Micro-Projects for Fun and Profit
Since reading Max Klein’s blog (before it was removed) and Gabriel’s post on micro-projects, I’ve become intrigued with micro-project validation. In other words… how do I quickly ship an idea and analyze if it’s a no-go? How can I experiment rapidly to drive growth? How can I leverage the open source community to build my product for me? How can others become evangelists for my product? How can I make my message clearer to increase conversion rates?
I shipped the following (2) micro-projects as weekend hacks…
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- Name: Teelaunch
- Website: https://teelaunch.com
- Date Launched: January 2013
- Revenue: < $50K
- Unique Visitors: 13,793
- Active Users: 459
- Conversion Rate: ~3.32%
- Effort Level: Low (customers find us)
- Growth Drivers: Teelaunch Badge, Indiegogo’s blog (#1 and #2), CrowdfundingPack, WIRED
- Tech Stack: Node, Jade, LESS, AWS, MailChimp, Zapier, PayPal, Crazy Egg, and Google Analytics
- Pros: SEO is great, fulfillment/postage is completely automated, personal enjoyment from helping interesting crowdfunding projects (e.g. FAKE GRIMLOCK), Zapier sends welcome emails automatically
- Cons: Manual PSD/AI quality control, customers don’t always know what they want, artwork/revisions and sales funnel takes time
The subscription list nearly doubled in May, due to Indiegogo’s blog post #2.
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- Name: Prove
- Website: https://getprove.com
- Date Launched: April 2013
- Revenue: < $1K
- Unique Visitors: 4,869
- Active Users: 84
- Conversion Rate: ~1.72%
- Effort Level: High (customers hard to find)
- Growth Drivers: 60 Second User Retention, Prove Plugin and Twilio Partner Program
- Tech Stack: Node, Jade, LESS, AWS, Twilio, Stripe, and Google Analytics
- Pros: Open source community built the API wrappers, service runs itself; no manual order processing
- Cons: Pay-as-you-go ≠ predictable income, not all users integrated with API yet
If I was asked the question, “How can I validate a startup idea quickly?” ‐ I’d currently respond with these (3) steps (which is basically the same as Ryan Hoover’s email-first startup post):
- Design a single-page website that’s very unique. Iterate on your verbiage carefully; simplify words and cut out as many as possible. Don’t use LaunchRock, write some clean HTML/CSS (it doesn’t need to be responsive either; don’t waste your time with that).
- Add Google Analytics, MailChimp, and Zapier to automate analytics and connect with users. Your call-to-action (email signup) should trigger a “zap” with Zapier to do something (e.g. send a welcome email or ask them a question). You could just do this manually for now.
- Ship within 48 hours. Repeat steps 1-2 with a brand new idea. Try experimenting with completely different domains.
Questions I’d like to ask…
- What would be a clever way to drive growth for Prove? — it’s hard to get users integrating… should I suggest $X credit deposit for us to integrate for them? Should I stop targeting developers, charge subscription rates, and focus on non-tech savvy folks?
- What are other domains with a similar model to Teelaunch? — if you can automate/build 10x of these, then you could make money
- What are other ideas that simply monetize an existing API/service? — similar to monetization of Twilio’s API for Prove
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