From Idea to MVP to Sales
Sometimes, I get an idea that I have to build. This idea is ReleaseLoop. I didn't need this idea, but here we are.
In July 2023, I had an idea for a project management app for record labels to plan and manage their operations.
From my experience, record label owners and managers are disorganized or are the type who like to plan. I'm also disorganized, have endless ideas, and without structure, I don't get a lot done. I use tools to help me.
My vision is an app where record label owners can plan, organize, and strategize their operations. Think Basecamp, but just for the music industry. In my head, it looks good.
I can't code
I had a slight problem. I can't code. But like I do with everything, I threw myself in the deep end and learned how to use Bubble. Bubble is a no-code app development platform.
One advantage I did have was technical knowledge of how apps work. I co-founded Promoly in 2014. My technical co-founder, Mike, taught me a lot about applications work.
I chose Bubble because I can get an MVP done faster without learning to code, which would have taken longer.
I had an MVP (minimal viable product) created within a few weeks. I didn't bother with too many tutorials unless I needed them for a particular purpose. For example, I would look up "How do I filter a repeating group." But I learned most of Bubble using ChatGPT. ChatGPT is my technical co-founder for ReleaseLoop. When I got highly stuck, I paid for a coaching call from Kieran at Nocodelife. He solved it in 30 minutes. Well worth the money. He saved me a lot of frustration.
Looking back at V1 of my MVP, it was terrible. That didn't matter then, as it gave me the backbone to work on.
One of the biggest mistakes I made was getting the database schema wrong. I made it impossible to scale. Record labels have teams, but the way I created the schema, adding a team member to an account wouldn't be possible. Everything I had built, I needed to rebuild. But that was ok.
Here's ReleaseLoop in December 2023.
Tasks / Kanban
As you can see, I kept the same idea but made it cleaner and intuitive.
Marketing is every founder's nemesis. It's so easy to keep building without telling anyone. But at some stage, you must stop creating and start marketing. You can do both if you're VC-backed, but I'm not. I'm doing this bootstrapped solo.
From day one, I've been public about what I'm building. I'd build and then share what I've made on social media.
I decided to sell lifetime deals quietly. Too many lifetime deal sales are a recipe for disaster—the upkeep, support, and ongoing costs. I see a lot of companies that oversold and are now closed.
When I say quietly, I posted about ReleaseLoop on LinkedIn, asking if anyone was interested in my vision.
I wanted feedback from people who are willing to pay.
I created a basic landing page using Carrd, which collected 'waitlist' email signups. I got 66 people to join my waitlist. I would then post about ReleaseLoop on LinkedIn and email the waiting list about my post, which would drive more engagement to the post.
On August 3rd, 2023, I sent out the following email.
You can see I sent out a Stripe link. I didn't have billing inside ReleaseLoop - for anyone who purchased, I would update their account manually. I did this because I didn't think building a billing system was worth it if no one wanted ReleaseLoop.
In total, from the lifetime deal, I made $686. Not enough to take over the world, but enough to validate my idea and to keep building.
I closed the lifetime deal on November 2nd, 2023. By then, I had built billing and integrated Stripe to take payments. I switched to $6 per user per month.
As of December 15th, 2023, I have eight monthly paying customers and $48 MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue). Early days.
ReleaseLoop is functional but imperfect, and I'm still finding product market fit. But people are paying for it, so I'm closer than I think.
Marketing is my focus now - I need revenue to grow. I'm doing this solo with a $0 budget to see what's possible. ReleaseLoop's revenue has paid for web hosting, Bubble costs, and a coaching call from Nocode Life.
Here's how I'm planning to grow ReleaseLoop to 100 users:
- Outreach on LinkedIn.
- I need to keep writing content for LinkedIn and ReleaseLoop blog.
- I'll ask customers to refer their label friends.
- I tell people via social and email when I build something new.
- I will keep asking customers for feedback.
That loop will continue.
I'll report back in a month and post my next set of learnings, growth, and problems I've encountered. Chat soon.