Integrity
Write
Loading...
Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

28 days ago

In November, I made an effort to pitch 10 brands per day. Here's what I discovered.

More on Entrepreneurship

Sammy Abdullah

Sammy Abdullah

22 days ago

R&D, S&M, and G&A expense ratios for SaaS

SaaS spending is 40/40/20. 40% of operating expenses should be R&D, 40% sales and marketing, and 20% G&A. We wanted to see the statistics behind the rules of thumb. Since October 2017, 73 SaaS startups have gone public. Perhaps the rule of thumb should be 30/50/20. The data is below.

30/50/20. R&D accounts for 26% of opex, sales and marketing 48%, and G&A 22%. We think R&D/S&M/G&A should be 30/50/20.

There are outliers. There are exceptions to rules of thumb. Dropbox spent 45% on R&D whereas Zoom spent 13%. Zoom spent 73% on S&M, Dropbox 37%, and Bill.com 28%. Snowflake spent 130% of revenue on S&M, while their EBITDA margin is -192%.

G&A shouldn't stand out. Minimize G&A spending. Priorities should be product development and sales. Cloudflare, Sendgrid, Snowflake, and Palantir spend 36%, 34%, 37%, and 43% on G&A.

Another myth is that COGS is 20% of revenue. Median and averages are 29%.

Where is the profitability? Data-driven operating income calculations were simplified (Revenue COGS R&D S&M G&A). 20 of 73 IPO businesses reported operational income. Median and average operating income margins are -21% and -27%.

As long as you're growing fast, have outstanding retention, and marquee clients, you can burn cash since recurring income that doesn't churn is a valuable annuity.

The data was compelling overall. 30/50/20 is the new 40/40/20 for more established SaaS enterprises, unprofitability is alright as long as your business is expanding, and COGS can be somewhat more than 20% of revenue.

Nick

Nick

1 month ago

This Is How Much Quora Paid Me For 23 Million Content Views

You’ll be surprised; I sure was

Photo by Burst from Pexels

Blogging and writing online as a side income has now been around for a significant amount of time. Nowadays, it is a continuously rising moneymaker for prospective writers, with several writing platforms existing online. At the top of the list are Medium, Vocal Media, Newsbreak, and the biggest one of them, Quora, with 300 million active users.

Quora, unlike Medium, is a question-and-answer format platform. On Medium you are permitted to write what you want, while on Quora, you answer questions on topics that you have expertise about. Quora, like Medium, now compensates its authors for the answers they provide in comparison to the previous, in which you had to be admitted to the partner program and were paid to ask questions.

Quora just recently went live with this new partner program, Quora Plus, and the way it works is that it is a subscription for $5 a month which provides you access to metered/monetized stories, in turn compensating the writers for part of that subscription for their answers.

I too on Quora have found a lot of success on the platform, gaining 23 Million Content Views, and 300,000 followers for my space, which is kind of the Quora equivalent of a Medium article. The way in which I was able to do this was entirely thanks to a hack that I uncovered to the Quora algorithm.

In this article, I plan on discussing how much money I received from 23 million content views on Quora, and I bet you’ll be shocked; I know I was.

A Brief Explanation of How I Got 23 Million Views and How You Can Do It Too

On Quora, everything in terms of obtaining views is about finding the proper question, which I only understood quite late into the game. I published my first response in 2019 but never actually wrote on Quora until the summer of 2020, and about a month into posting consistently I found out how to find the perfect question. Here’s how:

The Process

Go to your Home Page and start scrolling… While browsing, check for the following things…

  1. Answers from people you follow or your followers.

  2. Advertisements

These two things are the two things you want to ignore, you don’t want to answer those questions or look at the ads. You should now be left with a couple of recommended answers. To discover which recommended answer is the best to answer as well, look at these three important aspects.

  1. Date of the answer: Was it in the past few days, preferably 2–3 days, even better, past 24 hours?

  2. Views: Are they in the ten thousands or hundred thousands?

  3. Upvotes: Are they in the hundreds or thousands?

Now, choose an answer to a question which you think you could answer as well that satisfies the requirements above. Once you click on it, as all answers on Quora works, it will redirect you to the page for that question, in which you will have to select once again if you should answer the question.

