Episode 26: Long-Term Product Success ft/Tom Rossi

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buzzsprout-tom
Tom Rossi, founder of Tickspot and Buzzsprout, share his founders’ journey on this episode. From client services to a Web 2.0 epiphany to long-term success without marketing, Tom has managed to sustain a career by focusing on long-term product success.

In this episode, we talk about Toms’ experience dealing with the economy post 9-11, switching to Rails from .NET, and more!

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • how to “accidentally” create a product
  • letting go of client service work, the right way
  • how to manage a team effectively
  • how to prioritize for long-term product success

 Show Notes:
Tick – Time Tracking
MSites – Web sites for no-profits
bsites for non-profits
Buzzsprout – Everything you need to podcast
Tom Rossi – Twitter feed
37Signals
RECORD & RELEASE – Learn How To Podcast In Just One Day (discount code provided in the episode)

After starting out in 1996 doing client services work, as many of us do, Tom quickly got excited about the Internet boom. But he soon found himself trying to stay afloat in a post-9/11 world.

Creating a CMS for non-profits in 2001 was Toms’ first step toward long-term product success, made for a variety of reasons:
– desperation move
– important for culture
– trying to retain the team
– fell into developing it
– no strategy

Creating a time-tracking tool for freelancers in 2005, in the wake of the Web 2.0 ethos popularized by 37signals, was another step toward long-term product success. The motivators for this product were:
– frustrated w/ clients
– more planning & strategy
– just me & kevin
– Switching to Rails from .NET
– Attending the “Getting Real” workshop
– letting go of client services thinking: documentation, process, making everything provide value, default to “no”, shoot for MVP, how can we be the best at x?

Later, Tom created podcasting software, based on client work helping churches to put sermons online. This would be yet another link in the long-term product-success chain.

As always, a horrible client project spurred a desire to change to products – Tom goes into detail on this in the show. We’ve all had horrible client projects, and the one that drove Tom out of client services was a bad one!

SEO & marketing was difficult for Tom and his partners, as it is for many of us. A chance conversation with Rob Walling convinced Tom that he needed to improve his marketing game in order to maintain that long-term product success. Tom talks about some of his go-to marketing moves, and shares his shock at discovering where Buzzsprout stood in the podcasting world due to a lack of marketing. Don’t miss his story here, it’s good.

A big part of Toms’ long-term product success is the idea to “make quality of life a part of what you do”. A lot of us in the freelancing world struggle with this, as well.

Tom also talks about how changes in the cultural outlook on how software is sold have made things easier in some ways, including the old outlook that Saas will never work, that nobody understood it, and why Ruby On Rails has changed the game for small-time product founders looking to experience long-term product success.

And of course, we finish the show with Toms’ 3 “do this now!” bullet points for aspiring founders. You don’t want to miss these.

Episode 11: Launching an App With a Full-Time Job w/David Raffauf

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On Episode 11, I talk to David Raffauf, founder of Scoreboard, a Saas app that handles invoicing for freelancers and agencys.  David shares his story of launching an app, marketing, and doing business in the Saas world while holding down a full-time job.

David’s blog can be found at http://davidraffauf.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter as @draffauf.

WordPress ate my show notes, so this will have to do while I re-create them.

Scoreboard – David’s Saas app; Invoicing made fast & simple
37Signals
Bidsketch
Ruby On Rails
Rob Walling

Episode 3: Mobile App Marketing and Double-Bootstrapping w/Andrey Butov

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After two episodes of bootstrapped product founders with Saas apps, I went mobile! Episode 3 features a talk with Andrey Butov, the founder of Antair Software & creator of more than 2 dozen BlackBerry, Android and iOS apps. Plus we take part of the conversation all the way back to the old-school Joel on Software forums.

Bootstrapped Product Talking Points

  • the product strategy that is even worse than “build it and they will come”
  • why Andrey had to bootstrap the same company twice
  • the trade-offs of a huge early growth curve vs taking your time to grow
  • why selling to small business is the same as selling to consumers
  • why Andrey’s latest product is a Saas app instead of a mobile app (although it does address mobile app marketing)

We also talk about our shared hatred of the term “lifestyle business”.

Andrey has survived and thrived in an often brutal mobile app marketing environment.  Mobile app developers have little control of the customer relationship, and sometimes no way to contact customers directly.  Andrey shares what he has learned over the years, what he has realized about mobile app marketing and what he’d do differently now. We also talk a bit about how his latest product, Uberdeck, just might change the entire face of mobile app marketing.  That’s an exciting prospect for a bootstrapper.

As always, we finish the show with some action items for aspiring founders.  This is a tricky question to ask, and runs the risk of encouraging generic responses.  Andrey gives a reply that is clearly informed by his years of experience as a bootstrapper. Don’t miss it!

Uberdeck – Andrey’s newest product; Send marketing campaigns and important notices directly to your mobile apps to serve as mobile app marketing.
Antair Software – Andrey’s long-running software company
Bootstrapped.fm – Andrey’s bootstrapped product podcast
So You Want to Be a Wall Street Programmer – Andrey’s book

Joel On Software forums – where an entire generation of bootstrapped product founders got their inspirations
Perfect Table Plan – founded by Andy Brice, back in the Joel On Software days
Collectorz

Andrey & I talked a bit longer than expected, but his story is so interesting I didn’t want to edit too much out.