Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hello everyone! I am Bhanu Teja. I am the founder of SiteGPT.
SiteGPT is an AI chatbot platform that allows you to create your personalized chatbots that are trained on your website content. I started SiteGPT about 6 months ago and it’s currently doing around $15k MRR.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Before starting to work on SiteGPT, I was working on a different product of mine called Feather. Feather is a blogging platform that uses Notion as the CMS. You write your content on Notion and Feather automatically creates and publishes that content on your own SEO-friendly blog.
In March of this year, my Twitter timeline was filled with a lot of AI content. I keep seeing it everywhere. So I wondered if there is any way I could make use of AI to help my Feather customers. That’s when I thought – every one of my customers has a blog, so why not add a way for people to chat with those blogs? That’s how everything started.
SiteGPT started as a side project and as one of the features of my other product Feather.
Feather was doing relatively well at that time (around $4k MRR). But as I started working on this feature, I realized that the potential for this is so huge and I didn’t want to limit it to just Feather customers. Anyone who has a website can make use of this. That’s when I decided to launch this feature as an entirely different product and that’s how SiteGPT was born.
Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.
Building an entire chat platform was so much more difficult than I initially thought. Now this use case is very common. But at that time, it was not that popular and there were no resources available (at least I wasn’t aware of it). So I built everything from scratch.
As I mentioned, this was still a side project at that time. I had zero expectations. Every day I delay the launch, I see a similar product popping up. So I didn’t have any kind of expectations.
But I knew the problem was there, I had the UX that I wanted the users to experience. So I built a very bare minimum version of it in 2-3 weeks and launched it. The only feature it has is the core feature – you add your website link and then a chatbot will get created and trained on all the content on your website. That’s the only thing the chatbot did at the time of launch. The goal was to improve it later only if necessary. But I just wanted to launch it first and see if anyone would use it.
I built it with Remix and deployed it on Cloudflare Workers using Fauna as the database. The setup was pretty simple and it didn’t cost me anything extra as I was using Fauna and Cloudflare for my other product (Feather) too. So the only huge bill I was anticipating was from Open AI and Pinecone (my vector database for SiteGPT).
I priced the product a little higher so that I wouldn’t be surprised with a huge bill after the launch. I didn’t know how much it was going to cost me. I did not have any free plan – because, from my experience, I know that I do not have the necessary skills to convert free users to paid customers. So the product was a paid-only product right from the start.
Once I decided on all of these things, I applied to Paddle to get my account activated. It took a few weeks for it to get approved and when it was finally approved, I launched the product within the next few days after approval.
Describe the process of launching the business.
My launch was pretty simple. I keep saying on Twitter that I will be launching my new AI product in a few days. I had around 10k followers back then. I kept building public all of my products for the past 3.5 years even when I had zero followers. So I did the same even for this mini side project.
I had zero expectations about this. I thought getting one customer on the launch day would be a dream.
Finally, on March 30th, I launched it with a tweet. Again with zero expectations. After all, this was just a side project.
The tweet got a lot of traction, so many people retweeted and quote-tweeted it. It got a lot of traction in a very short amount of time.
I got my first few customers within the first hour of launching.
I got around 15k people to my website on the launch day.
If I were to launch a product like SiteGPT or a similar one again in the same way as I did before, I can’t be 100% confident that it will turn out similarly. There are so many external factors that play a role that are not in your control.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The first week after launch was pretty hectic. I have been getting bug reports and feature requests all the time and my new subscriber notifications have been going off every few minutes. That week was the hardest I have ever worked.
On April 2nd, I decided to just post about SiteGPT on Hacker News’s Show HN section.
I never expected anything to come out of it. But to my surprise, it got to the front page of Hacker News and stayed there for several hours on that day.
After this, someone did an attack on both of my product sites (SiteGPT and Feather)
The day turned from one of the best days to one of the worst days because that was the first time it happened, and I didn’t know how to stop that attack.
Fortunately, one of my Twitter friends jumped on a call to explain everything and showed me how to detect and stop these attacks in the future. I got attacked multiple times in the next month, but eventually they stopped.
There are some problems that you face only after launch and only when you reach a certain scale. I had to put out a lot of fires during that first week. I was happy that people were using it and at the same time, it was a lot of stress.
In less than a week after launch, my website traffic has already reached 40k visitors.
The launch week couldn’t have gone any better. At least that’s what I thought at that time.
The next day on April 5th, I decided to launch on Product Hunt just out of the blue. I had no planning whatsoever. I just opened Product Hunt, filled out the form, uploaded an image, wrote some description, and clicked on the launch button.
It crossed more than 100 upvotes within the first 2-3 hours.
It quickly got to the #2 position on Product Hunt shortly after that.
By the end of the day, it ended up being the #1 product of the day and the #4 product of the week.
All of these things (launch tweet going viral, being on the front page of Hacker News, being on the #1 product of the day on Product Hunt) indirectly contributed to getting that initial traction to SiteGPT.
After that, a lot of people started sharing and talking about SiteGPT on their own and it has been growing organically ever since.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
In less than a month after launch, SiteGPT crossed $10k MRR.
For context, I launched my previous product Feather almost a year ago and it’s still at $5k MRR. So getting $10k MRR in less than a month was unbelievable to me at that time.
But it was not all sunshine and rainbows. The real thing started after the launch month was over. I had to face the inevitable problem of churn. I got to $10k MRR in a month and $5k churn the next month. That’s right. Almost 50% of customers churned after the first month.
I quickly realized that the hype can get you only so far and now it’s time to try and find the real customers. Even though I crossed $10k MRR in the first month, I am still hovering around $15k MRR today after 5 more months.
After only the initial launch hype died, I started getting signups from the actual real businesses who have a problem that my product is solving. That’s where I am today. Trying to find product market fit and solving pain points that my customers are facing. I am confident that we will find our place in the market pretty soon. But we are still not 100% there yet. Still trying to figure out where we fit.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One thing I learned is there is no one right way to do things. We can’t replicate the success of someone else. The conditions are never the same. The skills are never the same. I can’t replicate someone else’s success by just doing things that they are doing. I can’t even replicate my success.
For example, if I were to launch a product like SiteGPT or a similar one again in the same way as I did before, I can’t be 100% confident that it will turn out similarly. There are so many external factors that play a role that are not in your control.
This is also the reason why I had zero expectations when I launched SiteGPT. I wanted to just put it out there as fast as I could and see how people would receive it. That’s how I have always done things.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I use so many tools. The ones that I use most frequently are:
Paddle made it so easy for me to do international transactions while taking the burden of handling all the complicated tax-related things by itself. At the end of the month, I get my payments in the bank and Paddle takes care of everything else for me.
I use ChartMogul almost regularly to see how my business is doing. Without it, I would have no idea how my business is doing.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I am an indie hacker myself. So I listen to podcasts mostly made by my fellow indie founders. That way, I can relate to them better and draw similarities between my journey and their journey.
Some of the podcasts I listened to in the past are (some are discontinued now):
- Product Journey
- The Weekly Build
- The Bootstrapped Founder
- This Indie Life
- No More Mondays
- Above Board
- Default Alive
- Out of Beta
- Build Your SaaS
- Indie Hackers
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
I always believed that everyone’s journey is different. I look at how others are doing it, but in the end, I always try to find my way of doing things. It takes time to get results. But the efforts eventually get compounded.
Where can we go to learn more?
I usually spend most of my time on Twitter sharing different things about myself and my business. So that’s where you can find out more about me.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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