Romanian developer Alexandru Paduraru published in the blog in a Medium article about how he and his team have created a service Creative Tim, which facilitates the work for web designers, offering them ready templates, UI kits and plugins on the basis of Bootstrap. The entrepreneur said, what steps youve taken his company to the service was to bring in $17 thousand per month. Edition vc.ru published a translation of the material. In 2014, I together with friends has a goal to develop the best tools for web design.
During this time we have created a set UI, the admin console, templates and plugins on the basis of Bootstrap. We have always tried to create products that help web designers and that we would be ready to use when developing websites for our clients. From the point of view of revenue, if we do not take into account the “Black Friday” (November 2016 thanks to the sale we have doubled our income), our turnover is about $22 thousand per month. Part of the cost goes to pay commissions to our partners, VAT, taxes, vendor payment and other expenses.
Our profit is $17 thousand per month. In this article I would like to share how we have developed our products and created a business. I want to dwell on the following topics.
It all started with the fact that my friend and I founded a web Agency in Romania. We did not attract venture capital, so we had no extra money for rent is not something that office, but even seats in the coworking. So we worked at Starbucks. Revenue we barely have enough to pay daily expenses.
Creative Tim was our side project. We wanted to help other web developers as we are. We noticed that it is always re-inventing the wheel, working with clients, and repeatedly create the same elements for their sites. So we decided to create some standard components, such as login forms and registration, calendars, hats and a basement.
We distributed the time (while continuing to work at the Agency) and a few months later created a platform and made a few free models. In the beginning we didnt have Twitter followers, Facebook fans or readers email-newsletter. We published a lot of information about our free products on different forums for web designers and resorted to old tactics of persecution unobtrusive and web designers on Twitter that they talked about our product.
At first no one understood what we want to do. They did not understand the value of service that we did to help them improve business. We decided that we should create a more sophisticated product which will help people to understand what we do. First, we launched a set of UI elements Get Shit Done Kit.
He got to the review edition of the News Designer and has gained popularity. This publication has brought us 11 thousand users, which was very high for our business. Two weeks later, our project was presented on Product Hunt. It brought us another 5 thousand users.
After that the situation stabilized, and on average, we began to receive from two to three thousand users a week. The success motivated us to move on. And a few months later we introduced the Get Shit Done Kit Pro is a premium version of our free pack, which was even more UI components. At first we only had a few sales, and the product generated only $200 a week, which was absolutely insufficient to support our business.
At the same time, we worked on a web project for one of our clients. In December 2015, our project is published on the Bootstrap Expo — the most popular gallery for showcasing sites created using Bootstrap. For our business it has become another powerful source of sales, because the people who came to Boostrap Expo was already familiar with Bootstrap framework — in fact, they were the perfect audience for our business.
Later we found that drive traffic to our website is not enough to create long term relationships with users, and the majority forget about our project immediately after the first visit. We conducted research and learned what he knows most marketers. People forget about things if they are not reminded of them at certain intervals of time. Then we took the curve of forgetting and with it established a system of mailing lists.
We wanted to remind people about its existence, and that our service is a valuable resource for their projects or projects of their clients. For mailing we used a special scheme. Most of our marketing strategies involves the publication of our content in communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, Designer News, Hacker News and Github. In our case, also played subsections of Reddit /r/web_design, /r/html5 /r/frontend and /r/webdev.
Also a couple of times we were paying $100-200 for the opportunity to get into the newsletter. And although the ROI corresponded to the amount of money spent, these campaigns did not meet our expectations. (Perhaps it was not so profitable only in our case, and for others it will work better). Then we paid $400 to Get Shit Done Kit Pro got daily updates of the blog Sidebar.io, who leads the French designer Sascha Grif.
Every day, she makes a list of the five best sites for designers. It brought us $1500. Then we have for $550 purchased review and participation in newsletters, blog eWebDesign. We arranged the sale, which was attended by 5 thousand users, which brought us $2.8 thousand.
In addition, we began to think about where else you can find web developers that might be interested in our products. And then we realized that the hackathon is what we need. Then we began to offer the organizers of the hackathon with a free license to our “premium products”.
