In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike answer a number of listeners questions. Some of the topics include dealing with contractors, improving conversion from trials to paid, and time management.
Items mentioned in this episode:
Rob: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Mike and I talk about staying motivated, improving onboarding, improving conversions, and more listener questions. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 369.
But before we dive into the intro, Mike, I have a question for you.
Mike: Oh, boy!
Rob: Why doesn’t McDonald’s sell hotdogs?
Mike: They have, actually.
Mike; They’ve done a bunch of experiments with selling hotdogs. I think I’ve seen them in Texas but I’ve also seen them in other places where it’s certain times of the year. They’ll just test it out to see whether it’s going to work or not. It’s usually just like a limited edition item. But they have tried it, I know that. And now you know.
Rob: Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: I’m Mike.
Mike: I had something on my throat.
Rob: What happened with your throat? We’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. Oh, this is a good week for the intro.
Mike: Perfect, yes.
Rob: I realized something because I was flying to and from Europe and I downloaded just some older episodes, in the 200s, I just wanted to check out what we were talking about back then. The intro was different. It was like building software products or something, instead of building, launching, and growing. I think I like our new one. For a long time, it was just developers building software products, and now it’s developers, designers, and entrepreneurs. For sure our audience has expanded over the years. It was just kinda funny to hear it and for it to trick something, click something in my brain and I’m like, “Ugh, that’s not the intro.”
Mike: Yeah, definitely. Things have changed over time but it is interesting sometimes going back and reviewing things that you remember from a long time ago. It definitely is a different tone or connotation with it. Actually, Benedikt mentioned something about the fact that he was thinking about MicroConf Europe and how over time, his view of the conference has changed but also, he has changed as a person after several years of coming to MicroConf just based on the things that he’s learned, the things he has done. Although the conference, in many ways, stayed the same, he has changed and evolved.
Rob: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for bringing him on, by the way. It was a bummer week. You and I couldn’t discuss MicroConf Europe but I felt that you guys did a really good job of covering the topics.
Mike: Yeah, we ran a little bit out of time at the end there. We didn’t get the chance to cover end of the attendee talks which all of them were I thought were fantastic, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more time to dive into those.
Rob: Sure. That’s my updates for the week, I guess for the past few weeks, because I haven’t been on the show for a bit due to the travel. Really was going to Lisbon and I really enjoyed getting to know Lisbon. It’s a very livable city, obviously a lot more relaxed than Barcelona. There’s not as much there in terms of museums and sites to see but we really enjoyed it. We got a great little Airbnb. I was there with my kids and a nanny and we were just hanging out doing some travel. It was a lot of fun. Then, I did MicroConf Europe obviously, then met Sherrie in Rome the following week. We all hung out there for an additional week.
I just got back in town about six or seven days ago. It’s good be back in the States but travel’s always fun. It expands your mind. I found myself being way more creative and seeing things with new eyes. This is my second time back to Rome, really the whole family’s second back to Rome. It was neat to see our kids seeing the Colosseum, seeing these museums, and these sites, and remembering and talking about the last time we were there.
Since they were older, it was so much easier. I think it was three or four years ago we took them, the youngest was three or four years old and I just remembered it was hard and it was tiring, this trip was not that. It was so much more. They’re really good at travel now because they’ve done it a few times. Even on the long flights and the time change, it was a seven or eight hour time difference, they just handle it now. It was a really good trip. It was a really relaxing two weeks and I didn’t know if it would be, you’re travelling with two kids, and a nanny, and sometimes the wife, and sometimes not. There were multiple plane flights, there was a six-hour layover in Canada and we were all off time and we got tired at times but overall, it was such a worthwhile thing to do.
Mike: Awesome! Our kids today are much better traveller these days than they used to be but we still don’t travel too much, I don’t think. We went to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, and that’s a five-hour drive or so but it’s not too bad. We spent about three days there and drove back.
Rob: How about you? What’s been going on?
Mike: Well, my wife got me a scotch whiskey advent calendar for Christmas.
