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We're Not Doing a Startup - WDC Bristol

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Slides for this presentation given at Webdev Conf, Bristol

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We're Not Doing a Startup - WDC Bristol

  1. 1. We’re not “doing a startup” How to cut through the hype and build your side project into a profitable business. Rachel Andrew, WDC 2014 Friday, 10 October 14
  2. 2. grabaperch.com Friday, 10 October 14
  3. 3. G.K. Chesterton “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” Friday, 10 October 14
  4. 4. This is a marathon, not a 5K. Friday, 10 October 14
  5. 5. Friday, 10 October 14
  6. 6. It’s not about the money (until it is) Friday, 10 October 14
  7. 7. Getting started Choosing the perfect product to bootstrap as a side-project. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/7276841268 Friday, 10 October 14
  8. 8. Walt Disney “The way to get started is to quit talking and start doing.” Friday, 10 October 14
  9. 9. • for your own community • that you can ship quickly • that solves a problem people will pay to have solved • that does not need a lot of traction to be useful • that has existing competition A product ... Friday, 10 October 14
  10. 10. A product for your own community https://www.flickr.com/photos/drewm Friday, 10 October 14
  11. 11. Amy Hoy “Are you a Ruby developer? Then serve Ruby developers. Are you a UX designer? Serve UX designers.” Friday, 10 October 14
  12. 12. The worst that could have happened with Perch? No-one would want it but we’d have a useful tool for our business. Friday, 10 October 14
  13. 13. With a track record in a community you will already have trust. Friday, 10 October 14
  14. 14. A product you can ship quickly http://freekvanarkel.nl Friday, 10 October 14
  15. 15. John Radoff “The goal of a startup is to find the sweet-spot where minimum product and viable product meet – get people to fall in love with you.” Friday, 10 October 14
  16. 16. To launch with a small product, you need to find a problem that can be solved with a small product. Friday, 10 October 14
  17. 17. Perch v.1 • A simple content editor • No way to add new pages • No API • Images could be uploaded - but not resized Friday, 10 October 14
  18. 18. The Problem Client requests that an already developed static site be made editable via a CMS. Friday, 10 October 14
  19. 19. The Solution A simple CMS that turned static pages into editable pages by way of dropping in a couple of PHP tags. Friday, 10 October 14
  20. 20. A product that solves a problem that people will pay to have solved https://www.flickr.com/photos/futureshape/ Friday, 10 October 14
  21. 21. If you can save a business time they will see the value in paying for your product. Friday, 10 October 14
  22. 22. Bootstrapped With Kids, Episode 31 “We think their workflow sucks, but they like it…” Friday, 10 October 14
  23. 23. Our target market for Perch was designers and agencies. We aimed to save them time on smaller projects. Friday, 10 October 14
  24. 24. Feedback from paying customers trumps feedback from free users. Every time. Friday, 10 October 14
  25. 25. A product that does not need a lot of users to be useful https://www.flickr.com/photos/22746515@N02/ Friday, 10 October 14
  26. 26. “Social” or “community” products need a large user base to succeed. Friday, 10 October 14
  27. 27. Choose a product that is as useful to customer #1 as customer #1000 Friday, 10 October 14
  28. 28. A product that has competition Friday, 10 October 14
  29. 29. Perch competitors at launch • WordPress • ExpressionEngine • CushyCMS • PageLime • Joomla • Drupal Friday, 10 October 14
  30. 30. What problem is your competition NOT solving? Build it. Friday, 10 October 14
  31. 31. New concepts will require you to educate potential customers as to why they even need your product. Friday, 10 October 14
  32. 32. Finding the time How to make time for side-projects. https://www.flickr.com/photos/mybigtrip/6111406 Friday, 10 October 14
  33. 33. Malcolm S. Forbes “One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a- hundred half-finished tasks.” Friday, 10 October 14
  34. 34. Sir John Lubbock “In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.” Friday, 10 October 14
  35. 35. Get set up to be able to pick up and work on your side-project quickly - whenever the time is available. Friday, 10 October 14
  36. 36. Your product must be a first-class citizen alongside your other work. Friday, 10 October 14
  37. 37. Set aside time and plan in advance what you will do with it Friday, 10 October 14
  38. 38. Diana Scharf Hunt “Goals are dreams with deadlines” Friday, 10 October 14
  39. 39. There is power in setting a goal, writing it down, putting a date on it Friday, 10 October 14
  40. 40. How to get started • Choose your goal • Define what it is you are going to create • Put a date on it. Friday, 10 October 14
  41. 41. Brian Casel http://casjam.com/the-cascading-to-do-list-or-how-to-get-big-things-done/ “In a nutshell, the idea is to start with the end-goal in mind, then divide it into smaller and smaller increments.   Plan all of the actions in detail beforehand, then get to work.” Friday, 10 October 14
  42. 42. Be realistic about how much you can achieve. Feeling as if you are falling behind can demotivate you. Friday, 10 October 14
