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EXECUTION My Journey to 1,000 monthly active users

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peterb0yd

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Alright guys, here it is. I'm just gonna put it all out there.

Backstory

Right before the pandemic, I moved to Venice Beach in LA and had a problem. I didn't know anyone. I had a good job, but I wasn't particularly friends with any of my coworkers. I wanted an easier way to make friends in tech outside of my work.

Idea

I had the idea to build a solution to this problem. It'd be a software application that connects people in the tech community. It would automatically match small groups of people based on similar interests and location, then send them all an invite to a coffee shop or happy hour spot at a convenient time.

Execution

I tested the idea by doing customer interviews. I reached out to a bunch of people on LinkedIn that were in tech and lived in LA. The feedback was good so I spent some money on branding and built a landing page. I got a good number of signups.

Then, the pandemic hit. I decided I would just build the software so that when it was over, I'd have everything ready. It took me about 4 months to build everything.

Then, I shelved the project because the pandemic was lasting much longer than I anticipated.

Re-Birth

Almost a year later, I decided to bring the project back to life. I thought of a better name, re-branded the website and re-vamped the software. I also decided to host my own public tech meetups under the company brand in order to promote the application. It took a lot of work to do the meetups, but it was worth it. About 25 people came to the first one. It was a success. I made a bunch of friends and got a lot of feedback. I also found about 20 people to do early-stage beta testing.

Launch

About a month later, I set up another tech meetup for the official launch party. About 35 people came to this one. It was also a success. About 10 people signed up for the app without me having to ask them. I just put banners around the meetup venue with QR codes on them.

Current

I've been working like a dog to test new features and promote the brand. I hired a startup growth advisor that has been really helpful. She's expensive, but her understanding of marketing far surpasses mine. She was the marketing manager at Uber for a few years before moving to work at a VC firm for several years.

My goal is to get to 1,000 monthly active users by the end of the year. To me, a monthly active user is someone that attends at least one hangout per month. The hangouts are what gets created automatically by the app.

It's called TechSocial for those that are curious.

I'll aim to post weekly updates here.

Also, I'm bootstrapping this thing until I get to 1,000 MAU. At that point, I'll start raising a seed round.

Then I'll create a new thread: Chapter 2.
 

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peterb0yd

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Just announced the next meetup. This will be my third.

TechSocial's Nintendo 64 Tournament & Tech Mixer

Estimating 50-60 people will come to this one.

The cool thing about these meetups is how creative you can be.

You're in a room with dozens of your target customers and you have complete control over the activities that happen.

My philosophy has been to pack the meetups with as much value as possible.

I literally spend every dollar from the ticket sales.

Venue, food, drinks, giveaways, games, etc. There are so many ways to make a meetup awesome.

I'm curious if any of you have hosted your own meetups and what things you learned from them.
 

Johnny boy

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How do you plan to monetize this concept?
there's an insane number of ways to monetize this.

1. charge for the events
2. subscription charge to be a member
3. free to use basic level and premium level that isn't free
4. free to use 95% and small little add on that costs money or a product or service sold online
5. sell advertising space on app OR at events or both
6. charge advertisers for admission to your event
7. sell your own product or service at the events
 

BizyDad

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Tiago

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I like it. It's something I would attend. People are more aware that we're social beings after the pandemic. That's also one of the reasons Lunchclub has grown so fast.
 

peterb0yd

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How do you plan to monetize this concept?

there's an insane number of ways to monetize this.

1. charge for the events
2. subscription charge to be a member
3. free to use basic level and premium level that isn't free
4. free to use 95% and small little add on that costs money or a product or service sold online
5. sell advertising space on app OR at events or both
6. charge advertisers for admission to your event
7. sell your own product or service at the events

#1 and #2

#1) The public meetups are paid events. I might do free events in the future, but right now I want to make sure people are dedicated because...

#2) The app isn't free. You get a 30 day free trial to get the value from it, then you'll be charged $9 per month.

I'm doing public meetups to grow the brand and build trust so people are more likely sign up for the application.

One thing I'm working on is finding a way to get people to sign up for the app during the meetup.

It feels pushy to force them to signup.

I've been thinking I can give out certain prizes or free admission to future events if and only if they sign up at the meetup using a special invite code.

Maybe that's the way to do it. I built a way to create custom invite codes that expire in a certain amount of time.

I can create a promo code on the day of the meetup called "N64" or something, then have it expire at midnight that night. Then tell people about it at the meetup and add it to my flyer printouts.

Ok that'll work.
 
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peterb0yd

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That's a great hook, and some nice sales copy on the event. Good work.

Thank you! It took many revisions..

I like it. It's something I would attend. People are more aware that we're social beings after the pandemic. That's also one of the reasons Lunchclub has grown so fast.

Yup.
 

peterb0yd

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Monthly Active Users Update: 6

Although there are 32 total members on the app, most of them have not yet finished creating their account, or they are free beta testers that just signed up cuz they were a friend but haven't looked at the app since.

My biggest focus at this moment is to sell more tickets to the N64 tournament (our next public meetup).

