What was the project and why did it fail (best to your knowledge)? Or what's a side-project of yours that's actively losing money?
If you read the financials from most software companies that are public you'll see that marketing costs are way higher than development and maintenance costs. It's the primary way to get customers to buy or use your app.
I think the marketing plan is part of the project design - you should have it before you build it. Are you targeting remote workers? That should be part of the UI, the features, etc. Do you plan on marketing via social media? Your app should have lots of share buttons and the formatting of the content should be shareable.
Every time someone brings up the discussion of whether an app is web, iOS, or Android, my answer is always how that links to marketing. Some people are better at some forms of marketing, and that has to be in synergy with the product.
However, if you need to throw money at it, it's also likely not doing a great job. Sites like Google and Facebook launched with no paid marketing, even though they spend a good amount of money marketing now. It's not that they didn't have money, but not using paid advertising is a good way to gauge how strong your product is and give you time to patch it.
The latter case is when marketing is a lot more integrated with building the product. If you’ve made it all the way to a public release but don’t really know how to market, then there is a dangerously high probability that you built something nobody really asked for.
There are plenty of reasons you need to throw money at it. For example, if the distribution is made by a third party (like Steam, if the project was a game), you're literally paying Steam to get your game distributed - and you could have a great game.
I don't think Google and Facebook are the best examples, because the internet was quite a different place when they launched.
But also marketing seems like a money black hole to me. I could sink tons of money into marketing and have little to show for it.
More like - if you have an idea for a commercial website or app or something, it's best to start by finding potential customers, building relationships with them, and getting to know what they actually need and are willing to pay for. This is much more important than what language and framework to use, how you'll host it, and other technical decisions. Do the research first to figure out if people are willing to pay for your idea in a form that's in your "runway" budget of what you can afford to build and run before you get money coming in.
It's also perfectly fine to build something without that to try out a new tech you think is interesting, or to scratch a personal itch, etc. Just don't expect to bring in any money with it without doing that research.
It’s like waiting to build the backend until the frontend is 100% complete. While building assumptions change based on things you learn. Marketing for your product works the same way.
By putting the effort into marketing (meaning any form of reaching out: blog posts, direct sales, social media or even paid) you might even avoiding building features that nobody wanted anyway.
> It’s like waiting to build the backend until the frontend is 100% complete
It's more like building a backend, then realising that the data structures could be improved when you're building the front. Marketing at best provides enhancements, not core changes (unless your product itself was incorrect to begin with).
Honestly, if your marketing affects your product as much as you're suggesting, you have a pretty unstable product.
Marketing is about exposing your product to your target customers. It's relatively orthogonal to product features.
By overly internally inconsistent I mean that at some places they will be impossible to fulfill. The code will always breaking at edge cases. The ui will do three things at the same time, will be incoherent and will be complicated for user to understand and learn.
By complicated I mean that you will have to code super complicated hard to maintain structures to fulfill everything at the same time.
Marketing can not be requirements gathering, because marketing is motivated to promise everything to everybody and to exaggerate. I dont use exaggerate here as euphemism for "lie" through that happens too. Exaggerating itself is a problem. Marketing is not motivated to build coherent analysis.
I know because I worked on projects where marketing was driving requirements . It did not led to happy customers, because customers were unhappy over instability and our inability to fill their requirements in a reasonable way.
I feel what you are talking about is a siloed approach where developers build what the marketing team promises to customers. If these teams are the same people you are the developer and marketing team, and thus over-promising things to customers is only shooting yourself in the foot.
Also if you want to hit the ground running marketing can be developing plans for some time ahead of launch.
As for a black hole of money, it can be. Any area is if spent poorly. A failed product is a development money pit.
Marketing should be looked at like an investment, not a cost. Track your activities and if a dollar spent brings back more than a dollar, spend more and see where it plateaus. And vice versa, stop spending or find another channel/marketer. Ive seen developer lead companies looking at marketing as a cost line reject budget increases even with marketing showing a dollar spent was directly returning significantly more. I've also seen money shoveled into the furnace. Marketing is not just good/bad, it's recognising good marketing and bad marketing.
The marketing is critical but I’m just saying there is a cost also
We asked people about problems or inefficiencies in their industry that could be solved by Saas products and then sent those ideas out as a daily newsletter. I learned a lot, but had difficulty making money with it. Also, I'm not totally sure my heart was in it. I think about it a lot.
I've recently launched a new project - https://topstonks.com where I'm exploring this new speculative culture of investing emanating from places like reddit's Wallstreetbets, and 4chan's Biz.
We currently look at the most mentioned equities and send out a list of those. Once or twice a week we'll post an analysis with some comments from those communities (heads up, if you're easily offended, the language can be a bit crude.)
There are bigger plans on the roadmap, but we're just starting w/ the newsletter for now.
The Mom Test has a great rule of thumb when doing customer development and that's to ask "last time you needed to do X, what did you do?"
For the inventory management stuff the answer would probably be "I checked my usual spreadsheet and made the orders".
And thats likely what the person will continue to do forever. If they wanted to solve the problem they would have found the software by now most likely.
I don't have a clue whether you can monetize it, though.
An email alert for horse owners/barn managers when the forecast will be colder than a configured threshold temperature. It's saved us a lot of mental energy this winter (having to check not just the forecast but also making sure to check the temp at 3 AM with windchill factored in, etc...). Got zero interest from various equestrian forums. shrug.
