Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Alexander Isora. I created a simple landing page builder for startups: SaaS, mobile apps, Chrome Extensions, desktop software, etc.
The project is generating over $2,200 in MRR and hosts 2,819 websites.
Fun fact: I’m alone in the project team. I do all the work: design, code, marketing, customer support. One user said: “It would seem you have created a better product developing solo than some multi-million dollar companies have been able to do after years.”
So how is that possible? What is the secret? Let’s find it out together! 😁
Some feedback is given to the Unicorn Platform. There are x100 more testimonials lol, but I’m too lazy to sort it and make it public
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
The most common question I’m asked is “how did you come up with the idea?”. Or the more expressive version: “are you crazy to dive into such a competitive area?!”.
That was actually an easy choice! 😁
I’m a startup folk. I launched over 15 tech projects: big and small, successful and not, profitable and fun-only. This gave me a huge experience in prototyping, designing and coding a landing page.
Moreover, I’m an ex-cofounder in a web design and development startup. We were selling premium landing page templates for startups. I connected with dozens of startup founders and marketers who were in need of a landing page. This gave me a crystal clear understanding of the market and the user.
This wasn’t something: “ha, now I know the market, I will build a product and earn easy money!!”. It was more like: “POOR GUYS! They suffer so MUCH to build a landing page. I have a great experience and I can help them! Let’s do it!”.
It felt good when I chose my path and decided to start the Unicorn Platform. A deep feeling of calm and confidence. Something I always wanted to reach. This is true happiness and I’m grateful for my past experience for helping me achieve this. I wish you to find your true way too!
By the way, let me know if you need help with that search. I would love to assist you if possible.
One may say: “An idea is not enough. How about money?”. Good point!
At that time I just quit a startup with empty pockets. And when I decided to start the Unicorn Platform, I needed some funds to pay rent and buy some food.
Having a part-time job or having a freelance gig was not an option. I wanted to fully dive into the project. So I needed some money to start.
My solution was crowdfunding.
This is how I solved this problem. A step-by-step guide just for you:
- Build an MVP. It took 160 hours to build an initial version of the Unicorn Platform.
- Create a crowdfunding page. I offered a limited amount (50) of lifetime licenses for a fixed price. These 50 folks were promised to be given exclusive unlimited access to the Unicorn Platform.
- Launch your MVP and publish the lifetime offer page on Product Hunt.
- Get the cash to build the product!
Well, to be honest, this actually wasn’t such an easy-peasy task. The problem was that Product Hunt helped me to sell only half of the licenses. The second half was sold on this Facebook group full of passionate entrepreneurs.
You need also to have some respect and reputation among the community. Thank goodness, I had a solid background in making products so people trusted me.
It is also crucial to have a decent MVP. The Unicorn Platform MVP was actively bought because it was bringing real value. It is a good proof of concept.
So let’s sum it up: Good MVP + reputation + sweet offer = successful lifetime deal sales.
And if you have all those you don’t even need the help of Appsumo, which will grab a huge part of your profits as a commission.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I was lucky enough to skip the customer development part. By building the Unicorn Platform, I was solving my own pain as an ex startup owner.
I also had a decent relevant experience building landing pages for startups. Thus, I already knew what to build and how to sell.
But there also was “how to build” part. And that was actually a problem. 😅
I did not have experience in coding complex web apps. I had nearly zero experience in backend development. Being naive, I thought I would invest the money from the crowdfunding campaign to hire a couple of ninjas who will do the job.
Well, it should have worked. But only if:
I was an expert in hiring and management. Otherwise, I will bury the money on gaining experience in these things.
The guys I hire will be 100% reliable and responsible. Otherwise, websites of my clients may be endangered, because I will not be able to fix anything by myself.
Obviously, 1) and 2) could not be guaranteed. So I decided to learn to code and build everything by myself (thanks to Kostya for the advice!).
This was super tough at the beginning. But I promised my lifetime license investors to build the app. And if you have to build an app, you learn incredibly fast 😅
Being a novice, there was a risk of building a clumsy and unscalable architecture though. I realized this.
But my close friends helped me to build a solid foundation for the Unicorn Platform. It is reliable and flexible.
