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Ask HN: who started something in 2012 that didn't or won't become profitable?
111 points by sylvinus on June 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 164 comments



I launched Open Exchange Rates (http://openexchangerates.org) - the Robin Hood of exchange rate (FX) data - which collects exchange rates every hour and distributes them for free via a GitHub repository, in a nice, clean, simple JSON API - with values going back to 1999.

It's currently running at 160,000 requests a day, from 45,000 unique IPs. Lots of those are mobile apps, lots of shopping carts, economics research projects - big users include Flattr, WooThemes (WooCommerce), and some other nice people.

Doesn't make any money because it was designed as a free service - but I'm currently re-architecting it from scratch to offer vastly improved features for a very small cost.

The data will always be free and open to anybody. The big fish I'm going for are partnerships with big institutions and colleges/universities, offering much more accurate and wide-ranging financial/economic data and statistics at a far cheaper rate than the current incumbents!


Are you crawling for this data? Also, since currency is a tricky thing to price (almost any bank/broker can trade currencies) how do you select the "most correct" price?

Great project btw!


Yeah, currently collecting from Yahoo! Finance, which has a fairly accurate but hard-to-use API. Advantage that OXR offers is that it's super easy, and responses are about 10x faster and 350x smaller.

Pretty soon it'll be collecting from other services too and taking averages, with a few slightly more complex moving parts, as well as calculations and statistics - that's where we need to beef up the server and start making some dough though.

Also very soon we're starting to collect other types of 'freely available' trade and economics data, and adding value to it in other ways!


This is great, I currently grab a CSV feed from Yahoo so this is hugely easier to implement. Good luck on the monetization.


Thanks! Ease of implementation was the main concern - as well as the historical data (EOD values) going back to 1999.


I built http://stalltalk.info/. Its a toilet based social network. The amount of fun I have had with this far outweighs the profitability.


This sounds like an amazing project! I bet you taught/learned quite a bit - I'm looking to start a couple hackathons at my school (barely any webdevs!) and I'd love to churn out projects like these.


Love it! Fun idea and no more ridiculous than some of the stuff that gets funding these days. Nice work.


I clicked on this thinking it would be really dumb but I was surprised. It seems fun!


This is brilliant !


Launched an app to get your congress reps on the phone w/ a single button - http://www.airshipsoftware.com/contact-congress

Meant to be free for all, included a silly in-app purchase. Generated lots of calls to congress, got some press, currently losing $2.10/week on hosting.


This is exactly the sort of thing I'm interested in--software for civic engagement.

A few friends and I are working on an app and website that lists corporations' political contributions. The mobile feature that makes it interesting is that you can scan barcodes to find out the political contributions from those products right away--inspired by Boycott SOPA https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boycottsop...

I'd really appreciate it if we could talk some time about publishing an iPhone app. I'm still in college, so I don't have much experience with iPhone App publishing and would really appreciate some advice, especially for a non-profit app dealing with politics.


Shoot me an email -- kamens@gmail.com. Limited wisdom here, but who knows :).


What do you use for location/number info for congresspeople? I'm building a somewhat related app, and I'm not sure where to scrape appropriate info.


sunlight labs api -- they're awesome. http://services.sunlightlabs.com/docs/Sunlight_Congress_API/


Is it tacky to place a donate button on your homepage? I'd love to contribute - I think this is a really neat tool.


Thanks -- your compliment is enough. We really wanted the app to be free. Just figured I'd share as it's definitely not profitable :).


This looks cool. What's the in-app purchase?


Idea for in-app purchase: Sponsor of the week.


A week or two ago I launched http://demoseen.com/webglenabler/ to enable WebGL on iOS devices. In theory, it's profitable -- it cost me nothing (outside of a few hours of dev, which I spent on myself anyway) and has made a whopping $26 or so -- but it'll never really go above that, and 'sales' have already stagnated. It was interesting to see the breakdown of downloads versus payment, and how much people paid. I also wonder how much I would've made if I put it up for, say, $1 only.

Edit: Also interesting that it got quite a bit of attention on HN and several hundred (maybe 400?) downloads and not a single sale (from what I could tell). That surprised me a bit; every sale has been driven by people coming from tweets that some big names in the jailbreaking scene retweeted.


Richerd and I built http://sinkorship.com/ about a month ago: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3899231. Got on the HN front page for 10+ hours, tons of attention, tweets, press etc.