I taught myself Spring Boot through so that's a win!
And email doesn't cut it as an alert mechanism. You'd need to support both SMS and have native apps to support iOS/Android notifications.
I wouldn't invest any time in any other alert medium before verifying this. I doubt it brings anything to the value proposition of the product (but I don't know either, so that would need to be verified)
I've zero interest in commercialising it, I'm building it to play with some technologies I want to learn and because it beats anything I've got currently which is mostly just remembering to check the temperature/wind direction for the next day.
Since then I've wished that Google Maps would add a road trip weather option given that it predicts roughly where you'll be and when for possibly the next 10 hours in a drive.
Between that data and open street maps I have most of the raw data I need, the rest is a halfway usable interface, aggregating and interpolating the data and figuring out a nice way to present the results to be easily grokkable.
Are you still pushing it? I don't think you should give up on that as just a magnet idea, at the very least. Maybe try fleshing out an extra feature/service?
Out of curiosity, how are you handling the emails? In house or 3rd party service?
If not, shame
Turning a Ender 3 3D printer into a belt printer was put on the back burner pending TaxAmmend.com
TaxAmmend.com was put on the back burner pending AmIAccessible.com
AmIAccessible.com was placed on the back burner pending my AWS Certifications.
My AWS Certifications were put on the back burner pending a Computer Forensics research paper into Consumer Grade Forensics.
My research paper was put into the back burner pending an IDE 3.5" hard drive from ebay.
The IDE 3.5" hard drive is coming but I am now 3D printing a cosplay nailgun for going as Kohta Hirano from high school of the dead, rebuilding my Open Media Vault machine (as it has had a critical software failure) and publishing a Computer Networks paper that I had kicking around since 2019.
So I am probably going to be a busy busy boy for the foreseeable future.
This is the same experience for mobile apps too, ESPECIALLY Android apps on the Google Play Store.
Good luck if you think you'll increase visibility on other android app stores, its just more requirements.
So I get an email with patio11, Patrick Collison, or Alan Kay posts. When I first made it, I submitted a Show HN thread, but got zero response.
I never thought about actually paying attention to who posts on HN, only what's posted. It seems obvious now that you've mentioned it.
Gained 1k following in about 2 or 3 months. But after investigating twitter traffic, I noticed most followers are bots and tweets I put up trying to sell some game assets gained lots of likes and retweets, but never a sale.
It was a fun project on its own and confirmed that I'm not missing out by avoiding twitter. The web scraping portion was actually the most fun to it.
It failed because quite simply, when we tried to get other sales managers to use it for free (hoping it'd be popular), we found they wouldn't make the time to spend 2 mins planning a 1:1, probably as they're managed on 'selling deals, right now' in many cases, which is a bit sad!
Learning: I should have read the Mom Test.
With hindsight, I wish I'd built it for engineers based on Pull Requests (PR #181 had a ton of back and forth / NLP shows it got heated). It would have been fun if nothing else!
My thinking is to target sales orgs that are going through restructuring or are focusing on major improvements/goals. Execs would push their managers to setup 1:1s for development in the company and career
Prerender.cloud kind of sells itself, but roast.io does not. I've wondered if it appears too complex.
Also what does https://www.roast.io/ do better than netlify. I think you should highlight it on your homepage. Thats your main competitor as far as I see it.
- I got plenty of customers (side gig volume) from all over the world.
- Many of them were very happy with the results.
- Collecting requirements for reports and dashboards is notoriously difficult and volatile, but I was able to keep this under control. I credit my age (48) and experience for that.
- I hitched my wagon to a tool that is not ready for prime time: Google Data Studio. I spent too much time wrestling with the tool.
- The success of many projects depended not on my skills with Data Studio, but with the quality of the data sources and APIs that were feeding into Data Studio. Almost half the time, the quality was well below expectations, and I spent too much time wrestling with the integration.
In the end, I wasn't even close to making a reasonable hourly rate, and getting to the point where I could get past an hourly rate and make money at scale seemed impossible.
I happily shut it down after six months.
- In SF (a seller’s market), prospective tenants only wanted to use it if their prospective landlords asked for it, or if it gave them an advantage over other prospective tenants
- Landlords have their existing process that works, and didn’t want to change it. Things like comparison views for tenants, pulling in social media info, and automatic credit reports were helpful, but since for most SF landlords getting new tenants is low frequency (unlike, say, NY), the value was low
For each, the value prop was unclear.
If I were to try it again, I’d try to understand the market better and find the right subset of landlords and tenants, and the right geo, to focus on first.
It relied heavily on third-party APIs and scrapers for prices, search, book details, currency conversion, and the PaaS hosting service. Over 8 years many of those services slowly shut down until the site didn't work any more.
It was a fun project, both for learning to code, and for better understanding the tradeoffs around third-party dependencies. I wrote more about it here: https://www.ajnisbet.com/blog/maintaining-a-zero-maintenance...
It's an ad-free social network that is supposed to be a richer and more private alternative to Facebook.
It's been adopted by my closest friends and family, but hasn't grown much beyond these initial users. The product itself tries to do a ton of stuff: messaging, photo sharing, event planning, location sharing, video sharing, etc. Perhaps that's part of the problem -- it doesn't do one thing particularly above and beyond existing solutions.
The people still on it, are the people who use it as a "separate space" to all the rest of the bazillion dollar alternatives - hellbent on shoving adverts, tracking and all the rest.