So a year later, I finished coding and the Unicorn Platform v2.0 was born. Now I have the project ready. How about a big launch?
Describe the process of launching the business.
I launched Unicorn Platform on Product Hunt and it just blew it away!
Man, I got such huge support from the community: tons of feedback, hundreds of registrations. I could not be happier with the launch day.
I was so exhausted after a ~year of sitting in the darkroom coding all that stuff. And finally, my baby was presented to the sophisticated Product Hunt audience.
This is an incredible feeling.
This was not my first PH launch. As I said, I launched many projects. But it still was like the first time 😁
Some numbers for the curious ones:
- Sales: + 31
- MRR: +$491 (before $864 — after $1355 )
- Conversion rate: landing page visitor — builder user: 3.99%
- Conversion rate: builder user — paid client: 9.4%
- Conversion rate: landing page visitor — paid client: 0.4%
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
This is a funny question!
I had a huge marketing plan for the Unicorn Platform. A decent list of potential partners, SEO keywords, side projects, funnel automation things, etc, etc.
But - irony! - it turned out that I just don’t have enough time for all this.
I have only one active marketing campaign. I call it “human support”. By “human”, I mean with empathy, passion and full commitment.
I spend hours and hours supporting my users. I really do care about their success because they are not “traffic” (I dislike this word) to me, but fellow startup folks.
I connect them with each other and with my own network, I help them with their problems, promote and launch their products, I even started coaching a lady in UI/UX (yes, inside the Intercom chat) because I wanted to help her so much.
All this portion of sincere love I give to users does the job. Combine a good product and good support, and you will get a good word of mouth effect.
Fun story: One guy asked me for a Stripe integration feature. After 3 months I finally launched it. I remembered that guy wanted the integration so much. So I wrote to him even before the official announcement. He was so happy and instantly became a paid customer.
I got my portion of excitement too because I solved his pain. 😁
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Expanding to new markets? Nah. It is a startup landing page builder. It will always be for startups only.
Hiring a crowd of salespersons to increase revenue? I hate being sold and I do not want to nag my users.
Chasing MRR/MAU/ARPU/SHMARPU? This makes me depressed.
Finding an investor? He/she will distract me with his willingness to make profits.
My only goal is to create a simple and powerful landing page builder for startups. Period.
Such a product-only oriented direction is unpopular. It is even declared bad!
But I don’t think so. I believe in the future where tools are built by passionate founders like myself.
This may sound naive and infantile. It is naive and infantile. But it is definitely not a bad way of building a startup. It is just another way, which is not popular in the media.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Yeah, I learned that nothing can stop you if you truly believe in something. A true belief, in my opinion, should be based on real experience, not blind fantasies though. 😅
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I would recommend one tool I’m in love with Notion. Short, Notion is Evernote on steroids. If you like Lego you will adore Notion.
I use it for docs, todo lists, roadmaps, changelog, knowledgebase, planning, notes, etc.
I love it so much I would marry Notion if it was technically possible.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I don’t listen to anything. Neither do I read business books. Actually, I’ve read all of them. Books stuffed my head with needless irrelevant knowledge which gave a fake feeling of confidence. I prefer to go my own way and mine my own knowledge.
I started to feel much happier when I quit reading business books. And I also got a lot of free space in my head which helps me to create the top-notch service.
Perhaps the Unicorn Platform will not become a $1,000,000,000 company with this mindset. But I never wanted this.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I hate giving advice but here is one. It’s my favorite! 💖
Building a startup is a tough thing and it will always be tough. If you do not enjoy this now, you will never enjoy it. This means that perhaps you just should not go the entrepreneur way. Please note that giving up at the right time is a decision that deserves huge respect.
Pardon me talking so radically. I just... feel very unhappy when I meet people who do something they do not want to do. That is why I talk so emotionally about this.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m looking for a hot-blooded ReactJS master who wants to help me build the best landing page builder in the world.
Where can we go to learn more?
Thanks for reading this! You can learn more about me and Unicorn Platform here:
Thanks a lot for giving me an opportunity to tell the world about my project, if you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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