Amos Bastian

Validate before building and start building in public

April 19, 2023

Programming has been a part of you for some time. Why you decided to start building your own product and also building in public?

I always liked the idea of building in public, as seeing others doing it inspires me. When I started building MentionFunnel I thought I might as well share the progress I’m sharing to hopefully do the same for others, as well as maybe use it as a way to market the product itself.

Your product - Mention Funnel- Can you talk a bit about it and why you decided to build it?

I was using alternatives that are out there to monitor certain keywords on social media, but they all didn’t work exactly how I wanted them to work. So, as any developer does (rightly or wrongly), I decided to create my own that does has these features.

How does Mention Funnels works? How did you achieve the version you have now

I worked on it for about a month and a half and basically the way it works is 2 parts:

1. A server that is constantly scanning social media for mentions of keywords and notifies users once it has found something.

2. A website where users can then reply to these comments or posts without ever leaving the site.

You started building on October 2022. When the idea came? Can you talk about the creative process since you had the idea till the execution?

I’m not exactly sure when I came up with the idea, but it was somewhere around that time I started building it. As for the creative process, I basically just looked at competitors and took all the good parts about them and wrote them down and tried to incorporate them into MentionFunnel. The design was also a lot of copying from people on Dribbble as well as other products not in the same niche.

How did you validate your idea?

I created a landing page describing how the product would work in its finished state, then added an email input so that users could sign up for the waiting list. I then posted about it on Reddit, Twitter and Indie Hackers and got about 100 people to sign up for the waiting list.

How have you approached pricing your product?

I knew that even though my product was better than competitors in certain ways, they also still had some benefits over MentionFunnel, so I had to price it similarly to them. Eventually I decided to go a bit lower, as that could entice people to pick MentionFunnel, but I’m not sure if that was a good choice.

Can you share some data? How many users do you have and how many started with a free account and then upgraded it?

Currently there are around 500 free users (nearly 600), but unfortunately only 2 paying customers. I used to have 3, but their payment failed in their 2nd month. I’ve been playing around with the limits of the free plan to try and get free users to upgrade to a paid plan, but so far it hasn’t made a difference. Because of this, I’ve been thinking about removing the free plan all together and switching to having a free trial, but I’m not 100% sure yet.

Is Mention Funnel your only product, or do you plan to build more?

It’s my only product for now, but I’m currently brainstorming with my girlfriend and a friend of mine about a new business we could start. Hopefully I can share more about it soon!

What is the business model of Mention Funnel?

It’s a subscription-based business model, so depending on the level of subscription you get more perks: in the case of MentionFunnel it’s more tracked keywords per month, more message templates, more messages you can send and so on.

What about marketing strategies? You have a post about using Reddit. What are your best strategies?

I’m really bad at marketing, but so far what has worked best for me is building in public on Twitter as well as posting on Reddit (as you mentioned), Indie Hackers and other places. I’ve also started writing some blog posts that seem to be slowly increasing the impressions of the website. Finally, I recently added a cold outreach feature to MentionFunnel itself and I’ve been using that to send messages to people on Reddit in bulk, which is working great.

Favorite tool and why?

My favourite tool at the moment is Chat GPT. It’s just so useful for everything I do

Word of advice

Validate before building and start building in public, it’s so much fun and brings a lot of benefits as well!

One book, one person to follow on Twitter, and one music?

Since we are talking about startups, I’d recommend reading The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick - it gives so much great, practical advice. To follow on Twitter? Definitely Pieter Levels  - he is doing something we all wish we could and is someone we should all learn from. As for music, I love a guy called Jai Paul, so go listen to Jasmine by him.

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