I'm only going off on this tangent, as maybe what appears to be lack of traction, could also be (if you squint hard) a benefit. Could you cookie-cutter out instances of your product?
If you can, then maybe you could position it as a micro-ecosystem for events people don't immediately want to integrate into their existing mega-social world.
Could on-board all people invited to the app (click this link to say if you're going or not), let them get to know each other a bit first, share photos they took of the event, plan stag events, enter dietary requirements, link to the wedding list, buy a nice photo from the official photographer, send a message to that bridesmaid you thought you were getting on well with, click on faces in photos to see who they are etc etc.
It's here at https://aether.app/email/#/force. If that turns out to be your thing hit me up and I can extend the trial for you as far as you need to give it a shot.
That and using intrepid Russian hacking/engineering to make most control boards compatible with any model (essentially a firmware reflash, but by God do the manufacturers make it hard).
Really proud of it now, it helped hundreds of people and small businesses while being as environmentally friendly as it gets - all of those broken appliances were headed for landfills in third world countries, and I feel like I actually made a difference.
Failed because of my departure from the UK and losing those suppliers. Looking at finding new ones, so far no one wants to work with me, they either sell refurbished complete units or just send all their scrap to landfills. Easier, I guess.
Not finding a partner or any employees was a huge part, I even automated replies for buyers - based on specific keywords, it would reply stating availability of parts and delivery time. Again, proud of that, but having more people working with me would've been better.
Clothing vendors (whom were my primary target) find difficulty putting their products online, major ecommerce players in the country require one to be residing in Lagos before one can use their platforms, and most them took lion share of the profits.
I felt a catalog platform (where no buying and selling between vendors and their customers occur) will be best, since the vendors prefer dealing with customers directly as they get their money in full. I ran it by some vendor friends and stranger vendors, they promised to signup for the beta phase.
When the project was in beta, they bailed. Without users to help me with feedback, I felt demotivated and abandoned it.
I think the fault is from my failure to get an MVP ready asap, I ran into problems with my PC at that time. To add salt to injury, whatsapp business accounts added catalogue feature, pushing me out of market I never entered. After all, if the vendors can get it for free, why pay.
I'll shut the server down month ending and focus on freelancing gigs.
link to a demo store/catalog on the platform
edit: Fix typo
In 2018 we ran a beta test in central NJ that was well received. I am the non-technical founder and our entire team was volunteer based. I also self-funded the project (outsourcing development) and although the beta went well the product is unfinished. Now on the back burner because we have no team anymore and I don't want to invest more personal cash into it at this time. I pay to keep it live for interested parties.
It was honestly a lot of effort to determine who to vote for.
I may try to relaunch if I can find a good partner, but it just seems the anything related to finance is going to be a huge pain. I'm currently looking at other options.
It reminds the users when they need to return books borrowed from public libraries to protect them from paying late fees. It is extremely useful for library users, but they do not know that it exists.
First I wrote it for Windows and Linux, told the librarians about it and they said, we do not want any apps. Now the libraries have Android apps, so I ported it to Android, but when I tell the librarians about it, they say, we already have an app, we do not need two apps. But they still do not Windows and Linux apps.
I cannot test it without traveling in person to the public library in Germany and renting some books, so when the librarians changes something on their webpage, it stops working; and I cannot fix it, until someone from there tells me what was changed, so it is losing functionality every year
But I primarily wrote it because of a library that sends reminders. I borrowed books there, did not set a reminder myself, since they always send reminders, and then they did not send reminders. "We had a mail server failure", and then I had to pay 60€, because they cannot maintain their servers properly.
And it has more features. It also renews the books automatically to extend the lending period. Siri cannot renew the books. And it keeps a list of all books. Before I had it, I had read books that I would like to read again, but I do not remember which books that were
I have a great idea, did some decks/mockups/simulation's.
Was actually offered 6-figure angel investment (I passed).
Yet haven't been able to make reall progress with an MVP. I am a very experienced developer, but never did any web/saas stuff.
I feel embarrassed.
I have tried joining recently a tracking and discussion forum and it's been really helpful.
Definitely find forums for the tools you are using and ask questions in the beginners channels. No need to be embarrassed, if you've never held a cup it's not a big deal, it just takes time to learn how to hold one. Then time to walk to the river, then time to scoop some water into the cup. But eventually, piece by piece, you'll get a delicious drink that satiates, and you'll know how to fashion a cup even more cleanly for the next time(s) you need a new cup. Aha, at this point one can start seeing code reusability, state management via atomic actions through swaps, and functional approaches as fundamental to achieving incremental progress. Laying the foundation hardly looks like progress, but actual progress is impossible without an excellent foundation.
Plenty of traffic. Totally failed. Started MVP by pulling in listings from elsewhere, but couldn't get a single listing.
Why did it fail? I think because:
1. Companies had zero interest in targeting 'older' workers in tech, despite them being the second-largest discrimination group (after women) in technology. I got more than one 'why would we target them?' response.
2. I didn't solicit the right people (or in the right way) for listings
3. Inexperience: I'm not very skilled at marketing, and saw a real need but clumsily approached it
By which I mean, we all know that age discrimination happens, but you're not 'supposed' to do it. By setting up a website that explicitly discriminates based on age, you're exposing the employer to a verifiable action that they're taking to discriminate on age. It doesn't matter that it's an attempt to counter the widely perceived current discrimination.
