But an idea isn’t enough. The good news is that we’ve learnt to execute too. It means we’re now two weeks away from launching Drag (Live on 28th August).
In this time, Drag has 9K+ users who trust us to organize their inbox. We want to share this.
What’s happened on Drag before launch?
A lot of people think your business starts when you launch. It doesn’t, it starts way before. Here are some stats that explain why.
- 1,200+ hours on developing Drag
- 1,000+ hours planning, marketing and executing
- 23 versions of Drag in Chrome store, so far
- 26K+ emails to Drag customers, partners, and team.
This is all before we launch. Before I explain how we launched Drag, I want to say one thing. Don’t complicate your plan, it’s going to change a lot – so don’t complicate it further.
Here’s our first plan.
It’s messy, it has typos, it’s changed and it’s not a full plan. But, it’s what grew our users to 9K in 6 weeks.
Further down, I’ll explain each step and future blog posts will show you the exact steps to take.
Start creating an MVP
MVP = Minimum Viable Product. Here’s a big article I wrote on creating an MVP. Start with good ideas and develop them in a lean way. What I mean by this is don’t overdevelop your product before you launch. Instead, launch the simplest possible tool to test the market, explain to your users that it’s early stage, and invite them to feedback to help shape the tool. This feedback loop does a few things.
- It minimizes your development cost. The reason is you’re avoiding developing features that are not required.
- It builds a great relationship with your users as they understand you’re actually listening to them.
- It builds a tight community who are all working to help build your product.
- It tests how good your idea is.
It’s the best way of building products (I’ve built four to date, and finally I’ve learned my lesson).
Build your website
I see lots of people unwilling to start marketing their product until they have a complete product. You’ll never have a complete product, and there’s a very careful balance between timing and simply being too late to market.
Here’s our landing page as soon as we had the idea. It went live within three days.
We built a one-page website, one graphic to show what Drag did, and an early access link (it took less than a day).
Because of this, marketing started when the product build started, not when it finished.
Start marketing before launch
This is critical. Building an early access product helps you start marketing your product now, with the added benefit of your users knowing it’s at a pre-launch stage. You can talk to these users, get their ideas and turn them into advocates before they even have access to it.
People are great (they certainly have been with Drag). They talk daily with us and each other about what features they need, identify bugs and brainstorm ideas. Here’s them in action.
Here’s what we did.
1. Set up Mailchimp ~ 1 day of your time.
We built a signup process that would start a conversation. When a user added their email address for early access, they’d receive an email from me asking why did they want to use Drag?
This started our relationship with everyone. Users would explain their problems, their use cases and even their problems with Drag. It was awesome because irrelevant of the topic, they were talking to us.
2. List on Hacker News ~ 1 hour of your time.
Hacker News is big. If you get front page, like this, things go crazy. We received over 3.6K early access requests in 24 hours.
I’d love to explain the science behind this – I can’t explain why it worked for Drag. I think it’s because people have strong opinions that an inbox should not be used as a Task List, so the conversations started flowing. This engagement with the Hacker News community expedited us.
3. List on Product Hunt ~ 3 days of your time.
With Product Hunt we applied more science. For those that don’t know, it’s THE place to launch your technology startup. I’m going to do a dedicated article on how we successfully launched on Product Hunt, but for now, here’s a quick overview.
- Find a big-time, active Product Hunter who will list your startup for you. We had the pleasure of Kevin William David helping us.
- Plan a time and date that you want to list on Product Hunt.
- Plan who can help promote/vote on your post
- Your early access users
- Technology Influencers
- Find an incentive for people to promote and vote on your post
- On launch day, be active and answer questions as quickly as you can.
This strategy got us featured on Product Hunt, we got Top 5. Drag was one of Product Hunts, ‘most hunted’.
Our Product Hunt launch was a success, here it is.
We made it onto their daily newsletter, here it is.
We received 600+ upvotes in a day. Over the course of a week, we saw over 800 installs per day from our Product Hunt launch.
4. List on loads of Chrome store directories ~ 5 days of your time.
Search online for ‘where to list your technology start-up’. There are some super-useful blog posts that give you 100+ places to get your startup listed. Build a spreadsheet, and work through each website in a clear and personal way to maximize the performance of each listing.
1. We did lots of PR ~ 5 days per month of your time.
PR has been incredible for us. This hasn’t been luck, it’s been structured, committed time to make things work (I’ll write a full post on this).
We built a PR list of technology websites, influencers and vloggers. We started talking to them about Drag. We now get 10+ articles per week about Drag. You can see who’s linking to us here.
We’ve had some big names such as LifeHacker, Mashable, and The American Genius, who’ve all written about Drag 😊
Talk to your users (daily)
I’ve saved this one until last. Talk to your users, talk to them daily.
1. Talk on social media
We talk on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
2. Talk on email
We reply to every customer as quickly as we can to understand how and why they’re using Drag.
3. Talk on Chrome store reviews
We reply as quickly as we can to all Chrome store reviews
4. Talk on Skype
We jump on Skype calls whenever users ask.
5. Talk anywhere you can
The reason we do this is because everything makes a difference. Every single communication gives more confidence to our users and gets us that one step closer to understanding what Drag needs to be as a product.
You have to give first, before you get something back. We’re still in the giving stages but it’s really satisfying and has been the best way to get things right.
Here are some other things we did
Some things failed. We tried the following
- Commenting on the footer of blogs
- Following Twitter accounts
- Posting into Facebook groups
Build your pre-launch plan as simple as you can. Stick to your numbers, and execute on the plan.
What you’ll learn inside Drag
Starting now, we’re aiming to share what our plans are, how we’re doing and what lessons we’re learning along the way.
- Just like this article, you’ll get real-time updates on what’s happening, what’s working and how it feels in a startup.
- Quick videos explaining quick wins and how to grow your business
- Live Instagram updates. Real-time stories of what’s happening
This is our attempt at sharing everything. It’s as simple as that You don’t have to be a customer to follow us.