Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hey! I’m Donald, I am working on Entry Level with my Co-Founder Kim Kiamco. We attend Lambda School as Full-Stack Web Developers. Entry Level, is a job aggregator for entry-level positions targeting students, recent grads, career changers, and individuals with less than 3 years of experience.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea, Entry Level?
As bootcamp students, we went from site to site looking for entry-level positions that matched our experience. Most entry-level developer positions require 3+ years of experience making it hard for us. After inspiration from remoteok, we decided to build Entry Level as a side project just for us to use, but then we received lots of feedback from others wanting to use the site as well.
Can you tell us the story of your business Entry Level from idea to where you are now?
After deciding to work on Entry Level, Kim and I did a little 2-day hackathon building the core structure of the web app. We spent a week prior to the hackathon planning and researching how Pieter Levels built Remoteok. Our goal was to build lean and ship fast.
In a month, we launched our beta to a few Lambda School Slack channels, and Linkedin asking for feedback. We had a lot of peers encouraging us to keep building and that there is a need for this. The excitement lit a spark for us and we wanted to keep building the site. After our beta launch, we joined Pioneer.app (a remote leaderboard accelerator). Every week, we would receive lots of feedback from high ranking makers.
We iterated on their feedback and planned to launch our MVP a month later. The last week of March, we launched Entry Level on Product Hunt and Hacker News. Our Hacker News post was successful and we reached #1 on the front-page for most of the day.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
Our biggest struggle has been getting companies to pay to post on our site. Our main focus has been providing value to job seekers searching and applying. We believe that once having those users, companies would want to apply on Entry Level along with our marketing outreach.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Getting Entry Level on the front page of Hacker News has been the biggest achievement.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since our launch was recent, we have been sharing our tips about how we built Entry Level and launched it. Along with that, we share weekly updates with users in online communities like Slack groups, Reddit, and Indie Hackers. A lot of users have been requesting new features and when those are added, we include that in our updates.
Posting weekly in a personal way helped share our story which led other entry-level job seekers to find us. We want to keep our momentum going and provide valuable content to those looking for jobs.
Describe the process of launching the business.
This is how we did it for Entry Level:
- Build a lean, but usable MVP version
- Launch weekly in communities like Reddit, LinkedIn, Hacker News, Indie Hackers, Twitter, and Pioneer.app
- Talk to users as much as you can and ask for feedback
- Be active in communities, provide feedback, and give some praise when someone accomplishes something
- From launching weekly, we built a fanbase from makers encouraging us to keep building and watching our progress
- Launched on Hacker News, Product Hunt, Reddit, Twitter, and more
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
We launched on Product Hunt and Hacker News on March 26th. We did ok on Product Hunt but managed to land #1 on the front page of Hacker News with 269 upvotes. We were also tweeted and featured in the Hacker News mailing list. It was a fun and crazy experience.
Here are some stats:
Pioneer rank: #10 US-West to Top 50 Global
Users: from 200+ to 17,000+
Revenue: from $20 to $400+
Page Views: from 550+ to 45,000+
Following this success, I made a guide on how others can get to the front-page of Hacker News
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
As of now, we make our revenue from partnered affiliate job clicks sourcing back to the original job site. We’ve added more partnered affiliates jobs to help grow our revenue. We do not want to depend on affiliate job clicks so our main business model goal is to attract companies to post entry-level positions to our site.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
One of the biggest challenges we faced was our search not returning accurate job results. Users would search ‘designer’ and random jobs would appear at the bottom when there were no more designer jobs. The search results were from API data and we were not able to control that. After 6+ hours of debugging, we were finally able to come up with a complex regex solution to only return job results that the user searched for.
Our goal for Entry Level is to become the biggest job-aggregator for entry-level positions. We want to be the main source that companies and users use when thinking about entry-level jobs. To achieve our goal, we first need to make Entry Level the best it can be.
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Entry Level and grow the service?
We have been doing pretty good at marketing Entry Level to grow our user base and views. We aim for communities and areas where our target audience hangouts. Since we are our audience, I looked at places where I hangout as well. I posted weekly in subreddits, Indie Hackers, LinkedIn, and Slack channels.
Within the 1 month of our beta launch, we grew Entry Level to 17,000 users. Our goal now is to reach 20,000 users. Building a useful product and talking to users will help us reach that goal.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I think the most important thing I learned is that I could not do all this myself. With a Co-Founder, you cover each other's weaknesses and you do not burden all the work by yourself. I also built on my programming, marketing, and business development skills. As a bootcamp student, there’s only so much you learn from the curriculum and starting side projects really helps you excel and put all the pieces you learned together.
Watching past Startup School videos, reading blogs, and talking to other makers in the space was very helpful. Lots of people have gone through the same exact challenges and problems as you. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use React.js, ContextAPI, Node.js, Express.js, PostgreSQL, ElasticSearch, Linode, MailChimp, and Bitbucket
Who’s your most inspirational CEO or founder?
Pieter Levels the founder of NomadsList & RemoteOk.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Makebook from Pieter Levels, Startup School youtube videos, and The Indie Hackers podcast.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Always talk to your users. Spending 6 months to 1 year building something and not talking to a single user will hurt you. I think launching something as fast as you can and talking to users will help you in the long run. Your users will tell you what they want.