A year ago (almost to the day) I started my company Informly and gave myself 12 months to make it happen.
If you read my June monthly report, you’ll know that with 2 months to go before my year was up, I was sitting at $476 recurring monthly income. Then on 26 June I launched WP Curve and within a week I had doubled the $476 to a total of $952.
I still wasn’t covering costs, but now, almost exactly 12 months to the day, my business is covering costs (or Ramen Profitable as my new cofounder likes to say).
In short, I’ve bought myself a bit more runway.
I now have a cofounder!
You can learn more about cofounder Claff in his post Confessions of a reformed wantrepreneur. Having a cofounder means that we’ll have to grow the business rapidly in order to generate income for ourselves. There are some upsides to having the big man on board:
- Claff is an easy target, so when I’m feeling down I can make public jokes at his expense. See Dan Norris gets the Claff where I refer to him as an STD.
- I feel like we have a lot of the key skills covered for running a successful company now. I’ve always had a weakness for sales, pricing and generally anything face to face. This is Claff’s domain and a lot has happened this month that wouldn’t have happened without him.
- Running a startup makes you crazy. Having someone to bounce ideas off, push you and even just someone to talk to has made a big difference. Hopefully everything will go well and I’ll look back at this at a turning point. It’s really not easy to do everything yourself.
Unfortunately, I’m no longer going to report on revenue in these reports. There are a few reasons for this after discussing it with Claff and others. The revenue numbers aren’t all that meaningful if we aren’t going to reveal our specific costs (which I haven’t to date). And in addition, our strategy now involves reaching out for some bigger opportunities and having that level of transparency will put us at a disadvantage.
For July, I can reveal that we grew by 70% which means we are now covering costs!
Charlie Hoehn, Hiten Shah and Noah Kagan
One of the other exciting things we did this month is connect with a few of our startup mentors. All of them seemed to ‘get’ our idea and also gave us some amazing advice. I’ll keep their feedback actionable, so you can apply some of this to your own business:
We were lucky enough to get Charlie Hoehn on Skype. Charlie is super smart and well connected. He seemed to really like our idea, particularly the fact that it was a monthly subscription.
We ran through a pitch deck we’d put together and Charlie seemed genuinely keen on what we were doing.
One of the main pieces of feedback from that quick meeting was to re-do the site, which we had been working on and have since launched. The main issue he pointed out was before we just had the pricing plans up the top. He suggested the site would have a big bounce rate with that design. The new site is totally re-designed, nicer looking, with better copy and also works people into the plans down the bottom.
It was really exciting just to talk to him, pitch our idea and have some positive feedback. Charlie will be a household name in entrepreneurial circles, he’s got serious chops. If you want to check out his stuff have a look at CharlieHoehn.com and this awesome podcast interview.
We were also lucky enough to chat with Hiten Shah about WP Curve. Hiten read the deck before our meeting so we peppered him with a bunch of questions.
Here is a summary of Hiten’s advice:
- Forget about startups and just focus on getting more customers.
- Hiten thought of targeting hosting companies for our white label offering, instead of agencies. Hosting companies would be less likely to want to get into our business directly. We are progressing with this advice.
- He had read my content before which was cool but he thought that the transparency could hurt us, particularly when dealing with some bigger hosting companies.
- He also talked to us about doing content that really tapped into the reasons why people need the service. I actioned this directly in the post 7 signs your WordPress site has been hacked. We’re going to continue this series, as it’s had great engagement with our readers.
The main message we took away was to just focus on getting more customers. I think we needed to hear this. We’d been getting a bit carried away with the pitch deck and finding advisors.
Noah Kagan is in Australia right now and I was lucky enough to be invited to a lunch on Friday with 10 others. This is definitely something I wouldn’t have done if cofounder Claff hadn’t pushed me to go. But I’m glad I did.
We talked about WP Curve for quite a while. I like how everyone has very quickly grasped our idea and they seem to ‘get it’.
Noah is genuinely interested in helping people and I think he probably liked that we had got things going so quickly. I got the sense that he didn’t have a lot of time for wantrepreneurs who weren’t prepared to take action to get customers. He is very passionate about creating real entrepreneurs who sell shit and get paid.
In terms of specific advice the main things were to:
- Work out exactly why our customers signed up. Call them and find out.
- Put together a profile on who our ideal customer is and set a specific target for a number of customers by the end of August.
- He had another idea to offer it to free to some people with a logo link back to our site. This would be something we’d offer to influencers to help get the word out.
- He also asked if we could offer something specific like monthly split testing. I’m not so sure I’m keen on this but we’ll be chatting about other things we can offer and we’ll see where this goes.
- He was also nice enough to mention WP Curve on Facebook the next day which was super cool.
Noah has a lot of great content out there, here are some places I’d suggest to check out:
- How I got my first 3 customers (this is a really cool site for people starting out).
- How to create a million dollar business this weekend (epic 4 hour work week post)
- Noah’s presentation on how to validate a business
- Great interview with Noah on Smart Passive Income
All of these guys were so different. All very generous and in their own way made us feel like we were onto a winner. And importantly all reminded us that we should be focusing on getting more customers and nothing else. This is definitely what we need to focus on, as Claff and I are full of ideas – but sometimes struggle with focus.
We’ve landed a lot of coverage this month which has been great. I’ve always believed that it’s important to get your name out so both Claff and I are constantly pushing for these opportunities when they are available.
On top of that I’m passionate about helping others and as hard as some of this stuff can be to read or listen to, I know it’s good for other entrepreneurs.
Cofounder Claff hooked up a nice little article on Website Magazine.
There was an episode of Startups for the Rest of Us that discussed my Startup validation post.
There was a cool article about the Curve on shoestring called Tech startup becomes profitable in 23 days
Startup Smart did an article called Start-up dead and buried? How to pivot after failure
I’m reporting on traffic numbers below across all 3 of our sites, Informly, WP Curve and thedannorris.com:
- Visits across all 3 sites are up to 19,852 (up 60% from last month). However since thedannorris.com is talking about the other sites a lot there’s a lot of traffic just going back and forth between the sites. Still it’s amazing to think we have that much traffic given none of these sites existed 12 months ago.
- Traffic to inform.ly was 9,091 (down from 10,910 last month)
- Traffic to thedannorris.com was 5,575 (this is the first full month the site has existed)
- Traffic to wpcurve.com was 5,186 (again the first full month the site has existed)
It’s been an interesting month for content. I’ve done far less content than I normally do because Claff and I have been busy with our customers. For example, in June I wrote 8 articles, in May I wrote 9 articles. However in July there was really only 5 new articles (not including a few news releases). Note the comment count includes my own comments and I reply to all legit comments.
- 5 apps that help freelancers & agencies make more money (Informly) – 752 visits, 10 likes and 22 tweets & 10 comments.
- 5 social sharing plugins reviewed (WP Curve) – 90 visits, 8 likes, 9 tweets & 4 comments.
- My business just doubled in 1 week WTF? – June monthly report (thedannorris.com) 993 visits, 3 likes, 13 tweets, 22 comments.
- Is startup validation bullshit (thedannorris.com) – 4,995 visits, 52 likes, 167 tweets & 91 comments.
- Confessions of a reformed wantrepreneur (Claff’s post on thedannorris.com) – 476 views, 7 likes, 17 tweets & 8 comments.
The startup validation post certainly got some traction. It’s not quite my most popular post yet but it will be I’m sure.
This month the content is going to be more frequent and more targeted.
What do you think?
Overall, it’s been a great month. I’d love to know what you think. I’m particularly interested in how I can make these reports more actionable for you. Or if there is something in this report that drove you to do something differently please let us know below.