look at.
  • Work in 90-minute intervals.
  • Turn off notifications.
  • Be proactive, not reactive.
  • Give up on the illusion of perfection.
  • Take advantage of your commute.
  • Quit multitasking.
95

WhatsApp has had a unique, and somewhat unlikely, rise to mobile messenger fame.

Founded in 2009 and famously acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, WhatsApp boasts more than 1.5 billion monthly active users worldwide (as of December 2017) - making it far and away the most widely used mobile messenger app in the world.

Even Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said on a conference call in regards to WhatsApp's growth, "No one in the history of the world has done anything like that."

So, what makes WhatsApp so special? What is it about this product that has attributed to its widespread popularity?

Let's explore further!

---

WhatsApp builds a product, not a company

The idea for WhatsApp stemmed from co-founder Jan Koum's annoyance of missing phone calls at the gym. Because of this, he and co-founder Brian Acton then decided to build an app that could let their friends know of their "status" when they were unavailable.

As Koum once explained it, "We didn't set out to build a company. We just wanted to build a product that people used."

The beauty of WhatsApp is its single-minded product focus. It's a simple platform that is well-built and reliable, all while maintaining privacy of the users.

WhatsApp's priority from early on was to create a clean, lightning-fast communications service that works flawlessly.

Although the app didn't take off right away, they later added the messaging aspect of the product and it started to gain traction.

And gain traction it did: it's estimated that more than 1 million new users join WhatsApp and 55 billion messages are sent on the platform every day.

On top of that, users also share 4.5 billion photos and one billion videos per day.

Unlike most startups, this growth was achieved without any marketing. And despite these crazy numbers, WhatsApp is still operating with less than 100 employees (save for whatever resources Facebook is now allocating to them).

From day one, WhatsApp has focused on making the best messaging app possible - every feature and improvement that has followed has been with this goal in mind.

As Koum once pointed out, "WhatsApp's extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide."

The co-founders also haven't been ones for fame and attention. Koum and Acton wanted a different company from the beginning - they didn't even have a sign outside their office door.

In an interview with Wired, Acton said, "We're the most atypical Silicon Valley company you'll come across. We were founded by thirtysomethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we've been incognito almost all the time; we're mobile first; and we're global first."

---

An ad-free experience

As WhatsApp does not store users' messages and uses end-to-end encryption, it has never placed advertisements within the interface.

There are a few reasons for this.

First, they didn't want to make the user the product. They wanted to build a service that people wanted to use because it worked. They didn't want to take user data and turn it into targeted ads.

As they don't store messages in order to maintain privacy of the user, they negate the ability for companies to pay for targeted ads on the platform (this is true as well vice versa).

Second, they felt that they didn't want to have people try to avoid ads in the app.

As WhatsApp explained, "Ads suck and ads suck even more on the small screen of a mobile device. We want to provide the best user experience and doing advertising will only get in the way of clean UI."

They also said on their blog, "No one wakes up excited to see more advertising, no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they'll see tomorrow. We know people go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day…We want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake…and that you reach for in the morning. No one jumps up from a nap and runs to see an advertisement."

With this, WhatsApp maintains the goal of delivering a reliable, gimmick-and-friction-free user experience.

Finally, they figured they could charge a tiny fee directly. Which they did - for a little while, at least.

WhatsApp used to have a 99 cent annual fee, but this was later killed because it wanted to reach more users in places like India and Brazil, as these users don't necessarily have a credit card or the infrastructure in place to make payments.

While it's a bit unclear how exactly WhatsApp is making up revenue for the lack of a subscription model, it appears that the shift toward more enterprise uses will have something to do with it (more on that in a minute).

---

Focus on the product, not tech for tech's sake

That's not to say WhatsApp's tech isn't great - but it definitely wasn't an "aha!" moment or some mind-blowing technological breakthrough that created the multi-billion-dollar company.

WhatsApp essentially solved problems by using tools and tech that were already available - not by reinventing the wheel.

So, in a nutshell, the success of the product is defined mostly by the product itself, not the tech - let's explore a few of the attributes that make the product unique.

First, a major aspect of the product, which seems simple now, is the fact that they built a messenger that connects to contacts from a phonebook.

Many other messaging platforms require separate numbers or usernames, which hinders the user experience. The way WhatsApp decided to work was groundbreaking at the time.

Second, before WhatsApp, there was the pain point of people not knowing if someone received their message.

SMS can be fickle, and not everyone is in front of their computer at all times to receive a Skype message, so having a platform that worked with your phone was an insight to WhatsApp that helped the team build something new, useful and reliable.

Third, WhatsApp recognized early on that focusing the product made it that much more powerful. WhatsApp knew what its customers wanted and stuck to it.

This avoided the temptation to do multiple things at once and lose sight of the core offering.

Finally, they've understood the importance of immediately setting up everything in a scalable way. Their way of working has stayed virtually the same since the beginning.

Mix these aspects with the fact that they localized to different languages early on - thereby understanding the need to connect with customers globally - and you have a recipe for success.

---

WhatsApp democratized messaging, calls and video chat

Even before WhatsApp scrapped its 99 cent subscription fee, the company had brought its users mobile messaging at its cheapest price point ever.

As there are many places around the world that charge users per SMS or MMS sent, WhatsApp was (and still is) the obvious alternative when it came to sending messages.

Later down the line, the team built new features on top of the existing messaging platform, such as group chats, location sharing and voice messaging.

This means that you can call, text or video chat with any other user in the world - for free.

And you didn't even need to sacrifice your personal data for this free service!

---

Reliable, fast, secure

It's safe to say that WhatsApp is optimized for reliability - as we touched on earlier, when you send a message on WhatsApp, you know it will get there.

And the aforementioned end-to-end encryption of all messages sent further demonstrates its security.

WhatsApp also feels faster than, say, iMessage.

The grey check mark that appears when you send a message in WhatsApp is instantaneous - giving users the feeling of speed compared to the whoosh sound or the loading bar that is part of the iMessage experience…it just feels slower, even if it actually isn't.

Simply put: WhatsApp's strengths are its simplicity, performance and service reliability.

Qualities we can definitely get behind at Salesflare.

---

New use cases, endless possibilities

WhatsApp has recently found new applications for its product - even in an enterprise context.

In September, the company announced that they were building and testing new tools for a WhatsApp Business product, both for small companies and an enterprise solution for large-scale companies.

One such example of this in action is from the airline KLM, which now uses WhatsApp as a way to connect with customers regarding flight times, schedule changes and more.

This tool is quite similar to the Messenger services offered through Facebook - so it will be interesting to see if WhatsApp takes off in a similar fashion (especially since this will probably be the route they take to build their revenue model).

Users of WhatsApp have also started to find new ways to utilize the app. A few examples: companies using the group feature for internal team communication, local restaurants using it as a way for customers to order food delivery and even companies such as Ace & Tate managing their customer service on the platform.

WhatsApp goes to show that even with a simple product, the uses and possibilities can be endless.

---

This post originally appeared on the Salesflare blog.

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