A new bipartisan US Congress bill wants to split app stores:
The bill aims to bring competition to the app store market, weakening the grip of Apple and Google. For founders, new opportunities will explode in this space.
At least 30,000 products are brought to market each year in the US, according to Harvard Business School. Read on for the ultimate product launch guide to help yours stand out.
Founder Christopher Dengsø grew a global DJ booking business during the pandemic. Here's why he says running a marketplace is harder than running a SaaS.
Want to share something with nearly 85,000 indie hackers? Submit a section for us to include in a future newsletter. —Channing
🏛 Dramatic Changes Proposed For App Stores
from the Growth & Acquisition Channels newsletter by Darko
A new bipartisan bill in the US Senate would bring dramatic changes to the App Store and Play Store. Founders should be prepared for a plethora of new opportunities upon its passage.
The background: Thanks to a new bipartisan bill introduced in the US Senate and House, dramatic changes may soon be impacting mobile app stores. A CNBC report notes that:
App developers have complained to Congress and in court that Apple and Google maintain a tight grip over their businesses through control of their app stores, which are the gatekeepers of access to mobile app consumers.
As an app developer, this bill would place limits on Google's Play Store (3.1M apps) and Apple's App Store (2.1M apps) which would allow you to:
- Use your own payment system to charge for apps, in addition to Google's and Apple’s.
- Communicate with app users about “legitimate business offers."
- Place your app in third-party stores that Google and Apple would be forced to allow.
- Promote price reductions on payment systems not owned by Google and Apple.
The opportunity: If this law passes, it will open up a lot of new gaps for indie hackers to fill. You could create new app stores, app-store-friendly external payment integrations, SaaS for price promotions, and so on.
The news: TikTok was the most downloaded app in July for the sixth month in a row, with 63M installs. Also, TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2020. The app is crushing Instagram, Facebook (53M installs), and others in download numbers.
Copycats: All social media companies are trying to adopt TikTok-like features. The latest on the list is Reddit. The social network has quietly rolled out a TikTok-like video feed for iOS users.
The opportunity: Short video as a format is becoming extremely popular. The nice thing about it is reusability; you could make a vertical video and then re-use on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Reddit in order to gain more organic reach.
Can you demonstrate your app value in a video in 15 seconds or less? Focus on the before-and-after format: The beginning of the video would be the "before" (unideal) state, and the "after" (the end of the video) would be the perfect state of the user.
Promotions: Apparently, online gambling companies like Stake and Roobet are using Twitch streamers to promote their platforms. This practice has gotten so widespread that Twitch announced that it's forbidding streamers from posting referral links to gambling sites.
If you're creative enough, however, you can also use Twitch to promote a SaaS product.
How to use Twitch for promoting SaaS: Find a way to turn your SaaS into a game, and get Twitch streamers to play it.
For example, if you have a tool for scheduling social media posts, you could make a Wheel-of-Fortune-like game that showcases viral social media posts from the past month. After the wheel stops on a post, it could show more details about it, like the number of likes, comments, and why it got popular.
The opportunity: Take simple gaming mechanics (like Wheel-of-Fortune, slots, and other casino-like games) and replace the content with something relevant to your niche. Then, partner up with relevant streamers and get them to play it, giving them an affiliate link or sponsorship revenue in the process.
What do you think of the new legislation? Share in the comments.
Subscribe to Growth & Acquisition Channels for more.
📰 In the News
from the Volv newsletter by Priyanka Vazirani
🚫 Facebook and TikTok will continue their bans on Taliban-related content.
📈 The S&P 500 has doubled from its pandemic low.
🤝 This crypto firm has offered a job to the hacker who stole $610M.
🛍 People now spend more at Amazon than at Walmart.
💲 This meme artist raised over $2M in five hours to rescue Afghans.
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
🚀 Your Ultimate Product Launch Checklist
by James Fleischmann
Harvard Business School estimates that at least 30K products are brought to market each year. One major determining factor in a product's success is how well it is launched. Read on for the ultimate checklist to help you prepare for launch day!
Product launch checklist
Breaking it all down
- Market research and competitive analysis: Before you do anything, take time to understand the environment that you'll be launching in. Do some market research to understand your consumers. Conduct a competitive analysis to understand your competitors.
- Determine your value proposition: Get really clear on your value proposition and your unique selling proposition, as these will inform your product and your marketing.
- Validate the idea: It's best to validate before you even start building. Check out this helpful article on validation.
- Determine business model and pricing: What is the best way to sell your product? Is it a subscription? One-time sale? Bundling?
- Create a landing page with email capture: People need a place to land. Since they can't give you money yet, it's important to make it easy for them to give you their email addresses. You can create simple one-pagers with tools like Carrd and Umso.
- Build an audience: The bigger your audience, the better the launch. Build in public, post consistently, collaborate, do guest posts, start a newsletter; just do what you can to get people interested in what you're doing. There are lots of free tips and guides out there on how to do this. Here are some solid tips for growing your Twitter following.
- Pick a launch date: Make sure it's feasible, but not overly comfortable. Spread the word and stick to the date!
- Create a waitlist or run presales: You'll get emails, and maybe even some payments before you launch. Plus, this is one of the best ways to validate your product. Show your appreciation and sweeten the deal with exclusive offers.
