Everything is mapped out. The content strategy and 30+ blogs have been written. Target guest blogs have already started to get posted. The marketing website is up. I have mapped out 125 different growth hacks (which I’ll be posting soon). I’ve seemingly planned everything I can.
It is two weeks before Workado, my first SaaS product, launches. The product is getting some final bug fixes before it is shipped and I’m left with time on my hands.
As an entrepreneur, I hate twiddling my thumbs.
So what am I supposed to do??
What any other impatient entrepreneur would do of course. Start a new startup!
This Startup Would Be Different
Workado has been in the works for nearly 11 months. We had already been using a different version in-house for the previous 3 years, so I didn’t expect it to take this long. I spent a lot of time researching, reading, and planning before finally starting the development in February.
With this startup, my goal was to launch it in one week.
One week to go from concept to launch. That’s incredibly hectic, but today is the one week mark and I am proud to say that it has launched!
The project is called WP Edits. It is a spin off business model from my digital marketing agency. The core concept is we would provide unlimited wordpress website edits for a low monthly fee.
This meant I would have people in place once this launched. The good news is, I did not need their help this past week in getting it launched.
The idea came from hearing clients talk about how they either don’t like, or don’t have, a webmaster or the person who built their site. It’s outdated, and they know it, but they don’t have anyone who can keep it updated and they don’t know how to make changes themselves.
Since this is a service (and not a product), it is going to require the help of my team. Now, I understand this is isn’t a luxury most bootstrapped entrepreneurs have. However, there are ways around this by hiring outsourced help when needed. Here’s my guide on using oDesk for this purpose.
The good news is, I only needed myself to actually get this whole thing launched. The team wouldn’t play a role until after it launched.
Why I Went With This Idea
Since we primarily build websites on the WordPress platform, a logical service offering was to provide unlimited wordpress website edits and updates for a low monthly fee.
Ironically enough, we had this included in our marketing packages at Upswing Interactive. However, it was one line item in a laundry list of line items.
One thing I’ve started to do for business ideas, is look at a line-item or feature that can be turned into it’s own product or service. This fit the bill in the sense that this was a service offered as part of a bundled marketing package, but I felt it had legs on it’s own. I decided to test out this hypothesis by sending emails to previous clients and even doing research on some competitors.
Here is a breakdown of how my last seven days went in order to get this launched:
Day 1 – Tuesday, August 26th
It started with me thinking about this concept the night before. It led to me waking up at 3 am with this concept in my head. After laying in bed brainstorming, I decided to get on the computer and get all my thoughts down. 5 hours later I had everything mapped out and had a meeting planned with my team for later that day to review.
We met at K O Donnells, a Scottsdale sports bar and also a client of Upswing Interactive. We reviewed the notes and game plan and lastly had a naming brainstorm. We weren’t looking for anything too brandable, as we knew this was going to ultimately be more of a direct sales approach. We wanted this to be more descriptive of what we were offering so there was no confusion.
We settled for WordPress Webmasters. The .com was registered (and later found out they wanted $35k for it!). So, we settled on .net (again, knowing this was going to be more of a direct sales approach, the .net was ok). I got back home and registered the domain.
Day 2 – Wednesday, August 27th
We crafted an initial email and sent it out to former clients we knew had WordPress websites with our idea. Here was the email we sent out:
I wanted to find out if the customer would be interested in purchasing, but also if not – what the drawback would be. Either of these responses are highly valuable. One obviously is revenue, while the other is learning the drawbacks or hesitations. This helps us with our marketing and copywriting (should the business be something we decided to launch). It also meant that if all customers came back with a no, we probably wouldn’t even go any further.
I had a spreadsheet saved to capture response information.
On this day, I also decided to purchase a theme for the website versus having something custom designed. Mind you, this is still an idea at this point so I didn’t want to get too crazy with upfront investment. I went over to ThemeForest and settled on a nice/simple theme. I can always go back later and have a custom site built out if this takes off.
I already have a hosting account setup with HostGator for all of our client websites. I was able to easily add our site, and get WordPress installed.
Day 3 – Thursday, August 28th
This is the first day I really started to dive into understanding the website.
With any theme, there is usually a learning curve that is several hours long before you start getting the hang of it. They all have their own individual quirks.
I also purchased our emails through Google Business Apps. Each email is $5 and I initially needed 4 emails. One for myself, and then 3 of the team members from Upswing who will be helping manage this project.
Day 4 – Friday, August 29th
By now I was knee deep in the website. Content was coming together, the sections were organized like I wanted them. I knew the Stripe integration was going to be problematic as I needed both one-off and subscription payment handling. I had enough on my plate for now though with getting everything else in order.
By now I had received all of the feedback I was going to receive. Any non-responses I felt were “no’s”. At this point we had 4 firm buying commitments and 5 more maybes. This was out of about 30 emails we sent out. Of the 30 or so emails that went out, only two of them were actually in our target market (contractors and those in the beauty industry). Of those two, one was a firm yes and the other is a maybe.
I also ordered the SSL certificate through HostGator and had them get it installed. This process would take 24 to 48 hours.
Day 5 – Saturday, August 30th
Yes, it is Saturday, but you can’t launch a startup in one week without working all 7 days! Today was a full day of work as I evaluated different help desk options. I eventually settled on FreshDesk, which is the help desk software I am using on Workado.
I requested a logo from our designer at Upswing. This is optional, but I wanted something that would look professional and give us a polished look and feel.
I also spent this day evaluating several CRM options, but ultimately decided that was probably too much too soon. For right now, I had a spreadsheet prepared with our target list of prospective customers. I had a scraping tool built awhile back that used Google’s local API to pull in all the information. Then had a separate email scanner to hunt down contact information.
Not exactly above board, but you do what you gotta do at this stage, right?
