11 months ago
300 Signups, 1 Landing Page, 0 Products
I placed a link on HackerNews and got 300 signups in a week. This post explains what happened.
The product is DbSchemaLibrary. A library of Database Schema.
I'm not sure where this idea originated from. Very fast. Build fast, fail fast, test many ideas, and one will be a hit. I tried it. Let's try it anyway, even though it'll probably fail. I finished The Lean Startup book and wanted to use it.
Database job bores me. Important! I get drowsy working on it. Someone must do it. I remember this happening once. I needed examples at the time. Something similar to Recall (my other project) that I can copy — or at least use as a reference.
Frequently googled. Many tabs open. The results were useless. I raised my hand and agreed to construct the database myself.
It resurfaced. I decided to do something.
Lean Startup emphasizes validated learning. Everything the startup does should result in learning. I may build something nobody wants otherwise. That's what happened to Recall.
So, I wrote a business plan document. This happens before I code. What am I solving? What is my proposed solution? What is the leap of faith between the problem and solution? Who would be my target audience?
In my previous project, I did the opposite!
I wrote my expectations after reading the book's advice.
“Failure is a prerequisite to learning. The problem with the notion of shipping a product and then seeing what happens is that you are guaranteed to succeed — at seeing what happens.” — The Lean Startup book
These are successful metrics. If I don't reach them, I'll drop the idea and try another. I didn't understand numbers then. Below are guesses. But it’s a start!
I then wrote the project's What and Why. I'll use this everywhere. Before, I wrote a different pitch each time. I thought certain words would be better. I felt the audience might want something unusual.
Occasionally, this works. I'm unsure if it's a good idea. No stats, just my writing-time opinion. Writing every time is time-consuming and sometimes hazardous. Having a copy saved me duplication.
I can measure and learn from performance.
Last, I identified communities that might demand the product. This became an exercise in creativity.
So now it’s time to build.
A MVP can test my assumptions. Business may learn from it. Not low-quality. We should learn from the tiniest thing.
I like the example of how Dropbox did theirs. They assumed that if the product works, people will utilize it. How can this be tested without a quality product? They made a movie demonstrating the software's functionality. Who knows how much functionality existed?
So I tested my biggest assumption. Users want schema references. How can I test if users want to reference another schema? I'd love this. Recall taught me that wanting something doesn't mean others do.
I made an email-collection landing page. Describe it briefly. Reference library. Each email sender wants a reference. They're interested in the product. Few other reasons exist.
Header and footer were skipped. No name or logo. DbSchemaLibrary is a name I thought of after the fact. 5-minute logo. I expected a flop. Recall has no users after months of labor. What could happen to a 2-day project?
I didn't compromise learning validation. How many visitors sign up? To draw a conclusion, I must track these results.
Now that the job is done, gauge interest. The next morning, I posted on all my channels. I didn't want to be spammy, therefore it required more time.
I made sure each channel had at least one fan of this product. I also answer people's inquiries in the channel.
My list stinks. Several channels wouldn't work. The product's target market isn't there. Posting there would waste our time. This taught me to create marketing channels depending on my persona.
Statistics! What actually happened
My favorite part! 23 channels received the link.
I stopped posting to Discord despite its high conversion rate. I eliminated some channels because they didn't fit. According to the numbers, some users like it. Most users think it's spam.
I was skeptical. And 12 people viewed it.
I didn't expect much attention on a startup subreddit. I'll likely examine Reddit further in the future. As I have enough info, I didn't post much. Time for the next validated learning
No comment. The post had few views, therefore the numbers are low.
The targeted people come next.
I'm a Toptal freelancer. There's a member-only Slack channel. Most people can't use this marketing channel, but you should! It's not as spectacular as discord's 27% conversion rate. But I think the users here are better.
I don’t really have a following anywhere so this isn’t something I can leverage.
The best yet. 10% is converted. With more data, I expect to attain a 10% conversion rate from other channels. Stable number.
This number required some work. Did you know that people use many different clients to read HN?
Untrackable views and signups abound. 1136 views and 135 signups are untraceable. It's 11%. I bet much of that came from Hackernews.
The 7-day signup-to-visit ratio was 17%. (Hourly data points)
First-day percentages were lower, which is noteworthy. Initially, it was little above 10%. The HN post started getting views then.
When traffic drops, the number reaches just around 20%. More individuals are interested in the connection. hn.algolia.com sent 2 visitors. This means people are searching and finding my post.
1. HN post struggled till the US woke up.
11am UTC. After an hour, it lost popularity. It seemed over. 7 signups converted 13%. Not amazing, but I would've thought ahead.
After 4pm UTC, traffic grew again. 4pm UTC is 9am PDT. US awakened. 10am PDT saw 512 views.
2. The product was highlighted in a newsletter.
I found Revue references when gathering data. Newsletter platform. Someone posted the newsletter link. 37 views and 3 registrations.
3. HN numbers are extremely reliable
I don't have a time-lapse graph (yet). The statistics were constant all day.
2717 views later 272 new users, or 10.1%
With 293 signups at 2856 views, 10.25%
At 306 signups at 2965 views, 10.32%
1. My initial estimations were wildly inaccurate
I wrote 30% conversion. Reading some articles, looks like 10% is a good number to aim for.
2. Paying attention to what matters rather than vain metrics
The Lean Startup discourages vanity metrics. Feel-good metrics that don't measure growth or traction. Considering the proportion instead of the total visitors made me realize there was something here.
There are lots of work to do. Data aggregation, display, website development, marketing, legal issues. Fun! It's satisfying to solve an issue rather than investigate its cause.
In the meantime, I’ve already written the first project update in another post. Continue reading it if you’d like to know more about the project itself! Shifting from Quantity to Quality — DbSchemaLibrary