  1. Amount of answers: How many responses are there to the given question? This tells you how much competition you have. My rule is beyond 25 answers, you shouldn’t answer, but you can change it anyway you’d like.

  2. Answerers: Who did the answering for the question? If the question includes a bunch of renowned, extremely well-known people on Quora, there’s a good possibility your essay is going to get drowned out.

  3. Views: Check for a constant quantity of high views on each answer for the question; this is what will guarantee that your answer gets a lot of views!

The Income Reveal! How Much I Made From 23 Million Content Views

DRUM ROLL, PLEASE!

8.97 USD. Yes, not even ten dollars, not even nine. Just eight dollars and ninety-seven cents.

Possible Reasons for My Low Earnings

  • Quora Plus and the answering partner program are newer than my Quora views.

  • Few people use Quora+, therefore revenues are low.

  • I haven't been writing much on Quora, so I'm only making money from old answers and a handful since Quora Plus launched.

  • Quora + pays poorly...

Should You Try Quora and Quora For Money?

My answer depends on your needs. I never got invited to Quora's question partner program due to my late start, but other writers have made hundreds. Due to Quora's new and competitive answering partner program, you may not make much money.

If you want a fun writing community, try Quora. Quora was fun when I only made money from my space. Quora +'s paywalls and new contributors eager to make money have made the platform less fun for me.


This article is a summary to save you time. You can read my full, more detailed article, here.

Antonio Neto

Antonio Neto

2 months ago

What's up with tech?

Massive Layoffs, record low VC investment, debate over crash... why is it happening and what’s the endgame?

This article generalizes a diverse industry. For objectivity, specific tech company challenges like growing competition within named segments won't be considered. Please comment on the posts.

According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 120.000 people have been fired from startups since March 2020. More than 700 startups have fired 1% to 100% of their workforce. "The tech market is crashing"

Venture capital investment dropped 19% QoQ in the first four months of 2022, a 2018 low. Since January 2022, Nasdaq has dropped 27%. Some believe the tech market is collapsing.

It's bad, but nothing has crashed yet. We're about to get super technical, so buckle up!

I've written a follow-up article about what's next. For a more optimistic view of the crisis' aftermath, see: Tech Diaspora and Silicon Valley crisis

What happened?

Insanity reigned. Last decade, everyone became a unicorn. Seed investments can be made without a product or team. While the "real world" economy suffered from the pandemic for three years, tech companies enjoyed the "new normal."

COVID sped up technology adoption on several fronts, but this "new normal" wasn't so new after many restrictions were lifted. Worse, it lived with disrupted logistics chains, high oil prices, and WW3. The consumer market has felt the industry's boom for almost 3 years. Inflation, unemployment, mental distress...what looked like a fast economic recovery now looks like unfulfilled promises.

People rethink everything they eat. Paying a Netflix subscription instead of buying beef is moronic if you can watch it for free on your cousin’s account. No matter how great your real estate app's UI is, buying a house can wait until mortgage rates drop. PLGProduct Led Growth (PLG) isn't the go-to strategy when consumers have more basic expense priorities.

Exponential growth and investment

Until recently, tech companies believed that non-exponential revenue growth was fatal. Exponential growth entails doing more with less. From Salim Ismail words:

An Exponential Organization (ExO) has 10x the impact of its peers.

Many tech companies' theories are far from reality.

Investors have funded (sometimes non-exponential) growth. Scale-driven companies throw people at problems until they're solved. Need an entire closing team because you’ve just bought a TV prime time add? Sure. Want gold-weight engineers to colorize buttons? Why not?

Tech companies don't need cash flow to do it; they can just show revenue growth and get funding. Even though it's hard to get funding, this was the market's momentum until recently.

The graph at the beginning of this section shows how industry heavyweights burned money until 2020, despite being far from their market-share seed stage. Being big and being sturdy are different things, and a lot of the tech startups out there are paper tigers. Without investor money, they have no foundation.