Except nobody paid.


I liked the idea. But perhaps it needs to be tweaked. Getting gaming right is hard. Maybe:

* offer a $100 credit to start off.

* offer more services than just a tweet if successful - for example a very simple feedback widget that shows up.

* charge only for delaying ship dates, but not for changing what is being shipped, or for minor delays (say within a week).

* don't charge if the person accepts public humiliation with a tweet saying "I sucked and did not ship my planned item.".


I think it made a lot of people smile when they saw the concept. Perhaps its time spin it into http://shipandsink.com/ ;-)



I launched http://hackershelf.com on Valentine's Day. It stayed on the frontpage for a little more than a day - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3589963. Save for a few Flattrs, haven't made a cent from it, though that was never the plan. I have, however, met a bunch of interesting people because of it, received a job offer, an investment offer and a few advertising inquiries. Learning alot from the experience :)


That looks pretty useful, though I'm confused as to how you could possibly make money on it? I was hoping, and expected, that their would be amazon affiliate links. If I'm going to buy one, it's going to be on Amazon. It makes the site more useful to me, and you could make a little bit of pocket change anyways.


I thought about that, but aside from bug fixes, I can't really give it much time at the moment because of my classes (final year). I did play with some affiliate links from http://udemy.com for a while but it didn't work out so I dropped them and added Flattr instead. Definitely something to explore again when I have more time. Thanks for the pointers.


Yeah I don't know how much traffic you get, but I have just a small page (read blog post) that does something similar (popular books for a certain niche) that I wrote a couple years ago that makes several hundred dollars a year. Traffic to it isn't huge either. The CPM for me is like $40 on that page.


Interesting idea, but I'd execute it differently.

First off, it's fairly obvious that you could have a "hacker shelf", "new mom shelf", "mathematician's shelf", and so on.

Second off, I see little point in making your own database, when Amazon is.. well, pretty much the standard app and user interface for searching for books.

My suggestion is to do something which integrates with Amazon and lets people define their own "shelves" by choosing Amazon products. Everyone could define themselves as a mathematician, hacker, new mom, etc. It would be kinda like social networking gone Amazon.

P.S. Upvote for letting me know about a few really cool books, like the Haskell School of Music which I intend to read.


I updated my circa 2007 website design last week to a more modernized look based on twitter bootstrap and my sales plummeted. Does that count?


If you were to include screenshots and write a blog post on this it could generate a discussion which could get you some useful feedback (and promote your site on HN).


That's a good idea. I'll write a postmortem after the fact, but right now I'm busy reverting the site to its former state. Conversions dropped ~75%, so it's beyond the point where its practical to tweak the design in order to get it back to par. The entire goal was to increase conversions. It didn't. Rewind.


Please do write that postmortem. I'm very interested in the subject of older designs that are more popular than the ones using the latest & supposedly greatest tools.


That's pretty interesting. Do you have screenshots we can look at?


I'd def want to hear more about this.


Dropped ~75%?!

Let's see a post with some screenshots!


Another +1 for wanting to see comparisons and an analysis.


A/B test, yadda yadda...


Sometimes simple and ugly triumph? We read some marketing experiences of ugly banner adverts getting more click conversions than modern ones. 1 it's an odd one.

http://sparknlaunch.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/keep-it-simple-...


Case in point: the site we're looking at right now.

It's an opinion of course, but I personally find the hacker news design to be dreadfully ugly; yet it's one of the sites I visit and interact with the most frequently. It's simple and very usable. A flashy modern design might make it look better, but if not done well it might also impede functionality, and thus make me visit it less often. And the obvious lack of pretense is psychologically satisfying. Simple and ugly is fine if it's functional.


I made http://tutorials.github.com. It's a variant of a larger project I'm working on to make documentation more personalized and more awesome. I hacked it together during the Emerging Technologies in the Enterprise conference in Philadelphia, and I posted it to HN, but it never made it to the homepage.

I definitely should have polished it up more and included documentation on how to use it and why it's cool and why building it on Github's infrastructure was a particularly neat trick, but I announced it too early because I was excited.

I definitely underestimated the importance of proper marketing and UI, even for an MVP for the high-tech crowd.