I decided that we would use the spreadsheet for right now until we gained enough traction to start building out our own internal system. Luckily, I had the experience with my previously failed venture which gave me insights into exactly how to build out our system for a more automated sales process.
Day 6 – Sunday, August 31st
The website was basically ready. The only section that needed work was the Pricing section. For this to happen I was going to need to bring in a Stripe expert.
I went ahead and posted a job on oDesk and within hours had 9 or 10 applicants. I interviewed 2 of them and settled on the second interview. I caught the first guy in a lie about his experience and quickly moved on.
Went through and got the developer added to our Stripe account, gave him FTP credentials, and backend website access to start doing his magic.
Day 7 – Monday, September 1st (Labor Day!)
Yes, I was even working on Labor Day…go figure. I was hosting a BBQ so outside of getting some tweaks and working through various Stripe integration issues, I didn’t get much else done this day. Luckily, my oDesk developer was able to work on getting this integrated most of the day.
Our SSL certificate installation was finished.
Day 8 – Tuesday, September 2nd
It’s the 8th day technically, but the plan was to launch today as we wouldn’t launch on a holiday. It was Tuesday to Tuesday, so I’m considering this one week!
Not to mention, Tuesday’s are notoriously good days to launch a product anyway because the Monday madness has subsided and there’s a few days left in the week to start gaining traction.
The logo was completed and in my inbox this morning. Perfect timing!
Unfortunately, I was still making tweaks to the site all the way up until the last minute. My programmer for Stripe got the subscription plan working, but forgot the one-time purchase option (we are offering a one-off edit/update for $39). So that needed to be worked on. In addition, with our SSL certificate having gone live, I could now add Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools, and our live chat software (from FreshDesk). I also needed to update all of our links and images to reflect the HTTPS in order for the green padlock to properly display in the url bar.
I eventually pulled it all together and we were able to go live this afternoon!
Total Cost Breakdown
My total investment to date in this business is $280.99. I will start having $136 in recurring monthly costs once my free trials expire for email and our helpdesk. This does not include hosting, which I was already paying for.
Here is a breakdown of the expenses:
I could have gone without the TermsFeed and logo options, but decided the money was worth it in this case. Besides, three customers will basically cover our startup costs and make this profitable given our $89/mo price point with this service. By now, we already have four firm purchase commitments, so we should be profitable immediately.
Now that the site is live, the plan is to let our initial interest list know.
From there, I will have the team begin outreach to the 8,000+ emails we have. It will be one by one, with personal outreach to all of them.
From there, I’ll be monitoring our sales flow, setting up goals and expectations, as well as planning future marketing initiatives. I don’t plan to get too far ahead with the marketing plans as I want to make sure things are running smoothly beforehand.
I’ll post periodic updates here on this blog about how this little venture progresses!
My immediate next step is to head out on a little staycation! My wife and I will be enjoying the Hyatt Regency at Gainey Ranch here in Scottsdale the next few days. It is definitely the calm before the storm.
I am keeping my fingers crossed that everything is working with WordPress Webmasters and we will have our first paying customer(s) by the time I get back Friday.
Then it will be a mad rush to prepare for the launch of Workado next week! I am planning on posting a series documenting what I did the day before, the day of, and the day after launching Workado. If you want to see what goes into that launch, be sure to subscribe to my email list to the right. I’ll also be sharing my ultimate list of 125 growth hacks with my email subscribers in the coming weeks!
Interesting choice here. It’s amazing how fast service based businesses can be started. How is this different from WPCurve btw?
No doubt – a big difference between a service based startup and a software or product based startup.
WPCurve and WPSiteCare are the two “competitors.” We differ in a couple of ways.
1 – we offer custom designed websites for a low monthly fee, whereas they only work with existing websites.
2 – we are actually targeting the mom and pop/contractor industries whereas they are taking anyone with a wordpress website.
3 – our team is backed by a digital marketing team and so we come at it with a deeper understanding of acquiring customers through online channels as well as the conversion elements each website needs.
We aren’t looking to blow this up into a million dollar type business though like a WPCurve. This isn’t the sole source of income like it is for those guys either, so it’s different from that aspect as well. We will be narrowing down a niche and focusing our efforts within that to grow this side of the business.
Interesting, looking forward to the updates then. Expected CR on the 8k emails?
We are only targeting WordPress websites, which is going to put us around 1,500 of the 8,000. I’m expecting a 1% conversion as the emails are cold and we still need to tweak our messaging which would put us around 15 or so customers from this initial list.
Hi Justin, It’s great to see such transparency on your journey. Well detailed content and thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely do something similar on my blog as well. Definitely looking forward for an update about it.
Muhamad Bagir recently posted…The Hard Lessons of Building My First Startup
Thanks Muhamad for reading. Glad you enjoyed the transparency. I see you are shooting for something similar. Good luck with your journey.
Nice work sharing… These sort of blogs are what i hope to produce.
So, whats the latest with this venture? Return on emails, sign numbers etc …
Has the time and effort of this business been worth its gold?
Hey Stephen – thanks for reading. Up to this point we really haven’t begun to push the product. We have some partnerships lined up and are setting up an affiliate system. I’m also working to get a person in place to generate leads and send the outreach emails. We got a decent response from existing agency clients and have a few customers on the platform currently. After Thanksgiving, there will be more of a push on this to the emails we acquired, more cold outreach, etc.
Your domain wordpresswebmasters.net expired on 8/26/2015 and your site is down. Sometimes things slip through the cracks. Sometimes we update our Lessons Learned and apply them to the next project. Enjoy a slice of cake and WordPress ON my friend!
Ah yea…it was rebranded by my agency to WPedits.com. I am not involved in this, but they use it for managing recurring needs of their marketing customers.