Growing an Early Stage SaaS: A Conversation with SavvyCal Founder Derrick Reimer

Colleen asks SavvyCal founder Derrick Reimer for growth advice.

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Colleen Schnettler  0:00 
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Hello everyone and welcome back to the Software Social Podcast. I'm your host today Colleen Schnettler. Today I'm very excited to host a special guest, Derrick Reimer. Derrick is a serial maker and has successfully built many products. He's now building SavvyCal. Hey, Derrick, thanks so much for being here. I'm really happy to have you on today. 

Derrick Reimer  0:34  
Thanks for having me. Yeah, I've been a fan of your guys's podcast since it came out and have enjoyed following along with your respective journeys, and especially as you've been getting simple file upload off the ground. It's pretty exciting stuff.

Colleen Schnettler  0:47  
So in a little bit of a change of the traditional podcast guest format, I actually invited you here because I want to talk about me instead of your product. You know, I would really like to talk to you because you are a technical founder. And I feel like you've done this five times now. 

Derrick Reimer  1:12  
Something like that. Yeah, 

Colleen Schnettler  1:13  
something like that. Quite a few companies. So I just kind of wanted to get your opinion on, like my product and my growth trajectory. And if this thing is gonna work, and I have so many questions like when to bail, right? Yeah. 

Derrick Reimer  1:30  
Yeah, no, it's, it's good. I'm happy to dive into this stuff. I love kind of strategizing. And, and, you know, talking shop with with other folks. So yeah, happy to have to dive in on some of those questions. 

Colleen Schnettler  1:41  
Awesome. So one of the things when I started simple file upload is I kind of made a lot of the mistakes, I think traditional or first time founders make in that I just built something I wanted to build. And I just wanted to ship a product, right? Like my first goal was literally make something that people could buy. And so that was like a really exciting time just learning how to create a piece of software I could sell to more than one person. 

Derrick Reimer  2:08  
Hmm, I think I remember when you were kind of just getting started on this and kind of talking about it. And, you know, Michelle would grill you a little bit on like, well, you talk to customers. But if I recall, like you do have, like some this intuition for the need for this came out of your own experience a bit, right, which is like, yes, that can be a dangerous place to start. But it's also I feel like one of the more like, it kind of sets you off on a good foot. In one sense, if you have a really good understanding of kind of the the problem like you've felt the problem deeply yourself. And so I feel like you were starting, maybe you didn't do all the customer interviews right out of the gate, but like you sort of had this intuitive sense, like as a as a consultant, and you've built this stuff many times before that, like, Oh, this is kind of I'm spending repeated effort on this problem. And I'm seeing other people doing that, too. Is that is that kind of characterize? Like, how the genesis of it came about? 

Colleen Schnettler  3:07  
Yes, definitely. 


That's Yeah, that's really why I built it. And there's a lot of excitement in the beginning, right, just like getting your first product to market. And I think I made a really good choice to put it in the Heroku marketplace. And it seems to be meeting a need, I think I kind of Accidentally on Purpose found a hole, right? Because Heroku has the ephemeral file storage. So this is a problem. Literally, everyone who uses her Roku has, right. I don't really know, though. I mean, it's just fancy file storage. I don't really know, if it's a product that can even replace my job. Like, I don't know, if the How do I like even determine if it can get there?

Derrick Reimer  3:56  
Mm hmm. Well, I think so part of that is, so you're kind of speaking to like market size, like how many, you know, how many dollars are flowing through this industry of people wanting to to solve this problem. And I did, I did a little bit of like, just scoping around before coming on here because I wanted to do do a little bit of my homework and it seems like there are quite a few, like, companies that there are kind of big name players like cloud Neri right that have sort of been around a while people use them for image storage like image manipulation or like optimization, right. But also like in looking at kind of their their marketing it seems like they're they've gone a little bit up market like they're they seem a little enterprise II to me from the looks of them, you know, like it's, I look at it as an as an independent software builder and I don't know if I'm perfectly in the target market for your product, but like when I look at Cloud Neri To me, it's like this looks a little long in the tooth like they like it's not something I would want to jump into putting into my stack because it looks a little bit too Little bit to enterprise. And like, like, I would want a fresher take on that. But it seems like it seems like there is there's a pretty decent sized market for, you know, file storage, image storage, image manipulation, CDN, like putting things on CD ends, and like making that whole side of things smoother. So I guess like my initial take is like, I think there is something here. Now the question is, which we can kind of talk through more like, is there? Is it something you're interested in? Like, really going after, you know, and like, and? Yeah, but I think there's, I think there is something there.

Colleen Schnettler  5:40  
So what do you mean? Is it something I'm interested in really going after?

