The new Android app currently has limited features:
Clubhouse's growth has been on a decline since its February peak of 13.4 million users. Reception for its Android release has fallen flat as its list of live audio competitors continues to grow.
Newsletter advertising marketplace Swapstack now allows qualified newsletters to embed a referral link for increased monetization. Dru Riley's take on managed marketplaces? They may be hard to build, but they're even harder to disrupt.
Founder Misha Krunic hit $2 million in annual revenue with his online price monitoring SaaS. He shares his top lessons on being profitable for 10 years and the unique challenges of launching a business in Serbia.
Want to share something with over 75,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
🎧 Clubhouse Launched on Android and Nobody Seemed to Care
from the Indie Economy newsletter by Bobby Burch
Clubhouse has finally released the Android version of its app. With limited features and poor timing, the app has debuted to less-than-enthusiastic reception.
Welcome Android peeps
What’s going on: After more than a year of being iOS-only, Clubhouse has rolled out its Android app to the US. The expansion will later continue with other English-speaking countries and then roll out to the rest of the world. Android holds an 87% share of the global smartphone market, and its release on Clubhouse will make the audio platform available to millions of new users:
Today, we are thrilled to share that Clubhouse for Android will start rolling out in beta immediately. Our plan over the next few weeks is to collect feedback from the community, fix any issues we see, and work to add a few final features like payments and club creation before rolling it out more broadly.
Downloads in decline: Clubhouse boasted 13.4M users in March, but its new user growth has rapidly decreased since. New downloads peaked in February at 9.6M, but fell to 2.7M in March and 900K in April.
Rankings slip: Clubhouse ranked as high as number 21 in the Apple App Store in February. Now, it’s sunk to number 595.
Product Hunt dud: Clubhouse launched its Android app on Product Hunt on Sunday, and failed to crack the top three products for the day. It closed out at number five.
Head scratcher: Sundays are widely recognized as the least effective day for social media engagement, yet that's when Clubhouse chose to reveal its much-anticipated Android app. Combine that with the fact that Sunday, May 9 was also Mother’s Day, and one has to wonder about the announcement’s timing.
Disappointing numbers: Perhaps the announcement's timing was to maintain gradual adoption, perhaps it was an oversight, or perhaps the company just doesn't care. Whatever the case, the app's Android debut fell flat to say the least.
Remaining invite-only: Clubhouse said that it will maintain its invite-only approach to keep its growth measured. As it scales through the summer, Clubhouse plans to welcome millions of people in from the iOS waitlist, expand language support, and add more accessibility features.
Short on time: Analysts fear that Clubhouse is racing against the clock as more competitors launch rival audio products that offer users a familiar experience combined with an existing following.
Meerkat repeat? In spring 2015, the internet went wild over the live-video app Meerkat. The app was lauded by TechCrunch as being “the live-streaming app Twitter should have built.” Similar to Clubhouse, Meerkat used an invite-only strategy, quickly attracted millions of users, and garnered significant interest from investors.
I was at the 2015 SXSW tech conference when Meerkat mania was burrowing into hearts and minds of users. Meerkat invites were highly sought after, and everyone was talking about the app.
A few weeks later, Meerkat was exterminated by Twitter’s Periscope.
The lesson: Meerkat’s rise and fall is a glaring reminder that, while companies can enjoy meteoric growth, they can fall just as fast. Being first to introduce a particular platform doesn't guarantee anything.
While Clubhouse is better funded and more popular than Meerkat ever was, the live audio field is far more competitive. Clubhouse rivals range from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Reddit.
What do you think about Clubhouse’s future? Please share your thoughts below.
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Indie Economy for more.
📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
📹 YouTube will pay $100M to creators using its TikTok competitor, Shorts.
🚘 Elon Musk backtracks on accepting Bitcoin for Tesla.
💘 This "Tinder meets TikTok" dating app focuses on video-led connections.
💼 TikTok is testing a program to help its largely Gen Z base find jobs.
📱 US to remove Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from blacklist after lawsuit.
