How We Raised $300K And Built A Crypto Tracking App [3K+ Downloads On Launch Day]
I'm Ben Sash, founder and CEO of Dexfolio! Our product is a mobile app that allows users to easily track their crypto investments!
In the not-so-distant past (let's say 3 to 4 years ago), trading was simple. There wasn't much to do with all your crypto assets other than trade on exchanges. Most people did not need a portfolio tracker.
But then 2020 came along, and with it, massive growth in the decentralized finance space. Defi protocols such as smart contracts enabled decentralized transactions to take place, creating an entirely new form of investing. Investment options exploded and suddenly tech companies were scrambling to create decentralized applications to manage newly-complex portfolios.
We recognized the need for an industry-specific portfolio tracker; the earliest tracking apps proved to be unsuited to the defi space in many ways. Now, a new generation of portfolio trackers is emerging in the marketplace, and with it, some beautifully designed, user-friendly technology that makes keeping track of your portfolio a pleasure.
We raised over $300,000 to bring this application to life. After 6 months of development and 3 months of beta testing, we have launched the app.
On launch day, we had over 3,000 downloads, and our community is rapidly growing and is now over 20K members large!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I first started investing in crypto in 2017, and I experienced the ups and downs of the crypto world. Then in 2021, I got sucked right back in. This time I experienced a lot of frustrations with tracking my portfolio. I had too many tokens across too many chains and I kept missing the pumps.
I was using a tracker that was built to track centralized exchanges, but not DeFi wallets like MetaMask and Trust Wallet. After searching for an app that satisfied the issues I was facing, I turned up empty-handed. So I decided to make an app to allow users to track their crypto tokens effectively.
I was well equipped for the task with my 6 years of experience in product design. This meant I was able to quickly design a concept for the app, which I published online within 3 days of thinking of the idea. The app quickly caught the attention of the crypto community and within 1 month I started building a working MVP.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The first step is designing the features of the app. Once that’s decided, I was able to consider how to incorporate the features throughout the app screens. For example, we can put the search button on the bottom nav bar or tuck it away on the browse page. To finalize the design, we needed to do thorough user testing. The design is built into a prototype and then potential users are invited to test the app while being observed in a live moderated session.
The biggest lesson learned is to increase your expected costs by 50%. We raised enough to build the product, but we faced unexpected costs, like a bug bounty payout.
Here’s one of the earliest app designs we tested:
Here’s what we learned from the user tests:
- The buttons didn’t look interactive - so we added outlines around the text that were interactive
- The portfolio page needs color to symbolize up or down changes
- The portfolio page should be denominated in USD instead of Ethereum (a popular cryptocurrency) since USD is what most people monitor crypto prices with
- The portfolio page should have more data for each token — specifically the current price and the price the users purchased the token at
- It’s better to set up the alerts automatically with default settings instead of interrupting users to set up the alerts exactly how they want it
Based on the feedback, we made the following changes:
Describe the process of launching the business.
When we launched we set up a multi-approach marketing campaign by enlisting 3 marketing techniques:
- Twitter crypto influencers
- Twitter giveaways
- Gleam competition
Using these 3, we were able to achieve almost 3,000 downloads on launch day.
Here’s a peek at the process and outcome for each of these approaches:
Twitter Crypto Influencers:
To market using crypto influencers, we needed to find influencers that had a real community. Many twitter accounts get inflated followers and engagement by using bots. Once we compiled a team of 8 influencers, we instructed them to retweet our official Twitter tweets and to tweet about our project once per day.
We saw good engagement from the influencer tweets, but not a lot of new users found our project through the approach. At first, we considered stopping it, but we evaluated its benefit was to hype up and engage our existing community, rather than as an inbound marketing tool.
The purpose of twitter giveaways was to engage our existing twitter followers and give them a reason to pay attention to our account. This was even more impactful than the influencers — since it also helped us grow the community.
The only downside of using giveaways for marketing, is you cultivate a community that’s there for the free money rather than the product being offered.