Edit: typo and clickable link


I created a site based off of the idea of Facebook Timeline, except for a professional player's career. It's called Player Career Timeline. It works for just about any NBA, NFL, MLB, or NHL player and the data goes back 5 years.

For example, LeBron James' career timeline: http://careers.fantasysp.com/player/nba/lebron-james/

It works by aggregating thousands of stories over the years and assigns them to a specific player/sport. Then I monitor how users interact with the stories to formulate trends in his career. Each story presented in the timeline has a link back to the original source so you can read the full article.

I already had all of this data from my main site and thought it would be fun to use it in another way.


Is most of the system automated? How much hand holding is actually required while creating the timeline?


It's entirely automated.


Very cool. Some infinite scrolling (like Facebook) would be nice.


Agreed, I had originally planned to use infinite scrolling just like Facebook. Due to time restraints it had to be altered to what it is now.


This is really cool. The timeline helps provide some meaning to a players stats. Also, it's a great way to get a quick overview of a players career or recent history.


This is the coolest fucking thread ever! I'm learning so much!

Is there anything more useful than taking all the bragging out of Hacker News and seeing what didn't quite work, or works but isn't blowing up? These are the great lessons


totally agree ;-)


I built http://www.giftstrong.com/ that pulls the 100 top rated products from Amazon.

It was built over a weekend to experiment with the Yii PHP framework and because I wanted to see what the list looked like (wasn't disappointed, there's some surprising stuff on there - like how Braveheart on DVD is mankind's greatest accomplishment according to Amazon).

I was considering promoting it as a quick way to find gifts for people and use it for this purpose myself, but I have more profitable/enjoyable things to be doing.


Great website, would be even better if it noticed I was from the UK, and then showed UK Amazon results :)


Thanks for the suggestion! If it generates profit in the current version I'd love to expand it to other countries.


Only project I have done this year (http://route.im), makes $xx/pm however doubt that it would ever cover the server costs, especially when more locations are added.

Although it was done more for me, than generating revenue, so that's not too bad.


You could do an Ookla like thing and create a mini version people can host. My server seems to be in the same place as yours, otherwise I wouldn't have minded hosting one.


I wrote a proposal for Tiger Scheme[1] to radically alter the structure of the scheme and change the general direction, in effect a reboot of the scheme. If it's accepted, it'll be a shedload of work with no financial reward and a massive time sink, but it has the potential to really change information security in the UK and help with the skills shortage in industry so it's worthwhile.

[1] - http://www.tigerscheme.org/


We've silently launched Photofable. It's a social site aimed at promoting global culture exchange through photography and descriptions. Can be used as a travel tool as well. The focus is for each photos description to be informative or educational about the place it was taken.

http://www.photofable.com/destinations.php


feedback: those oblong shapes and the square images make your site ugly. Strongly suggest using a lot of golden ratio on everything. Really love your idea, I hope you stick to it.


I started http://blisscontrol.com and http://notificationcontrol.com which won't be profitable.


Those sites are great! It's a nuisance finding your way around so many social networks and their different settings pages. Bookmarking your sites, thanks for building them!


how i get it


We've launched http://heattest.com/ two months ago. It's an app for heatmap analytics, which was a pretty hardcore to develop. We've spent a lot of time to make the algorithm really good and reliable, but so far we have like 3 sign ups in total, all of them for free trials. The market looked really promising at first.


I'm sorry to say this, but your website is awful.

You spell "conversion" incorrectly in two different ways and your grammar is poor ("Why noone...").

If I were you I'd get the site redesigned, preferably by a professional web designer.

Maybe slim the main page down to your banner, a tag-line saying what the product is and a "Try It Now" button. I don't want to sign up for anything; why not let me demo it on your site in real-time?

And where's the initial Wow? There's a heatmap picture on the main page but nothing happens when I click it. Why not have the image work as a heatmap too?

Sorry to be so negative, but maybe you'll get better results if you fix some or all of those things?


Thanks for the feedback. We really thought of at as an MVP from the beginning and put up a website in one day and spent the rest of the time on the backend. Maybe you're right and that's the reason why we're not seeing any demand.


Well, perhaps I was too negative. As I mention below, and as the others have said, the look is pretty good. The heatmap image is pretty cool which is why I wanted to click on it and see it change. So let me do that!

Also, I did want to see how it actually worked, but I don't want to sign up and install stuff for that...so that's why I wanted a live demo.