Derrick Reimer  5:45  
I guess, like, it's gonna take, I think you're at that point right now where like, you've got some initial traction, you're in the Heroku marketplace. And actually, it's, it's really cool. I looked, I just searched upload in the marketplace. And you're like, ranked number one or number two, which is pretty amazing. Right? Yeah, that's a really good. That's a really good spot to be in. I was I was shocked that there was not more options there. Right? Yeah. Yeah, me too. And honestly, this is, this is a problem that I have, every time I build this app, I kind of go through this, this phase of like, relying on gravatar, only for avatars, because I don't want to build in the upload part. And then it's annoying. Yeah. And then like, gradually, I've gotten, I've actually pushed more and more towards just being on Heroku. And, like, I used to, like drip was on AWS and we just had like custom instances. So we already had s3 there. And it was sort of part of our tool chain already. But this time around, like I don't, I've been trying to stick to like a pure Heroku stack, keep things really simple. And it was definitely an awkward place when I needed to add this, like the ability for people to upload their own Avatar and like, Okay, so now I have to go like create an AWS account, like I ideally didn't want to do that. So I don't know. Yeah. all that to say like, it seems like there's a there's an interesting gap here. Now, it remains to be seen if there's a ton of people, you know, like me and like you who, who are like not wanting practically like not wanting to spin up a raw AWS account and start, like getting in there and manipulating buckets and doing all that kind of stuff. But I don't know, I think my intuitive sense is like, I think that there's, you know, and I mean, they're the risk is that, like, Heroku just steps in and solve this problem at some point. But I mean, they haven't been around a long time, and they still haven't done that. So I think, I think there's a, I think there's an opportunity. But I guess back to the original question, like what do I mean by Do you want to, like, really go deeper on this, I think it's like, it's gonna, it's gonna probably take figuring out some, like, we're experimenting with some, some repeatable, like, marketing channels and traction channels. And it's gonna require a bit of investment, and experimentation, and, and so it's gonna take time, potentially money, you can pull those different levers, you know, depending on, on which one you have more of, to play with, you know, but I think that's, that's kind of the point that a lot of a lot of like, first time founders, technical founders get to where it's like, you're really good at the, you know, building the the product. And so now it's like, applying energy towards the marketing side, and really trying to like, suss out what's going to work on that end. Because I think your product is is probably well poised to, to solve a real need. And it already is solving a need for 10s of customers. Hundreds of customers. 33. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  8:47  
Yeah, you know, and the thing about trying to learn marketing as a developer, it's like, I feel like I'm just throwing darts at a board. Like, maybe this'll work. Maybe this will work. I have no idea what I'm doing, which I guess is part of the process.

Derrick Reimer  9:06  
Right. Right. Right. I mean, that is, yeah, that is kind of what marketing is about. It's, it's a there's lots of channels. So I don't know if you're familiar with attraction, but I always bring this one up to founders. Have you have you? Okay,

Colleen Schnettler  9:20  
it's a client traction.

Derrick Reimer  9:22  
It's called traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Maris. It's been around a while, I think they've maybe revised it once or twice, but I have like a have an older copy sitting here. But it's basically like,

Colleen Schnettler  9:32  
it's literally on your desk. Yeah.

Derrick Reimer  9:37  
And because I this is one that I will just periodically revisit. And so because they start out with like, sort of running through this framework, they call it the bullseye framework. And it's sort of like it's just a little, a little exercise you can go through to sort of brainstorm each traction channel. They listen here and there's 19 different channels morality. PR and conventional PR search engine ads, social and display ads, SEO, content marketing. I won't list them all. But like, so they sort of start out the book with like, here's a brief description of each one, here's a framework for going through and brainstorming, you know, which ones do I think might work well for my product, and then, and then the rest of the book is sort of like going deeper on each one and how to think about like devising an experiment. So because like, I think I've done a little bit of, I just did a little bit of brainstorming ahead of this recording. And, you know, one idea I had was like, I feel like, there isn't like an SEO opportunity here. If people are, if people are really like me, and like you trying to like not go full in on like a manual setup with an s3 bucket for doing this. There might be some, there might be some some keywords that people are searching for typically, like, file uploads on Heroku, or something like that. And, you know, there's tooling you can use, like a traps or SEO, Moz, and a couple other ones that can give you some data on keywords like that. And so you can sort of, you know, you can, you can just do some research, some brainstorming, maybe make a spreadsheet, and then, and then kind of follow some of the advice in a book like this to kind of devise like, what's the minimal experiment, I could do produce maybe a couple pieces of content? And then see how see how that works? Without just saying like, yep, this is definitely what's going to work because you don't really know what's going to work until you actually experiment with it. Right?

