How structured is your ideation process?
From scratching your own itch, to building a product based on researching a problem, here are ways to find ideas that don't suck.
Once you've found product-market fit, and have acquired your first 50+ customers, it's time to think about scaling. The key? Affiliates and resellers.
From idea to first paid user in four days. Kushank Aggarwal used no-code to ship fast, and TikTok to get the word out.
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Don't Waste Time on the Wrong Idea 🕚
by James Fleischmann
Adding structure to your ideation process can be the difference between success and landing in the product graveyard.
I've built a lot of apps over the years, and ideas have come from all kinds of places. Some were born from scratching my own itch, others from randomly picking a large market and niching down, and some from scratching the itch of friends.
My biggest success, however, came from the only time I truly talked to customers before writing any code. I began having a bunch of conversations with no specific product in mind. My approach was to reach out to friends and acquaintances who were decision makers at various companies, and simply ask about their processes and pains. I believe this is the best way to create a valuable product.
I always start by looking for problems. My preferred approach is scratching my own itch.
But, if I don't know anything about the industry, I use sources like newspapers, Reddit, and Quora to look for problems to solve. Then, I take examples of existing businesses in other sectors and apply them to the problem. Finally, I ask myself two questions:
- Can it make money?
- Can it be run by one person?
Narrow down your search
Muhammad Taimoor Hassan:
Here are five methods that I use to find new ideas:
Narrow down your research. Gather information on technology, business models, profits, growth strategies, etc.
Get involved in communities. Follow tons of people in the field you’re interested in.
Look for bad reviews of products and try to solve their problems.
Search startup directories to find out what's launching and trending.
Check out ad libraries to see what companies are selling.
Seize the inspo
When inspiration strikes, I immediately write it down in this format:
- How I'd build it.
Just write things down as quickly as possible, and don't stop until you've completely run out of thoughts.
I think the best way to come up with new startup ideas is to simply put yourself in new situations, and let the creative juices flow.
To be more specific, the ideas I’m most proud of have always come from one of a few categories of new experiences:
- I got a new job, then noticed something that could be automated while doing my work.
- I tried a new hobby, and built a product around an aspect of that.
- I traveled somewhere new and had an experience that was less than smooth. So, I set out to improve it.
Create a product ecosystem
These days, when I tackle new product ideas, they're interconnected, building off of each other. This way, all my work benefits my product ecosystem.
I used to be a "passion" founder who only worked on things I really cared about. But then, I had a few passion projects that didn't make money.
So now, I work on things I'm interested in that also have a clear business model, and make money.
Discuss this story.
In the News 📰
Try This SaaS Growth Tip to Scale 🚀
by Mac Martine
Previously, we talked about how to easily get your first five customers, then move on to your first 50 customers.
Up until this point, we’ve focused on things that don’t scale. Here's where things ramp up.
What we’ve learned thus far
Along the way, you’ve gotten some customers, your first revenue, and a ton of information.
Through these conversations, you should know your customer profile pretty well, including the language they use, which has driven your messaging.
Your product-market fit is coming along, and if you did things right, you’ve spotted friction and optimized.
Your unique marketing approach
While you're going to continue having a lot of conversations, you’re ready to start thinking about scaling.
The reality is that every app and market is different, as are the strengths of the founder. There’s no predefined path to execute here, but if you’ve paid attention along the way, it should be pretty clear which marketing paths make sense to experiment with.
The most powerful SaaS growth levers
The most powerful growth levers at this stage are affiliates and resellers.
These allow you to have an army of people selling on your behalf, with little to no cost out of your pocket. Think of it as having a sales team that gets paid purely on commission, because that’s essentially how it works. For every customer they bring in, they get a cut.
Instead of working for individual customers, you’re looking for individual people to go and get them for you. You’re transitioning from one-to-one, to one-to-many.
This is scaling at its finest, and by far has the most potential of any marketing effort to be the most cost-effective customer acquisition channel.
Don’t try to grow up too fast
While outsourcing customer acquisition for your SaaS can be highly effective, don’t think you can skip the critical step of finding product-market fit.
In the early stages, the most important job of the founder is to be there to navigate those early conversations and find that fit. This can’t be outsourced, so be careful not to get ahead of yourself.
In my case, I grew to ~$8K+ MRR on my own before bringing on resellers. By the time I sold, my $61K MRR was made up of:
- 24% direct customers.
- 76% sales via resellers.
With a little work upfront, your business has the potential to scale exponentially with just a few good resellers or affiliates.
You can then choose to continue to do sales and marketing yourself, or rely on resellers, so you can focus on product!
Discuss this story.
Top Posts on Indie Hackers This Week 🌐
First Paying Customer Four Days After Idea 💡
by Kushank Aggarwal
With the power of no-code and TikTok, I was able to go from an idea to my first customer in just four days. I then generated five figures in revenue in the first 30 days!
I hope to inspire other founders with my experience.
I was a product manager earlier in my career, and I've been creating content in the tech and AI space for three years. My brother is my business partner, and we have one employee.
I came up with the idea of building a ChatGPT prompt generator. I spoke to the team about it, and they loved it. They spent a few hours figuring out the prompt engineering, and came up with our first version of Prompt Genie.
We were shockingly happy with the results.
It took us roughly one day to put the product together with no-code tools:
- My brother's girlfriend came up with the logo design using Canva.
- The frontend was built using Carrd.
- We used PickAxe for the backend.
- MemberSpace allowed us to manage subscriptions.
- We created the first demo video using Tella.
As far as pricing, we offered a trial for a couple of days, and a $3.99 subscription fee after that. A credit card was required to sign up, which helped us get a real feel for interest in the product.
We finalized everything in my brother's bedroom by 7 PM on a Friday. We were debating on whether to wait until Monday, or just ship on a Friday night. Turns out we're not patient, so we decided to launch it right away!
So, we launched the ugliest looking product we've ever built on a Friday night, figuring that if there was any interest, we'd quickly move away from Carrd and build something better the next week.
We created a new TikTok account and posted a few videos. I posted about the app on my IG Story, as well.
And that was it. My story got a couple thousand views, and the video on the new TikTok account got a few thousand views, also. A few thousand views turned into ~100 website visitors, which turned into 10-15 signups over the weekend.
After the initial interest, we migrated the app from no-code to a low-code model, for robustness and more feature development.
We kept posting product demos on TikTok, and our account got 2K+ followers, with one video going mega viral.
Our growth has slowed down since the initial hype. We've also experienced higher churn, similar to most AI tools and GPT wrappers. We've got lots to learn, but I am happy with how fast we shipped, and the fact that we know how to market an app on social media.
The lesson is what you've heard a million times: Just ship fast. If there's value, people will tell you. If you want to learn how to grow startups using TikTok and Instagram, you can also subscribe to my newsletter!
Discuss this story.
The Tweetmaster's Pick 🐦
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Gabriella Federico for the illustrations, and to James Fleischmann, Darko, Mac Martine, and Kushank Aggarwal for contributing posts. —Channing
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