Rob: Oh, man! Best gift ever!
Mike: Yeah, so that starts tomorrow, which I’m very excited about.
Rob: An advent calendar for those who don’t know, it starts in December 1st and there’s a little door that you open each day and it’s supposed to count you towards Christmas. The original advent calendar were pieces of a nativity scene which is the birth of Jesus. You open it and you built the scene over the course of the month. But now, there are lego advent calendars, chocolate advent calendars, and I had not heard of a scotch one but that is gonna be awesome. Every morning, you’re gonna open up and drink scotch with breakfast, is that the idea?
Mike: I was gonna wait until the evening. But, the others…
Mike: There’s 24 different ones in here.
Rob: Oh man, that’s gonna be good. Are they like the little airplane bottles?
Mike: They are like little 50 milliliter, or actually, I think 30 milliliter drams. It’s about a shot or so. It’s just a regular size but you know, there’s 24 of them in here and I saw the list of them and a lot of them are things that I’ve never tried before. It will be really interesting to try some of them.
Rob: For sure. 30 milliliters, Mike. That’s a third of a shot for me.
Mike: Well, I know. It depends on your hands.
Rob: Cool. Today, we are gonna be answering a slew of listener questions. We actually have four listener questions left over from MicroConf Europe. They’re not listener questions, they’re attendee questions.
You and I did a Q&A session at Europe and we asked folks for questions in advance and we ran out of time to answer them all. Maybe we’ll start with those and then go into our store of questions.
The first question is from Mark and he says “Rob, have you thought about integrating Drip with CRM platforms? Something like Salesforce, MS Dynamics, other more enterprise things. Often, a simple UI is missing the error.” We have discussed it. We do integrate with Pipedrive, with Close.io, we have a basic web-to-lead with Salesforce where a new subscriber comes in and you can just push them into Salesforce. I think we have Insightly as well, so we do have some CRM integrations.
There’s a couple things to this question. One is what do you mean by an integration? Do you just mean when they hit a certain lead score, you can push them into your CRM? Because we already do that with several systems. But if you mean a full two-way integration where it’s syncing up the data and tags and all this stuff, that kind of stuff is extremely, extremely complicated. The Salesforce alone would probably be about nine months of business development and partnership and development work. A huge amount of effort. That is one reason why I have not done it.
Another reason is our core market is not people with sales teams. That’s a whole other problem that other tools solve. We focus on people who are driving digital commerce, it’s like ecommerce, people who are selling things online, or if you take credit card online, we definitely work with SaaS apps and ecommerce sites and info marketers. Once you have a sales team, it’s less in our core competency and it’s not something that we really wanna double down on or spend the time on at this point.
Mike: One of the reasons this type of question comes up is because once you put your product out there and people start using it, they’re going to use it in ways that you didn’t necessarily envision, and you make changes to accommodate what seem like reasonable requests, but they start down a path of allowing people to do things that the product wasn’t necessarily designed to do from the very beginning. You just didn’t have the vision in it for it. To give you a prime example of that, which is in Drip, you’ve got the lifetime value that you can assign to somebody and that’s built right in. I wouldn’t say it’s front and center, but it is right there, kind of a standard option. That translates back to a CRM where you say, “Oh, what’s the lifetime value of these particular people?” It starts people down that path. It leads to questions like this, like how do you do the full two-way sync integration between Drip and whatever CRM that you have.
I think you have a great answer for it which is really trying to focus on what the things are that you do best and leave the other things to somebody else because you don’t want to try to be everything to everyone.
Rob: Yep, you have to focus.
Our next question is from Johannes and he says, “Hey, at the breakfast this morning, we discussed driving traffic either through side projects, and that was part of what Alex Yumashev had talked about which is kind of engineering as marketing. It’s building a tool that you launch on a weekend that does something; a website creator, an SEO creator, and then use that to drive leads, or through blog posts on subjects close to your product but not mainly about your product. Questions came up about how to convert these visitors into paying customers. What is you experience there and do you have any good advice?”
