Creating Dozens Of Products Until I Finally Got Traction With A $20K/Month App

$20,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
6
Employees
product
RecurPost
from Surat, Gujarat
started August 2016
$20,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
6
Employees
123K
alexa rank
630
followers
5.77K
followers
348
subs
email
customer service
social media
seo

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

My name is Dinesh and I am the founder of RecurPost. RecurPost is a social media scheduler with repeating schedules.

I graduated with a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia State University, Atlanta. I thought I was going to become an academician, but I ended up becoming an entrepreneur.

I have created over 30 products so far, but RecurPost was the first one that got decent traction. I have loved every part of going from an idea to a product with over 25,000 users in less than 3 years.

One of the side benefits of RecurPost is that it helps me connect with other businesses. I love talking to people. This has given me a number of new friends.

I wanted RecurPost to be a small business friendly startup and hence I decided to have a forever free plan that is good enough for most businesses. As they grow, they will outgrow the free plan and that is when we ask them to go for a paid plan.

We have over 26,000 businesses who benefit from using RecurPost. We are currently making $20,000 a month in revenue. Users typically sign up for RecurPost free plan, use it for a few months and then upgrade to our Medium plan.

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

I was groomed to be a research scientist. I spent a few years doing that. However, I come from a business family and that had a strong influence on me. I loved the idea of creating products that benefit others. I loved the idea of creating jobs. I could do this only if I started something of my own.

My training as a research scientist, i.e. my Ph.D. in Computer Science, helped me get into software development. Atlanta was a big city and there were always events that exposed me to entrepreneurship. I knew it was for me and that is how I got into startups.

The day I walked the stage to my Ph.D. degree was the same day I moved to India. I started a company that helped people with great ideas to launch those ideas. Instead of becoming an offshore outsourcing company, we came in as technical partners who took equity in the final product. We built a number of products under this model.

There was a web-based clone of Slack called MindStack, but we could not get users. Another product helped users find games of Cricket (like baseball but more popular than Soccer in many parts of the world) being played around you. The idea was that by finding people in your city, you can make new friends even if your work moved you to a different city. Again, we failed to find users. We also created a suite of tools for SEO, but that did not work well either.

Our first tool in social media management was a comprehensive marketing tool. It had end-to-end automation for any social media marketer. However, we ended up building so many features in it that it simply became overwhelming for users.

This is when we decided we had to create a simpler product if we wanted users to adopt it. We pivoted that tool to only do one thing, which was repeating schedules, and we went with it. People really loved the simplicity this time and we were in business.

creating-dozens-of-products-until-i-finally-got-traction-with-a-20k-month-app

Describe the process of launching the business.

I had enough savings to keep the lights on for a long time. Therefore, it was not the case that we would have to shut shop if we could not become profitable soon. Luckily we did though.

When we first launched RecurPost, we promoted it using social media. Wait, isn’t that a self fulfilling prophecy?

Then we started to reach out to people with large Facebook groups in similar niches. This is how I got connected with Jen Lehner of The Front Row. She was so generous she invited me to do a demo on her Facebook group. However, she wasn’t sure about a new product so she checked us out and sent us the following message:

“I currently use MeetEdgar, and recommend to all of my students and followers. I want to make sure I am comparing apples to apples before I create my video tutorial comparing the two. One thing I notice is that I don't see the opportunity to bring in RSS.”

RSS Feed apparently was a big deal to her. So we worked on it that same day and before our meeting the next day, we added support for RSS Feeds. I am blessed with some of the best developers in the world.

This was a game changer. Most of the people who attended that webinar signed up. They also shared RecurPost in other groups. Here is a recording of that webinar:

Since we have been in the market for so long, we have gotten our name out on different publications now so we get traffic from there too. Here are some chosen links:

This is something that I always tell new entrepreneurs. Time will always be on your side if you are doing it right.

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

We have been mentioned by some really high ranking websites, which resulted in a better rank for RecurPost on Google. This has been a great source of new users for us. We are now looking at what else we can do to improve our search engine ranks.

We have created a lot of informative pages on our website that target our keywords. It is too early to tell if they are working or not, but from our experience we are hopeful that they will work.

