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DocDrop / Utilities / United States

How I created a searchable database for free product management resources - Story of DocDrop

Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hello! My name is Seth Fannin. I am building Docdrop.io, a searchable database for free product management resources to help solo makers and founders learn and build their online business with education.

Seth Fannin, Founder of Docdrop

What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?

I am an aspiring product manager myself and have been earning and working hard toward transitioning into the startup world from my current job in the enterprise public sector. I am a no-code maker and started to build my own online products in 2019. I always found it time consuming to search for the product management resources when I needed them in one place. Using no code tools I figured I would just build a simple database to help other solo makers who want to learn product management fundamentals and principles from the best PM's and startups.

Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?

I wanted to scratch my own itech by solving this problem for myself and quickly learned that by building in public and validating my idea was the only way to know if it has any value to other aspiring product managers or solo entrepreneurs. I didn't know the business model and how it would look like but I settled to be more about function and want to keep it simple by getting something built fast using no-code tools. Docdrop has only existed around 2 months and many thoughts are assumptions still at this point. I am focusing on talking to people on twitter and other communities to validate still and see if this is worth still building. Right now I am also curating and collecting resources and updating the base weekly which has around 150 resources so far. I wouldn't say it is a startup. A digital product that could have potential but I think curated products are great ways to understand a need or want.

Docdrop Screenshots

What has been your biggest failure or struggle?

My biggest failure so far has been underestimating the importance of marketing and using copy to position yourself and convey what you are building and what audience you are building for. I had hoped that the launch would be a little better but it just shows that there is still work to do to find out why from talking to the right audience even if that leads to a success or failure. It's a Hypothesis or experiment if you want to call it that for now.

How many hours a day do you work on average & can you describe/outline your typical day?

I work full time for an enterprise IT company in the public sector and defense industry. I work on Docdrop part time and on weekends whenever I can. I am probably doing 5 to 7 hours a week searching and curating, and then the rest on marketing and researching different communities to find potential users or gather insight.

And what has been your biggest achievement or success?

My biggest achievement to date was launching honestly. This is only my second product and first paid digital product, so it is a learning experience that I enjoy regardless of the setbacks or results. It is a side project and success to me will be when I get a paid user and they find value. I think that startups and makers have to crave the stepping stones, not the mountain. the milestones even if small are important.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I haven't got any paying customers yet unfortunately but I feel that my value proposition might need to be positioned in my marketing and approach. I have used twitter, reddit, and Indie Hackers as lead generation for page views. I have captured 15 email signups in my campaign and plan on capturing their feedback to see why they have not purchased and how I can serve them better. I'm learning product analytics using gumroad and google analytics to review my engagement and user acquisition. I have had many views but no purchases, but that tells me that my value prop might not be as persuasive. I will iterate and learn from the community and make adjustments accordingly.

Describe the process of launching the business.

No-Code tools and automation are great for building and shipping an MVP fast to test your ideas. I am not a programmer or software engineer,  but I know a little API and HTML/JS. Building the landing page and learning design has been an amazing experience. There are some nuances to building like being a little tech savvy to navigate the amount of no-code tools available now. The database is embedded in the landing page and hidden until the user receives a private password giving them access.. Gumroad also helps reduce the friction of distribution so I chose to use that as my payment method for ease of use to customers since it is a digital product with no subscription, just a one time payment.

Docdrop Screenshots

Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?

I have not launched on product hunt yet. I would like to in the future but focusing first on finding the right audience and building momentum to ensure my value proposition and solution align with what I have built.

What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?

My business model is simply using gumroad to deliver the product and capture payment. The customer is given private access to the database after purchase. There is no subscription just a one time payment of $29 which gives you access for life + updates.

What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?

The biggest challenges I have had are marketing channels and choosing which to approach and learning how to leverage my audience and followers on twitter.

Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market DocDrop and grow the service?

As of right now my landing page and gumroad listing is the main source with CTA built for direct sale to product. I am capturing emails on landing and sending welcome emails educating those people on what Docdrop is. I am testing channels and communities right now to learn where I get more views and engagement from. Mostly through twitter and adding value to conversations where my product could be of use to someone. I also am testing my landing page and copy to make it better and more persuasive as I learn to navigate why users are bouncing from CTA.

Do you have a model to get product feedback? What’s your favorite way to get product feedback? Did product feedback help you get the results you hoped for ?

I am using MailChimp to communicate to early signups that they can contact me if they wish to do so. Twitter is my main source and has been the most helpful to capture feedback and advice. Building in public is very new to me and it has been the best way to get feedback through twitter.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

I am learning that no matter what tools you choose to use just make it simple for the user and for yourself. If there is a need people will pay. Validation does not live in a vacuum. Making sure your value proposition aligns with the problem you are solving is key to building the right solution. I have seen that experimentation and proper feedback from 5 to 10 potential people in your audience is so critical to understanding how to capture your early fans.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • Webflow - Landing page
  • Gumroad- payment
  • Airtable - Database
  • Integromat and Zapier - Automation
  • Mailchimp - ESP
  • Google Analytics- Product and data analytics

Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?

Courtland Allen - Indiehackers.com

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I am an avid audio book reader and podcast listener. I listen to about 50 startups podcasts and have probably read 20 audio books in the last 2 years. My favorite podcasts are Indie Hackers and My First Million. Some of my favorite books are Atomic Habits , Hooked , and Zero to One . I have too many to list but these great mediums of learning for me.

What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?

Build and Build. Use No code tools to test your own thoughts and ideas by doing it. Start side projects and build something you enjoy. You can only earn by doing and there is no other path. I wouldn't call myself an entrepreneur yet. It's a side project but it's all stepping stones to get to the end goal. You have to build momentum in yourself and get outside of your head to see the problems around you. Trusting yourself to do something that you cannot see the immediate result of. It's a combination of experiences, struggles and learnings from meeting people that always help build these ways of thinking.

About The Author : Binu Mathew

Binu Mathew is the CEO of itmarkerz technologies. It has been catering to the custom software needs of SMEs in India and abroad since March 2011. Binu started his programming and freelance carrier at the age of 17. over around 13 years of experience in startups, startup visas around the globe, and Blogging. You can reach him on Twitter or LinkedIn