Good day! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?
Good day of us – I’m Apu, a startup founder and the creator of ProgressBar.
ProgressBar is a Home windows taskbar app that exhibits your day and yr progress, so you can also make time for what issues. An image tells a thousand phrases, so right here it’s:
It’s so simple as it appears to be like – two icons that present your day and yr progress with only a look!
I constructed ProgressBar in order that I might be taught the abilities wanted to make my first $1 on-line. I used to be lucky sufficient that on the day of its launch, not solely did ProgressBar make gross sales past my wildest expectations, nevertheless it additionally received Product of the Day on ProductHunt, and was a finalist in Product Hunt’s Golden Kitty Award for Product of the Yr!
What’s your backstory and the way did you provide you with the concept?
I’m a productiveness geek, and I’m frequently pondering of how to make my life and work extra successfully. As a startup founder, I discovered that the most effective methods to plan what to do was to make a brief and easy to-do checklist (following Marc Andreessen’s glorious recommendation).
However this wasn’t sufficient for me. I discovered that I’d at all times finish the day with too many duties leftover and incomplete. I used to be working longer and longer hours, and I acknowledged I had an issue that wanted fixing – the beginning of any enterprise concept! And who higher to resolve it than myself – an engineer who might construct himself an answer.
I’d seen comparable taskbar apps elsewhere, however they both didn’t help Home windows, or I discovered their design to be cumbersome. I acknowledged that this meant there was a market alternative – and if I wished a brand new product, maybe others would too!
Lastly, as a startup founder, I used to be engaged on large, bold tasks in B2B. To seek out early clients would take a while, and producing income would take even longer. Earlier than tackling one thing meatier, I wished to make my first $1 on-line and to be taught all of the non-technical issues that have been new to me: advertising and marketing, gross sales, positioning, product improvement, consumer analysis, and so forth…the end-to-end startup. And I wished to be taught and make progress quick, so I set myself the goal of launching inside a month.
ProgressBar appeared like an excellent match, so I acquired began!
Take us by means of the method of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
By this level, I had the core concept for ProgressBar. This was a easy downside assertion, a sketch of the answer, its worth proposition, and who the early customers have been. In different phrases, I created a tough lean canvas that’d assist me focus in the course of the subsequent month.
This was an immensely precious step for me: in moments of uncertainty I’d refer again to my lean canvas, and the reply was typically apparent.
Speaking the worth of a product to the consumer is a part of the product. And if the consumer doesn’t perceive why they need to care in 5 seconds, then you definitely’ve misplaced them.
A very powerful job was to determine which options to construct and which to exclude. This was made fairly simple by my tight deadline of a month: I used to be solely capable of prioritize these options that customers would need, so I eliminated all the pieces apart from the core performance, to depart me time to iterate and work on the launch.
My fundamental uncertainty at this level was what the product ought to appear like. I brainstormed some product designs with a designer pal, and we created a shortlist of three concepts that seemed promising. I talked to 10 customers and requested them what they thought concerning the completely different variations:
Some early design concepts for ProgressBar
As soon as I knew what the product ought to appear like, constructing it was (comparatively) easy: I needed to generate a bunch of photos for I’d use for the progress bar icon, and create the taskbar app itself utilizing a Home windows SDK.
The second most vital job – and the toughest for me – was constructing the touchdown web page. I had little expertise of promoting or product-positioning in my earlier life as a senior software program engineer and supervisor. However getting this proper was essential: speaking the worth of a product to the consumer is a part of the product. And if the consumer doesn’t perceive why they need to care in 5 seconds, then you definitely’ve misplaced them.
I iterated on the touchdown web page for an entire week, utilizing variations of the quotes, copy, photos, and structure. I requested early customers and startup mates for suggestions and used Harry Dry’s glorious information to know the idea. After many iterations, I lastly had one thing that I believed would cross the 5-second check, and I used to be able to launch.
Describe the method of launching the enterprise.
My launch plan was easy: to make use of communities of early customers and supporters to assist share ProgressBar!
These of us have been my mates who wished ProgressBar to succeed as a lot as I did. Many of the “work” concerned right here was really within the weeks main as much as the launch: in partaking with customers, understanding their wants, serving to them succeed of their objectives, and in the end constructing a relationship and belief.
Listed below are a few of the communities I joined while constructing ProgressBar:
An superior group of early-stage founders and indie hackers who help each other to ramen-profitable and past. WeekendClub is exclusive amongst on-line communities in that relationship between founders are very deep – folks care about each other, they usually observe by means of of their help.
I discovered a few of my first customers from this group and likewise realized about learn how to place and market a brand new product concept. My crew was successfully capable of fill out my blind spots — a really helpful function for any solo founder, and one thing value investing in, nonetheless you select to deal with it.