What do you think, Mike?
Mike: I wouldn’t say that I have any specific experience with taking side projects like that and trying to drive traffic. For context, because not everybody was there to listen to Alex’s attendee talk, but he talked about how he had built a number of side projects and then through those side projects had linked back to his main business website, and ended up getting traffic to his main website and converting those people into paying customers down the road, just by virtually the fact that he’s doing a lot of stuff in the open source community and people can browse that and they end up back in his website.
You have to treat is as something like a landing page or a lead generation mechanism as well. If people are there for a particular project, and that is in some way related to your primary product or set of products, then you have to think about how would you get them to basically buy into the commercial offering that you have. Is it related? Is the side project something that is tangential? Is it like a limited form of your main product? There’s a lot of variability there based on what the side product actually is versus what your main business does. Thinking about those things, and then using it as more or less like a landing page or launching area where you get those people over to your site, and whether it’s a specific landing page you have, maybe giving them additional resources on your website, get them on your mailing list. That’s really an entry point into your sales funnel is what you’re looking for. That’s probably the best approach for that. What do you think, Rob?
Rob: Yes, it’s all about if you’re driving people, his question is specifically if you’re getting people to these blog posts or getting them to the side project, how do you then convert them to paid? It’s all about email. It’s all about getting their email address, typically these side project things ask for an email upfront before they can use it, or you give them some results, and if they enter their email they get the rest of it then they’re on your list. There’s the WP Engine website speedgrader, there was the HubSpot website grader which I think was like SEO stuff that Dharmesh built, you had to enter emails for those. It was a nurture, education, and then it gets you through to become interested in using the product ultimately.
Mike: Right. I was actually thinking of it from a standpoint of you have a project on GitHub and it’s an open source offering versus what you had just mentioned, most of what Alex’s talk was about. The online tools that are free, engineering is marketing at that point, and you are absolutely right. You need to get that email address.
Rob: Our next question is from Paul and he says, “As a founder, I found my emotions get entangled in the success of my business. Any advice for emotionally distancing yourself from your business so you can make decisions more rationally?”
It’s obviously a longer answer but my short answer is go to zenfounder.com, listen to the podcast, click Contact Us link and talk to Sherrie Walling. That’s my quasi-joking answer but it’s actually a learned skill and someone who’s good at it can teach you. What do you think, Mike?
Mike: I agree with you that it is a skill. I have a hard time buying into the idea that there’s one set of things that you can do and those set of things are gonna work for everyone. Just based on who we are, our backgrounds, what sorts of things we’re interested in, and how involved we are mentally in our business and whether or not you are able to shut that off easily is gonna greatly impact the things that will work for you and what won’t.
It’s just like exercise for example. Some people have a really easy time getting up and going to the gym, other people don’t. Same thing with going to sleep at night or a variety of other things, whether it’s weight loss or what have you. There are different things that are going to work for each person, and there’s probably a lot of experimentation that you’re gonna have to do to figure out what those things are that work for you. You can get ideas from other people but that doesn’t mean that everything you hear is gonna work for you or is gonna work as well for you as it did for them.
Rob: This is really hard. This is the age old question and it’s one that I think every founder probably struggles with. I know that I did and I still do. I never quite was able to completely conquer this. I don’t think anybody has. That’s part of being about a good founder is that you care a lot. I used to joke, well half-joke, when my apps are unstable, I’m unstable and say things like my happiness is based on my MRR growth and while that isn’t totally true, it was…
Mike: There’s a lot of truth there.
Rob: There’s a little more truth than I would care to admit. I do think it’s learning, it’s becoming self-aware, or being able to gauge when you are really stressed out and then asking why. I’ll tell you what I do. What I’ve learned is that when I’m stressed out or when I’m angry or when I’m frustrated, I stop and I say, “Why do I feel this way? Is it something real or is it something that is fake, that is manufactured?” Someone said something stupid on Twitter that pissed me off, or someone is attacking this, or someone said something negative about my product and it hurt my feelings, and then I say, “That is a very real thing, but do I need to still be thinking about that now or is it time to let that go?” This all sounds very simple but this is how I cope with it and then I will totally be done, I’m gonna be done with that thing and I’m gonna make myself feel better. It’s actively thinking why do I have this stressed out feeling?