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
🛒 The Power of Managed Marketplaces
from the Trends.vc newsletter by Dru Riley
Newsletter ad startup Swapstack released a new feature last week that provides qualified newsletters with a referral link to embed in their emails. Marketplaces are one of the most powerful business models across industries, and fostering transactions through marketplace platforms can be big business for founders.
Why it matters
Marketplaces are powerful. They're hard to build and hard to disrupt once liquidity is reached.
Connecting buyers and sellers may not be enough for a transaction to take place. Friction, distrust and uncertainty often remain.
Managed marketplaces do more than connect buyers and sellers. They foster transactions with services such as:
- Curation: Toptal connects you to the top 3% of designers, developers, data scientists and more.
- Ratings: Airbnb and Uber use two-way rating systems to churn bad supply and demand. This builds trust at scale.
- Escrow: Remodelmate collects payments from buyers and releases payments to contractors based on project milestones.
- Enrichment: ThredUP adds metadata to items such as size, brand, condition and more. Each detail brings transparency and value to transactions.
- Authentication: GOAT and StockX authenticate items to prevent counterfeiting.
- Inventory Risk: OpenDoor buys homes from sellers in days. Then resells them.
- Insurance: Turo provides up to $750K of liability insurance for rentals.
- Standardization: Thumbtack quizzes buyers to get project details. This saves time in providing estimates.
- Reporting: Municibid helps municipalities follow reporting requirements around selling government property.
Slice: Online ordering for pizzerias
Remodelmate: A marketplace for home renovations
Preply: Find or become a language tutor
Soothe: Book massages, facials and haircuts
SuperRare: Collect curated NFTs
Nifty Gateway: Participate in NFT drops
Cameo: Get personalized videos from celebrities
MicroAcquire: Buy and sell SaaS companies
AppSumo: Lifetime deals on B2B software
BuySellAds: Connecting brands with publishers to place ads
FundStory: Find non-dilutive financing options
MentorPass: Matches mentors with mentees to launch and scale businesses
Found: Find Salesforce developers
Lemon.io: Find developers fast
Propulsion Lab: Work with no-code developers to build internal tools
- AI will supplant supply.
Uber drivers will be replaced by self-driving cars
Rev transcribers will be replaced by speech-to-text AI
Scripted copywriters will be replaced by AI-generated copywriting tools
- Marketplaces will start as communities. Swapstack built a community to help Substack writers cross-promote, then turned to connecting writers with brands.
- There will be more vertical marketplaces. Chrono24 is a vertical version of StockX, which is more managed than Ebay.
- Solve the chicken and egg problem.
- Build your marketplace with no-code tools like Sharetribe and Bubble. Code is not the hard part of building a marketplace. Building liquidity is.
- Start in the "white-hot" center. Find the killer app category. Amazon launched with books. Brick and mortar stores are limited by space. Amazon sells long-tail titles.
- Unbundle incumbents. Airbnb unbundled Craigslist. Zeus is unbundling Airbnb.
- Simulate liquidity. Compress activity into one category (Amazon with books), time frame (Nifty Gateway with drops) or location (Uber in SF). Don't try to boil the ocean.
- Marketplaces are energy-intensive endeavors. It takes a lot to start the flywheel.
- "Managed" is a spectrum. Some marketplaces are more managed than others.
- Networks are networks are networks. There are throughlines between marketplaces, communities, currencies, languages and religions. They all have network effects.
- Managed marketplaces go beyond matching buyers and sellers. They assume risk to remove friction.
- Managed marketplaces are paid for increased risk and complexity. The more "managed" a marketplace, the higher the take rate.
"It seems like every marketplace is managed."
Most are to some degree.
"Some of these managed marketplaces don't scale and aren't investable."
Contrary to the name, Trends.vc doesn't cater to VCs. If you don't need investors, great for you. That's one less stakeholder type. But many marketplaces mentioned above are billion-dollar companies. Many are scalable and investable. The audio edition talks about this.
"OpenDoor is a reseller. Not a marketplace."
This is a valid point. We can also throw thredUP in this category. Both take enough inventory risk to call their "marketplace status" into question.
"Vampire attacks are immoral."
Perhaps. But they're everywhere. Willful ignorance is dangerous.
Who runs a managed marketplace? The tweet behind this report.
