Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hey I'm Volkan one of the co-founders of Versoly. I'm a developer turned founder, I do front-end, marketing, sales and customer support on Versoly.
Versoly is a SaaS focused landing page and website builder that allows customers to build fast websites that convert.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
I had started another SaaS company before Versoly and was a solo-founder so I had to do everything. One of those things was building a landing page for the project.
This should have been easy, it must have been a solved problem. Nope. There were many solutions to the problem none were good.
Wordpress seemed to be the go to for larger companies, but I didn't want to deal with PHP, hosting, choosing plugins or the security issues WP is plagued with.
I tried building a quick version myself but making it look good and be responsive was a very challenging task, I was a full stack developer who focused on internal apps using Bootstrap, they didn't have to look great.
The final solution I ended up with was using a free template and customising it. That was a terrible choice as I ended up never blogging, which would have been a great way to get organic traffic for the project.
I shut the SaaS down as it most likely need enterprise sales and that wasn't something I was interested in and that point and I was burned out from the project. I spent a long time without ever showing it to customers.
I had a little break from building, then came back hungry to start something.
I had found a potential co-founder and wanted to work on something simple with him. So we looked at a list of 50+ ideas I had and decided to build a website builder as we thought it would be quick. How wrong we was.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
So after we agreed to work on Versoly, we had to come up with the name which was difficult, all the names we thought of were taken. So I ended up on a thesaurus and was looking for anything related to "page" and found Verso which sounded unique, then we added a ly to the end and was ready to go.
So we planned for a basic MVP to take 2 months max. However I had a clear vision of what the product needed to be. It had to have the ability to import HTML and export clean HTML as well. We decided to use Bootstrap 4 as it is very popular and most developers know it.
Then we got to work. I was doing front-end and my co-founder was doing backend. I decided to use React as that is what I built my other SaaS with and I could use code from there. My co-founder decided to use Golang as it is fast and if we grew it scales well.
I was able to get something that worked done, by the UI/UX wasn't great. I had to do so many customer interviews to get the product to where it is today. When you're working on it you don't see the problems in the app. However 2 minutes into a video call while they screen share and you can instantly see all the problems.
While I was building Versoly, I was also on Indie Hackers helping others with their landing pages, at one point they had leaderboards for topics and I was number 1 on landing pages for months. This helped me to build a reputation there which would later help me on with Product Hunt launches and getting my first customers.
While working on the blocks and templates for Versoly we were looking at 100s of SaaS landing pages and noticed that they all look similar and followed the same structure.
Also we noticed that landing page inspiration sites did very well on PH, it seemed like there was a new site every month that ended up top 5.
So in July 2019 we decided to create a "engineering as marketing" product called SAASPages we posted it on PH and ended up number 1 daily and weekly. I believe we're a top 400 product of all time beating 1000s of VC backed companies. This still sends 100s of leads to Versoly and we plan to invest even more time into it.
At that point Versoly was a landing page builder that could just handle multiple pages. With the PH launch we got huge traffic to Versoly from SaaS Pages but also Indie Hackers and that got us our first customer.
We then went heads down again working on product and doing customer interviews. We had to do a ton of cold emails and asking people on Indie Hackers to get customer interviews. We wasn't really selling as I believed the product still required a lot of work to be valuable.
We then launched Versoly in Nov 2019 on PH and Betalist. That drove thousands of visitors to our website but our conversion rates were terrible so it ended up not converting well.
We're still learning everyday about messaging and positioning and believe investment into it will increase our conversion rates.
In Feb 2020 we did another PH launch of "Blogs by Versoly", this was a huge feature and it did very well on PH. We got a lot more interest from our visitors, however conversion rates were low again. We had to rush the landing page as they wouldn't let us submit our main domain so we had to create a landing page in 10 minutes.
The landing page missed some key points. The blog could have been hosted on a subdomain but we didn't mention that. We also lacked features such as having multiple templates.
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
Waiting for things to be perfect, that could be with the product or marketing/sales activities.
I'm not a perfectionist but I don't want to waste time doing something I know later will get better results.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Going from 0 to 1 is so difficult especially for SaaS and it is even harder for website builders. There are 100s of them and some have been around for 10+ years.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Posting on niche forums like Indie Hackers. But make sure not to just spam your link. 75% of the time I won't add a link. The other 25% of the time I will add value then add the link.
We have one huge advantage over larger companies, customer support. When they talk with us they're talking with the founders, if there is a bug it will be fixed in the next few hours. If they request a simple feature it will be built in a few hours as well.
I also get into long conversations on our live chat widget with founders about their products. This isn't scalable but for it makes a huge difference.
Describe the process of launching the business.
We just put it on Product hunt, that drove thousands of vistiors in the first few days. That also boosted our rankings on Google.
If you're looking to learn more about our experience with 3 Product Hunt launches check out - here
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
We charge a monthly fee to host our customers websites.
We get traffic from Indie Hackers, Product Hunt, SaaS Pages and a few other places.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome? What are your goals for the future?
SaaS is very slow. It has taken us 15 months and we're still not ramen profitable.
Luckily once you get a few sales from people you don't know, the product is ready to be marketed, we're still working out how to do that effectively.
Our goal is to replace Wordpress for SaaS company websites. This involves a long roadmap including features such as multiple-languages, staging and production sites, roll backs and much more.
We also plan to start investing more into marketing, I'm not a huge fan of ads but we're looking into Facebook retargeting ads first.
Also a few of our customers have asked about an affiliate system so we're going to look into setting that up as that could be huge for growth if done correctly.
Let’s talk about your marketing strategy -- how do you market Versoly and grow the service?
Our marketing strategy at the moment is posting on Indie Hackers and Product Hunt.
We haven't found a solution yet but as mentioned above we have a few ideas on how we plan to do it in the future.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Lots of founders know about product market fit. But there is also founder market fit. Do you like your market, do you know where they hang out, can you speak with them everyday for the next 5 years?
Also SaaS is very slow, make sure you plan accordingly.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Discord and Trello
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Podcasts - Startups for the rest of us. The first few seasons of Startup by Gimlet were amazing.
Book - Rich dad poor dad was one of the first books I read that wasn't assigned by school. The author seems to be pretty shady, but the book has some great lessons in it and set me on this path i'm on.
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Tell anyone you can about your idea, I see a lot of founders build away in their caves and then come out and show the world their product. This usually leads to product hunt launches with 5 upvotes.
This usually kills a product before it even has a chance.
Also join communities where potential customers hang out and start offering advice even before you have built the product. This will build good will and when it comes to Product Hunt launches you will have a place to get them early needed upvotes.