Imagine if you set up a website for another protected group (sex, religion, pregnant). Most companies would run a mile from that. The whole thing about structural discrimination is the plausible deniability that you're consciously doing it...
Why would companies put themselves at a net disadvantage by actively targetting older SE's who are more likely to know their rights and not accept 18 hour days.
Ever notice how U.S. flight attendants tend to be older nowadays, compared to the Cute Young Things you see in old movies (and on many non-U.S. airlines)? The U.S. airlines had to learn a harsh (and expen$ive) lesson there.
Some of them are still learning it... United recently had to pay two flight attendants $800,000 apiece after a jury decided that they'd been fired because of their age rather than the technical infractions United had used for cover.
Edit: if I were the OP, I'd collect a bunch of age discrimination cases where Big Bucks had been awarded to the employees and make those part of my marketing material.
Edit #2: in engineering, specifically, in 2017 Lockheed Martin was ordered to pay $51.5 million to an engineer for age discrimination.
It failed because we spend so much time building lots of random features and never got much feedback.
In retrospect I think the data vis market is just too saturated to get noticed at this point. I am sure it is possible for someone, but it wasn't for us.
Current "side" project is Webase  where we incorporate many ideas that were in Chartly, but addresses a broader and much earlier market.
A marketplace to connect artists looking to recoup the cost of supplies with art lovers who are looking for a bargain. Didn't pick up, even tho the initial feedback was great - guess the demand wasn't there after all, from both sides. It's still live, only losing money.
Recently launched a service to serve nice (or so I thought) dotcoms at well below market value, however it doesn't seem to be picking up the traction I was expecting.
Could you delve more into how you've managed the project? How did you market it? How significant are your operating costs or losses?
Domains are a tough business.
A Trello + Zapier productivity app that acts like a PA, scheduling your events, reminders, etc. There's going to be a point sometime this year where I decide if its dead in the water or whether to keep going.
I wanted to give an easy way for people to learn the intimidating WordPress API, bit by bit, every morning, in their email.
It failed because monetization was an afterthought. Even though it gathered a steady 1100 subscribers (daily emails) at the end (for about 6 months), I was unable to make a buck with ads (Amazon books related to wordpress).
Now I'm on my way for another failure with my online course on WordPress plugin development. This one, I think I failed because I'm not a public figure in WP development so it's harder for people to trust me, and (related reason) I don't have much reach on social networks.
In retrospect, launching a lander to see if I can even get some emails before building a product is a must.
- new way to personalize a smartphone with Wallpaper which plays animation aka Greets you! at Unlock: see example videos at wakeanimation.org
Seeking validation of the idea, I posted on Reddit at /r/androidapps which routinely gets 700-800 people hanging out at any time. Only 3 replied actually, which I interpreted as lackluster interest, although comments were strong positives.
Since then I built this little page explaining the concept, but had difficulty getting more definite hands up- or hands down- signal.
The app would take a bit more work and testing before it's ready for release. So I really would like to get better handle if this can get traction.
Looking at monetization figures on SensorTower, the Android Personalization category is not anywhere near the Games; only one/two apps really make decent sales.
Appreciate any pointers or thoughts, if anyone have experience and ideas to try.
It's like Couch-2-5k for sprint intervals. I think that not a lot of people are into sprint intervals, or understand why they should be.
Got around 70 users of the app per day on ios&android combined, but just couldn't get it to get any more traction. Pretty much mothballed now, removed from app stores.
What did you use to make the logos?
I can’t explain why Apple doesn’t add a calc app to iPad OS. And the amount of shitty, ad-infested alternatives borders on horrifying.
On the business side, the supply chain seems like a nightmare. Any specific lessons learned?
It's not dead, but on an indefinite freeze. It lets anyone host a server from any device. The goal was to market it to users who want to host their own Minecraft servers, and IoT businesses that need to do on-premise hosting using an internet connection they don't control
Finished the project, built the tool and it worked great, had a bunch of people using it. Then I got to the point of having to actually distribute/market it and I gave up - the idea of having to actually support a desktop application was just too much for me.
I'll probably throw the code up on GitHub at some point so people can still get some value out of it, since a lot of people have been asking.
It failed as Quora changed how much info could be seen/scraped on the frontend without a login. Even if they hadn't I likely wouldn't have been able to get enough LTV from each user to spend enough acquire them at a decent pace.
No regrets though, it was my first experience doing user feedback sessions over Skype, which I can't recommend highly enough vs. asking them to fill a form.
Feel free to leave any additional question or feedback.
I'd love to bounce some ideas back and forth with you. Could you drop me an e-mail at the e-mail I have listed in my profile, please?
Since I happened to need to send & receive a fax, but didn't like to commit to a longer subscription plan, I made this website for doing that: https://5dollarfax.com/
I had a plan to promote it by writing a deep blog post about the contents of a fax handshake, and got pretty far into it, but at one point it required some signal processing knowledge I didn't yet have and the post languished.
It works well for me and one other power user, but hasn't grown beyond that. My guess is it's just a failure of marketing -- I make lots of these projects that scratch an itch and then just hope people will find them.
At least it's cheap to run ($2/month for the vps plus <$10/year for the domain).
If you end up liking them, here's my affiliate link: https://my.frantech.ca/aff.php?aff=3397
Stripe closed my account before I was able to launch as it was "unable to accept payments for crowdfunding"..... Their marketing doesn't match their policies.
