On the 21st of May, I changed the DNS records for www.munahq.com from Github pages, where the 'coming soon' page was hosted to Heroku, where the current app and its marketing pages are stored. After a couple of hours—to be on the safe side—I declared that Muna had 'launched'. In quotation marks, because, as every seasoned entrepreneur/maker/bootstrapper knows, there is never really just one launch.
I was fortunate enough to have a small batch of beta users. Managers, CEO's and business leaders of companies from my network who I interviewed before about the struggles and pains they had with all the things regarding the management of their employees. I built (and left out) specific features that came up in these interviews. I can't stress the importance of talking to (prospect) customers before you build. I've written about it right here. It helped me tremendously to focus on what was really important and to ship on time (I gave myself four weeks) and to keep momentum.
Continuing talking with possible customers helped with keeping them as 'hot leads' the moment the product was 'finished'.
"It is so important to talk to (prospect) customers before you build anything."
The first days there were big spikes in traffic. Sometimes 10+ at a given moment. Most of these came through my own network and word-of-mouth. But the following days the traffic tapered off. This is expected, but this still made me a bit anxious. You have to keep a steady flow of visitors who can become possible customers.
The current traffic is not to my liking. I've still got a lot of 'jokers' left, thus loads of opportunities to increase traffic. Read below for more on those.
Having visitors is important, but if they don't 'convert', the business won't be around for long. I was fortunate enough that three beta users became actual customers (biggest is 50 employees) and, so far, haven't churned. Through sheer marketing efforts, I was able to onboard two new customers, both have teams not bigger than 20.
I have some doubts about current pricing model after talking with some potential customers. Muna currently has three tiers, with monthly and yearly payments. These tiers have limitations in terms of number of employees and teams. These numbers came from the interviews I conducted and my experience. Many competitors base their pricing on the number of users/employees within an organisation—so you pay per employee. This does make sense in a way, but I feel that it also makes for a less clear signup process.
I have to think about this and check if a change in pricing would, in fact, be better (eg. cheaper) for the current customers.
What I'd do the past 30 days
Most of my efforts were on marketing. I wrote five different blogs, emailed numerous CEO's, founders and team leaders, expanded on features of Muna and fixed a bug or
twofive (all silo'ed in background jobs, so no direct effect to the customers). I follow the rule to spend 80% of my time on anything related to marketing and 20% on product stuff. Especially if you consider yourself a maker, it's easy to fall into the trap of only improving your product. This is indeed the most fun, but it will stay a product (and not business) if there are no paying customers.
Writing the blog posts and other textual contents for the marketing pages have been fun and interesting at times. I still find a blank page quite overwhelming but have found that once I get started, words come out fairly easy.
Reaching out (cold emailing) to business owners has been less fun—which is also nothing new—reactions haven't been all too positive. Following up doesn't come natural, but knowing how busy some inboxes can get, this is sometimes the only way to get their attention (even if this means a fourth follow-up email).
"If you consider yourself a maker, it's easy to fall into the trap of only improving your product."
I also added more integrations (under a 'beta' flag). These are really powerful and I have had the sheer praise for these already.
What I didn't do the past 30 days
As most efforts have been on the marketing side, I did not work on any new feature for Muna in any way—the list of possible features is quite long though. Some of these can be even used as a marketing tool. I've held off to those for now. Muna hasn't proved itself yet to be a sustainable business. There are signs and I am confident it can be a good business, but to prove that I need to focus mostly on getting the word out and to improve the message in such way it makes the value of the product even more clear.
I also did not work on many UI and UX quirks that I am slightly embarrassed about (after all I am a designer at heart), but people have used the (clunky) features nonetheless. I guess done is better than perfect?
What I will do the next 30 days
I'll continue working on the same things. I can see an uptick in traffic, albeit small, from the content/blogs. This is clearly still relevant in 2018!
The 'jokers' I talked about before are platforms/communities like Product Hunt, HackerNews and Designer News. They can, with luck, be really helpful to push traffic. But I wouldn't include these as part of your 'launch strategy' if you run a B2B.
I prefer to slowly build a business. Onboarding a new customer every other week, instead of 50 at once. This makes the process more sustainable and maintainable. You can actually get to know the customer—which helps you greatly in the long run.
Otherwise looking at the things to do:
- For marketing: 32 items (blog posts, text, outreach);
- Bugs (not show-stoppers) to fix: 14 (mostly annoyances);
- Product backlog: 14 (additions to features, small new features);
- Icebox: 19 (completely new features, crazy ideas).
Not all necessarily to be done the next 30 days (pfew!).
By now it's obvious that I really push all things marketing. I have about 6 blogs ready as drafts. Mostly on topics from company culture to dealing/working with employees. Subjects that should appeal to my ideal customer.
I am also playing around with a 'side-project as marketing'. This will be salary calculator: a simple (and quick to build) tool to have a publicly available salary calculator. Perfect for the next-generation (online, remote, modern) companies Muna is focussing on. Great for their marketing purposes and to attract
great new better employees.
Even though I have launched numerous businesses, I'll always underestimate the amount of work it takes to build one. And also how slow it is to make a business profitable. There are too many overnight success stories out there. This 0.05 % usually get too much attention. I like to show with these 'behind the scenes' posts about the other 99.95% businesses.
Onwards to the next 30 days!