I think you should drop the "completing with Google Analytics" angle too. Even if it's true that you're better, no-one will believe it. Why not show how you integrate with it instead? If people are using both and realise themselves that they only need your product, then that's good enough.


Yes, maybe we didn't have enough motivation because of lack of feedback. In fact we did have the live demo planed, but it seemed like an unimportant feature.

We really should put a little more effort into this project.


> I'm sorry to say this, but your website is awful.

I agree about "noone", but I don't think the website can be called awful. It's certainly quite pretty.


Fair enough, I was talking about the content more than the look. The top half is certainly nice enough. The lower half is too noisy with an excess of that "writing" stuff. I didn't get where I am today by reading! I want cool stuff I can click on! ;)


Awful or not, it doesn't make me wanna go try it.


I disagree that the site design is awful. But agree that the spelling and grammar could use a little more attention.


I built http://artistsnclients.com - It was an idea I had back in 2011 but couldn't find time to do. Now I built it, but it doesn't seem to be viable. I had a few people test it and the profit is at about $4 right now.

At least I improved my skills a lot thanks to it, especially in regards to financial processing.


There are some real gems here, it's a great concept and I think it's worth putting in the time to make it shine. Maybe hit some people up on other artist sites like deviantart and ask them to submit to beef up the portfolio. I commission art for various occasions and it's also a great gift idea, eg. http://artistsnclients.com/slots/13


Get rid of the warning "use at your own risk". That's what the Terms of Service is for, on every site.


Yeah.. replaced it with just a Beta message. I feel like it's right to indicate that it's still in development. Thanks!

I'm quite surprised I got any upvotes.


I built http://ziposit.com, for super-simple website hosting. I was going to add ads when I started getting users, but users never came. Still fun.


We started TimePanel (http://timepanel.net) this year. I love building apps, and always wanted a really fast, simple way to track time and invoice. TimePanel is the result of taking the small, private app I've always used for that and deciding to build it into a product with speed and simplicity being primary goals.

Its 3rd beta update was released in May, and we're hoping to launch very soon. While its technically not profitable, it does have a small # of users, and we still have the payment system to hook up.

Despite it being very young, building it has been an incredible amount of work, and one of the most enjoyable experiences I've ever had.


I've released Gmelius (http://gmelius.com) a few months ago, a cross-browser extension that proposes a better and cleaner Gmail™ inbox.

Gmelius made the first page of HN (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3878153) and has been featured on TechCrunch, Lifehacker and other tech related news sites since then.

The idea was and still is to propose some enhancements to the new Gmail UI. Donations are welcome and are currently just sufficient to pay the coffee/beer intake necessary to adapt the code to constant Gmail changes and provide some new features ;)


Awesome project. I've been using this since that hacker news post. How often do you find yourself updating the code due to gmail changes?


I built an app that shows the air pollution levels in Hong Kong based on Western standards, primarily because I couldn't understand the local governments rather lax air quality index. I'll probably never recoup the development costs or even the server expense, but I didn't think it would be right to charge for it. In a heavily polluted place, some folks with asthma and respiratory problems or even young children simply shouldn't go out on certain days.

http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hong-kong-air-pollution/id504...


I created http://www.sherbondy.com, a website that gives family members free subdomains @sherbondy.com. Learned Clojure while making it. Wrote the entire thing in Clojure and ClojureScript. Tons of fun. I've even open-sourced it so that others can do the same for their families: https://github.com/sherbondy/sherbondy.com

Still need to fix/optimize a bunch of stuff and better document/test, but it was a nice break from studying for exams. And man am I loving Clojure.


We launched an open source web app that creates a social network around every bus stop in our region. It got us lots of press but is offered free to the region, and to any other municipality with transit info in GTFS format. We loved working on it and love seeing people posting comments. Details at http://denimandsteel.com/work/this-is-our-stop and repo at https://github.com/denimandsteel/thisisourstop


I built http://thecostofknowledge.com/

This is a place for research authors to support open access ~= the idea that research should be free to read when the authors want it to be. Specifically, the site is about boycotting one particular academic publisher, Elsevier, by pledging never again to do free labor for them (submitting, reviewing, editing papers). So far over 12,000 people have signed up. I see this as part of a larger movement of academics away from research-behind-paywalls.