In total we have supported more than 20 hackathons in different cities around the world. All the developers were happy that we were able to get a free license. And we were happy that they found out about us, and that we could help them create better products. It was a win-win situation. In addition, when we ourselves were present at hackathons, you get a lot of information about how developers use our products and how we could improve them.
In March 2015 we have closed the last agreement within the Agency and are fully focused on the startup. In the Bank we already had some money, in addition, monthly income from the sales allowed us to focus completely on Product Tim. With the launch of new products, our sources of traffic and income grow.
We realized that the best model for Creative Tim was freemium. That is, we have offered free versions that helped web developers build great sites and then released the Pro-version, which had more items, sections, plugins and example pages. Currently we have eight premium products with its very own free version.
Their price varies from $19 to $599, depending on licenses and type of files (HTML, HTML + PSD, HTML + Sketch). Our free versions appear in many places in various communities, blogs, newsletters, social media and all of our traffic goes over these channels. The idea of our business model is that the free version will always remain on the first 10 pages of most communities (like Reddit), and each publication brings us from one to fifteen thousand people at a time. One can only imagine how much we had to pay for regular targeted marketing campaigns.
Sales that occur after a direct visit to our site — thats 24% of all our sales without taking into account the set of Big Bundle. What a Big Bundle, and as he appeared.
We noticed that some users download all free. (When I say “all” I actually mean all the products — and after two or three minutes after they have registered your account). In addition, we noticed that some customers buy all the premium products. And then we decided to test a new product called the Big Bundle that gives access to all products with a big discount (over 60%).
Set buy six to eight times per month. The cost for personal use at $299 (instead of $500), and for commercial — $669 (instead of $2127), so Big a Bundle was a good source of income and an excellent proposal for web designers and agencies who use our product to work on client sites. Its a win-win situation.
We have created a network of partners, and they are happy because they can take up to 50% on each sale. One of our most important partners is a popular repository on GitHub — Bootstrap Material Design (more than 17 thousand stars on GitHub). Partners bring us quarter sales. We saw that about 22% of income brings us to SEO.
So we decided to improve the position of our website in search results of Google and for $550 per month hired SEO consultant. The remaining income comes from other channels — Facebook, Twitter and our newsletter. Thats how varied our margins over time, including some historic moments.
But what we spend the money: Many leaders are trying to sell something that people dont need, or what they dont want to buy.
If your product is bad — then no marketing strategy (or investments) will not help him stay afloat. Currently our product is used 134 thousands of web developers around the world. Our clients include teams from Microsoft, Ubisoft, Vodafone, Orange, Harvard University, Stanford University and government bodies who download our products and use as internal tools.
Every step in our development process seemed natural at some point in time. Evaluating our evolution, we would not have to change anything. But if we started a company again, the second time we definitely would be able to do everything faster. We always create and improve products based on feedback from users, and this is our best method of business development.
No matter what you personally like — it is important that your product solved a real problem for a real client. Over the past three years I have read more than in my entire life. Here are some of my favorite books that I would recommend to others.
I really believe that the secret weapon of the entrepreneur — the creation of good products combined with excellent UX and excellent customer support. The best decision weve made is put the clients interests to the forefront and made sure that he gets the product that solves their problem. This will guide us throughout the journey. We live in a world where everyone can become anyone you want.
Assuming that you will spend a reasonable amount of time. And I say “time” not “money” because time is in each of us. And Id like to recommend you the book, which develops this idea — “Karaoke capitalism” by Kjell a nordström and “From zero to one” by Peter Thiel. From this point of view there are no boundaries. You can go anywhere on the planet, you can talk to Kemp anyone using social media.
Today the average person can buy much more influence than the President of a small country. Think about the Instagram accounts c million subscribers. And if a man from Romania has been able for two years to create a business whose monthly income exceeds the living wage in his country 60 times, then its possible do all.
Send a private cases, in which you managed to improve (or, conversely, worsen) the performance of the project, [email protected] Interesting experiments are sure to get heading Growth Hacks.