The last approach was the Gleam competitions. We found this to be the best tool for growing the community. It was similar to the twitter giveaways, but with exponential results. Gleam has an integrated referral system which causes the giveaway to go semi-viral.
Here’s a screenshot of the original website, back when we were called DexPortfolio:
We started with a bit more of an edgy tone but later switched it to a more professional one. So I built the website in 3 days. I created the design in 1 day and then built it in WEBFLOW in 2 days. I also created a Twitter and telegram account before the website was live.
We rapidly grew, with just word of mouth. Here's a screenshot of our stats in the first month:
The way we funded the project was by pre-selling in-app currency. To use pro features in the app, users will need to pay "Dexfolio Coin". We pre-sold those tokens and were able to raise over $300k in 3 funding rounds.
The biggest lesson learned is to increase your expected costs by 50%. We raised enough to build the product, but we faced unexpected costs, like a bug bounty payout. Especially considering early-stage startups usually focus on growth rather than profits. We would’ve been better positioned if we raised $600,000, however, we were still able to make it work by focusing on improving the core product.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Marketing advice for other founders is to find low-cost, creative ways to get visibility. Leveraging trending news is one great way to get visibility.
Another great way is to identify where your target customers have discussions and find a way to join them. Every industry has a place where the customers gather — whether it's online or in person. For example, us being a crypto project, we identified Twitter and Telegram as the crypto discussion center.
What I did the first day I started the project was join hundreds of crypto telegram groups and let them know I was running a giveaway for the first hundred members that joined my project. It took me half a day to reach 20 members. I continued this strategy until we were at 50 members. Many of these members are still around in the community.
We needed a faster way to grow, so at this stage, I tried to identify the techniques that other crypto projects used to get popular. We determined that many run whitelist competitions to pre-purchase a project's token. So that's what I did. I created a Google form in 30 minutes and then published it. We required entrants to follow our Twitter and join our Telegram.
Here's the form which is still public:
Within one day we got 137 responses, more than doubling the community size.
We did this 3 more times with exponential success. We switched to ViralSweep for future competitions for the extra features. Here's a screenshot of our response on one of our biggest competitions, where we got over 30,000 views:
In the later whitelist competitions, we used a sweepstakes website to facilitate the competition instead of using a Google form. This allowed us to validate that the tasks were being completed.
The biggest t lesson learned is to have a marketing strategy in place even if you’re getting free publicity. We were getting massive visibility without doing any paid marketing, but it was risky to just rely on that for our growth. We expected our growth to keep on the same trajectory, so we didn’t prioritize paid marketing. Once we launched, we saw a drop in growth and needed to pivot to keep growing.
My biggest piece of advice is to do market research first, before going full force on the project. You want to make sure there’s a real market need for your product.
We researched and brought keywords themes to our in-house content team and workshopped how to write search-optimized content. Our team ran with those themes to create high-quality SEO content that would improve search ranking across those strategic keyword groups and drive targeted traffic to the Dexfolio site.
Working closely with our content and development teams, our strategists demonstrated how a strategic site structure could leverage new SEO content to attract qualified leads in this competitive industry.
Because Dexfolio was up against some big competitors in the crypto trackers market, we added a rigorous backlinking plan to the SEO campaign to boost trust and authority signals for the site.
- 1,211 Positive Google Position Change
- The well-structured SEO strategy came together to significantly improve Dexfolio's online visibility — moving the needle on keyword rankings by greater than 2,000 positions in total.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Since Dexfolio is in its infancy, our focus is user growth over profit.
Our community is over 20,000 members large across Twitter, Telegram, Youtube, email, and SMS.
Our short-term vision for Dexfolio is to reach 100,000 monthly active users. We’re confident we can reach that in 2022. We also want to get VC funding so we can keep growing the ecosystem.
