Why We Finally Launched Last Week
I had completed the first iteration of Rocket Note back in March and worked to fix bugs and add a couple features from then until mid-April. After that, things staled a bit. As a developer-first entrepreneur, my at-the-time business partner and I were super worried about creating a cool product and a bit less worried about the business model. That's not to say we didn't have plans! We just didn't care if they were executed after we built a cool product.
Looking back, that's my first mistake we made. A huge part of a SaaS company needs to be the where and how users will be acquired. There also needed to be a better understanding of our target audience (and obviously some discussion with potential customers that tell us they would actually pay for a service that delivered on X, Y, and Z).
Last Monday (July 2nd), I was in California with my good friend and in-house designer Kyle Norton (okay, you owe me $20 for the mention). We had set a hard launch date of July 18th for Rocket Note. It was a good goal, since nothing much had been happening for a while with the product. I had been stuck on the pricing model and just couldn't move forward! I was also nervous about its overall reception in the world.
Oh, so we're not allowed to be nervous? It's our baby! 👶🏼
I'm not sure exactly what possessed us, but we jumped the gun a bit and just thought... WHAT THE POO ARE WE EVEN WAITING FOR? (My thoughts are straight edges and would never swear. So frickin annoying.) But we were pretty jazzed.
The Game Plan
So, because we were in California with family and friends, we already had a bunch of people willing to upvote us. We made a list of people that we could contact throughout the day that would also be willing to help us out. Basically, we just said "Hey, we're finally on Product Hunt! Go check us out!" They then made the choice to go, upvote, leave a review if they wanted, comment, and download the extension if they didn't already have it.
I called it "Operation Rocket Launcher." 💥
We didn't know how many upvotes it would take on Monday to get to the front page on Tuesday (which happens at midnight), so we just got as many as we could. My list of friends and family, including the people we were with in California, was about 110 people. We ended the day with 36 upvotes. I was, once again, a nervous wreck.
Results, Results, Results
We ended up "Product of the Day #5" at midnight!!! The next week or so has honestly been a blur. I've gotten emails from interested parties every single day. We've had between 10-60 downloads each day since. I've gotten podcast interviews (will post a link once they release), a somewhat sticky Reddit post, a Facebook post from a kinda famous Vietnamese designer (pic below), a post in some crazy Japanese startup website, and our first handful of paid users that aren't friends or family.
Vietnamese virality? 🇻🇳 We give it a 5/5!
We think we will move forward with Rocket Note.
Just kidding. Of course we are moving forward, and that's not what this section is about! We have made a lot of plans for the future. We have lots of UI updates, based on user feedback. We've got plenty of that now! We have a handful of new features to launch this month as well.
But the hardest part for us is still user acquisition. I think this goes without saying. A nice website and professional-looking product help sell to the masses... But this is a product that gets some people that find it to say things like "I was waiting for this, for years. Thanks to exist!" Translate that as you will, but that sure sounds positive to me! That guy made a purchase within about 5 minutes of that chat with me. How do I find the users that have been waiting for something like this for so long?
Step 1 may still be to better understand our users...
We're coming up with a better marketing strategy, whilst making updates to the core product every day. We plan to try the following and let you know how they go:
- Paid advertising on YouTube (seems like a no-brainer)
- Organic traffic from these blog posts, posts to Reddit/Twitter/Facebook
- "Sponsored" videos on my YouTube channel as we attempt to learn things for free online.
- YouTuber outreach program to shout out on their educational channels.
NOTE ON MARKETING: One thing we're careful about is not going the "easy" route of targeting traditional students, like college kids. That seems easy and intuitive, but they're not actually our market. They are cheapskates who are already paying for a different sort of education. We've seen a lot more adoption from team leaders that want to save and share videos with their teams, people learning English or coding outside of a traditional education, and oddly enough— gamers who are either serious about improving their game or want to share small spots from long streams of video with their friends.
We'll report back as soon as we can. Don't sleep, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki.