Product Hunt has been bought by Angel List just a few days ago. My feeling about it? Well, I wish entrepreneurs didn’t need Product Hunt. I wish people didn’t have to hunt for tools over and over again. I wish entrepreneurs didn’t have to turn into zombies. I wish I could end this. Well, at least I tried. Let’s see what happens now.
If I had to pick one reason as the fundamental cause of the entrepreneurial ailments of today, it would be the tool problem. Too much of our time goes into exploring new tools, migrating to them, losing valuable insights and lessons in the process, only to do it all over. We promise ourselves, this is the last time I’m going to try a new tool for my Email marketing. And that we are going to take full backups of all our contacts before hitting that send campaign button and kissing the chimp goodbye. A week later, we are back to searching for a new tool. The earlier one didn’t really suit our needs in the first place, but at least we tried - we continue to justify.
When was the last time you told yourself not to try one more Website builder app? Yet, when you needed that landing page, you sat down going through hundreds of pre built templates, only to later think that your good old Wordpress would still be a better bet, even if you hated the interface and cursed the updates needed. You told yourself, “once I have the money I need to hire that developer who charges Hundreds of Dollars per month, and I’m going to get myself out of this agony”. Alas, you know it’s not going to happen.
Yes, we have been through these depressing situations, helplessness overwhelming the enthusiasm of turning an idea into reality. We sought help from those who have been there and done that, went through course after course by experts, looked for inspiration from success stories. In the process we ended up testing out and consuming a number of tools out there. Tools to build websites, landing pages, sign up forms, lead magnets, analytics, eCommerce, membership, blog, email marketing, webinars, basically everything a startup needs to conduct and market their business on the internet.
We had a problem. These tools are not only expensive, they are shallow. Unless connected to each other in a coherent fashion (I’m not talking about peripheral connections using APIs like Zapier, but a connection that is deeper in nature), these tools consume more time than save it. Add to it the learning curve to get a handle on each of these, understand their jargon, withstand their emailers telling about every little update, or enticement to pay more.
We felt we couldn’t be the only humans on this planet facing this, what we call as the tool problem. As first generation entrepreneurs, it was difficult enough for us to come up with an idea and build a solution around it. We didn’t need more problems to get added to it. We looked around for a solution - one that would make it easy to accomplish our goals in a seamless fashion; one where we wouldn’t need to log into multiple tools, and struggle to connect each.
We found some help though - Wordpress, for example, has this huge array of plugins that makes it a good solution. However, we realized Wordpress wasn’t built for us, the regular founder looking to use the solution by himself without the need of developers. We were also spooked by the security issues, unstable behavior with multiple plugins, updates breaking the system too often to our comfort.
Then we found Hubspot - it was a great promise, albeit one that came at a huge price. Pricing, was only a part of the problem though. Hubspot does not give us all the tools we needed even if we could afford it. They seem to be adding a tool once in a while, but their motivation seemed to be making the solution more costly as you needed more features, an obvious issue for bootstrappers like us.
There were a few more that we explored, modern CMS’, marketing automation softwares, CRMs with more features, what not. We gave up. We thought there was no point in searching further. Either we must be crazy asking for a solution like this when we didn’t have enough capital to spend on a custom project, or there weren’t enough people out there, like us, suffering from this problem.
So we started talking. We spoke to a few entrepreneurs about their problems. To our surprise they resonated with our problems. It seemed to echo more with small teams, and individual entrepreneurs.
We have a few friends who ran their startups, and check with them on how they were doing. They had the biggest nightmares with the tools. Frustrated by Wordpress, they tried every tool under the sky, only to compromise on their expectations from tools, and run a lot of operations manually. They were also worried about the kind of price that these tools charged.
A number of Instructors we spoke to, on how comfortable they were with the existing solutions like Teachable, Thinkific, etc., said while they provided a much better experience than running the business on Wordpress, they lacked the depth where it mattered (marketing their courses, landing pages that didn’t look like clowns).
We also spoke to a few Authors who would try solutions like GoToWebinar, Webex, along with Wordpress or a custom website. They didn’t like the idea of having to send their readers to a third party website and deal with the technical problems, and bandwidth issues that these third party tools are notorious for.
We had enough validation on the existence of the problem. It was time to launch ourselves into solving it. We started off by building websites to these businesses to understand what else they really needed to be built. Within months we could see patterns on what everyone wanted. While everyone described it to us differently, we could see that they were suffering from the same tool problem - the problem of having to use multiple tools to accomplish business objectives, and not having the time or expertise to really make use of them. Pricing was clearly a concern among the people we spoke to.
So we started asking them, what if we built a solution, not a tool, that would help you handle most, if not all of your business operations, including marketing? What if this was built for you, as in it speaks your language, adjusts itself to your needs, than having to do the opposite. Essentially, a one stop solution that would handle your business from the idea to a website, to a working prototype to a growth engine. All this, without you having to explain your business to a dumb engineer, or worse write the code yourself.
We could see an excitement clouded by doubt. The wounds from Wordpress and the other criminals wouldn’t let them believe that this would be possible. However, they agreed to try it, and encouraged us to build it. We also spoke to people from other professions - Doctors, Lawyers, Artists, Designers, Authors, Consultants, Chefs, and Photographers. They conveyed a helplessness about not having the time or the expertise about the tools available, but were eager to see how their businesses would be impacted by such a solution.
Here we are in the middle of our journey building an alternative to Wordpress. An alternative to Wix, Weebly, Squarespace, Hubspot, Teachable, Thinkific, and countless other tools that entrepreneurs use today. We are gunning to get our first version released in Jan 2017. Bless us by signing up and telling your stories. Give us the motivation to solve your problems by sharing more of your problems. We are also looking for people to try our product once it launches in private beta in Jan 2017. Be one of the early adopters and help us solve the problem.
You may write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. so we can stay in touch and make this happen.
Together, we believe we can do this.