A little bit about interest rates

Inflation-driven high interest rates are said to be causing tough times. Investors would rather leave money in the bank than spend it (I myself said it some days ago). It’s not wrong, but it’s also not that simple.

The USA central bank (FED) is a good proxy of global economics. Dollar treasury bonds are the safest investment in the world. Buying U.S. debt, the only country that can print dollars, guarantees payment.

The graph above shows that FED interest rates are low and 10+ year bond yields are near 2018 levels. Nobody was firing at 2018. What’s with that then?

Full explanation is too technical for this article, so I'll just summarize: Bond yields rise due to lack of demand or market expectations of longer-lasting inflation. Safe assets aren't a "easy money" tactic for investors. If that were true, we'd have seen the current scenario before.

Long-term investors are protecting their capital from inflation.

Not a crash, a landing

I bombarded you with info... Let's review:

  • Consumption is down, hurting revenue.

  • Tech companies of all ages have been hiring to grow revenue at the expense of profit.

  • Investors expect inflation to last longer, reducing future investment gains.

Inflation puts pressure on a wheel that was rolling full speed not long ago. Investment spurs hiring, growth, and more investment. Worried investors and consumers reduce the cycle, and hiring follows.

Long-term investors back startups. When the invested company goes public or is sold, it's ok to burn money. What happens when the payoff gets further away? What if all that money sinks? Investors want immediate returns.

Why isn't the market crashing? Technology is not losing capital. It’s expecting change. The market realizes it threw moderation out the window and is reversing course. Profitability is back on the menu.

People solve problems and make money, but they also cost money. Huge cost for the tech industry. Engineers, Product Managers, and Designers earn up to 100% more than similar roles. Businesses must be careful about who they keep and in what positions to avoid wasting money.

What the future holds

From here on, it's all speculation. I found many great articles while researching this piece. Some are cited, others aren't (like this and this). We're in an adjustment period that may or may not last long.

Big companies aren't laying off many workers. Netflix firing 100 people makes headlines, but it's only 1% of their workforce. The biggest seem to prefer not hiring over firing.

Smaller startups beyond the seeding stage may be hardest hit. Without structure or product maturity, many will die.

I expect layoffs to continue for some time, even at Meta or Amazon. I don't see any industry names falling like they did during the .com crisis, but the market will shrink.

If you are currently employed, think twice before moving out and where to.
If you've been fired, hurry, there are still many opportunities.
If you're considering a tech career, wait.
If you're starting a business, I respect you. Good luck.

You might also like

Liam Vaughan

Liam Vaughan

3 months ago

Investors can bet big on almost anything on a new prediction market.

Kalshi allows five-figure bets on the Grammys, the next Covid wave, and future SEC commissioners. Worst-case scenario

On Election Day 2020, two young entrepreneurs received a call from the CFTC chairman. Luana Lopes Lara and Tarek Mansour spent 18 months trying to start a new type of financial exchange. Instead of betting on stock prices or commodity futures, people could trade instruments tied to real-world events, such as legislation, the weather, or the Oscar winner.

Heath Tarbert, a Trump appointee, shouted "Congratulations." "You're competing with 1840s-era markets. I'm sure you'll become a powerhouse too."

Companies had tried to introduce similar event markets in the US for years, but Tarbert's agency, the CFTC, said no, arguing they were gambling and prone to cheating. Now the agency has reversed course, approving two 24-year-olds who will have first-mover advantage in what could become a huge new asset class. Kalshi Inc. raised $30 million from venture capitalists within weeks of Tarbert's call, his representative says. Mansour, 26, believes this will be bigger than crypto.

Anyone who's read The Wisdom of Crowds knows prediction markets' potential. Well-designed markets can help draw out knowledge from disparate groups, and research shows that when money is at stake, people make better predictions. Lopes Lara calls it a "bullshit tax." That's why Google, Microsoft, and even the US Department of Defense use prediction markets internally to guide decisions, and why university-linked political betting sites like PredictIt sometimes outperform polls.