I launched http://websocket.us/ to tell people about WebSocket. Unlike its competitor, websocket.org, it's not for profit.


Been looking for something like this for quite some time! May I donate?


For what reason? To say thanks?

And, yeah, email me and I can send you my PayPal address.


I started tchvlly: http://tchvlly.com is a community site for the tech valley region of new york.

I don't expect it will ever make any money!


I quietly launched/brought out of beta http://requeue.com this year. I built it mainly for myself, since I found myself watching more and more long-format web video and wanted a better way to organize it.

The terms of the Youtube API pretty much rule out monetizing the site with advertising, but usage has (sadly?) been low enough that I just eat the cost of the two Linodes it takes to run.


How about this: let a user enter a tag (#awesome, #sxswi) and your app trolls the tag's search results on twitter for videos. They get sorted by hotness and presented as a playlist. New things get added to the end.


Thanks for the suggestion. When I initially starting brainstorming on the idea, I had some Twitter integration included: auto-adding videos from your timeline (stolen from the Boxee folks) and hashtag "subscriptions"... but it started getting more convoluted to explain to people, so I thought I'd start more simply with just allowing folks to subscribe to "shows".

Obviously my execution is not resonating with people (great signup conversion rates, terrible usage rates), so when I have time I may reboot it as something more like what you're describing.

I still think there is something to the idea of improving the leanback and placeshifting experience for all this great long format web content that's out there (Rev3, This Week In, etc). I'm apparently just not smart enough to figure it out on my own ;p.


I understand what the leanback format is, but what is the placeshifting experience?

Also: if you want to say thanks, just click the tiny triangle pointing up next to my name. That's how we give out happiness around here.


This is so old, you may not see this... but placeshifting -> start watching in one place (laptop/work), close window, pick up where you left off in the video later (Boxee Box/home).


I wrote whatlanguageis.com (still early beta with just 7 languages and a less than decent identifier) as a test of django abilities. It was fun!


This is a great idea but it returned Dutch for "voy al supermercado", though it was correct for "ik ga naar de supermarkt' and 'je vais au supermarché'. Good luck!


For very short phrases the data corpora are too shallow. I have to improve that, and the identifier logic, and... The most important part was discovering that django is amazingly fun & simple. Thanks for the encouragement :)


Right, that makes sense that you need a bigger chunk of data. You could fix that on the user end by just adding a note 'works best with more input'.


Yes, but I also want some kind of enforcement: for short phrases I want to check for being in corpora, if it is clearly in a language I don't want to say "write more," but just identify the language and only in dubious cases put the blame on the user. Ahh, if I had more time and less projects I'd finish this right now :)


I launched http://www.notaplex.com for the iPad: "Nota plex - write notes, lists, and outlines." None of the note-writing apps that were available were what I wanted, so I learned iOS programming and wrote this one. Also I got to use old-school lex & yacc programming for the in-line calculator part.


That reminds me to this app: http://www.thinkbookapp.com/ (I used comic zeal, from the same publisher)

I've always wanted to use something like that to take notes quickly, does it combine well with a bluetooth keyboard?



The iPad needed animated GIF creation, but nobody wants to pay for one. http://gifpl.us


I built an AWS image for launching a bunch of machines and using them as a Blender Render farm. It'd need work to make it secure enough for public use, and I have too many other things on to get around to that. It does what I need though, and I like the feeling of power of clicking a button and knowing so many large computers start calculating for me :)


You have to know, if you release it. I will buy it!


This year I built http://inflooenz.com It's a tool to explore music influences. I have around 100 visitors each day, but I'm a bit stacked with the site as a product. At the beginning I did some PR. I had some ideas for monetizing, but those are yet to be proved (analytics so far are not showing a good scenario). I had some really cool feedback for the music community, and a lot of ideas for features, but I don't want to start adding features without a clear reason and direction. Right now, I'm working on site engagement, because I think I'm not taking full profit from my already existent visitors. I wasn't hoping to be profitable in the short term, but I expected more feedback and real interest in the product (some to-be-developed features right now allow people to leave their email if they wish to hear from me, but that didn't happen often).

PS: Anyways, this was very good as a personal challenge!


Blueprint - https://blueprint.io - platform for developing native iOS apps without writing any code (order of magnitude less time spent on development, rapid iteration by non-developers possible, able to generate any app at runtime).

