Hello ! Who are you and what are you working on?
Hi, I'm Marcel. I'm working on Mindwave, a Journal app for Professionals & Teams.
What motivated you to get started with? How did you come up with the idea?
After selling my design agency, Concept7, I started reflecting on all of my endeavors. What do you actually gain from selling your company? Yes, I got some money and time (to travel) now. That's great. But I started my company to learn! So, where are all my learnings? Where are my experiences? It's all in the back of my head! That's not the best place to store what's most precious to me.
Not logging my entrepreneurial journeys is my biggest regret after 20 years of entrepreneurship. So I build Mindwave for myself, and for everyone else who wants to document their journey too.
Can you tell us the story of your business from idea to where you are now?
I was working on another (startup) product at that time. I made a mailing for friends, advisors, and specialists to update them about my progress. After about 6 updates it didn't feel right anymore. I didn't want to write fór them, I wanted to write for myself, and then share my stories with whoever I want to share it with. That's when I pivoted the product to 'a journal for your professional journey'.
At this moment, I'm working on a team solution (b2b). Keeping up a journal is more fun when you do it together with your co-founder, co-maker, and colleagues. Plus, you all document the progress from a different point of view. Everyone has a story to tell, they might be different, but they are all true.
In 2014 I co-founded the travel startup srprs.me, one of the 30 fastest-growing startups of Europe in 2017 (Tech30, TheNextWeb). And again, I didn't document this startup journey. Neither did my co-founders. How awesome would it have been if we documented it together....
What has been your biggest failure or struggle?
My biggest struggle is probably marketing & sales focus. I spend way to much time on developing and optimizing the product. Working on user feedback, new ideas, prototyping, designing, testing new features. I love it!
I often have the thought "If we implement this, than the product is good enough and I can focus more on marketing & sales" until we're working on the next release and I'm back to square one. If we implement this, then I will focus more on marketing & sales. It's hard to break that cycle.
And what has been your biggest achievement or success?
Finding that first paid user. Such a great feeling when someone you don't know pays you every month for something you created. The first real product validation. It must be a boost in confidence for every product maker.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I improved the onboarding process over the past weeks. Adding automation (via Active Campaign) seems to work quite well. All users get a welcome email (1 hour after signing up) and then 4 emails, spread over four weeks, to help them get Mindwave in their systems. Plus, it's a great way to get user feedback and to get to know your customers.
Mindwave users can share their stories with close friends (in private) or share them publicly. This is a great feature for my users. At the same time, it attracts new users for Mindwave. A win-win.
Describe the process of launching the business.
First, I launched an MVP in private beta (Feb 2019). This was the first time I could actually use Mindwave myself. Plus, I invited friends and family to test this first version. Goal: feedback.
Then I launched an improved MVP on Betalist (May 2019). This was my first public launch. The goal here was to see what happens when people I don't know (and don't test for me) are going to check and test Mindwave.
My 'official' launch was on ProductHunt (July 2019).
Did you use Betalist or PH or other Startup Launching Platform for Launching ? How was that experience ?
Ha, yeah, my Producthunt launch experience. I didn't expect much of my launch. So I couldn't get disappointed. As you could have read before... I had a strong product focus and didn't care about marketing & sales. So this launch was something 'I had to do' so I could focus on the product again.
Everything went well until I invited my co-maker to see toe pre-launch content. Suddenly the product was live?! WTF! Luckily the timing wasn't that bad (it was just after 8:00 in the USA) so I decided to go with the flow. If this launch is a big failure I at least got a great story to tell.
I didn't make it to the top 5 of the day, but had over thousands of visits and over a hundred new Mindwave users. So I won't call it a total failure... but I'm going to do it better next time :)
What’s your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
Mindwave is a paid service; subscriptions. I got a free plan (limited in usage and functionalities) so people can explore the product.
I'm excited to launch Mindwave for Teams as my B2B solution.
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 is to get Mindwave into people's systems. Adopting journaling as a habit is quite hard. I have to make Mindwave as easy and flexible as possible. So I turned the challenge around. How can I implement people's systems into Mindwave?
I made several new features for people to use Mindwave without actually going to the (web)app: like the @Mindwavebot in Telegram, an email service, and the Progressive Web App. This multi-platform thinking seems to be working quite well. In a few months, I want to launch a mobile app as well.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
My ambition is to build a sustainable Mindwave. To build a product that's here to stay. For me, and for my customers. My goal is to reach $ 100k ARR in the next 2 years.
The first private beta launched a year ago, but it feels like I'm just getting started. I'm not running a sprint here, I'm going for a marathon. Improving every day. Consistent and persistent. Learning as much as possible, while creating something valuable for other people like me. It is what makes me jump out of bed each morning.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I learned, while bootstrapping, that bootstrapping isn't just a development method.
It's a philosophy, a vision, a mindset!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Ghost, Github, Grammarly, Gsuite, Helpscout, Loom, Mailchimp, Mindwave (duh), SendGrid, SimpleAnalytics, Slack, Sketch, Stripe, Twilio.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Book: 'It doesn't have to be crazy at work' from Basecamp
"Just The right book at the right time."
Podcast: Joe Rogan featuring Naval Ravikant.
"So much more than just a podcast episode. Must listen for every founder & maker."
Personal: How to build muscle by Julian Shapio
"It's like having a personal trainer, backed by science."
What’s your advice for fellow aspiring entrepreneur who are just starting out?
Advice is overrated. Find your own way!