Objective

The purpose of this piece is not to guide on our tech-stack or how we were able to get from mere ideation to 50 sign-ups in 2 weeks without any paid marketing or paid to launch. All this piece does is a documentation of what we did and the ultimate objective.

The journey

Week 1

Ideation

I’ve always stored a list of random ideas for startups that just pop up. Annoyances abound in life, and my gap year’s primary goal is to acquire the skills to solve them sooner or later. Wesley and I ran through our list, picking the ones we felt the time was ripe for and also the ones we were most equipped to solve. We landed on the idea of helping people find their average 5. We spent two days defining the problem and then started interviewing our friends. Which then helped clarify what we’re actually hoping to solve.

Landing Page

We then started building our landing page. All this required was getting a copy out, designing a logo, and modifying a landing page theme found online. We got it all set up, deployed it via firebase hosting (this blog is run from firebase hosting as well, I love it!). And started sharing it out on productivity subreddits.

Analytics

We know the importance of having analytics for any traffic coming in as well. This required us to set up Hotjar, Google Analytics, and Facebook Pixel. In all honesty, for us - plebs without experience - this was the most challenging part of them all. It took me 3 days to go through all the tutorials, youtube videos, and understanding how analytics works before I could get high-quality data coming through.

Week 2

The App

We don’t want to build a product that might end up not being used by anyone. So robustness is not the utmost priority here. Speed and a beautiful design are. We decided to use Appgyver (a no-code solution) and Firestore (Non-Relational DB) for our version 1. These were the MVP features that we wanted to have before we deployed.

  1. A sign-up authentication page.
  2. Inserting the goals of users.
  3. Automatically emailing them when they sign up, and also when we found them a squad.

Most of the time was spent crafting the design of the app and its logic. Using REST APIs to connect to every service: Firebase Auth, Firestore, Firebase functions, etc. The biggest challenge was cello-taping a NoCode solution with the Firestore BackEnd, as there’s not much documentation. Also, the design work took quite a lot of time, as I am not a master of front-end coding; it took me a pretty long time to make sure everything was pixel perfect and felt as user-friendly as possible in one week. Granted, I want to take this tiny moment to praise Appgyver’s Composer Pro for developing something so robust and user-friendly. In all honesty, if I was to start from a Django, bootstrap, Reactjs, Heroku stack, this little feat would have taken me minimally 5x the amount of time.

Deploy

We connected the landing page’s CTA (Call to Action) with the app, deployed the app via firebase hosting, and it was life. After some intense marketing on Wesley’s end, we found ourselves with 50 sign-ups.

Lessons

Build less

We thought this was as minimal as we can build. In hindsight, we could have settled for without the app and focused more on developing a better user journey and experience first.

Online Marketing is vital

The tenet of build, measure, and learn could only work as well as you can measure well. Imperfect measurement leads to bad quality data, which leads to bad decision-making. Always test and ensure your analytics are robust before deploying. They’re gold.

Put a paywall as validation

In hindsight, our validation result was quite confusing. Our sign-up rate was immensely high. Yet our retention and churn right after is, bluntly speaking, an absolute failure. Since it was a free product, people aren’t truly put to the test whether they are willing to put their money where their mouth is. Thus, we got mixed signals about whether we should develop this product further, as we’re unsure if it’s a problem that people want to be solved.

Summary

This has been a great fortnight. And we’ll continue developing and iterating on dreamsquad.club further. 50 sign-ups in 1 week of free subreddit marketing speaks a lot. There’s no product-market fit yet, for sure. But it’s definitely an itch.