Also, a lot of people swear by it, I don’t do it but I did do meditation when the acquisition talks were going on because I probably have never been that stressed in my entire life. I would sit in the parking lot and I would meditate for four or five minutes each morning. It’s just listening to your breath and being aware of what’s going on with you rather than having your mind race about other things. That would help me get centered going into the day. I know that a lot of people swear by that. There’s a lot of different skills.
Deep breaths is something else I’ll do. I’ll sit there for 30 seconds and take three or four deep breaths if I wanna calm myself down in the moment. These are all small things that I do when I’m actively stressed. Trying to disconnect to yourself from the business as the original asker was asking is you don’t want it to trainwreck you when things go sideways, but it should impact you in some way. You care about that a lot, it’s kind of like losing a game that you’re really interested in. You’re playing soccer, or you’re playing chess or whatever and you’re really into it and then you lose the game. You should be a good sport about it but I personally believe that you should be pissed off too because I’m a competitor. You’re playing the game to win, that’s why I play games. If things are not going great in your startup, that you should feel a little stressed out, but it’s finding the balance of not feeling so stressed out that it just dictates your day-to-day mood based on your MRR growth or whatever.
Mike: That is probably the more common issue is being too invested in the outcome versus the journey along the way, as you’ve mentioned, that ties a lot back to the financial aspects of it. It’s really hard to disconnect yourself from it when things are not going well or not as well as you would like, really.
Rob: Last question from MicroConf Europe and then we’ll get into some other questions, is from Alex. He said, “Do you have any advice on time management as a solo founder? Is it better to dedicate to specific skills, like marketing, for example?”
Mike: Going back to my comments about the fact that different things for managing your emotions are going to work differently for different people. The same kind of advice generally applies here as well. Doing stuff on individual days is gonna work for some people, just doing time blocks, for example, is gonna work for other people. I do think that there are certain types of tasks that you need to do that timeboxing within a day is not necessarily going to work as well. For example, programming tasks or anything where you really need to get into deep focus and be able to spend a fair amount of time in order to make good progress on it, those are things that you can’t spread throughout the day. You really need to be able to schedule those things better. That’s the fundamental piece of time management is being able to figure out when you’re going to be effective at certain things and when your decision-making skills are just totally shot and you really need to flip over to something else.
Rob, we’ve talked about this in terms of managing your glucose levels throughout the day. It seems like an optimization but being cognisant of when you are better at certain things that other times of the day is extremely important.
Rob: Yeah, we’ve covered this on the podcast and we’ve had guests. We talked about the timeboxing approach that some people use, there’s a couple of guys at my work that do that, they swear by it. I have to done it when I’m derailed. I do it as a short term fix to get me back on track if I’m unmotivated or I’m struggling to figure out what to do.
Personally, time management for me is about priority management. If I know what I should be working on and then what I should be working on next and I don’t have to evaluate that every time I finish a task, I’m highly efficient. What derails me is if I finish something and I look around, and I go through my email, then I go to Trello, I wind up going to Amazon or Twitter and then I look around and I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to be doing and that’s where I lose, that’s where I mismanage my time, is if I don’t have these clear-cut priorities. Like you said, if I do have the clear-cut priorities and it’s the morning hours when I happen to be most productive between let’s say, 8:00AM and noon or 9:00AM and 1:00PM, then that’s it, that’s where I’m killing it. I try to push all of my meetings to afternoons, I try to push all of my calls to one day per week because those are distracting and interruptive for me and it doesn’t allow me to do deep work.