Wow. I understand it's their right to do this, but that's total horseshit IMO. I guess maybe crowdfunding is subject to too many refunds, but IDK.
You could add a tag to feature request issues that it'd read from, maybe as a github app or something. I run an OS repo and it'd be really cool to be able to get through them all faster with a bit of money to pay a freelancer, for example. I imagine the users-paying side would be very hard to find though.
I'd also love to be able to attach a bounty to PRs with this money, although quality control would make me worry it'd be hard.
I imagine Patreon is never an enormous sum for people because the money is goodwill - it isn't tied to receiving anything back. You could make it like this.
I'm surprised there wasn't some other way of doing this - clearly other crowd funding sites exists, what do they use?
Most use Stripe. I guess it's just a case by case thing. I really don't know why they rejected me when they advertise that exact use case . But the policy I was directed to says the opposite .
What I learned from talking to people, the only people who have trouble finding weekend activities are travelers, or couples. But I am not sure if those markets are big enough considering the complexity of building this. I have some iteration ideas that i might try in the future. I also discovered existing solutions that are "good enough" (sffuncheap etc.).
1. The website and product would benefit from having a designer involved. There is a design fashion that changes about every five years or so and you're a couple cycles behind.
2. Get someone that needs your software to talk through the copy. "Merge, split, clean, dedupe, reformat and more" into what? From where? Is this online or downloadable? Does this work for my specific workflow?
3. Screenshot looks like it is on a Mac. Is it Mac only? If not, put a Windows screenshot right next to it. I know after you scroll down it shows Windows support, but that can be easily missed.
4. Block quote testimonials: Bold or highlight the most relevant part. I'm not reading a paragraph, I'm scanning.
5. Fix the about page. Many Excel files have sensitive data and people click about to make sure that they can trust the company. You need better, more reassuring copy and a better picture. Asking for feedback is fine, but the current copy borders on "this is really new and may not be reliable" territory.
6. If your target demographic is Excel pros, explain why user defined functions or macros couldn't or shouldn't accomplish the same task that you help with.
Hope this helps and best of luck!
1. It looks pretty modern to me. I'm not selling to web designers, so I'm too bothered with keeping up with all the latest trends, I just need the web design to be 'good enough' to be credible.
2. I think that information is all on the front page, isn't it? I don't want to make the tag line too wordy.
3. The screenshot is Mac. But it says Windows and Mac further down.
4. I've kept the testimonials short, but bolding might be worth a try.
5. Pretty much the same 'about' page seems fine for my other 2 products. Also, no-one much goes to the 'about' page. One of the advantages of my product is that your data stays on your computer.
6. Fair comment, but I don't think they would be on my website if they we happy with just Excel!
The general standard of websites is so much higher these days, if it looks cramped and dated I don't linger.
Testimonials are too long as well.
BTW You would probably also consider the design of https://www.perfecttableplan.com dated. But that converts visitors to downloads just fine.
I think the biggest differences is perfect table plan focuses on a very concrete idea that is easy to communicate and uses a paradigm people are familiar with (looking at a seating chart). I was able figure out what it did within 5 seconds of looking at the website.
But data transformations are a fairly abstract concept. Most users I imagine don't think "I need to transform my data", they probably think of the problem more concretely like "I need to deduplicate this giant excel spreadsheet". They will be glancing at the website asking themselves the question "Will this deduplicate my giant excel spreadsheet?" and the first picture they see will be a dataflow diagram. The user has probably never seen a dataflow diagram, and only rarely will they have done in gui based programming before. They will probably think "This might deduplicate my giant excel spreadsheet after I learn a bunch of hard stuff about how to wire these different boxes together". Before ever realizing how easy your app is to use.
If I were you, I'd replace data transformations with something like "Excel power tasks", and then have a list of all the tasks you can do, like deduplicate, concatenate, merge columns, etc. all with 15 second videos showing how easy your application makes accomplishing these tasks. So users lands on site, sees a list of the tasks they might want to accomplish, clicks it, watches 15 second video showing them how ridiculously easy your app makes performing that task.
Btw the apps look really awesome.
If someone is searching on "deduplicate this giant excel spreadsheet" they will hopefully end up on the dedicated landing page ( https://www.easydatatransform.com/remove_duplicate_rows_exce... ) rather than the home page.
I have got a 'How to' section at the bottom of the page. I guess I could try A/B testing that further up the page.
>The user has probably never seen a dataflow diagram, and only rarely will they have done in gui based programming before.
Yes, that might scare some people off. But I think (hope) there are lots of smart marketers, engineers, scientists etc who won't be put off by it. Finding a cost effective way to get noticed by these people is tough though.
>If I were you, I'd replace data transformations with something like "Excel power tasks"
A lot of people also want to munge CSV files. And I might add import support for JSON, SQLite etc. So I don't want to be too Excel specific.
>then have a list of all the tasks you can do, like deduplicate, concatenate, merge columns, etc. all with 15 second videos showing how easy your application makes accomplishing these tasks
Yes, lots of short video would be good and is on the todo list.
>Btw the apps look really awesome.
Testimonials are shorter, single sentences which means I read them :)
I'm not sure why there should be a distinction between selling desktop and other forms of software, if you can look past that, my company site that I co-founded is a good example https://audiencerepublic.com of a site that converts well.