Actually interviewed at YC but they declined to fund me cause of competition from Apple and Google (see Apple's recent patents and Google's forway into codeless dev - I was actually suspicious if Apple took some of my innovations). I decided to put it on ice and pursue one of my old EE projects which is actually more important to me.

Nowadays I'm working with Pair (http://trypair.com) and do have a few firms interested in acquiring blueprint, so might actually be able to pass the torch and get something out of it to fund my next ventures. For that matter, anyone interested in learning more can email me at paul@blueprint.io.


Launched an HTML5 offline app analytics library - http://discolytics.com. Not profitable, but haven't really tried to market it. Was originally developed for another clients project and figured someone else out there had a similar need.

I regret nothing, great learning experience, the whole thing.


We started to offer hosting for the Quassel IRC client. Not sure if this will make enough money this year to pay for the server we're running it on.

But at least it is a small start in transitioning to be some kind of product company instead of just doing consulting/contracting.

http://woboq.com/quassel.html


We launched http://www.placesteal.com/ - an app for pushing postal addresses from the browser to your phone - and no-one really cared :-) Trying to find the time to open-source the JS part for extracting addresses from DOMs...


I launched a simple app that puts new music releases in your iCal / Google Calendar or on a RSS Feed. It didn't really catch on, I've sort of given up. The UI kinda sucks too, I realised.

http://nearupon.herokuapp.com/


I made a site that computes and ranks the mining value of 580,000 asteroids in our solar system (http://asterank.com). It has grown in popularity, but obviously does not lend itself well to monetization.


Until you start a bond market around it.


Locux - Low cost linux , we are trying to create open source very low cost linux platform ... it wont be profitable :) .

http://www.ngcoders.com/category/projects/locux-projects


I'm building open source motion tracking hardware. http://adjacentreality.org

While I do plan on manufacturing and selling the things this year, I'm going to price it as close as possible to break even.


Although not really a tech company, I started http://www.thoughtthreads.org/ with a few university friends. We don't expect it to be profitable since it's a non-profit. :)


Cool; I’d have put a dash in there thought-threads.org, kind of hard to read like this


I've created http://pazler.com, and it isn't making any profits :) Built using Clojure, Postgresql, StringTemplate, hosted at Hetzner. Learned quite a lot of things in the process..


Looks a bit like http://pinterest.com/ ;)


Any self respecting programmer must create a Pinterest clone these days.. lol


yeah.... who didn't have that idea, creating a pinterest clone full of amazon affiliate links - would've been too easy if that actually worked ;) on a sidenote: good job on the design, looks solid!


I am writing a location service to allow people to add 'local interaction' easily to an application. There is a demo of a multiplayer tankwars clone using it at

battlewith.me.uk

The initial idea was that when I was young I played games on a single computer with a shared computer, things like Tankwars, Worms and Mortal Kombat. That was a lot more fun for me than fragging strangers over the internet.

After the web-demo I would like to look at mobile apps. Actually about to post a Show HN of it very soon.

Source @ https://github.com/fmstephe/location_server


I launched http://www.jaimelesstartups.fr with a friend in mid february.

Goal is to make french startup famous ... in France. No ads ! No business model ! (cost us zero since it's hosted on my server I use for my projets) We started with 3 visitors/day now we are at 200. Got a partnership with the French techcrunch Got contacts with famous french entrepreneurs to interview

We are happy and we continue to work hard (I work all day long) Actually, I'm working on the design (which is not that easy for an engineer...)

Any feedback are more than welcome


I launched a Spanish site http://agrupados.biz which is a search engine for clasified ads in Paraguay. I learned Scala und Apache Lucene this way, now I'm hoping to get it at least covering its hosting costs. The site is up aprox. 3 month now and I had almost no visitors before paying Google.

2 days ago I started a Google AdWords campaign so people may find the site, I spend $2.62 so far and got 95 visitors and even won $0.10 with AdSense. Today I added a PayPal donate button.


Right now I'm trying to use it and I'm getting a lot of errors. As far as I can see, you need to work on the SEO side: there's a lot that needs to be done on that front. Change your title tags structure, create unique descriptions for each page, build friendly urls, make it easy to be crawled, use a sitemap, add to your links the 'title' attribute. For a site like yours, you should not spend on adwords. You will lose money. I hope it helps!