Alex’s question is is it better to dedicate specific days to specific skills like marketing for example. I think if that works best for you, then you should do it. I don’t think I ever did that. I don’t think I’ve ever blocked stuff off like that, like a whole day just for marketing then a whole day to just do development, but it was because when I have, let’s say I have this Trello board of 20 tasks, one was to whatever, go in and fix the forgot password thing that broke, and then the next one is to go start a Facebook Ad campaign. For me, that’s not a hard context switch if I finished one and then I move on to Facebook. I didn’t feel like I had to stuff all the marketing stuff on one day, it was just about which priority it needed to be. If I was switching back and forth between tasks when they’re undone, then there’s the big switching cause. But if I’m actually finishing and moving onto the next thing, I don’t feel like I need to separate the disciplines to different days, personally. But your mileage may vary for yourself.
Thanks again for the questions, guys. I’m glad we were able to get through the last four here on the podcast. Our next question is not actually a question, it is a thanks to us from a Nathan. He says, “Thanks for all the motivation. Thanks for the show, it’s been really motivating to get me started on my journey into the world of startups. I haven’t released a product yet but I’m working on building a public reputation and a mailing list. I just released a plugin for the Craft CMS which I use to run my personal site because I couldn’t find a good way to add events and tag emails to my Drip account for people who filled up my contact form. Releasing something even though I’m not selling it directly feels amazing. Can’t wait to release even more things in the future.” Thanks so much.
Mike: Thanks for that, Nathan! I find it interesting that the first thing you did was integrating it into Drip, especially given the other question about CMSs and you integrating with CMSs from MicroConf.
Rob: That one was CRM actually.
Mike: Okay, yeah, you’re right. You’re right. Sorry
Rob: Different TLA, three-letter-act.
Rob: Alright, our next question is about how to take over duties from your contractor, it’s from John Hollows. He says, “Howdy, I started my SaaS at the time when I didn’t know much about frontend development but I was focused on backend data handling and product decisions. I hired a contractor and it’s been great but it’s become a roadblock to development. I can’t update the frontend without sending him a Slack message and waiting a few days for a reply.” That’s a bummer. He says,” I’ve gotten good enough that now, I can do it for myself. Could you cover how to manage scaling down or letting go a contractor? I foresee requesting things to be more documented, then gradually taking back ownership of different aspects while giving him modular work, like creating a frontend module that handles the new feature. Thanks and keep up the great work.”
What do you think?
Mike: I think this is an interesting one just because a lot of people find themselves in this situation, whether it’s for financially-related reasons or because somebody just isn’t working out. They want to basically take over control or responsibility for the things so they can move faster. This I think is a really common problem if you’re early on and you’ve got money to spare and you’re hiring people and maybe they are not putting the time because you, obviously, don’t have enough money to pay them full time but at the same time, you’re beholden to their schedule. Even if you want to move faster, you can’t necessarily do it. I think that it’s just a very common situation that people find themselves in. The key to this is not to be put in a situation where you have to go back to them afterwards and start asking for documentation and start cleaning things up, and putting things in order so you could transition from one person to another, that person being them and transitioning it back to you. One thing you can do is you can go through yourself and start understanding it.
If you really are gonna take it over, then you have to understand it to begin with. You going through and doing some of that documentation work yourself might be at least a good start but you also want to put together a framework or a process for how the documentation should be put together. What sort of processes need to be put in place or documented so what when you get to a point and after you’ve taken over and you’ve been doing it and you need to shift onto something else, and you need to take this and hand it off, then you’ve got all the documentation put together and you’ve been keeping it up-to-date. If you get everything documented and then you take it over and do stuff for six months or a year but you don’t maintain the documentation, you’re gonna be back exactly where you were when you first took it over.
It’s important that the stuff that you’re putting in place are things that you are going to continue doing as part of the process and you are not opposed to doing them because if you don’t, it’s just gonna fall apart for you later on.
Rob: The way I would approach this, I’m gonna assume you have a good relationship with your contractor. You’re gonna have to judge if you tell the contractor totally honestly upfront, “Hey, I’m gonna look at taking over all the dev work. Could we start by having you create some documentation and have you walk me through the thing to get me up-to-speed, and then I’m slowly gonna take it over, over time, over the next three to six months. And let’s just transition it.” If he can do that, great. Most of the contractors that I’ve worked with have no problems with that.