Regulators feared Wall Street-scale trading would encourage investors to manipulate reality. If the stakes are high enough, traders could pressure congressional staffers to stall a bill or bet on whether Kanye West's new album will drop this week. When Lopes Lara and Mansour pitched the CFTC, senior regulators raised these issues. Politically appointed commissioners overruled their concerns, and one later joined Kalshi's board.

Will Kanye’s new album come out next week? Yes or no?

Kalshi's victory was due more to lobbying and legal wrangling than to Silicon Valley-style innovation. Lopes Lara and Mansour didn't invent anything; they changed a well-established concept's governance. The result could usher in a new era of market-based enlightenment or push Wall Street's destructive tendencies into the real world.

If Kalshi's founders lacked experience to bolster their CFTC application, they had comical youth success. Lopes Lara studied ballet at the Brazilian Bolshoi before coming to the US. Mansour won France's math Olympiad. They bonded over their work ethic in an MIT computer science class.

Lopes Lara had the idea for Kalshi while interning at a New York hedge fund. When the traders around her weren't working, she noticed they were betting on the news: Would Apple hit a trillion dollars? Kylie Jenner? "It was anything," she says.

Are mortgage rates going up? Yes or no?

Mansour saw the business potential when Lopes Lara suggested it. He interned at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., helping investors prepare for the UK leaving the EU. Goldman sold clients complex stock-and-derivative combinations. As he discussed it with Lopes Lara, they agreed that investors should hedge their risk by betting on Brexit itself rather than an imperfect proxy.

Lopes Lara and Mansour hypothesized how a marketplace might work. They settled on a "event contract," a binary-outcome instrument like "Will inflation hit 5% by the end of the month?" The contract would settle at $1 (if the event happened) or zero (if it didn't), but its price would fluctuate based on market sentiment. After a good debate, a politician's election odds may rise from 50 to 55. Kalshi would charge a commission on every trade and sell data to traders, political campaigns, businesses, and others.

In October 2018, five months after graduation, the pair flew to California to compete in a hackathon for wannabe tech founders organized by the Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. They built a website in a day and a night and presented it to entrepreneurs the next day. Their prototype barely worked, but they won a three-month mentorship program and $150,000. Michael Seibel, managing director of Y Combinator, said of their idea, "I had to take a chance!"

Will there be another moon landing by 2025?

Seibel's skepticism was rooted in America's historical wariness of gambling. Roulette, poker, and other online casino games are largely illegal, and sports betting was only legal in a few states until May 2018. Kalshi as a risk-hedging platform rather than a bookmaker seemed like a good idea, but convincing the CFTC wouldn't be easy. In 2012, the CFTC said trading on politics had no "economic purpose" and was "contrary to the public interest."

Lopes Lara and Mansour cold-called 60 Googled lawyers during their time at Y Combinator. Everyone advised quitting. Mansour recalls the pain. Jeff Bandman, a former CFTC official, helped them navigate the agency and its characters.

When they weren’t busy trying to recruit lawyers, Lopes Lara and Mansour were meeting early-stage investors. Alfred Lin of Sequoia Capital Operations LLC backed Airbnb, DoorDash, and Uber Technologies. Lin told the founders their idea could capitalize on retail trading and challenge how the financial world manages risk. "Come back with regulatory approval," he said.

In the US, even small bets on most events were once illegal. Under the Commodity Exchange Act, the CFTC can stop exchanges from listing contracts relating to "terrorism, assassination, war" and "gaming" if they are "contrary to the public interest," which was often the case.

Will subway ridership return to normal? Yes or no?

In 1988, as academic interest in the field grew, the agency allowed the University of Iowa to set up a prediction market for research purposes, as long as it didn't make a profit or advertise and limited bets to $500. PredictIt, the biggest and best-known political betting platform in the US, also got an exemption thanks to an association with Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. Today, it's a sprawling marketplace with its own subculture and lingo. PredictIt users call it "Rules Cuck Panther" when they lose on a technicality. Major news outlets cite PredictIt's odds on Discord and the Star Spangled Gamblers podcast.

CFTC limits PredictIt bets to $850. To keep traders happy, PredictIt will often run multiple variations of the same question, listing separate contracts for two dozen Democratic primary candidates, for example. A trader could have more than $10,000 riding on a single outcome. Some of the site's traders are current or former campaign staffers who can answer questions like "How many tweets will Donald Trump post from Nov. 20 to 27?" and "When will Anthony Scaramucci's role as White House communications director end?"

