First off, can you tell us about your background and your product?
I am Léo and am from Paris, France. I’ve come a long way after being kicked from my dad’s at 19 years old to become a software engineer without going to school with literally no money by trying to enter the startups' ecosystem right away with zero experience. This survival instinct offered me a sense of entrepreneurship and it led me to not only code but build things for people to use.
I recently turned 23 and the first product I managed to release and generate revenue ($350 MRR) after a couple of years of trying to figure out the solo-maker ecosystem! I am currently building this product on the side of a full-time job as a frontend software engineer. Hyperping is a monitoring tool that sends alerts by SMS, Slack or email about downtimes or anything that goes wrong on your website, your API or your server (HTTP). This also includes a status page that helps companies to be more transparent with their own customers about the issues they encounter.
How long did it take to build your initial prototype and how did you validate it?
I tried and failed many times before figuring out what it is to build and launch a product, I simply had no idea. Then I started making friends into this “maker” ecosystem and heard about the term “MVP” which stands for Minimum Valuable Product. I set a deadline to exactly 3 months, no matter what, and launched it on Product Hunt with an arbitrary date during weekdays (January 29th), earned over 600 upvotes and counting to end #3 of the day! I publicly announced the date to this ecosystem which made me commit to it and gave the pressure to have this minimum valuable product ready to be launched.
I think that launching an initial product, into an existing market is a great way to ensure that it is a valid idea. All you have left to do is to make a better product than 50% of the top 10: a prettier UI, a simpler product, a more human marketing and you can get there!
How did you get your first paying customer and how long did it take?
I had my first customer 2 weeks before launching on Product Hunt! This was the most thrilling day of my young entrepreneur life! I built Hyperping with the help of wip.chat, a Telegram Community where people ship together and publicly share to-dos into the chat. I’d announce to the chat whenever I complete a task, that I can embellish with a screenshot if it’s visual, and have hundreds of other makers to comment, share advice, correct my copy, give suggestions. So this is a fellow maker from Brazil that dared to subscribe first without even warning me!
Another validation, besides this lucky event, was the launch on Product Hunt. If you haven’t managed to have any customer or even any user, the real validation will happen during the launch day. Product Hunt is an amazing validation tool that gives you thousands of visitors, hundreds of signups and hopefully a bunch of conversions into paid users! I offered a 30% off coupon code for 6 months and a dozen people subscribed within the next days, which was an amazing motivation to pursue the product. The important part here is that I was building Hyperping from the ground up publicly. I had the chance to receive dozens of valuable real-time feedback from beta-testers that range their skills from copywriters to designers to developers to marketers!
what worked and what didn't work when finding your first users?
I knew that if I found the first customer, I would find the second one, then the third.. until roughly 42 customers as of today. So I think that figuring out how to find your first customer is one of the biggest challenges of your business and your mindset. What worked was definitely sharing my journey with other makers and having a clear vision and a timeline of the building process. The biggest mistake was to keep everything to myself. Simply go meet people that might have an interest in your product.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs looking to onboard their first users?
Talk to people around you about what you are building, make yourself accountable through it and allow maximum 3 months for your MVP to be built. Then launch it as soon as possible on Product Hunt and try to engage conversations with every single user that signs up to your product and ask them what their use cases are and solve their problems. Build relationships.
What resources have helped you in the early stages?
There is one tool that I can’t recommend more which is drift.com, an Intercom-like chat widget which has a very generous free plan on which I still am. Over 50% of my conversions come after a conversation with a user. I can mention crisp.chat as well but haven’t tried it yet. Reading inspirational stories about other makers also helped me keep the motivation and play smarter moves or get out of my comfort zone. Here are a couple:
How can people reach you and find out more?