My name Justin Matthews and I’m a product manager by day and entrepreneur by night. I am working on a social media party game called Utter and it is going to change game night forever!
This game came to mind several months ago during quarantine, as i thought about ways to keep people connected virtually while using existing platforms (like Twitter) that are easily accessible. In just a few short months, my talented developer created the site, and I've been hosting virtual trials to gather feedback from friends and family.
I’ve always enjoyed board games because it was a time to bond with others. My first loves were Scrabble and Uno with my family, and then it evolved to apps like Heads Up and Piccolo with friends. Those are all fun, but I felt they were missing a personal element to really get to know who you were playing better. So coincidentally I fell into a YouTube wormhole and saw some celebrities trying to guess which of their famous friends tweeted what. They manually pulled tweets for the game and I thought that was really inefficient so that’s when I saw an opportunity. Next thing I did was sketch out the app, figure out game logic, and talk to my developer. From there we started to build, test, and iterate. Our first prototype was ready pretty quick, but we have been tireless in our pursuit of customer feedback and it has changed a ton since that first version.
My biggest failure struggle has been marketing the game. Once I play it with people they love it so I am trying to figure out the best way to get it into the hands of people who will.
I typically work 11 hours a day on my full-time job and my side hustle Utter. When I first wake up I am often doing product market research, testing the game, or getting social media post ready. After an hour of that, I start my full time job as a product manager for a data privacy company. When I get off I am often traveling to trivia nights to market the game or building out enhancements.
My biggest achievement personally was creating the partnership of the old ticketing company I used to work for and the charity my family does. Every year we have a big fundraiser to raise awareness and money for distressed women's shelter in Nashville, TN. I used my resources at the technology company to build out ticketing for the event and a way to accept donations. The results were the highest grossing charity event in company history and the charity's history.
Social media posts have definitely been the best way to attract customers and extend reach. I have also started to reach out to micro-influencers on Twitter and Instagram to help me promote the app. I am talking to trivia and board game fans because that is my target market. As far as retention, I think being consistent with my social media post and making improvements to the app frequently.
Launching a product isn’t easy. I wouldn’t say I’m officially a true business yet, I’m more so just a product right now, but I am shaping the business around it. I think so much is in your execution and team. Everyone has ideas, but if you don’t start and have a support system you won’t get very far.
I used Product Hunt and it was great for getting me to think of the best way to market it. I posted my beta app so I think that is why I didn’t see a lot of engagement from it. I am still very glad I did it and it still has the potential to blow up on there.
The business model is to build out different paid category packs that players could buy and have sponsored questions. I hope to never have ads on the app.
The biggest challenge has been getting it in front of people due to covid. This game was built initially for in person game nights, but I overcame that when I figured you can play this over Zoom as well. That new idea has helped us continue to test and get feedback even if we can’t play in person. So now that we have conquered that challenge, my future goals are to improve game logic, redo the design, and add other game categories.
Today, I market through social media and going to local trivia nights in Atlanta, GA. I go to local trivia events with my target customer and have patrons of the bar answer a sponsored question I generated from the game. In addition to that I am looking to pitch my idea to the local start up community.
After anyone plays the game in front of me I always ask what they liked and didn’t and I have an email set up to take feedback. This has always been the best way to get feedback and it did help build out the game for sure. Aside from in person, I get feedback through social media messaging.
I’ve learned how to create commercials and dynamic social media post to get users' attention. I’ve also learned about the Twitter API and the power and limitations it comes with.
I use Firebase for storage, Google Analytics to track metrics, and Trello to track work.
I recently heard the story of Jamie Siminoff on a podcast and saw him pitch his idea on tv. He is the founder of Ring camera doorbell and I loved his story because he started out as a tinker like me. He had setbacks early on, but kept at it and eventually sold his business to Amazon.
How I Built This - Podcast, 22 Immutable laws of Marketing - Book, Local Atlanta Tech Community - Resources.
I would say talk about your idea to get feedback and don’t worry about people stealing it. If it’s a great idea and you're passionate about it, others won’t be able to move faster than you anyway. And build out prototypes to get feedback early as well. The faster you get it in their hands the faster you can iterate and make it better.