I made a video today on "3 Tips To Network More Effectively" and promoted it on LinkedIn and Instagram. I'm going to send the link along to my various email lists later today. Two more people bought tickets today.

Total ticket sales for our next public meetup: 18

The goal is sell 60 tickets. I've got a long ways to go, but 80% of tickets get sold in the two days prior to the event. That's how it's been every time. I'll share the sales graph after the event so you all can see.

The bigger picture goal though is to make the product better... little by little.

As you can tell by the MAU number, a lot of the people that are signed up on the app are rarely going to the app or even responding to the hangout invites. Only about 6 of them are actively doing this.

I made it SO EASY to respond to hangout invites. They get a text invite and they can just respond to the text directly "Yes" or "No".

There are likely dozens of reasons why these early users aren't actually going to the hangouts. They might be busy. I'm uncovering reasons slowly... one by one. It's not as easy as you might think.

However, I fear that the biggest reason is that the app isn't "cool" yet. They might not yet trust the brand.

My hope is that the organic growth of the public meetups will help build that trust.
 
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peterb0yd

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Big pivot incoming...

I've learned the hard way that I might need to pivot to a different market. I decided to change this up from being a social thing for tech people to being a social thing for extroverted people in any field.

People in tech generally don't go out to get coffee and happy hours with people they don't know... cuz they're mostly introverted and aren't as open to those new experiences.

Even though it's something they need deep down, they just won't do it.

I have two options... continue to smash my head against the wall trying to sell vegetables to junk food addicts...

Or open up to a new possibility of selling vegetables to people that are already eating lots of vegetables...

This is more painful for me than you might imagine. I had a clear vision for this product and now it's getting all mixed up. The good news is that I've figured out exactly how I'm going to pivot the features of the product to align with this new market. I also figured out how I'm going to niche down and market more effectively.

My Pivot Plan

1. I'm no longer going to do the meetups (they are good for tech networking, but not very effective for selling products that aren't catered toward the tech market)

2. I'm going to convert the product to a native mobile app with a better design and a few new features

3. I'm going to change the name from TechSocial to something that is less niche

4. I'm going to niche down by going hyper-local. I will only have venues on the app that are located in Santa Monica and Venice (instead of all of Los Angeles)

5. I'm going to make the app free for users, but charge the venues a monthly fee to be listed on the app. ($200/month to begin with)

6. I'm going to leverage the venues to promote this app for me. (If they're paying a monthly fee, they'll be incentivized to promote the app so more people join and come to their location)

This is my initial plan. It will likely be revised and updated, but this is an actionable starting point.

For the record, the N64 Tournament & Tech Mixer is today. 29 tickets were sold. I have a feeling a few more people will buy tickets today... but I expected more to be sold by now. Oh well! C0VlD news is unpredictable.
 
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peterb0yd

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After the event yesterday, I realized a much better path forward.

I'm still doing a pivot, but not all the steps outlined above.

I'm keeping the name, I'm going to continue doing my own meetup events, and I'm going to turn the app into a tool to help people connect at big networking events.

The event last night was really fun. Here are a few pics:

IMG_2569 (1).jpeg

IMG_2574.jpeg
Screen Shot 2021-07-27 at 10.53.36 AM.png

The turnout wasn't as big as I wanted, about 30 people came in total. I think the C0VlD news had a big impact on ticket sales. I went to another group's meetup over the weekend and they also had at least a 50% reduction in attendees.

I learned that having casual video games is a GREAT idea. People LOVED it. Good food + fun video games + casual networking is a fantastic combination. I likely won't do another "tournament" because it was unnecessary. People just wanted to play and have fun.

Anyway, by building the app to serve attendees at my events first, I'll have a good playground to test out the features before introducing the app to other meetup organizers.

The next few weeks will be spent implementing a new design, working on software updates, and planning the next meetup.

By the way: I just BARELY broke even on the ticket sales. I spent about $415 to rent the space and $80 on prizes. Net loss, but these events won't be profitable until I can attract larger sponsors. The goal right now is to grow the community.
 

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peterb0yd

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Ahhh, okay I can feel myself falling into a place I've been several times before during previous ventures...

It's this dreaded thought, "should I really invest time & money into a project if I don't think it'll succeed or become profitable?"

Yesterday, I wrote down a list of requirements that I want this app to have in order to solve this new problem and it immediately dawned on me... this is a big project.

This isn't just a pivot... this is an entirely new product.

The more I thought about it, the more I questioned its success.

Will event attendees actually use this?

Will event organizers even care about having this?

Is the market too niche?

In order to quell my fears, I decided to NOT build this yet, and instead to update the landing page with new messaging that reflects this new product. I'll then reach out to event organizers and gauge their interest based on how many of them are willing to pay me money to be an early adopter for the product.

If no one is willing to put down actual money, I'll know that this product is not worth investing time in.

It's much easier to build a landing page than it is to build out this new product. Landing page takes 2-3 days and cost $0 (I already have the design). Building the new product will take 4-6 weeks and cost about $1,000 for the design materials.
 

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