Investor Update January 2021
To quote Daniel Gross
Writing an investor update is like having an offsite with yourself. You get a moment to climb to the 1,000th floor of the building and observe the city landscape unfold beneath you. You map out coordinates and return to the ground floor to fight with the infantry.
While there hasn’t been a lot of visible progress, I did a lot of work “below the surface” and most importantly, got clarity on my next steps.
Here’s what this month’s revenue looks like:
- Product Explorer is with $790.96 from 29 sales responsible for most of the revenue.
- Newsletter Spy comes second with $280.84 from 27 sales.
- Gum Spy only generated $164.89 from 11 sales.
- Additionally, 7 people downloaded Sumo Spy but no one donated any money.
These numbers do not show any progress and are almost the same as last month. But I count this as a good thing as I did zero marketing.
My expenses were:
- $60 for a freelancer who checks the online status of websites for me.
- $20 for my Airtable pro subscription.
- $100 for my assistant.
On the personal branding side I made some progress, although I didn’t prioritize it at all.
This is what my Twitter stats look like:
As you can see, I barely tweeted at all but still managed to add almost 500 new followers. This is primarily the result of one article I published that ended up on the front page of hacker news.
Also my tweet about this success generated a little bit of buzz
This is what the subscriber graph currently looks like.
I also started experimenting with cross posting my newsletter editions on Reddit after talking to Keevin O’Rourke who told me he was able to add thousands of new subscribers this way.
There’s still a lot I need to learn about that game, but I already got a first glimpse at what’s possible through the success of my article on Hacker News and two reddit posts which earned around 50 upvotes and resulted in a few new subscribers. The most important subreddit seems to be /r/Entrepreneur but they have rather strict rules and I still don’t have enough karma to post there.
My viral article also added quite a few subscribers to my Bootstrap MBA email list:
An update to this list is long overdue, and I’ll send one in the next few days.
I published quite a few new podcast episodes this month and while the trajectory clearly points upwards, there’s still a lot I need to learn about podcast marketing.
(I have absolutely no idea how reliable these Anchor.fm stats are or how to interpret them.)
So from an objective point of view my podcast is by far the least successful marketing channel. But I love recording the episodes and won’t stop anytime soon.
I think that Episode #9 with Keevin O’Rourke was by far the best one and we discussed the possibility of him becoming a permanent co-host. This would solve the biggest issues with the podcast:
- Currently, I still need to get to know the guest in each episode which is time we aren’t brainstorming ideas although this is what listeners primarily want to hear.
- There is huge variance in the quality of idea product ideas suggested by my guests (and I always feel bad cutting them out) while Keevin’s ideas are all top-notch.
- Looking for guests and arranging the calls is time I could better spend getting the word out.
Hopefully things with Keevin will work out, but in any case I think that a permanent co-host is what the podcast really needs right now.
Let’s finish this update by talking about my various projects in a bit more detail.
- I made no noteworthy improvements to Product Explorer.
- I made no noteworthy improvements to Gum Spy.
- Since Substack changed their public API that allowed to me to get subscriber numbers for Newsletter Spy, I wasn’t able to update the data. But I’m working on a machine learning model that predicts the subscriber count of Substack newsletters based on publicly available metrics like the category rank and engagement metrics. So far, my models are still widely inaccurate and I’ll probably have to hire an expert to make it work. Most machine learning stuff boils down to experience and is more art than science. So hiring someone with more experience for the job makes a lot of sense. But of course it’s also possible that my models aren’t working well because it’s simply impossible to deduce the subscriber number from public metrics. An expert will probably be able to give me an answer after an hour or so since I already prepared the data. We’ll see.
- I’m still trying to figure out what I should do with the trendspotting algorithms I wrote. The code works quite will and using a bit of manual work (that I can outsource to my assistant), I’m able to find quite a lot of interesting trends. Given that competitors charge $29+ per month for a weekly email with 5 trends or so, there seems to be a real opportunity to provide something better at a lower price. To validate my idea I created a Substack. I then cross posted a first newsletter issue in just one Subreddit and managed to get 88 subscribers this way. So it seems there is quite some interest and I’ll continue working on the project. It would be perfect if I could find some niche to focus on. For example, I think the kind of trendspotting I’m currently doing works best for e-commerce products and hence it might make sense to target dropshippers.
- Regarding the unbundling of Product Explorer that I hinted at in my product strategy post I decided to start by focusing on the “abandoned asset” use case and again created a Substack to validate my idea. I already wrote two issues but haven’t done any marketing so far. My plan is to introduce a premium $29 per month plan right away to see if there’s sufficient interest. I already have an almost endless list of assets and types of assets that I would love to cover, so I’m really hoping that there is sufficient interest.
- Another thing I did to unbundle Product Explorer is to include “unloved product ideas” (bad rating but many users) in my Product Ideas Newsletter. I also changed the format so that now it’s just product ideas and nothing else since I think this is the main reasons why people subscribe.
- Unfortunately, Daniel told me that he currently doesn’t have time to continue working on our Product Leads project. But I’ll probably continue working on it nevertheless since I think the idea is really valuable. (We discussed the idea in this call.)
- Daniel and I launched Indie Drops on Product Hunt which tripled out subscriber number. Also Daniel had the amazing idea of running a distribution giveaway which caused some additional buzz. So while growth looks superb, I’m still not entirely happy with the email we send out. I tried to source deals but got exactly zero positive responses. This means, we’ll have to rely on the inbound deals people send us.
- I spend a lot of time this month working on a collaboration with Stefan von Imhof and Wyatt Cavalier. Our plan is to create something like The Motley Fool for alternative assets on top of Stefan’s already existing Alternative Assets newsletter. I’m primarily responsible for collecting data from different sources that Stefan and Wyatt can then use in their newsletters. Stefan is currently still working on a redesign of his website that he wants to finish before we launch but on the data collecting side of things everything looks promising so far. I’ll definitely write more about this project in the next update.
It probably seems as if I’m spreading myself very thin at the moment. But as I laid out in this and this post, I want to radically change my approach and this requires that I do a lot of exploration before I start exploiting.
Most likely, I’ll quit most of my projects in the coming months to focus on the one thing that yields outsized returns. But right now I simply haven’t found my one thing and thus throwing a lot of stuff out there to see what sticks seems like the right thing to do.