Step 1: Make something people want.
Step 2: Get rejected.
Step 3: Get scrappy.
The email every app developer dreads:
I had done everything right:
— I tackled a problem I had from my 5 years of working remotely: the difficulty of privately sharing team-wide tasks, announcements, and reminders.
— I found my first customer on Twitter before writing a line of code.
— I even shipped quickly and iterated.
I checked all the boxes they teach you in Startup School!
I tried to reason with them, or get some direction on how to get approval:
Time to get scrappy.
In a moment of brash inspiration, I tweeted at Stewart Butterfield (Slack’s CEO) basically pleading my case
Sidenote: I deleted that tweet, but Stewart – if you’re reading this, give me a 5-minute chat any time, any place!
My next move was to scour Twitter for phrases related to “Slack team tasks”, “Slack mass-messaging”, etc. and reach out directly to as many people as possible.
I ended up finding a 2-year-old tweet by Ryan Hoover (Founder of Product Hunt) about a browser plugin that served a similar purpose, but not very well.
To get his attention, I posted the app to Product Hunt, and asked him for feedback as a reply to his original tweet:
No response, again :/
Next I created an Indie Hackers profile with a post linking to the Product Hunt page, which led to a good number of upvotes.
Sidenote: I’ve found the IndieHacker community to be one of the most supportive and welcoming on the internet – a testament to the leadership team and Rosie Sherry, the community manager. If you’re interested in community building, her newsletter is a must-read.
Upvotes trickled in, until something awesome and unexpected happened. Ryan upvoted my post!
Obviously, app signups surged.
Users signed up from large corporations, small businesses, universities, and everything in between.
Industries ranged from watch-makers to fantasy sports commissioners, to CEOs.
The thrill was intoxicating, and it hasn’t died down. A month later I still jump out of bed to check on new signups every morning!
Moral of the story: When things don’t go as planned, get scrappy and put yourself in a position to get lucky.
Next I’ll be experimenting with other ways to grow, like social media ads. Are there any courses or websites you recommend for learning how to do them well?