If you think that the contractors is gonna be a pain in the ass about it then you can take a different tactic and let him or her know that, “Hey, I’m gonna be taking over some of the front end development work. I just find that I have more time and I wanna do some blah blah blah…” You don’t really say that you’re gonna basically be letting him go in six months. You could also say, “We may be thinking of bringing more contractors or other people and I really just want some documentation, could we put together some documentation and then walk me through it.” It’s pretty standard stuff as a contractor, I would totally expect someone to come to me and say this. You’re thinking process here that you’re gonna want some documentation, you’re probably gonna want a walk through, you’re gonna want to slowly take over more, slowly shrink the contractor’s sphere of ownership, and then eventually just take over all the work.
My guess is if the contractor is pretty good, you’re always gonna have some lower priority stuff that can wait a few days. Then there’s the high priority stuff but if the contractor saw it and knows the code-base and has delivered for you, I bet that by the time that you get to a place where you’re doing all the frontend work and you’re doing the, I should say, the high priority stuff that needs to get done quick, that you’re gonna have enough lower priority stuff that still needs to get done that you may want to actually keep the contractor around, whether it’s the amount of hours that they’re doing now or fewer, it’s always good to have another resource to help out with this stuff. There could be a lot of truth in this statement of, “I wanna learn this so that we can share the burden rather than you taking over everything.” I hope that helps. Thanks for the question.
Our next question is from Tim, it’s about improving conversions. He says, “I’ve been tracking signups across the board and about 50% of the people that come onto my pricing page follow through to signup and they use the app. However, the number of converting paying users is very low.” He has a trial obviously, he says, “I’m talking under 1%.” His trial to paid is under 1%, I’m gonna assume with a 50% signup rate of people who visit the pricing page that he is not asking for credit card in advance of the trial. “Can you point me to a resource I can use to take the first step to tackling this problem?”
Instead of pointing him to a resource, Mike, why don’t we just become the resource?
Mike: He has two different products here. One of them is called Article Insights and the other one is SEO Content Machine. I don’t know which one he’s specifically referring to. It’s probably a little bit difficult to drill directly into those. But there’s two approaches that I would take.
One is to take a look at the people who have converted and ask them why they started paying, what was important to them, maybe analyze how long they stick around and see if their lifetime value is extremely low for what you would expect, maybe you expect them to stick around for three months or six months and they’re staying around for a month or two. That’s a warning sign that either they’re signing up for something and they thought that they were getting something else or it’s just really not delivering the value that they thought they were gonna get out of it.
The other thing is you can go and start talking to those people who have signed up but if you put an offer in front of them, for example, after seven days that they could convert into a paid account, ask the people who didn’t why they didn’t or what were the biggest turn offs to them. Whether you ask them to respond to an email or get on a call with them. If you can get on a call with them, great, but I understand that a lot of them are probably not going to. But if you’ve got 99% of them who were not converting into paid then you’ve got a lot of opportunities to get them onto a call. It’s really about understanding what it is that they thought they were signing up for and what value they thought that they were gonna get, what their position is. Are they just kicking the tires, is the reason you have really high sign up rate is because they’re just tire kickers and it’s free so they figured, “What the heck, I’ll throw my email address in there,” or is it that they actually had a business problem that they were trying to solve and that’s the part that you’re really trying to get at is what are the pain points that they’re actually trying to solve and does the product actually deliver those things. Or is it that you think that it does but the reality is that their situation or problem is a little bit more tangential than your product delivers on.