I started Rankique - http://www.rankique.com/ - basically a price tracking app.

Made about ~20$ so far, so it's "profitable", but you get the point..


Made something similar just tracking products in Argentina, where I'm from, pretty much the same concept but I don't understand why don't you put a big nice button with an affiliate link to buy the best price listing you found for today, that would help, believe me :)

This is my version: http://numok.com

PS, the guys from priceonomics.com seems to be the leaders in this.


I really like your design (:

And yes, I'll be changing design and button placement in the coming weeks, that's a valid point.


Awesome job! I would definitely use this - but I'm getting a 500 error trying to enter my email address with plus character in it.


Oh so you are the lonely, malformed entry in my db... I'll fix that, sorry!


Should work now, sorry for the inconvenience.


Would be neat to see the items in a category which have had the sharpest price drop recently.


That is coming. But first of all, I need to implement a working category system :/

Thank you (:


We started http://www.fantasy5live.com – a real-time fantasy sports game for GAA, rugby and soccer. It's early days though.


One suggestion: Can you add the player details. May be on hover or on click. Also, I think site needs a bit more help in terms of what a user can do once he reaches the play page. May be a small tutorial or a help page might work. Out of curiosity, how do you keep track of the events? Do you have a live feed that you parse for certain phrases?


Yes, we are recording the performances for each player and we want to show those when users are making their selections.

We are also adding a small tutorial as you suggest -- a number of users were asking "what do I do next" ;-)

The events are recorded manually at the moment and pushed to the users using Pusher.com. There are automated feeds but they are expensive.


How early is early days? Your about, faq and privacy links are blank pages.


It's very much a weekends-only project.


I loved this discussion and I learned a lot from reading the responses. I have a side project that is not profitable but has been around for almost 4 years. It's called Ben's Friends (http://bensfriends.org/) and we build patient support groups for people with rare diseases (here is our 60 second video: http://youtu.be/YBeRFnJkleU).

It's almost impossible to monetize a patient support site, especially for rare diseases, so I've known for a long time we wouldn't make money. However, we've become one of the largest patient support networks on the Internet. I've put a lot of my money into it and we've run out of money many time, but something good always happens and we stay afloat.

Here is some unsolicited advice:

-Keep your side project alive for as long as you enjoy it. You never know how things will change. When we started there was no such thing as crowdfunding. Last year we managed to pay all the bills through an IndieGoGo campaign: http://www.indiegogo.com/Bens-Friends-Builds-Support-Groups-... - we never dreamed Crowdfunding would exist, now it's our lifeblood. Reading through many of the responses below, they are public service projects. It's very likely you could do at least a small crowdfunding to pay the bills if you need it.

-Who cares if you don't make money? You get to do something you love. That makes you incredibly lucky. Also, almost every person here has tons of opportunities so you can make money on something else. Again, that makes you lucky.

-Change the way you measure success. Most people measure success with money. Since we weren't going to make any money on Ben's Friends, we started measuring how many thank you emails we received every day. I get about 25 thank you notes a day - completely unsolicited. Your measurement may be usage, or reach or whether your girlfriend likes your app. Whatever it is, focus on that. It will make you a lot happier than money.

-If you are going to do something that doesn't make a lot of money, do it with a partner. It will be more fun, you'll pick each other up when things are down, and with both of you brainstorming and iterating, there is a much better chance it will get traction and eventually become something. Ben's Friends never would have gone anywhere without my partner, Ben Munoz. Good partnerships turn into great friendships and they are one of the best things about starting something.

Hope this helps. thanks for posting a great question.


I launched https://bountyoss.com/ two weeks ago. It's a crowdfunding site designed specifically for Open Source Software projects. It's more like Cofundos than Kickstarter, but it differs from both in emphasizing continued development of existing projects rather than new projects. I'm also trying very hard to attract contributions from businesses, which I think is a huge untapped market.


Started and recently published DrinkControl for Android http://drinkcontrolapp.com Taking into account that iOS version brings just about $50/month, no illusions about becoming profitable ever. Still was worth it for understanding Android as development platform and its ecosystem (biggest surprise so far - beeing in Samsung app store is more important than beeing in Google Play).


Made http://www.clipchoose.com in May.

Never intended it to be profitable, more of a learning experience (first webapp).