According to PredictIt co-founder John Phillips, politicians help explain the site's accuracy. "Prediction markets work well and are accurate because they attract people with superior information," he said in a 2016 podcast. “In the financial stock market, it’s called inside information.”

Will Build Back Better pass? Yes or no?

Trading on nonpublic information is illegal outside of academia, which presented a dilemma for Lopes Lara and Mansour. Kalshi's forecasts needed to be accurate. Kalshi must eliminate insider trading as a regulated entity. Lopes Lara and Mansour wanted to build a high-stakes PredictIt without the anarchy or blurred legal lines—a "New York Stock Exchange for Events." First, they had to convince regulators event trading was safe.

When Lopes Lara and Mansour approached the CFTC in the spring of 2019, some officials in the Division of Market Oversight were skeptical, according to interviews with people involved in the process. For all Kalshi's talk of revolutionizing finance, this was just a turbocharged version of something that had been rejected before.

The DMO couldn't see the big picture. The staff review was supposed to ensure Kalshi could complete a checklist, "23 Core Principles of a Designated Contract Market," which included keeping good records and having enough money. The five commissioners decide. With Trump as president, three of them were ideologically pro-market.

Lopes Lara, Mansour, and their lawyer Bandman, an ex-CFTC official, answered the DMO's questions while lobbying the commissioners on Zoom about the potential of event markets to mitigate risks and make better decisions. Before each meeting, they would write a script and memorize it word for word.

Will student debt be forgiven? Yes or no?

Several prediction markets that hadn't sought regulatory approval bolstered Kalshi's case. Polymarket let customers bet hundreds of thousands of dollars anonymously using cryptocurrencies, making it hard to track. Augur, which facilitates private wagers between parties using blockchain, couldn't regulate bets and hadn't stopped users from betting on assassinations. Kalshi, by comparison, argued it was doing everything right. (The CFTC fined Polymarket $1.4 million for operating an unlicensed exchange in January 2022. Polymarket says it's now compliant and excited to pioneer smart contract-based financial solutions with regulators.

Kalshi was approved unanimously despite some DMO members' concerns about event contracts' riskiness. "Once they check all the boxes, they're in," says a CFTC insider.

Three months after CFTC approval, Kalshi announced funding from Sequoia, Charles Schwab, and Henry Kravis. Sequoia's Lin, who joined the board, said Tarek, Luana, and team created a new way to invest and engage with the world.

The CFTC hadn't asked what markets the exchange planned to run since. After approval, Lopes Lara and Mansour had the momentum. Kalshi's March list of 30 proposed contracts caused chaos at the DMO. The division handles exchanges that create two or three new markets a year. Kalshi’s business model called for new ones practically every day.

Uncontroversial proposals included weather and GDP questions. Others, on the initial list and later, were concerning. DMO officials feared Covid-19 contracts amounted to gambling on human suffering, which is why war and terrorism markets are banned. (Similar logic doomed ex-admiral John Poindexter's Policy Analysis Market, a Bush-era plan to uncover intelligence by having security analysts bet on Middle East events.) Regulators didn't see how predicting the Grammy winners was different from betting on the Patriots to win the Super Bowl. Who, other than John Legend, would need to hedge the best R&B album winner?

Event contracts raised new questions for the DMO's product review team. Regulators could block gaming contracts that weren't in the public interest under the Commodity Exchange Act, but no one had defined gaming. It was unclear whether the CFTC had a right or an obligation to consider whether a contract was in the public interest. How was it to determine public interest? Another person familiar with the CFTC review says, "It was a mess." The agency didn't comment.

CFTC staff feared some event contracts could be cheated. Kalshi wanted to run a bee-endangerment market. The DMO pushed back, saying it saw two problems symptomatic of the asset class: traders could press government officials for information, and officials could delay adding the insects to the list to cash in.