We have also started producing great content via blogs. This content is not really targeted around keywords, but it is something that appeals to our current and potential users. You can check out our blog at recurpost.com/blog.

We share every blog post with our users via email as well. Those who do not open the first email, we send them a follow up email to remind them. Mailchimp comes handy for this.

Once we made the mistake of putting a link to a different blog post and we got multiple emails where people were asking us to share the correct URL. I was sad about the mistake, but I was happy that people cared :) and that tells me we are producing decent content.

We have also created some useful resources on our blog that help users with their business, such as we create a template for social media marketing agencies recurpost.com/blog/ultimate-guide-for-social-media-agencies/ that resulted in a large number of dounwloads. Those users were added to a drip email campaign where we introduced them to features of RecurPost.

In addition to this, Facebook displays the name of the app that was used to post an update on a Group. When people with large groups follow us, this helps us get the word out organically.

We have tried paid Facebook marketing as well, but that did not work well. It is possible that we always chose the wrong agency to do it for us, but it could also be about the budget we feel comfortable spending.

We also have a generous affiliate program that pays you 20% of the recurring revenue that we generate via people you sent our way. This has also helped us get mentions on some blog posts.

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

We are currently profitable with our revenues. We have not taken any funding so far, which has worked great for us.

Our current margins are not very high as we pay our employees well.

Since we are a cloud based startup, web hosting is a big expense too. We would like it to grow even further though as that means we are doing well and need more machines :)

We have over 25,000 email subscribers who are mostly our users or those who subscribed via our blogs. There are many who joined from our blogs like I mentioned in an earlier section.

Currently, we are not working on any new large features. We are making the existing features really simple to use. Currently, our setup requires a few steps that confuse users. We are working on rethinking our strategy so that users start using RecurPost within a few hours or signing up.

We have social media inbox feature on our roadmap next. This way, you can not only share content from RecurPost, you can reply to all of the comments, replies etc. that you received across all social accounts.

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

We were always a customer centric company. We still strive to please our customers. We are always listening to their feedback. If a feature request came from a user, it is always ranked higher than other things.

We started a Facebook group which allowed users to communicate with us in a familiar setting. People have been able to share their feedback on our new features, complain when something is broken and let us know when they see something that can be added to RecurPost. I highly recommend starting a Facebook group to everyone.

I was a hard core programmer, like with a Ph.D. in Computer science, and it was difficult for me to be a marketer. However, I knew there was no other way around it and thus I started learning things slowly. I figured a few things about marketing and then hired people to help me when I knew where can marketing take us.

Every month, we dedicate one day for our team to discuss things like benefits of RecurPost as a social media tool, about our company, anything new they learned, what can be done in the future and if our competitors are doing something that benefits users. These meetings always give us something that we would have missed otherwise.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One needs to use tools to increase their productivity. We depend on a lot of tools as well.

For email marketing we rely on Mailchimp. It is simple and easy to use.

For social media marketing we rely on ...ahem.. RecurPost.

For design needs we depend on Adobe’s suite of tools including Photoshop, AI and lightroom.

We use Moz data to analyze competitors. We also look at SEMRush data for this.

We are moving our support to Freshdesk soon.

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

As entrepreneurs we tend to do a lot of work, which makes us waste a lot of energy in unnecessary work.

I read The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin and it helped me figure out what costs you a lot in terms of your brain energy.

I listen to Andrew Warner’s podcast Mixergy (I have been a guest there too) to hear fellow entrepreneurs. There is so much I have learned from there.

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

I’d highly recommend those who just got started or are getting started to carefully see when something is working and when it is not. If you try to drag something, that’s not working, too far, it will not generate you anything. Instead, you will lose a lot. This is especially true for your first startup. Your first need (and will) not be your only product.

If something is working slowly then you can try a finite number of things to see if you can make it go fast. If not, don’t be afraid to sell it to someone who can take it there.

When something is working, that is not the end. That is the beginning. Figure out what is your goal from that product and set up your roadmap based on that. Just because something works, that’s not everything it should do.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We are currently looking for course creators or social media coaches to partner with them. We have a lot that we can offer them and their audience.

Where can we go to learn more?

-  
Dinesh Agrawal,   Founder of RecurPost

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