I created http://cleverrun.com as a dashboard addition to RunKeeper, built in about a month as a MVP. 2000 people signed up (promoted by RunKeeper), seems to have good user retention rate of about 8%. Didn't enable paid upgrades till April, currently revenue has been $30 (yearly repeating). Intend to make it profitable or try something else.


Made http://omgyoutube.herokuapp.com. Had no intentions of making a profit, though.


I started a Brooklyn based website listing (http://brooklyncoded.com) and meetup (http://meetup.brooklyncoded.com) for coders. It's more about the meetup now. I am currently accepting applications to be listed on the site. When there are enough I will publish the list.


First real attempt at open source https://github.com/Radagaisus/Orpheus


I launched Qatapult, a quicksilver like inspired launcher for windows http://emmanuelcaradec.com/qatapult . It still needs polish and it still needs more users, but it's already my favorite launcher for windows. (change the default skin if you try, I set the default to the wrong one )


I launched a webapp last week for encrypting message into url entirely on the browser for maximum privacy - https://boxuptext.com/. It's free for all to use. Won't expect it to ever turn a profit, but the fun factor has made up for it.


https://www.blossom.io

because we haven't implemented payment yet :D


Few other Twitter Bootstrap sites (or splash pages in general) need horizontal scrolling on my netbook (1024 pixels wide), but Blossom does. I can see ~95% of it.


LOVE your fake screenshot though.


I wrote an iPhone app for rare book collectors called Titlz. http://davidlains.com/titlz The market for this kind of app is tiny but I still had fun building it and learned a lot. It has made about $20 in two months.


Hi guys, I started selling an ebook and haven't earned a single $ yet. Though I've been making constant improvements.

Slightly taking advantage of this thread: is there anyone who has successfully sold ebooks on Internet? I definitely need some help. Thanks in advance.


Drop me an email, I know a few things about a few things.


You should link to somewhere we can read about and maybe even buy the book.


I built a site for getting notified when the border wait time on the US/MX border gets to a certain point. http://garitas-tijuana.com


I started http://ninjaprice.com/ a compilation of products from free shipping shops. Made about 23$ so far...


TemplatArr, an internal template generating program, made to streamline a workflow. Pairtris, to impress a woman (didn't work). oh And the scribd fruit bot.


I started www.sunscanner.co.uk last year. Thought it was a novel and useful way to search for vacations.

And I think it made all of £7 in commissions since then :-(


https://www.squarelater.com/ - a bill splitting application with SMS input.



Started writing a blog to document our startup experiences but no one visits it. Those that visit don't stay. Tried promotion through social media without success. Everyone said it will be easy to interact with those with similar interests. While not the aim to make a profit, currently no chance of making any traction, let alone profit from the blog.

http://sparknlaunch.wordpress.com/


It's hard to diagnose, but as other says (and your stats point out), there is something giving a little amateur feel. From a blog point of view, you should definitely show your authors, to make a genuine, personal impression to readers. The part of the name of the blog that says 'Biz Startup Tech Blog', it may sound too generic, but also a bit pretentious, and it lacks originality (even if it works from a SEO point of view?). I'll also work on the tagline, to describe better what the blog is about. You could try things like "Personal insights of an entrepreneurial journey", maybe also A/B test it... Tell your visitors you are for real, before they leave. And last, but not the least, I think the images are not helping. Usually images help make everything a little more attractive, but here, it's not the case. They are giving an amateurish, cheap feel. Try something else on that front. You could avoid the images unless they really illustrate your point with some personal sources: a screenshot from your project, stats, etc. And please, tell us the results of the experiment!


The template you are using makes your blog seem like it is jus a collection of trackbacks. It looks too busy for my tired old eyes.

Maybe you could include less posts in the frontpage, and have more of the post show up.

The default font size is rather small.

I did like the content. It is a good blog. Just looks to busy.

Good luck.


I found lots of great stuff there. Added to my favorites and will be back.


bookmarked!


Thanks for the comments plus all the HN visitors.

Had 250 referrals from HN domains in approximately six hours landing on the home page. c. 100 blog posts were viewed

Not earth shattering but more visitors than normal. Just need to work out how to make them stay for longer than 10 seconds.


I made Image Overflow http://imageoverflow.com

My core focus, which is to keep the UI free of extra text and needless "social" features, has led to a user adoption rate that is less than desirable, to say the least.




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