The idea that traders might manipulate prediction markets wasn't paranoid. In 2013, academics David Rothschild and Rajiv Sethi found that an unidentified party lost $7 million buying Mitt Romney contracts on Intrade, a now-defunct, unlicensed Irish platform, in the runup to the 2012 election. The authors speculated that the trader, whom they dubbed the “Romney Whale,” may have been looking to boost morale and keep donations coming in.

Kalshi said manipulation and insider trading are risks for any market. It built a surveillance system and said it would hire a team to monitor it. "People trade on events all the time—they just use options and other instruments. This brings everything into the open, Mansour says. Kalshi didn't include election contracts, a red line for CFTC Democrats.

Lopes Lara and Mansour were ready to launch kalshi.com that summer, but the DMO blocked them. Product reviewers were frustrated by spending half their time on an exchange that represented a tiny portion of the derivatives market. Lopes Lara and Mansour pressed politically appointed commissioners during the impasse.

Tarbert, the chairman, had moved on, but Kalshi found a new supporter in Republican Brian Quintenz, a crypto-loving former hedge fund manager. He was unmoved by the DMO's concerns, arguing that speculation on Kalshi's proposed events was desirable and the agency had no legal standing to prevent it. He supported a failed bid to allow NFL futures earlier this year. Others on the commission were cautious but supportive. Given the law's ambiguity, they worried they'd be on shaky ground if Kalshi sued if they blocked a contract. Without a permanent chairman, the agency lacked leadership.

To block a contract, DMO staff needed a majority of commissioners' support, which they didn't have in all but a few cases. "We didn't have the votes," a reviewer says, paraphrasing Hamilton. By the second half of 2021, new contract requests were arriving almost daily at the DMO, and the demoralized and overrun division eventually accepted defeat and stopped fighting back. By the end of the year, three senior DMO officials had left the agency, making it easier for Kalshi to list its contracts unimpeded.

Today, Kalshi is growing. 32 employees work in a SoHo office with big windows and exposed brick. Quintenz, who left the CFTC 10 months after Kalshi was approved, is on its board. He joined because he was interested in the market's hedging and risk management opportunities.

Mid-May, the company's website had 75 markets, such as "Will Q4 GDP be negative?" Will NASA land on the moon by 2025? The exchange recently reached 2 million weekly contracts, a jump from where it started but still a small number compared to other futures exchanges. Early adopters are PredictIt and Polymarket fans. Bets on the site are currently capped at $25,000, but Kalshi hopes to increase that to $100,000 and beyond.

With the regulatory drawbridge down, Lopes Lara and Mansour must move quickly. Chicago's CME Group Inc. plans to offer index-linked event contracts. Kalshi will release a smartphone app to attract customers. After that, it hopes to partner with a big brokerage. Sequoia is a major investor in Robinhood Markets Inc. Robinhood users could have access to Kalshi so that after buying GameStop Corp. shares, they'd be prompted to bet on the Oscars or the next Fed commissioner.

Some, like Illinois Democrat Sean Casten, accuse Robinhood and its competitors of gamifying trading to encourage addiction, but Kalshi doesn't seem worried. Mansour says Kalshi's customers can't bet more than they've deposited, making debt difficult. Eventually, he may introduce leveraged bets.

Tension over event contracts recalls another CFTC episode. Brooksley Born proposed regulating the financial derivatives market in 1994. Alan Greenspan and others in the government opposed her, saying it would stifle innovation and push capital overseas. Unrestrained, derivatives grew into a trillion-dollar industry until 2008, when they sparked the financial crisis.

Today, with a midterm election looming, it seems reasonable to ask whether Kalshi plans to get involved. Elections have historically been the biggest draw in prediction markets, with 125 million shares traded on PredictIt for 2020. “We can’t discuss specifics,” Mansour says. “All I can say is, you know, we’re always working on expanding the universe of things that people can trade on.”

Any election contracts would need CFTC approval, which may be difficult with three Democratic commissioners. A Republican president would change the equation.

obimy.app

obimy.app

15 days ago

How TikTok helped us grow to 6 million users

This resulted to obimy's new audience.