  43. 43. If there is not enough time ... • Either revise your end date • Or, remove elements of the project - pushing them into a post-launch phase. Friday, 10 October 14
  44. 44. Be ruthless in cutting features that can be added post-launch Friday, 10 October 14
  45. 45. The “missing” features at launch will seem far more important to you than to your customers. Friday, 10 October 14
  46. 46. Describe the product as it is now. Sell the solution. Friday, 10 October 14
  47. 47. • Start Small • Get feedback from paying customers • Improve and add to your product based on their needs balanced by your vision. Friday, 10 October 14
  48. 48. Minimum Viable Infrastructures Friday, 10 October 14
  49. 49. Own Your Own Data Friday, 10 October 14
  50. 50. Launch and beyond Managing a growing side- project alongside an existing job or business. https://www.flickr.com/photos/nasamarshall Friday, 10 October 14
  51. 51. Winston Churchill “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Friday, 10 October 14
  52. 52. • We launched Perch at the end of May 2009 • At launch we were still 100% booked out on client projects • Income from Perch was initially reinvested into Perch • January 2013 we made the decision to stop taking on new client work Our timeline Friday, 10 October 14
  53. 53. A successful side-project should be given more time as it represents a higher % of your income. Friday, 10 October 14
  54. 54. Not making a profit? • Are you pricing too cheaply? • Are you reliant on expensive services? • Are you attracting customers who need a lot of support? Friday, 10 October 14
  55. 55. The slower growth curve of bootstrapped products gives you time to fix problems before they become BIG problems. Friday, 10 October 14
  56. 56. Never promise a specific timeframe to customers Friday, 10 October 14
  57. 57. When your product is a side-project you have even more things that could cause you to push back a feature. Friday, 10 October 14
  58. 58. We don’t publish a roadmap • It allows us to be flexible and react to customer needs and changing trends in web design. • It means that customers are not relying on the launch of feature X in order to complete a project. • It means that we can hold back a feature until we are absolutely sure it won’t cause anyone a problem. Friday, 10 October 14
  59. 59. Use Cases not Feature Requests Friday, 10 October 14
  60. 60. Find general solutions that will benefit many customers rather than adding very specific features Friday, 10 October 14
  61. 61. Understanding the problem means we can help the customer now and optimize the solution later. Friday, 10 October 14
  62. 62. Delight customers by solving their problems and letting them know when you have done so Friday, 10 October 14
  63. 63. Protect the Core Use Case Friday, 10 October 14
  64. 64. Your product will benefit by being owned by someone who will say no. Friday, 10 October 14
  65. 65. Make Frequent Small Releases Friday, 10 October 14
  66. 66. Small releases • Fewer changes = fewer things to go wrong • Easier to isolate the issue if a problem does occur • Get features to customers more quickly • For our customers, less of a dramatic change that they need to communicate to their clients Friday, 10 October 14
  67. 67. Don’t be led by a noisy minority Friday, 10 October 14
  68. 68. Seek out the opinion of those customers you never hear from. The happy majority are often silent. Friday, 10 October 14
  69. 69. Marketing How to tell people about your product, when you have no money to burn. https://www.flickr.com/photos/brent_nashville/5284764031/ Friday, 10 October 14
  70. 70. Seth Godin “Marketing is no longer about the stuff that you make, but about the stories you tell.” Friday, 10 October 14
  71. 71. You have made something that genuinely solves a problem. Go tell people about it! Friday, 10 October 14
  72. 72. Pre-launch of Perch • A month before we put up a landing page and email signup form • About 500 people signed up • We emailed the list on launch and those people represented enough sales on launch day to pay back all pre-launch costs. Friday, 10 October 14
  73. 73. Your reach will give you your initial customers. Then what? Friday, 10 October 14
  74. 74. Content Marketing Friday, 10 October 14
  75. 75. Write blog posts and articles on the things your potential customer is interested in, not about your product. Friday, 10 October 14
  76. 76. Sponsorship Friday, 10 October 14
  77. 77. Perch sponsoring the Unfinished Business podcast Friday, 10 October 14
  78. 78. Paid Advertising Friday, 10 October 14
  79. 79. If you cannot track it do not pay for it Friday, 10 October 14
  80. 80. Target the “long tail” keywords Friday, 10 October 14
  81. 81. Research smaller sites visited by your ideal customer, advertise on those less expensive sites. Friday, 10 October 14
  82. 82. People love Perch - http://grabaperch.com/people-love-perch Friday, 10 October 14
  83. 83. http://tractionbook.com Friday, 10 October 14
  84. 84. Create your own definition of success Friday, 10 October 14
  85. 85. Revenue that is not worth chasing for a 60 person business can be life- changing for the solo founder. Friday, 10 October 14
  86. 86. Is the grass greener on the product side? Friday, 10 October 14
  87. 87. The work is always worth it. Friday, 10 October 14
  88. 88. Thank you Rachel Andrew @rachelandrew http://rachelandrew.co.uk/presentations/not-doing-a-startup Friday, 10 October 14

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