On Developing A Better Emoji Picker For Mac And Getting Featured On Product Hunt

Develop A Mac App
About The Company
Coming Up With The Idea
Building The Product
Launching The Business
Growing The Business
Revenue + Financials
Lessons Learned
Recommended Tools
Books & Resources
Advice For Founders
Founder, Mumu
$150
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
product
Mumu
from
started January 2020
$150
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
1.04M
alexa rank
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social media
productivity
payments
Discover what books Wilbert reccommends to grow your business!
Listen to the audio version of this story!

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi everyone! 👋🏼 My name is Wilbert, and I’m from Indonesia. Currently, I run Mumu for macOS. It’s an emoji picker that enables you to find the right emoji using synonyms. Our customers are the power-user of macOS.

I’ve tried to make software products a few years ago, but nothing hits the mark as Mumu. I didn’t expect it’d 10x my target revenue when I launched it at the beginning of July. I said to myself, “If I make $100 through this launch, I’ll consider it as successful.” Thank God the result has surpassed my innocent expectation. Now I made around $1,600 in total revenue.

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I was a pure software engineer back then after graduating from a computer science degree. I loved to do just code, especially solving algorithm problems. Until one day I realized I want to do more than that. Probably I could code, design, and make my products for a living. Fast forward a few years, here I am. The journey is so freaking hard, but I’m happier working for my own thing and customers.

I can’t emphasize more about the power of just-do-the-f-thing. Just ship it, early and often. Probably it doesn’t work initially and that’s okay.

Mumu itself isn’t the first product that I made. I was making things I want but turned out people don’t care about those. That’s because I was busy thinking about ideas in private. I thought inspirations could hit me out of the blue and everything would be formed afterward. Like a dream, right?

Before I started Mumu, I committed myself that I shouldn’t make the same mistakes over and over again. This time I should share the idea and gain an initial momentum to work on the idea further. Otherwise, I’d just move on to another thing.

And that’s how Mumu got started. I was frustrated when finding an emoji because if I don’t remember the exact word of it, I’d get no result. I had to scroll around to find the perfect match and do that over time. I realized it’s not the first time for me to be in that situation. Since emoji is fundamental in my communication toolbox, I decided to seek a way to make it better.

I made a simple landing page to see if people are excited to join the private beta. I tweeted about it and talked about it in the WIP community. Around 10 people joined, not so much I know. But given the number of audiences I have at the moment, that’s more than enough for me to continue building the product.

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Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

I didn’t think about it too much, I just let the flow guide me. When the obstacles hit the way, I tried to deal with them as soon as I could. That way I significantly reduced my time to procrastinate.

I started to open Xcode and prototyped everything there. When I need to design something, I open Figma. It may sound so easy but don’t worry, I’ve been a coder and designer for some time. So don’t compare to yourself if you’re just getting started. Back to the process, I made the most minimal version of Mumu that I could be satisfied with and sent it to the private beta users.

Interestingly there are features that I initially ignore. The ability to pick skin tone, keyboard shortcut customization, and I didn’t even include the identity of the user that will send the feedback. Embarrassing, but I gotta keep the scope manageable to be able to launch it. Not to mention the way for private beta users to try the app. They had to type something in their terminal to run it since I hadn’t bought the Apple Developer Program at that time yet.

The amazing moment for me was when people gave some meaningful feedback to it. Even one person said he certainly wants to pay for the product when it’s finished. I know it’s not a perfect validation but is a good sign overall. So I kept iterating from the feedback.

Describe the process of launching the business.

It’s been more or less a traumatic moment for me. When I was preparing the launch plan, I tried to contact one of the customers from the previous product that I had built. Shockingly, the guy was murdered a year ago in an incident when he’s on holiday with his family. I promised to myself that I wanna do my best in this launch, for him.

So I quickly made the landing page by having all the copywriting first. Followed by the layout and design details, both for desktop and mobile. I reached the community to hear some feedback, then working towards that. I’m not an expert in copywriting, but one thing that’s so helpful to me was an article called The 17 Tips For Great Copywriting. I followed the advice radically, that’s why the headline of Mumu is “Ditch your macOS emoji picker”

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I put a lot of videos too to show the experience of the app. It’s really helpful to convince the potential customers to at least try the app because they couldn’t experience how the app works exactly where they’re right now on the landing page.

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Testimonials are useful too to make your product more appealing. I was lucky because I had some private beta users. We had a lot of conversations and some sentences could be made for that. I asked them if I could make that like testimonials, and they don’t mind at all. I learned in some cases, testimonials will naturally pop out when you’re making a product that’s interesting enough for people to use.

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Enough with the landing page thing, I was focusing on the launch day. That time I thought why don’t I do the pre-launch sales? It seemed like a good deal to validate the idea even further. I shot an email to all private beta users. 4 bought it and I jumped like crazy that night. I haven’t made a single penny from private beta users.

A few days later the launch day came, it was Monday. I prepared all the copywriting and a fancy GIF as the usual “prerequisite” to launch on Product Hunt. I launched it at 00:00 when the PH time reset, told the WIP community about it, tweeted, and sent some emails to my audiences.

Long story short, it’s been crazy. The sales were skyrocketed while I was replying to people’s comments on PH and Twitter. The launch tweet itself has been retweeted countless times, including from the famous ones like Hunter Walk, Lenny Rachitsky, and Pieter Levels. And Mumu was featured on the Product Hunt newsletter too!

