This a story about how I launched my second project Push to Deploy and what lessons I learned.
When building my first project When to Surf I was struggling all the time to open terminal, copy paste script that deploy my site. I was very lazy to do it every time.
I wanted to push some physical button to deploy my site and see how it looked like. I didn’t want to run some scripts from the terminal, just hit it and see the result.
So I tried to find something in online shops like Amazon or AliExpress but I couldn’t. Everything was too expensive like $55 or without an USB wire.
So I tried to made my own prototype…
So I needed to connect 3 keys: Ctrl+Alt+Shift+M into one button.
It kinda worked, and I noticed this is wasn’t something I wanted to use, so I need something different…
So I believed that there was an existing product in China so I decided to research and do all I could to find this button or stop this project altogether.
So I went to Alibaba, there you can buy at least 100 items. It’s a B2B market place and there’s a greater choice of products than AliExpress, which is a B2C market where you can at least 1 item.
So I found in Alibaba the button I wanted but I needed to buy at least one hundred and I wanted just one… What could I do?
💡I came up with an idea to ask companies to send me one sample and that I could later maybe order some more :)
So instead of writing each one of them on Alibaba via DM, I figured out it could be more effective to find each company’s Skype and contacting them through it. So I created the following spreadsheet…I found the Skype details of the company on the the company’s site.
I negotiated with this company and they sent me one sample, I just paid the delivery and my button arrived!
As soon as I got it, I tried it immediately and it worked! I was so happy! :)
The next step is to show people what this process is about (push button, run script and deploy a site) and even better, this was about a demo.
So I bought a domain pushtodeploy.iofor $33 and made a simple website based on a free HTML template with a GIF on the front page to immediately show what the product was about.
I wanted to collect emails to know if people needed it, so I planned a trap: put a fake sale button that redirected the user to write their email.
So I had like 972 unique visitors and 11 emails pre orders. Not much but not bad.
So exactly as I did when launching When to Surf,I decided to launch on Sunday midnight San-Francisco time to have more votes.
I was retweeted and mentioned by Product Hunt, Ryan Hoover, Niv Dror
So Push to Deploy became #2 product of the day 🎉🎉
And got to the TOP #4 of Best Product of the Week that arrives via Product Hunt’s daily email newsletter 🎉🎉
And launched on [Betalist](https://betalist.com/startups/push-to-deploy as well.
So I got 8,944 unique visitors and 150 emails of people who wanted to buy it immediately.
Here I started to think about delivery, cost price, 3PL companies (3d party logics companies… I even didn’t know this word.), Amazon, PayPal fee and refunds and all this shit.
I feel like I went to the total unknown. WTF should I do? And where will I I find this companies that will help me deliver these product? How much should I sell to make profit?
So I just asked people how to make this happen and some of my friends recommended me EasyShip3PL) company. I called them and they explained me all the costs. I made a basic cost calculation:
The Goal I need to make $1000 (50 buttons) in pre orders to start the production on the Chinese factory.
So I made a sale email with this video and send to all my 150 subscribers who decide to buy the button. Marc](https://twitter.com/marckohlbrugge advised to make the price range to sell more than one button to one person and it worked. Some people bought more than one.
My site got visited by more then 10k unique visitors:
150 emails sent to people who wanna buy
101 people (67%) opened emails
54 people (36%) clicked on buy links
10 people (6.6%) purchased 17 buttons
So I didn’t achieve the goal of$100 sales and I on 16th of May (on my Birthday) decided to stop this project and I made refund to all :( But it was a cool feeling to keep receiving PayPal notification when some unknown person send me money 🤑
Button delivery: $29.15
Digital Ocean hosting: $10
PayPal refund fees: $5.1 Total: $77.1
Time period from idea to sales: February 13— May 16
Pure time spent: 67:54 hours tracked by Toggl
You either need a big market or a big price, or both. You cannot have a product with low margins and a small market — the maths does not work.
When you make a niche product for a niche audience, it needs to be high value. If you make a niche product for a niche audience with very low profit => doesn’t work.
USB button is not an essential product. It’s just fun. Developers who would want it is pretty small number of people, maybe 50,000 people total addressable market.
If you have low profit => you need to attract many people (millions)
If you have high profit => you need to build a better product which a few people are willing to pay a premium for
Upfront cost (buying everything)
Continuous cost (warehouse)
Low margins (due to shipping)
As your sales increase so do your costs
So you’d need better margins. Maybe 75%
Calculate all your cost before launch and check everything like logistics, PayPal fee, delivery.
Define a goal what you want to achieve. Like minimum sales revenue.
Put progress bar on your site with your goal to give people transparency what’s happening
If you are depressed (this is standard situation in startups) and you don’t know what to do with all this unknown — talk with your friend, ask people and don’t give up!
So this was a failure, but thats ok, i learned all these lessons and will incorporate them in my next project.
Recently I quit my job and I have one year to get to profitability
And follow me in Twitter