Hi! obimy's official account. Here, we'll teach app developers and marketers. In 2022, our downloads increased dramatically, so we'll share what we learned.

obimy is what we call a ‘senseger’. It's a new method to communicate digitally. Instead of text, obimy users connect through senses and moods. Feeling playful? Flirt with your partner, pat a pal, or dump water on a classmate. Each feeling is an interactive animation with vibration. It's a wordless app. App Store and Google Play have obimy.

We had 20,000 users in 2022. Two to five thousand of them opened the app monthly. Our DAU metric was 500.

We have 6 million users after 6 months. 500,000 individuals use obimy daily. obimy was the top lifestyle app this week in the U.S.

And TikTok helped.

TikTok fuels obimys' growth. It's why our app exploded. How and what did we learn? Our Head of Marketing, Anastasia Avramenko, knows.

our actions prior to TikTok

We wanted to achieve product-market fit through organic expansion. Quora, Reddit, Facebook Groups, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, Apple Search Ads, and social media activity were tested. Nothing worked. Our CPI was sometimes $4, so unit economics didn't work.

We studied our markets and made audience hypotheses. We promoted our goods and studied our audience through social media quizzes. Our target demographic was Americans in long-distance relationships. I designed quizzes like Test the Strength of Your Relationship to better understand the user base. After each quiz, we encouraged users to download the app to enhance their connection and bridge the distance.

One of the quizzes

We got 1,000 responses for $50. This helped us comprehend the audience's grief and coping strategies (aka our rivals). I based action items on answers given. If you can't embrace a loved one, use obimy.

We also tried Facebook and Google ads. From the start, we knew it wouldn't work.

We were desperate to discover a free way to get more users.

Our journey to TikTok

TikTok is a great venue for emerging creators. It also helped reach people. Before obimy, my TikTok videos garnered 12 million views without sponsored promotion.

We had to act. TikTok was required.

Our first TikTok videos

I wasn't a TikTok user before obimy. Initially, I uploaded promotional content. Call-to-actions appear strange next to dancing challenges and my money don't jiggle jiggle. I learned TikTok. Watch TikTok for an hour was on my to-do list. What a dream job!

Our most popular movies presented the app alongside text outlining what it does. We started promoting them in Europe and the U.S. and got a 16% CTR and $1 CPI, an improvement over our previous efforts.

Somehow, we were expanding. So we came up with new hypotheses, calls to action, and content.

Four months passed, yet we saw no organic growth.

Russia attacked Ukraine.

Our app aimed to be helpful. For now, we're focusing on our Ukrainian audience. I posted sloppy TikToks illustrating how obimy can help during shelling or air raids.

In two hours, Kostia sent me our visitor count. Our servers crashed.

Initially, we had several thousand daily users. Over 200,000 users joined obimy in a week. They posted obimy videos on TikTok, drawing additional users. We've also resumed U.S. video promotion.

We gained 2,000,000 new members with less than $100 in ads, primarily in the U.S. and U.K.

TikTok helped.

The figures

We were confident we'd chosen the ideal tool for organic growth.

  • Over 45 million people have viewed our own videos plus a ton of user-generated content with the hashtag #obimy.

  • About 375 thousand people have liked all of our individual videos.

  • The number of downloads and the virality of videos are directly correlated.

Where are we now?

TikTok fuels our organic growth. We post 56 videos every week and pay to promote viral content.

We use UGC and influencers. We worked with Universal Music Italy on Eurovision. They offered to promote us through their million-follower TikTok influencers. We thought their followers would improve our audience, but it didn't matter. Integration didn't help us. Users that share obimy videos with their followers can reach several million views, which affects our download rate.

After the dust settled, we determined our key audience was 13-18-year-olds. They want to express themselves, but it's sometimes difficult. We're searching for methods to better engage with our users. We opened a Discord server to discuss anime and video games and gather app and content feedback.

TikTok helps us test product updates and hypotheses. Example: I once thought we might raise MAU by prompting users to add strangers as friends. Instead of asking our team to construct it, I made a TikTok urging users to share invite URLs. Users share links under every video we upload, embracing people worldwide.