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Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I’m a big fan of building in public. After the launch day, I quickly made a Trello board (before that I was only on sticky notes) to prioritize what to do. Slowly I recapped the feedback from the customers to it. I took a deep breath.., and then started to work quickly on feedback, feature requests, etc. I tweeted everything that I shipped and the next version exactly shipped 2 days after launch. Turned out people are happy with how fast I respond to their feedback.

I sent newsletters regularly because I didn’t have an auto-update feature at the time I launched Mumu. It’s embarrassing but coincidentally I could make a conversation with the existing customers. I didn’t do that much in terms of outbound marketing yet. For me retaining customers is more important. If they love the product, they’ll tell their peers about it. That’s what I aimed from the beginning.

One of the interesting things was when a customer asked for a refund. That’s still a scary moment for me, until now. I politely answered every email exchange and tried to solve his problems thoroughly. Surprisingly, in the end, he bought 2 licenses and didn’t want a refund. From that moment I learned no matter how stressful it is to deal with people out there, always strive for being kind. A curse could turn into a blessing, you just never know.

There’s also an angry customer without reason. He asked for a refund, commented badly on the things the product didn’t do, slandering at his best. I didn’t talk too much to this kind of person. I refunded all that he wanted, all done. Lately, I found that his account was a fake one. I don’t know for sure, but surely there are people that you don’t have to spend your time with too much. Focus on your lane.

So my best recipe so far to retain customers:

  • Build-in public – people love transparency.
  • Ship fast and often.
  • Being kind all the time.
  • Communicate clearly at your best.
  • Take care of yourself, so you could take care of your customers.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

I’m happy with what I do today. It’s like a dream, living the life that I wanna live in my way. I don’t want to take it for granted and make sure I ship a valuable thing every single time. My next target is to reach $5,000 in revenue. I’ll make sure I learn everything to reach it along the way.

Every morning I always remind myself where I’m going. The big picture and direction that I’m pursuing right now. I wanna reach $5,000 in total revenue.

So Mumu for macOS has reached a stable state when most of the updates are about synonyms. The roadmap has been filled with the feature requests for Mumu 2.0, so I can’t wait to work on those. Currently, I’m preparing the launch of the upcoming Mumu for iOS, which should be ready soon after passing the Apple review.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I had procrastinated and overthought a lot. I was on the wrong train, where I hoped to have a great idea and that would change everything. So I thought a lot, seeking more inspiration, and realized that I didn’t work on anything at the end. When I had something in mind, I didn’t work on it directly. I was too comfortable with doing code and design. Gratefully it’s changed since the beginning of 2020.

So I joined the WIP community, asked a lot of questions, and learned a lot of the “just do it - just ship it” mentality from it. The monthly fee of being in the community also forced me to make money to cover it. It’s also important to find your groove, discipline, and flow. When it’s time to work, I wear my AirPods Pro and start to listen to upbeat music. I love Ben Rau’s playlist on Spotify.

And pick a tech stack that doesn’t change. They could change, but you don’t have to. Finally, I stick with Vue / Nuxt, Tailwind, Node, / Express, and SQLite if I need to make a web app.

I use Swift to make anything in the Apple environment. By doing this I apply discipline to myself to think more in the business and customer perspective. Last but not least, it’s important to take care of yourself. I strive to sleep 7-8 hours a day, have a sunbathe around 10 AM, and eat healthily. Put your health first.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

I use Trello for the roadmap. I guess nothing fancy there? What I’m embarrassed to share is how I collect customer feedback. I’m still using Telegram bot as the transit place before I move the feedback manually to Trello. Here’s how it looks like:

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I host the landing page on Vercel. It’s great because I just have to run a now command on the terminal and the deployment will be handled auto-magically by them. By a few seconds, the landing page is already live. And for the payment processor, I use Paddle because they handle everything about VAT and I heard good things from people. I don’t regret using it and truly satisfied by its support and everything in between.

Everything else is still done manually. They say you should do things that don’t scale first. Then scale when needed. When it’s truly needed. I’m trying to follow that rigorously.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I love almost everything from Derek Sivers. Anything You Want is on top of my mind. I have a special reaction to every chapter. It’s entertaining and mind-blowing at the same time. And it’s short. I love how Derek tells his story. It’s like “if I could achieve it, you could too!”

Your Music and People is the latest book that I’ve finished, from Derek as well. Probably it’s the best book about marketing that I’ve read so far. It’s on point and has many actionable insights, from the industry that I’ve never known before. That’s more than enough to spend my Sunday for.

And here’s the most down-to-earth and relevant to most of the makers out there including me. The Pieter Levels’ live streaming on Twitch. The first teacher is experienced, the second is watching how Pieter makes his startups. There are many details in it, like choosing simplicity of putting your todo on sticky notes instead of using Trello in the first place, etc.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?

I can’t emphasize more about the power of just-do-the-f-thing. Just ship it, early and often. Probably it doesn’t work initially and that’s okay. Don’t be weak and surrender to failure. Instead, try to learn what’s wrong and what already worked. Evolve from it, don’t settle on where you are right now. So don’t overthink it and do something. I learned it by having no product, procrastinating, and doubting myself for years. You don’t have to.

Every morning I always remind myself where I’m going. The big picture and direction that I’m pursuing right now. And that’s not something vague or bullshit. Like I said above, I wanna reach $5,000 in total revenue. That’s clear for me and that kinda goal always kicks me in my ass to work on it every single day. Otherwise, I would lose my excitement to work on something. Have a goal and timebox it.

Where can we go to learn more?

I do build in public via Twitter. So follow me, include me in your list, or whatever. My Twitter DM is also open if you want to ask some questions. Say hi!

-  
Wilbert Liu,   Founder of Mumu

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