2) Indie London
The UK’s #1 Indie Hackers group, with London’s largest bootstrapper pub meetup: IndieBeers. It’s a lite-version of Weekend Membership – considerably much less lively, nevertheless it’s an excellent begin if you would like a taster of the group.
The “OG” Indie Hacker group. It’s a broad group that you can use in some ways. I used to be impressed by the opposite concepts of us have been engaged on and realized quite a bit about how they approached constructing their merchandise companies. Particularly, I discovered giving suggestions on touchdown pages to be a good way to offer again to a supportive group and to learn to design a touchdown web page myself!
Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain clients?
I designed ProgressBar to be a easy one-off buy that you just personal endlessly when you’ve purchased it. Why? As a result of it was easy to implement: a extra difficult subscription mannequin might have labored, however I wished to stay to my deadline of releasing inside a month.
Among the early suggestions I obtained was that some customers have been skeptical that such a easy software might assist them – in spite of everything, it’s simply an icon in your taskbar! Might that assist them with their productiveness? I used to be assured that it might — from my very own expertise — and I quickly added a money-back assure. This helped with conversion: extra folks signed up, and, as I anticipated, few requested their a reimbursement.
The best supply of recent clients was from evaluations on blogs of productiveness lovers. I had an attention-grabbing realization in the future after I acquired a flurry of purchases with addresses in a script that I wasn’t capable of learn. Seems a reviewer from Taiwan had written about ProgressBar, and his followers determined to attempt it out! Isn’t the web superb – folks everywhere in the world can attain one another in just a few clicks.
How are you doing immediately and what does the longer term appear like?
As we speak, ProgressBar is a principally hands-off product! It usually will get gross sales and generates passive revenue with out a lot involvement on my behalf. I typically want to assist customers with help queries, however speaking to customers is one thing I take pleasure in and is important in understanding learn how to develop the product.
I’ve had a smorgasbord of recent function concepts from customers:
- Home windows 11 help
- Potential so as to add customized deadlines
- Help for nocturnal staff who end their day the subsequent day
Lastly, I additionally need to proceed to work on advertising and marketing ProgressBar. Reddit is especially interesting as a result of it has nice communities of productiveness hackers and Home windows customers – maybe Reddit advertisements might work?
Via beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something notably useful or advantageous?
A very powerful factor for founders is their psychological well being. I learn the identical recommendation earlier than I began my very own firm, and I didn’t pay a lot consideration, pondering that I had a robust will and was resilient, so I ignored it.
You’ll in all probability learn this sentence proper now, and suppose it too doesn’t apply to you. However founding a enterprise is difficult – and burnout is an actual factor. I’d recommend you discover a sustainable approach that can assist you to work on your enterprise for the lengthy haul. In spite of everything, your complete objective is to not stop.
What platform/instruments do you employ for your enterprise?
A very powerful service I used was a group: a group of different indie hackers and startup founders. I’m a member of some communities: Weekend Membership, IndieLdn, just a few personal ones with mates. Members in these communities help one another and provide insights and learnings which might be exhausting to return by. I can’t advocate this sufficient, and need I had shaped these relationships sooner!
Squarespace is incredible – it allowed me to construct a kick-ass touchdown web page in per week, together with a retailer that would settle for funds to Stripe and PayPal! Cheaper options exist in case you’re prepared to do some extra work.
Lastly, Notion is the working system for my life and work: almost all the pieces I do leads to Notion in a single kind or one other. You don’t have to drink the Notion potion as a lot as I do, however its simplicity and ease of use could be very useful to a busy startup founder.
What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different sources?
Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?
Everybody means that founders ought to give attention to first understanding the issue, relatively than constructing the answer. You completely ought to: that is nice recommendation that everybody ought to heed, notably these working in B2B startups. Nonetheless, there’s one other vital level you need to do not forget that I don’t hear typically sufficient: you must also have an concept of the answer in your thoughts.
You want one thing to carry onto; one thing which you’ll critique, ideate over, construct upon, and get excited by. With out some concept of what can be worthwhile to construct, you’ll be misplaced, ideating with out ardour to drive you ahead
Lastly, I believe that each potential entrepreneur ought to construct and launch a product on-line. I name this the end-to-end startup. This doesn’t should be a giant venture: the smaller the higher. The objective is to make $1 on-line and to study constructing, advertising and marketing, and rising an internet enterprise. Do that, and also you’ll be taught greater than most MBAs and be nicely ready to start out one thing bigger.
The place can we go to be taught extra?
If in case you have any questions or feedback, drop a remark under!
Founding father of ProgressBar
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