Validating A Business That Doesn’t Exist Yet Part 3: Slight Progress

shift page traffic

What a whirlwind week in the world of Shift SMS!

It’s not like “we made it” progress, but progress none the less.  Let’s break it down.

Guest Posting

Thanks to Joe at Betakit, I got my very first ever guest post on blog!  The post was titled “Here’s Four Toronto Startups Reinventing The Wheel” and it looks like it was really well received.  I’m really stoked because Betakit is a blog that I actually read, and I’d say easily is in the Top 5 biggest startup blogs in Canada.  I spent quite a bit of time writing the article (3 days) and I think it paid off.  Check out the share stats on for the post as of Sunday April 6th:

sharestats

3 of the 4 companies that I mentioned in the article ended up retweeting the post, but the retweet that made me the most excited was by MaRS, which is the Toronto entrepreneurship and startup organization:

shares

 

In return for the guest post, I had a little bio posted at the bottom with a quick blurb and a link to Shift SMS:

bioblurb

The reason guest posting is valuable is because it acts as a link towards the Shift SMS website, which gives it credibility.  As far as I can tell, the link that is sent to our site is a “follow” link (which means that Betakit is basically saying, yes give them some credibility), instead of a “no-follow” link (which means fuck these guys, don’t associate them with us at all).  All of this is a factor into how Google ranks and positions your page.  This is all worth it, even if the post isn’t directly driving traffic to Shift SMS.

Definitely going to look into doing more guest posting for sure.

Launching Next

launching next landing

We also got featured on this startup website called Launching Next.  It’s started by a user on the /r/startups subreddit, and I just submitted it for shits and giggles basically.  We ended up getting something like, 7 visitors the day it launched, but 4 email signups for the beta program.  DAT CONVERSION!  So naturally, what I did today was submit Shift SMS to a bunch of startup showcases, as per this list at OVoice.

One of the sad things is that over half of the websites that are on the list require you to pay them in order to feature them on their site.  That’s fucking SHENANIGANS if you ask me.  Even one of the larger sites called Betali.st (which looks fantastic, and isn’t scammy looking at all) allows users to pay in order to expedite their review process.  I don’t know.  I think that if you create a good product, that shit should be considered content and newsworthy.  You shouldn’t have to pay for exposure.  On the other hand, how is this any different from paid advertising, which I’m definitely going to do down the road?  I’m torn.

Cold Emails

and now we wait

As some of you may know, I did send off a batch of 8 cold emails to potential restaurants in my neighborhood to be a part of Shift SMS.  Here’s the email in full:

Subject: Problems with Staff Scheduling?

Hi!

My name is Anthony Wong, the founder of Shift SMS. After working over 4 years at tech companies like Kobo Books and TheBay.com, we’ve decided to go and build something great for small businesses like [business name].

We’re launching a product called Shift SMS – our website allows you to distribute your staff schedule to your team via text message, and we also allow your team to coordinate any shift changes via text as well. No more crossed out lines on the staff calendar or frantic last minute phone calls!

We think that Shift SMS will solve your scheduling problems, and we would like you to be a part of our beta program later this year.

Would be interested in using a product like this?

Thanks!
-Anthony

This email was based on a formula in a great talk by Steli Efti called “You Gotta Be a Hustler“:

Steli Efti: You gotta be a hustler slide deck

The formula that I followed is featured in the video:

  • Paragraph 1: Who the fuck am I? Why should you listen for 1 more minute? I took whatever credibility I had and tried to associate me to it.
  • Paragraph 2: A No bullshit version of what Shift SMS does. Build some understanding with the headache of scheduling.
  • Paragraph 3-4: Close.

And using a tool called Boomerang, I was able to track whether or not they opened the email.  The result after 2 days: 5 of 8 emails were opened. 0 replies.

So with a couple of days to reflect, here are my thoughts on my email:

Pros

  • I think the narrative in the first paragraph is a good touch
  • It’s less invasive than cold calling, which I’ve never done before and would be a bit nervous to do
  • It’s pretty well written
  • It has a pretty clear selling feature

Cons

  • I have no idea who I’m contacting at these restaurants.  They’re just the general information contact.
  • The email seems a little spammy

I think going forward, I might have to put an ice on the emails and look into other more effective techniques.

What’s Next?

I think I’m going to have to hack together a minimum viable product some how.  A minimum viable product is basically the most basic, shitty version of your product that’s usable.  I’m definitely racking my brain to figure out how this would work, and I don’t know.  I’m currently facing a predicament between Ruby on Rails and Django/Python.  This is me right now:

 

django or python?

 

They both have their pros and cons.  To keep things short, I sort of know how to write Python, but Ruby on Rails has a lot of the shit that I need premade and templated already.  I just have to figure out how to assemble it together, as if it were some sort of weirdly named piece of IKEA furniture.

Stay tuned everyone – who even knows what’s going to happen this week.

 

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