- Create an outreach list: Think influencers, journalists, potential customers, fellow entrepreneurs, and anyone else who will support you or benefit from your product. Warm them up if they're cold, and get the ball rolling on potential partnerships.
- Finish the rest of your website: A one-pager is technically fine for a launch, but most products will benefit from a pricing page, contact page, about page, etc. Here's a handy web launch checklist.
- Add privacy-friendly analytics: This is not strictly necessary, but it's very helpful. Consider tools like Plausible or Friendly.
- Set up support and feedback features: Make it painfully easy for your users to talk to you, ask questions, and provide feedback. Chat is a good option. Check out tools like tawk.to and Intercom.
- Conduct a beta for feedback (and early adopters): Remove bugs and learn what your target market wants by doing a beta. If you've got waitlisters, they'll be happy to join. There are also platforms designed specifically for this, like Betafy and BetaList. You could also check out r/AlphaandBetaUsers or ask for feedback here on IH.
- Collect social proof: Get testimonials and other forms of social proof from friends, beta testers, and early adopters. Emphasize them on your website, pricing page, and marketing materials.
- Stress test your product and site: Your launch will (hopefully) create a spike in traffic. Make sure your site can handle it. Tools like Loader and LoadRunner might be helpful.
- Prepare outreach, posts, and promotion for launch day: You'll be reaching out to folks and posting on launch day too, but you'll probably be very busy, so prepare as much as possible ahead of time.
- Launch: Here's a list of a TON of places to launch. Some of these platforms (like Product Hunt) have specific best practices of their own, so make sure to familiarize yourself first.
- Reach out to your email list and outreach list: On launch day, take your prepared outreach and send it.
- Market: Now that it's out there in the wild, you've got to let the world know. Check out Growth Bites and Marketing Examples for some solid tips on how to do that.
- Follow up on outreach that had no response: Give it a few days, then follow up with anyone who didn't join in.
- Analysis: How did it go? Did you hit your goals? What will you do better next time? Analyze the launch, then set new goals.
- Relaunch: One launch isn't generally enough these days. Consider relaunching across multiple platforms and sites.
What are your top tips for launching? Share in the comments below!
Discuss this story.
🧠 Harry's Growth Tip
from the Marketing Examples newsletter by Harry Dry
A quick primer on social proof: Above the fold social proof is about credibility. Below the fold social proof is about inspiring action. It's a free pass to sell your product.
Use existing customers to bring to life the value you promise.
- “Get a smile you love” ⟶ Customers smiling.
- “Email reinvented” ⟶ Customers describing the difference.
- “How small brands sell more” ⟶ Sales numbers.
Go here for more short, sweet, practical marketing tips.
Subscribe to Marketing Examples for more.
🎧 Christopher Dengsø Puts a New Spin on Booking DJs
by Christopher Dengsø
Hey indie hackers! I’m Christopher Dengsø, and I’ve founded several businesses, including a board game, a marketplace platform, and a SaaS company. Here, I'm focusing on the two software-enabled products:
Cueup DJ booking is a global platform for DJs and event organizers. The goal is to be the number one place to find and book DJs. I’ve been working on the platform since 2017, but 80% of the growth has happened within the last year:
- 4K+ registered users.
- 300+ new users per month.
- 100+ events per month.
- 20K+ unique visitors per month.
2. Moderation API is an automated text analysis tool that can be used to extract and hide data, or run general analysis to detect sentiment or spam.
When the pandemic was at its peak, running an event-based business didn’t seem like the best bet. So I started Moderation API. It was born out of the tech I’d already developed for Cueup, so it was a quick launch earlier this year.
How did you manage to grow Cueup during COVID-19?
I found that DJs had more time to look around for products like mine during the lockdown. So I tried to make sure to get noticed and provide what they were looking for when searching on Google.
I did this by creating content like blog posts and other useful tools to attract users, and as some competition seemed to tap out, I saw my pages starting to rank higher. Signups increased from there. One of my biggest hits was the DJ name generator.
I figured that if I could make the product work during the lockdown, it would work even better after!
What's your user acquisition plan?
95% of users come from an organic search on Google, or from finding the app on the App Store or Play Store. The rest is probably word-of-mouth.
Earlier, I was experimenting with Facebook ads for acquiring DJs, which worked pretty well. I also manually posted in relevant Facebook groups, which yielded mixed results.
Pros and cons of different business models?
Commission: In my opinion, this is the holy grail if you can solve the problems that come with it. It scales naturally with supply and demand, and forces you to provide actual value. But it comes with some hard problems to solve, like preventing people from circumventing the commission fee and figuring out accounting.
Subscriptions: These work well in volatile situations, and they're easy to get started. It also provides some amount of predictable income. I think that the most important thing is to make sure that your product provides tons of value continuously to justify a subscription, which can be hard.
What does churn look like for you?
In my case, the DJs churn if they don't get any gigs for a month or two. However, the Moderation API will automatically provide value every month without me doing much. I think that running a marketplace is much harder than running a SaaS. With a SaaS, if people like the service, they pay.
With a marketplace, you're dependent on countless external factors, like supply, having different people agree on a deal, and bringing about a successful execution of the deal. I just think it's awesome when it happens, and it makes it all worth it.
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 Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Darko, Priyanka Vazirani, James Fleischmann, Harry Dry, and Christopher Dengsø for contributing posts. —Channing