Colleen Schnettler  11:40  
So I think I have a psychological block here. And I think my psychological block is I feel, I feel like it's my product is maybe not that great, because there's so much it doesn't do I mean, it does what it says it does, and it doesn't really well, right. But like, I don't know, if that's just like the developer in me, or like, no one has asked for these features. But like, there are certain features that it doesn't have, and it kind of like, makes me more a little bit uncomfortable almost trying to market it. When I can't offer those features. Is that weird?

Derrick Reimer  12:19  
That's a very common, I mean, that I've experienced that with every single product. I've had it talking to other founders. Yes. I mean, I think there's, I think the type of person who is likely to go on this journey, I think it's sort of a self selecting thing a little bit like there's, I think we tend to have this propensity to be be a little bit of a perfectionist about the products we make. And, and have a little bit of imposter syndrome to use the buzz word, you know, like feeling like, it's not, it's not as good as, as maybe we're making out to be I know, I've fallen in this trap. Many times of like, under marketing, or under selling what I've built. And when I've looked at other companies that are maybe founded by, like a non technical, like more sales type of person or something, they tend to, they tend to bias towards the opposite side, which is like, as soon as there's a little kernel of something built, it's like, let's sell, sell, sell. Yeah, and that's, that's not good, either. Like you want the product to truly match what you're selling. But I think I I'm hearing from you the same bias that I have, which is like, a natural tendency to, to undersell what you have, ultimately, like, it doesn't. Like, if it's solving a problem for people, then it is enough. It is enough, you know, and and so you have to be willing to, to push it and to market it. And believe me, if it's not, if it's not good enough for certain cases, you'll hear about it. Customers are very, very willing to to tell you when they think your stuff is not good. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  14:04  
Yeah. I think that has been like part of my problem is I'm just like, oh, but I should just and I know everyone does this, but it's still it's hard when it's your thing. Like, there's some personal I don't know, you know, wrapped up in that where you're like, oh, it doesn't do this thing. I literally was on a call with a guy the other day, and he was asking me about it. potential customer and like, I lead with that Derek. I was like, oh, but it doesn't resize. Oh, you can't sign it on the server. Like why did I do that?

Derrick Reimer  14:33  
Right? Yeah, I'm not funny. That's why I mean, I've found Same thing with with customer support. I don't know if you've experienced this at all. When people will write in, they'll ask, they'll ask about something that maybe we don't support right away. But there's like a, there's sort of a workaround, that's in my mind. It's like not in my engineering mind. It's like this is not a pure good solution. It's it's a hack. Right? Like Like you train a support person, because a lot of times I have struggled to like to be the one to tell, tell the person how to do the hack. Instead, I'm like, Nah, sorry, we can't support that. But we're working on it. And I remember this when we first unleashed like, we fully trained our, our support rep, or support rapid trip, and there were all kinds of things that people just needed to do workarounds for and he would just tell people like, yes, we can totally support this. Here's how you do it. And you know, it was a paragraph worth of like, you know, what I would consider to be a little bit of a hack, but really, it was just creative problem solving. And the customer was like, nine times out of 10. super thrilled. And they're like, yeah, thanks so much. This is awesome. So yeah, yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  15:40  
Okay. Okay. Yeah, I can see that. I am. Okay. So the product has been live for five months. And I'm at like, 1300 MRR, which it's hard to know where that falls in the world of good, bad, mediocre. It's growing, but it's growing slowly. And I just kind of feel like I don't know what to do next.

Derrick Reimer  16:05  
Sort of, it's growing right now off of primarily the Heroku marketplace. Is that right? Correct.

Colleen Schnettler  16:11  
Yeah, okay. Yeah. Okay.

Derrick Reimer  16:14  
Yeah. So, I mean, I don't know how much more it seems like you're like I had one one checklist on my on my bulleted list here about like to ask you about doing like kind of SEO specifically for the Heroku marketplace. Because this is this is sort of a thing like folks who have WordPress plugins, there are things you can do to to specifically, like optimize your, your plugin listing to increase the chances that someone will find you first. But then I like I searched upload and you came right up. So I think you're I feel like you're your SEO on this, like specific niche search engine, the Roku marketplace is actually really, really good. So I'm not sure yeah, I mean, it's it's it's someone else's platform. I don't off the top of my head, I don't know how much more you could really do. On that, besides potentially, like, you know, working on on messaging bear a little bit. Which is potentially something you could do I, I was curious. Just to hearing your words, like what do you feel like the primary pain point that you're solving for people is right now. And it was like, is it informed by your, your perception, from what you've heard from customers? A combination of both? Have you been surprised that other people have a different pain point than what you expected? I guess, kind of talk me through that a little bit.