Key lessons

Don't direct-sell. TikTok isn't for Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube promo videos. Conventional advertisements don't fit. Most users will swipe up and watch humorous doggos.

More product videos are better. Finally. So what?

Encourage interaction. Tagging friends in comments or making videos with the app promotes it more than any marketing spend.

Be odd and risqué. A user mistakenly sent a French kiss to their mom in one of our most popular videos.

TikTok helps test hypotheses and build your user base. It also helps develop apps. In our upcoming blog, we'll guide you through obimy's design revisions based on TikTok. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

Will Lockett

Will Lockett

22 days ago

The World Will Change With MIT's New Battery

MIT’s new battery is made from only aluminium (left), sulphur (middle) and salt (left) — MIT

It's cheaper, faster charging, longer lasting, safer, and better for the environment.

Batteries are the future. Next-gen and planet-saving technology, including solar power and EVs, require batteries. As these smart technologies become more popular, we find that our batteries can't keep up. Lithium-ion batteries are expensive, slow to charge, big, fast to decay, flammable, and not environmentally friendly. MIT just created a new battery that eliminates all of these problems.  So, is this the battery of the future? Or is there a catch?

When I say entirely new, I mean it. This battery employs no currently available materials. Its electrodes are constructed of aluminium and pure sulfur instead of lithium-complicated ion's metals and graphite. Its electrolyte is formed of molten chloro-aluminate salts, not an organic solution with lithium salts like lithium-ion batteries.

How does this change in materials help?

Aluminum, sulfur, and chloro-aluminate salts are abundant, easy to acquire, and cheap. This battery might be six times cheaper than a lithium-ion battery and use less hazardous mining. The world and our wallets will benefit.

But don’t go thinking this means it lacks performance.

This battery charged in under a minute in tests. At 25 degrees Celsius, the battery will charge 25 times slower than at 110 degrees Celsius. This is because the salt, which has a very low melting point, is in an ideal state at 110 degrees and can carry a charge incredibly quickly. Unlike lithium-ion, this battery self-heats when charging and discharging, therefore no external heating is needed.

Anyone who's seen a lithium-ion battery burst might be surprised. Unlike lithium-ion batteries, none of the components in this new battery can catch fire. Thus, high-temperature charging and discharging speeds pose no concern.

These batteries are long-lasting. Lithium-ion batteries don't last long, as any iPhone owner can attest. During charging, metal forms a dendrite on the electrode. This metal spike will keep growing until it reaches the other end of the battery, short-circuiting it. This is why phone batteries only last a few years and why electric car range decreases over time. This new battery's molten salt slows deposition, extending its life. This helps the environment and our wallets.

These batteries are also energy dense. Some lithium-ion batteries have 270 Wh/kg energy density (volume and mass). Aluminum-sulfur batteries could have 1392 Wh/kg, according to calculations. They'd be 5x more energy dense. Tesla's Model 3 battery would weigh 96 kg instead of 480 kg if this battery were used. This would improve the car's efficiency and handling.

These calculations were for batteries without molten salt electrolyte. Because they don't reflect the exact battery chemistry, they aren't a surefire prediction.

This battery seems great. It will take years, maybe decades, before it reaches the market and makes a difference. Right?

Nope. The project's scientists founded Avanti to develop and market this technology.

So we'll soon be driving cheap, durable, eco-friendly, lightweight, and ultra-safe EVs? Nope.

This battery must be kept hot to keep the salt molten; otherwise, it won't work and will expand and contract, causing damage. This issue could be solved by packs that can rapidly pre-heat, but that project is far off.

Rapid and constant charge-discharge cycles make these batteries ideal for solar farms, homes, and EV charging stations. The battery is constantly being charged or discharged, allowing it to self-heat and maintain an ideal temperature.

These batteries aren't as sexy as those making EVs faster, more efficient, and cheaper. Grid batteries are crucial to our net-zero transition because they allow us to use more low-carbon energy. As we move away from fossil fuels, we'll need millions of these batteries, so the fact that they're cheap, safe, long-lasting, and environmentally friendly will be huge. Who knows, maybe EVs will use this technology one day. MIT has created another world-changing technology.