Hierarchy of Marketplaces: How to kickstart a marketplace, build liquidity, and dominate.
Unbundling Craigslist: A map of more than 70 vertical marketplaces unbundling Craigslist.
Go here to get the Trends Pro report. It contains 200% more insights. You also get access to the entire back catalog and the next 52 Pro Reports.
What are your thoughts on the power of managed marketplaces? Share in the comments!
Discuss this story, or subscribe to Trends.vc for more.
🤥 Marketing Lie: Great Products Don't Need Marketing
by Julian Shapiro
The lie: Great products don't need marketing
The truth: Even the best products need marketing to effectively reach the right people at scale.
Tip the first domino for the rest to fall.
Discuss this story.
💲 Founder Misha Krunic Hit $2M ARR Through Online Price Monitoring
by Misha Krunic
Hi indie hackers! I'm Misha Krunic, founder of Price2Spy. If someone had told me when I started my online career, back in 1996, that one day I’d create a $2M ARR price monitoring SaaS, I wouldn’t have believed it. Truth be told, the circumstances in Serbia at that time weren’t favorable either. I’ll try to explain how I got to the idea of creating Price2Spy from a very unlikely sequence of events, and grow it into one of the most successful price monitoring tools on the market.
Price2Spy is an online price monitoring SaaS created 10 years ago, mostly out of necessity. Our online store, TakoLako, was facing a sales drop so we started checking our competitor prices manually. Then, we realized that we could create software that would do the hard work for us. Back then, there were only two similar tools on the market; we were one of the pioneers in the field.
Starting a business in Serbia is difficult:
- 15 years ago: There were an abundance of highly skilled young people, but low wages.
- Now: The job market very tough for employers, wages are on a steep rise, and it's very hard to find talent.
Another thing that worked against us was that we did everything on our own, including sales. Attracting large enterprise clients from the West is very difficult if you're a Serbian company. I believe that if we'd had a sales partner in Western Europe or North America, our growth would be much faster. Actually, we're still looking for such a partner.
Despite this, Price2Spy currently serves over 720 e-commerce professionals. Our clients are some of the world's biggest retailers, brands, manufacturers, and distributors who we help to stay profitable amid the current competitive market conditions. Price2Spy can be used by small and medium-sized businesses as well.
The road to $217K MRR
The key is in the combined effort of IT development and product promotion. Users are looking for a product that can fulfill their needs, so you always need to test the waters and work on the feature updates. Almost 80% of our features were actually derived directly from user ideas! Never underestimate what your users have to say.
A great product also needs to be promoted. Due to my e-commerce background, I knew that online marketing was essential for the project’s success. Our strategy goes in three directions: Google Ads, content creation, and going public with the list of websites monitored. Also, to attract enterprise clients, you should consider attending trade shows and professional conferences. Using these strategies for the last three years, we’ve been growing 25-30% YoY.
How do we stand out from competitors?
- Experience matters: We've been doing this for 10 years, much longer than most of our competitors.
- Technical ability: We can monitor real complex sites, even ones that do not want to be monitored.
- Versatility in product matching: We have covered both automated and manual cases.
- Ability to customize: We can adapt to real complex client requirements.
How do we fight the ones which are backed by VC?
- We've been profitable for 10 years, so we do have cash reserves on our own, which we periodically invest.
- We invest into new features (and not all of them are a success!).
- We periodically invest in new projects like Just Like API.
- Periodically, we perform acquisitions.
- We are very carefully benchmarking our marketing costs.
I'm a software engineer who has been seizing business opportunities since 1996. Price2Spy is one of my most successful ideas. I’m the company’s CEO, but I often also act as a product owner, business analyst (due to my technical background), and coordinator of our major sales efforts.
Discuss this story.
🐦 The Tweetmaster's Pick
by Tweetmaster Flex
I post the tweets indie hackers share the most. Here's today's pick:
🏁 Enjoy This Newsletter?
Forward it to a friend, and let them know they can subscribe here.
Also, you can submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter.
Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Bobby Burch, Priyanka Vazirani, Dru Riley, Julian Shapiro, and Misha Krunic for contributing posts. —Channing