Colleen Schnettler  17:34  
One of the interesting things here is, so to get on the Heroku marketplace, you have to make your app free, and you have to get 100 users. And so when I did that the people who were free would talk to me like they they had all kinds of stuff to say, now that I'm selling it. First of all, I can't get anyone to talk to me, which is super weird. But but so people who were talking to me more, it seems like it met that need of the storage, because if you have to set up a I mean, you know AWS Iam course, like so much involved because it's a direct upload, there's so much involved in setting up direct uploads in an application, so the people, I think it's doing what I intended it intended for to do, which is it extrapolates away, file, uploading to the cloud, and I am even backing it up, which I probably don't even need to do but but I like doing it makes me feel makes me sleep helps me sleep better. So I I'm actually saving your stuff on to two completely different storage providers. And that's such a problem on Heroku. Because of their file system, I don't think it's as big of a problem outside of Heroku. But one thing I did is I made it expensive. And I made it expensive because I figured like I looked at cloudberries pricing and I went like 75% below that. And so one thing I have thought of is to do like a cheaper model, because then people who just need avatars like you're not going to pay 35 bucks a month just for avatar storage, but maybe you'd pay 12

Derrick Reimer  19:20  
I don't know. Yeah, I think it is pretty interesting. I mean, I think I would probably pay 30 What is it? What is your base price? 3535 35 Yeah, I would probably I don't know if that's too much, honestly. Especially

Colleen Schnettler  19:42  
successful people always tell me that they're like, it's not too much. Yeah, it's like a lot.

Derrick Reimer  19:47  
I mean, so potentially there's a it is interesting to think about kind of the the on ramp that people will have to to like kind of getting started Using your product, because I think like, for me, I'm running a SaaS application, I'm very, I'm very willing to just throw down $35 towards something that's a critical piece of, of hosting infrastructure. Like that's not a, that's not a big deal. But if I were, maybe if I were really early on and still, like vetting whether my product was actually going to work at all, I might be more hesitant. And this is something interesting, it's an interesting quality of your product in that, like, this decision is usually made decently far up front in the cycle of a product, right? Like, if someone's building something and, and at least uploading an avatar or some kind of some file of some kind from the user is like a key part of their application flow, then they have to make this decision pretty early on in the development cycle. And like now that, for example, now that I have my kind of avatar uploading thing sort of working, I say, sort of because I'm, I'm not doing because I'm technically channeling the bits through my Heroku instance, which is not ideal, like, if, if like someone, you know, if it's a big file, and it takes too long times out, it's like not, it's not very

Colleen Schnettler  21:14  
bullish. It's my judgment phase. steric, I'm just, ya

Derrick Reimer  21:17  
know, as you should. I, to me, this was like a, this was like, a quick and dirty, like, there's plenty of server side libraries that are built to to handle this. And so it was really easy, it was quick and easy. But I also know, like, it's not, you know, as soon as I let people upload, you know, bigger files, like a, like a big banner image, for instance, like, this is probably not going to work. And I'll have to revisit, like, making this even better, and perhaps pull your tool off the shelf. But I think, you know, if people, if people don't do what I did, and they do it the right way, from the get go the right way, meaning like something that will scale, then they're probably more likely to just to not, not pull that out and switch, like once, or twice a step.

Colleen Schnettler  21:58  
right about that. Yeah.

Derrick Reimer  21:59  
So the, the question becomes, like, how can you catch people earlier in the process, like, at the point where they're, their project is still nascent? I see, you have like, a seven day free trial. And I wonder if, I mean, just, here's, here's one idea, you know, is potentially, like, retooling this to be like a limited usage based trial instead, or like a, you know, free for development and you like, automap, you automatically delete the files after, you know, 36 hours or something like that. So that's a

Colleen Schnettler  22:31  
really good idea. Yeah, yeah.

Derrick Reimer  22:34  
I love that. It's like a sandbox environment where you can just, you're just paying for bandwidth, essentially, which is pretty cheap. And if it becomes a problem,

Colleen Schnettler  22:42  
you can always be a problem. Yeah, that's a great idea. Because then people, so the problem well, yeah, I'm gonna think about that. I like that idea. Like a sandbox mode omos, where everything, like you said, it's deleted every day or something. But then people could try it out and see if it was a good fit.