A big PITA for us was the data we'd get from various sources (vendors/clients/whomever). Oh, there's a rando string in a "number" field in row 9,100,500, huh, that sucks.
You can't always build the validation into your ETL pipeline for various reasons. Or it fails the whole file (b/c the data science folks built it that way really aren't that experienced at handling exceptions in the file loads, etc)
Anyway that rambling is trying to lead up to me saying that there's a chasm between your supposed target market (marketers, BSAs, scientists) and the engineers/devs etc that could probably use some better tools for CSV/JSON munging.
Excel is terrible at this job. What I often did was load the csv into sqlite to and then ran queries on the data to figure out how many records were horked. Or if it was a process we were testing, to verify that we had the right data or a good approximation. That works for csv, but with JSON, it's even harder.
Anyway, I'm just not sure that your target market knows to look for a tool like this or would really know what to do with it. On the other hand, an engineer might look at this tool as too down level.
- No cli options
- No api?
I think there's a market for tools to help "data plumbers", software devs, engineers, support personal, etc. There's all kinds of application consultants/support etc that are moving data between systems for migrations, upgrades, custom exports, etc.
>I'm just not sure that your target market knows to look for a tool like this
Perhaps not. I am getting traffic for things such as "merge csv files" or "join excel sheets". But they mostly bounce without downloading the free trial. Even when I send them to a dedicated landing page. Most people really hate change.
>That works for csv, but with JSON, it's even harder.
Currently I am only exporting JSON (not importing). Importing JSON would involve potentially flattening a tree into a table, which is harder.
>- No cli options - No api?
Command line is high on the wish list.
Is this meant to support ETL workflows?
Is it possible to create transform recipe packs as part of the product offering? Basically pre-built configuration instead of users doing this. Maybe provide the software for free and sell the recipes?
Is this something you can package as a component that other ETL products could plug into? This can be either native plugins or some kind of web API front-end.
Just spitballing :)
>I am looking at this and thinking, how many times would a typical user need this?
I am trying to keep the product easy-to-use and the price low to reduce this barrier. But I guess a lot of people would rather spend several hours tweaking their data in Excel, rather than pay $99 and learn a new tool.
>Is this meant to support ETL workflows?
No. I imagine my target user as a marketing guy, scientist or business analyst who has a bunch of CSV and Excel files they need to munge together and clean-up to get some useful data. Maybe they build a process that they repeat once a month or with several different datasets. But they aren't data science people building an ETL pipeline. In fact they have probably never heard of 'ETL'. Data science people seem fairly wedded to R, Python+Pandas and expensive corporate ETL tools.
>Is it possible to create transform recipe packs as part of the product offering?
I think everyone is going to have different data sets and different use cases. I'm not sure that is possible to generalize the process beyond the individual transforms.
>Is this something you can package as a component that other ETL products could plug into?
Who is your target audience (programmers, analysts, accountants)? What industries can benefit most from it? Your homepage is all about features and not about users or their problems.
I'm trying to find that out. ;0)
I think it is probably a non-programmer business analyst, marketer or scientist with lots of Excel or CSV files to munge together. But experience with other products tells me that you often end up selling to different markets than the one you envisage.
>Your homepage is all about features and not about users or their problems.
I would like to have case studies and talk more about types of users. But I am still learning the market.
Also I find those 'sell the sizzle, not the steak' websites quite tedious. Tell me what it does!
> I'm trying to find that out.
You can start with why you use it.
I went for time limited, rather than use or feature limited, because it allows people to test the full capabilities. The 7 days use don't have to be contiguous.
So I built a backend service to send a push notification when available.
I was out there for a season and it was good but I didn't return the next year and I lost the urge to fix an issue I no longer faced. Was a great learning experience though!
No traction so far most likely because of founder not good at sales.
Coddle is a service that checks if your sites are online, how fast they load, and lets you know if something is wrong. As a bonus, it takes screen shots of your sites with a selection of device options.
It didn't pick up the traction I was expecting, guess this is not really something people need.
I learned a lot making it though and will use it for my own sites, so not a complete loss.
Or maybe they just use https://pingdom.com
I know of one that closed 10 years ago offering exactly the same services.
You seem to have a strong focus on persona's: makers, bloggers, designers, agencies. But have you actually checked if these specific target groups need a service like yours? And if they are willing to pay for it?
The vast majority of makers, bloggers and designers, arguably will use cloud services or platforms to get their content out. Those who do host their own website, probably are either tech savvy, or rely on a third party to take care of the operational side. Agencies either go with dedicated hosting parties who include monitoring services in their SLA's already.
There's also this weird spread between individuals - bloggers, makers, designers - and agencies, which is a totally different market.
You are competing with others who offer the same service either as a part of their offering or as a separate offering but better and far more focussed. Like these guys:
For instance, you offer basic monitoring, but you also add this concept of "snapshots" and it's entirely unclear how that tacks onto monitoring. Moreover, you're vaguely stating "Coddle will help you check that your work looks tight on various different devices." and "You can choose to take snapshots with a variety of different device options too. Perhaps you could use some of these in your marketing and designs too?" So, what are you offering here to prospective clients?
The other guys simply solve one single question through 6 distinct parameters: Is my site still up? Yes or no? That's it. It's crystal clear what they do.
They focus on the quality of their service. Do one thing, but execute it to a T. For instance, by offering all kinds of API integrations for their uptime monitoring service with push notifications.
