Its been a three months since I've switched the business model of UnderlineMe over to Saas. And its been terrible.
Retention rates are low, almost 0 customer signups and a clear lack of vision.
Needless to say, I'm wrapping this up.
This is what went wrong:
- Bad data from the beginning. This whole project was started from market analysis, not from user research. For the first six months, I was being fed wrong data. People who would be interested won't use it after a week. Even if I tried asking them, they would reply in the positive.
- Lack of analytics. For a good 6 months, there were no analytics. I had to manually query the database to see how many notes were being created. When I switched analytics on, it was like turning on the lights. Except the room was ugly.
- Didn't niche down on a target audience. Even right now, UnderlineMe is torn between casual users, 'knowledge workers' and students.
- Taking people too seriously on Indiehackers. That place(and other such forums) are full of low quality spam. From now on, I'm blocking that site and well as other 'maker' forums.
- Implementing feedback from bad customers. They aren't bad per se, but in the context of UnderlineMe, there were a few users who were very vocal about features they absolutely wanted. But they didn't use the app even after the features were implemented. Honestly, charging monthly from day 1 would've alleviated this problem.
- Not fully understanding Saas. The holy grail, the money maker. This every entrepreneur's wet dream, to own a profitable saas. But a saas business is a very very different beast from any other business model. Not fully understanding the implications of this caused a lot of grief.
To build a profitable Saas business, it must fulfill 3 conditions:
- Provide value(Snapfont did this)
- Provide value at scale(get your marketing channels in order)
- Provider value over time(UnderlineMe failed at this, in some ways)
Also, B2C is a joke. I needed a signinficant amount of traction to make a decent wage out of it. And selling subscriptions at $5/m is quite frankly, thankless. I'll be doing something in the B2B space next time.
So what happens to UnderlineMe?
Currently I'm writing code to turn it back into a serverless app. This means that new users don't need to signup and can save their notes locally. I'll still be keeping the server up. This is for me as well as for my existing customers. If it makes any money, it will be like a small passive income stream but I won't be pushing any major updates after this.
This isn't a bad thing. I learnt a lot about building dashboard, handling complex interactions vis browser extensions and building a Saas business from a technical perspective.
But it hurts knowing it won't be the unicorn I hoped it would be.
This was the time I went on a one day trip to Hotham. It was a very memorable(and dangerous!) trip.
This was back in 2018 - which was my worst year of my life. I used to work 6 days a week and all I did afterwards was gym and work on my side projects. One good thing that came out of it was that I got really buff by the end of the year. But anyways, I really worked my ass off that year and it paid off in 2019.
I'm particularly proud of this particular moment, when I managed to convince a friend 24 hours ago to skip work and go to hotham early morning. This was taken in the evening when I was really tired but I was proud that whatever I've done till this very moment, I did it myself. There was a odd sense of contentment that evening ride back.
I won't be posting about entrepreneurship anymore. I got what I needed - a sense of accountability.
Here's to hoping I can pull off a 2018 once again.