Rob: Yeah, I recommend checking out a talk that I gave back in, I’m guessing it was 2013 at MicroConf. It’s gonna be on Vimeo. It’s called How to 10X in 15 Months, or it might be How I 10Xed in 15 Months. It’s basically the story of acquiring HitTail and then 10x-ing the revenue. Some part of that had a pretty noticeable impact was getting the trial to paid numbers way up. I did that using email sequences, event-based emails that would hit people up if they didn’t get onboarded, and then I’m trying to think, I should have had in-app stuff, I don’t know if I did, but that would have been another one. It’s just about getting people onboarded. I think your approach, Mike, of talking to people has gotta be the first step just to try to assess why are people not doing it. I do think that adding email reminders is going to absolutely have a pretty substantial impact, even before you know why people getting onboarded versus not getting onboarded. I still think email will have an impact if you’re not sending any today. That’s where I would start.
I enjoy these kinds of problems because it’s like you know that you’re a lot lower than you should be and it’s just a puzzle. How do you get that 1% up to 3% or up to 5%. Even 5%-15% for no credit card, it’s somewhere in there. Maybe it’s even 5%-20%. You should be able to substantially increase this and it’s just figuring out where the break is. If you can fix that, this is how you scale a business. This is where you go from trudging along, growing at a $100 or a couple $100 a month to suddenly really, really being able to hockey stick this thing if the numbers are right.
Our last question for the day is from Alex Sommerfeld and he says, “Hey, Mike and Rob. This one if more for Rob. What do you think about the newly-launched Drip service from Kickstarter?” D.rip is the service.
In essence, what’s interesting is it’s not actually a launched product that Kickstarter launched. It was a startup that started after Drip. Drip, basically, we worked on code in 2012, we launched in 2013, and I think it was some time in mid to late 2014 that this company called Drip launched and it was a music social network and it was a startup that raised a bunch of money and they bought the drip.com domain name because I couldn’t afford it, they bought it from a squatter. Once I saw that they owned it, I remember telling Derrick that I’m just counting and counting the months, 15-18 months they’re gonna be out of business because it’s a music social network, the odds of it working are just miniscule. You typically raise funding for 15-18 months of expenses.
Sure enough, sometime in, don’t quote me on this, it was sometime in 2015 they basically went under and I actually contacted their CTO and their CFO, all of the people involved and eventually was talking about trying to buy the domain name but it turned out that Kickstarter had basically just acquired the assets of Drip, of that social network, and some reason either didn’t buy the domain name or I don’t know if they didn’t want to or if it didn’t come with the package, or what happened.
The drip.com at that point got separated from this music social network but Kickstarter acquired the assets and I don’t know what the assets of it, if it was a team of people or if there was any type of software. But in essence, they turned it into a Patreon competitor. That’s what it is. Kickstarter is launching a way to do subscription-giving to support creators.
This name has been around for a long time in bizarre context. The end of the story is my Drip got acquired by LeadPages and we bought the drip.com domain name, maybe four or five months ago. Now, if you go to drip.com, it’s our website, all our email addresses are now using drip.com, I don’t know how I feel about it. It sucks to have two things and the exact same name, you can’t trademark that name drip because it’s too generic. I should’ve tried to do that back in 2014-2015. It is what it is. There’s gonna be some confusion. We have the .com, I feel like that’s a win, it all depends on how given that we are not competitors at all. Drip does seem to just be, that word and phrase, is being used in marketing and it’s being used in juts to mean something that is released over time because that’s what this is. It’s subscription, it’s payments to creators over time versus dripping out email over time. I don’t know, I have strong opinions on it, I’m not terribly offended by it. I wasn’t super happy when they launched three years ago but I’m over it just because they’ve been around, I’ve watched the whole thing play out. You have other thoughts on it?
Mike: It’s interesting that the color schemes and everything else are extremely similar. Drip, where you work is LeadPages, it’s capital D, they’ve got a lowercase D and their I is upside down but other than that, it just looks very similar.
Rob: Yeah, when you think of of drip, you’re gonna tend to use blue, so we both used blue and startup blue is a common thing anyway.
Mike: Yeah, I don’t know. I can foresee there could be a lot of confusion, to be honest, which sucks. As many domain names as there are, there’s only so much you can do.
I think that about wraps us up for today. If you have a question, you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at email@example.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt used under Creative Commons. Subscribe to us in iTunes by searching for Startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next time.