Then there's the pricing. It's unclear if those prices are per month, week or year. Also, how does the "checks frequencey" make any difference to the customer? And what does "check logs" mean? What are you actually selling here?
Moreover, the other guys offer their service - 50 sites - for 25% cheaper then yours. Plus, their pricing contains far more tiers to cater to different segments of the market.
Notice also how they don't differentiate their users. It doesn't matter who you are. The only differentiator they have: do you have this problem? Yes / No. If yes, then this is what we offer without thrills.
I don't endorse Oh Dear app. It was the first thing that came to my mind when I clicked on your link. I think you might find it useful to see a comparison on how that might help you in the future.
I think my biggest tip would be to clearly define which problem your solving, make sure you ruthlessly stick to the scope (does it help solve the problem) - no matter how interesting tech like snapshots might be - and you make sure your communication / marketing is unambiguous about the solution you provide.
The reason for shutting it down is, it is just my playground area and I have done everything I wanted to do. Not sure if I can make it any bigger. So closing it down.
My project vintagesimulator.com did not become popular, but that doesn't mean it failed. It just means I did not put enough time and effort into creating content and promoting it. I achieved the technical goals. Despite a lack of interest I would never call it a failure.
It's for renting apartments, houses and rooms. We failed at marketing. You can publish, search by place, monument and whatever you want.
Our idea since the beginning was to learn and be able to deliver something (with some friends). Next steps are to learn more about growing communities and publicity.
I know it had been done before, but I wanted to see if I could improve existing solutions.
I never ended up launching because I felt insecure about my solution (even though I tested it).
I'm not willing to spend money on marketing it yet and didn't get any dedicated users after launching on all the usual platforms. Also competitors in the b2b space (stackoverflow for teams and others) have a huge head start.
Idea was that on mobile, programming would be simpler graphically, taking advantage of the touch screen.
It wasn't really. Or I gave up too early... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I probably need to promote it better, and get a better landing page set up. It could probably benefit from an interactive map as well.
This is not about suing platforms like YouTube. What clued me in to this opportunity was actually the company Upcounsel, which is/was a sort of eLance for lawyers. I caught them cut and pasting one of my articles. When I looked into it more deeply, it looked like they'd hired an SEO firm to build a massive content farm around the basic strategy of taking the top two results for a search term, merging the content into a single article, rearranging a few words, and then publishing the result as their own.
All of those articles live in one of their sitemaps. It's about 10k articles. I spot checked them and could find the original plagiarized sources for 70% of these articles within five clicks. Just search the article title and start clicking on other search results. So that's maybe 14k potential instances of copyright infringement.
The reason I thought Upcounsel was a reasonable target is for two reasons.
A) They passed my own moral filter, which is higher than just "what makes me money." I think it's outrageous to pass off plagiarized legal advice as legitimate. These are people who should know better too. And I reported this to one of their investors who reported it to their CEO, so I know they know.
B) They briefly had money. It actually seems a little bit expensive to file these lawsuits. I'm not 100% on the details, but it's things like needing to actually register the copyright ($800) and only have the ability to sue in federal court ($10k to really get going). Upcounsel raised a $12M round and I thought you could probably win a chunk of that just for the fact that an embarrassing lawsuit could really cripple a company that's trying to move quickly from milestone to milestone.
The key to making the financial side work is proving willful infringement. That can allow up to $150k/instance.
The key operational issue for this side project it a process for buying copyright. I never practiced the actual pitch. "Hi, I want to buy your copyright for the purpose of suing someone who is infringing on it. I will give you a perpetual license back, i.e. I have no interest in using this content myself." There are a couple of variants on the pitch and you'd probably have to experiment.
This is something that really needs a lawyer and I only talked to a lawyer about one issue. I bought a session with someone on Upcounsel (thinking that using their services to sue them would make for a good story). And what I asked was about acquiring of copyright. Would it be enough to just acquire a license or would I need to be the actual copyright holder? I thought the license would make for an easier pitch to copyright holders. But the legal advice I got was very clear that I needed to be the actual copyright holder in order to file suit.
Part of the underlying theory here is my belief that this work was done for Upcounsel by an SEO firm rather than invented in house. If it's a firm, then that means there are other past clients who would be targets for a lawsuit. Unfortunately, Upcounsel has basically announced they've gone out of business and so they aren't a good target anymore.
Summing all that up, it looked like a decent risk where you might spend $50-100k per target to win/settle for $500k+ with the most annoying thing probably being how slow this would move. That's a good business, right? Plus, these people are in the wrong, so it's something you could feel good about. I mean--suing people is a pretty violent act. But the target balances it out. You'd be like Omar in The Wire executing Rip&Runs on drug dealers.
Last, as a publisher myself, this sort of thing wouldn't worry me. I'm sure one of our authors has passed plagiarism by us, but there's no way we ware willful infringers. We pass articles through plagiarism checkers, respond immediately to reports, ban authors, etc. What makes this whole idea work is that there are companies now who made plagiarism core to their business strategy. They aren't necessarily wrong to do this since there aren't any forces, legal or social, which seem to be punishing them.
So far I have 2 paid users, and they're both people I know. It's pretty obvious February won't see 10 paid users. Now the project moves to the back burner; fail.
What is the project? I hesitate to describe it. One person I described it to said, "Nobody will ever pay for that." When I finally developed it and showed her the intro video, she clapped and later paid for it herself.