Our long term vision is to provide crypto investors with an all-in-one web3 ecosystem that allows them to outperform the market with the following features:
- Track tokens, DeFi, and NFTs across 30+ chains and exchanges
- Get personalized buy/sell calls based on investment style and market metric
- Swap, stake, transfer, invest and earn with a cross-chain wallet
- Discuss and compete with friends in token chats and leaderboards
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of our biggest mistakes has cost us around $4,700.
How? We had a feature in the app that caused our backend costs to reach $4700 in total. We've removed this feature and now costs are down to almost $0.
In response to this, we have started reviewing the cost impact of every feature we plan to add to the app.
Another big mistake is not finding a CTO co-founder for the project. This would've done 3 things:
- Alleviated the development cost, which is our largest expense
- Add passion to the project's development
- Provide a dev lead that understands the business side
We ended up hiring a dev agency, and they are very good. However, they've cost us a lot, don't work the weekends like a cofounder would, and don't understand the business side.
How has this affected us? Well, the $4,700 mistake I mentioned before would've been avoided because the CTO would've rejected the feature. Instead, the agency implemented the feature without questioning the extremely high backend costs.
That's why I'm now on the search for a CTO for the project.
A huge advantage we had was that we started the project at the peak of the crypto rush. This meant we were getting constant growth without any paid marketing. It's how we raised over $300k with almost no marketing spend.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We love Telegram for community building. You may want to consider discord though as it has more features. Telegram has a bigger issue with spam, especially in the crypto space.
We use Webflow for quick website development. It’s great because anyone can learn it, even non-coders.
We have had massive success using Upwork to get focused projects completed. Make sure you have comprehensive job descriptions, and milestones with clear deliverables and due dates, cancel a job right away if the freelancer misses a commitment, and avoid hourly-based contracts.
Figma is great for cross-team design collaboration. Make sure to use plugins, it will save you time!
Gleam is amazing for running sweepstakes. You can get a huge amount of visibility for a very low total cost.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I like Never Split the Difference by Christopher Voss and Tahl Raz. In the book, Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator, teaches how to negotiate as if your life depends on it. It taught me the core fundamentals of negotiation. When running a business, there are countless negotiations each day. You should know how to turn them in your favor.
Fundraising by Ryan Breslow is another book I would recommend. Learn the secrets of the fundraising process from the founder and CEO of one of Silicon Valley’s most successful companies. As a project seeking funding, this book has opened my eyes to countless tricks to get funding.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My biggest piece of advice is to do market research first, before going full force on the project. You want to make sure there’s a real market need for your product. Here are some questions to ask yourself about your service/product:
- Is this a problem enough people face?
- Would people be willing to pay or spend time to get rid of this problem?
- Are you offering a solution that’s better than what’s currently on the market?
Only continue with the project if you answer yes to all 3 questions.
Then ask yourself questions to see if there’s potential for the project to generate revenue or get users:
- How much can I expect a customer to pay?
- How large is the total market?
- What percentage of the market can I get as users/customers?
After answering these questions, you should be able to map out how much revenue/growth you can expect in the first year. Only proceed if you consider this amount of revenue/growth sufficient for a project you’ll be putting all your time into.
Lastly, you should map out the cost of creating the minimum viable product and running the business.
- Where will you get the money to build this MVP from?
- Where will you get money to keep building?
- Will your estimated revenue offset your costs?
Don’t forget there’s a huge amount of hidden costs you won’t be expecting like legally forming a company. You should spend time on the budget stage so you can ensure you have enough money to keep the business running until it’s revenue positive.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we’re looking for a lead developer experienced in the backend (Node.js and TypeScript) and/or blockchain. Experience with frontend (Flutter) is a plus, but not needed.
You’d be responsible for:
- Managing a small team of developers
- Optimizing the backend
- Adding features
- Adding wallet functionality for EVM and non-EVM (i.e. Solana, Cardano, Polkadot) blockchains
- Integrating and optimizing APIs to pull blockchain data into the app
The position will be compensated with equity only.
Email [email protected] to apply.
Where can we go to learn more?
Read our whitepaper to learn about our project, vision, and roadmap.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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