HN readers might understand it as a personal Kialo or an Evernote/Keep for trees of reasoning. You write pro and con statements under a main statement, evaluate their truthfulness, then evaluate the main statement. Click into a pro and con to explore its pros and cons. Here's the introductory video: https://youtu.be/PXvU1h44jVw
OK, so why did it not succeed in the allotted time? There are many possible explanations.
It could be that people are not feeling the pain of how difficult it is to explain your reasoning to yourself and others. Sure, there's a lot of useless arguing online that could turn more useful with this tool, but perhaps at this point people who are frustrated with this have given up arguing online, and the only people left are ones who have adapted and gotten really good at prose, or who like useless arguing.
Perhaps the problem is that, even when you have a tool that makes it easier, exploring the reasons for why something is true or false is still work, and people aren't inclined to do that work. Maybe there's a chicken-and-egg problem here, where people will only find the tool useful after other people put good content in it that they can copy/use.
Perhaps this is a tool that people are mainly going to use for their own personal decision making, so there's no motivation to use the paid version, and worse, no viral coefficient.
Perhaps I'm just a tweak or two away from making it take off. I'm excited about the core functionality that's there now, but maybe others will only be excited about when some tweak makes that core functionality appeal to them more. I really wanted this to be the kind of thing that people want so badly that they'd put up with it not working exactly how they want, but I guess that's not the case.
Perhaps the simple design I use that's supposed to look neutral and be the opposite of flashy, is just too bland.
Perhaps if I had spent money on marketing I would have encountered that first really enthusiastic user who would have made it go viral.
Perhaps there's a niche where this thing could have a strong start, and I just haven't discovered it yet.
I know the goal of this Ask HN post was to gain some lessons about things that cause side projects to fail, but unfortunately I don't know. I suspect in most cases people don't know. I'm open to suggestions.
You'll still see comments from me on HN that include links to https://en.howtruthful.com/ whenever I think a prose comment isn't enough to explain my reasoning, but I'm not expecting that to be a successful marketing campaign.
I don't see enough examples to see full power of the tool.
> I think a prose comment isn't enough to explain my reasoning
Why didn't you put it in format of your tool?
Here's the first non-trivial one I made: https://en.howtruthful.com/o/nuclear_power_is_a_crucial_comp...
Here's one related to pg's most recent essay: https://en.howtruthful.com/o/essays_that_endeavor_to_be_pers...
Why didn't I put this long comment in the format of the tool? I thought in this case the logical structure of what I was saying was obvious.
> This application will be able to:
>See Tweets from your timeline (including protected Tweets) as well as your Lists and collections.
>See your Twitter profile information and account settings.
>See accounts you follow, mute, and block.
I would be more comfortable with an email or Google sign in.
I'll look into reducing the permissions it asks for. Those are the passport-twitter defaults.
EDIT: Looks like I can't set it to ask for fewer permissions. My choices are "read only" (currently selected), "read-write", and "read-write, and direct messages".
anyhow, i closed it down because today, in order to succeed, your idea or execution does not matter. you need to put all your money into promotion. it is not like in the early 2000s when you had a chance to build something new(software, service, ...). today, everything has been done and all markets have its established players. so even if you do it better, it does not matter anymore. it is only about budget for PR. and i was not willing to spend a ton of money on ads so I shut it down.
another project I made around that time as well was an online website builder service. drag&drop essentially. but even after it has been finished and connected to braintree payments and functional invoicing i came to realize that the PR is again a massive issue and that it would take a lot of time to build new widgets and try to compete with the best in the market. so i closed it down.
my third project that i will mention here is one that i am working on close to 10 years now. this is a big one. i stopped and got back to it multiple times. it evolved in concept, architecture and all other areas. currently the project's goal is to provide a single place for online B2B and B2C. if i would be able to get it up and running it would seriously threaten big players like amazon, aliexpress, shopifiy and so on. the thing is that i came to realize that for this iteration(as i have mentioned, it evolved from something simpler throughout the years into something much, much, bigger) to work, I am just unable to do it myself. It is way too big of a project for a single person. In the past in its simplified version(it started as a shopping cart software back in the day) I was betting on the fact that I can overcome money with time, which I had plenty of(still do). But you see, 10 years later, I am still not done. I took various paths in architecture and it just kept on evolving and finding itself. I reacted to the current state of the markets and tech and so it go me to where I am right now - massive concept where time no longer suffices. So I am currently trying to figure out how to simplify the architecture so it could be made by a single person within a year. So far I am stuck. I would have gave up a long time ago but this is just something I don't see being beating with a better idea to do in my spare time. It also served as a learning tool that allowed me to get to be a pro at what I do and earn and live like I do. So I have lost no time by working on this at all. One could say that this is my Moby Dick :)
But when I look at side projects for myself, I look at who's making money already in a subject I care about and if I can do it better.
In the things I failed at in the past, I was chasing new things that I wasn't particularly interested in or didn't get the subject matter expertise required to succeed - one had an ad supported business model which just ended up causing me to try creating 2 businesses effectively at once instead of 1. Many people underestimate those things and I did that early on and failed.
As I've gotten older I mostly look at things where I can compete and just outperform versus trying to do something novel. A lot of people come to me w ideas and get discouraged when they find out that competition already exists for their idea.
Very hard to do something entirely new and succeed financially.