Derrick Reimer  23:00  
Yep. Yep. And then, and then potentially some kind. I mean, yeah. So the, you could have a cheaper tear. I'm still skeptical about this, because it's like, people just need to, I just believe people need to pay for critical pieces of their infrastructure. Like that shouldn't be a problem. But again, like since we sort of have to, you don't want that to become a something that prevents people from adopting your, your tool either. So so maybe it makes sense. I don't know if you've gotten any feedback from from customers so far, when you kind of were making that jump from like, the free to the requiring people to pay phase, but like, did you sense a lot of price sensitivity from people directly? Or is it more like in your own kind of?

Colleen Schnettler  23:47  
It's in my head? Yeah. I mean, I feel I have a couple people pay me $250 a month? Yeah. Yeah. Like that, like blew my mind. I wasn't even gonna make that tier because I was like, who's gonna pay that people are paying that?

Derrick Reimer  23:59  
So what what kind of customer is paying? What's their use case? Who's paying that on that tier? Are they individual product owners? Are they like a consultant? Who's doing a lot of projects? Or what is the the nature of their work look like?

Colleen Schnettler  24:12  
So I don't really know. Okay, that would be helpful information. Yeah, so I've got to get? Yeah, I don't really know. I'm still trying to set up some customer interviews with those folks to find out what their use cases.

Derrick Reimer  24:28  
Mm hmm. Even like, yeah, is it? Is it tough to see from there? I mean, if you just kind of look in your database, like, how many do they have a bunch of instance, a bunch of separate instances connected? Or like, do you have any kind of or is it just or literally on your end? Is it just like you're seeing buckets with files flowing into it? And it's kind of hard to tell what they're actually Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  24:48  
I just have it set up. So what I can see is I can see the buckets with their files, okay, net, okay, which I actually haven't really even looked at, but that might, that might provide interesting information if I did that, yeah, at least. Yeah. Cuz. And so yeah, another question I sort of had is like is I think you've maybe talked about on here a little bit, but remind me like, are you? Are you primarily trying to market this towards, like consultants who are constantly starting new applications for clients? As opposed to like, individual operators? Yeah, that's it. So that's kind of part of part of where I am right now, too, right? Like, I'm trying to figure out who my ideal customer is. I thought it was people like me. And I have a couple consultants that I know that are using it. And it's cool, because they've signed up their clients, you know, on individual instances. So it's like, one person has given me several, you know, several accounts, right. But I don't like I thought that they would be my people, but I only have a couple of them. So there's a lot of people who are less experienced developers using it. And they're just trying to build something. It's not like no code, but like, kind of in a low code, but still using Heroku space. They're kind of trying to like, put pieces together to sell a product. So like, I've got like real estate companies and nail salons and people like that. And I actually have more of those people than I have consultants. So it seems like because it's setting up AWS is technically challenging. My supposition at this point is that I'm going for people who are who have a store or building a product, who don't want to spend the time or don't know how and don't care to spend, you know, three days learning how to use or setup AWS.

Derrick Reimer  26:54  
Mm hmm. That makes me think that like, I mean, no code is kind of a large, growing trend right now. Right? We're hearing this all the time. platforms like web flow. I don't know if webflow. I don't know much about them at all, unfortunately. But I know that they're super popular. And lots of people are using them to build things and sort of stitching together services. I don't know if that's, yeah, I wonder if your products, I feel like your product is in a is in a good spot for like, technical people who just want to who don't want to own the, the code that is responsible for doing the all the uploading and storage part, which I feel like that is a little bit different than people who are like, I literally don't write any code. Yeah, it's a different audience. You know,

Colleen Schnettler  27:44  
you're right. It is a different audience. And my people are developers, I've seen like, none of the people I have talked to don't write any code, like none of them are. Pure novotest. Yeah. Yeah, they have to have some kind of code knowledge. Right.

Derrick Reimer  28:01  
And so yeah, probably for that reason, I would probably put like, I would, I would maybe put a pin in the like, the no code piece. I think it would be hard to, to like market to both audiences at the same time, like, feels like a split focus a little bit.

Colleen Schnettler  28:16  
Yeah, no, you're right. And I have a job and a family. So like, I don't have, you know, stuff, right, I get stuff going on?

Derrick Reimer  28:23  
How much? How much time speaking of time, so like, How much time do you feel like you can, you're able to, to invest in, in this business on like a weekly basis.

Colleen Schnettler  28:34  
So that has been a roller coaster of adventure. But I am trying to, I'm working on arranging my schedule. So I have one full day a week to do simplify upload. Which still doesn't feel like a lot of time but like this last consulting client, I had, you know, consulting Did you consult before what did you do when you started drip? Were you full time were you?

Derrick Reimer  29:00  
Yeah, I actually haven't done a ton of consulting myself. I sort of hopped from like trying to start my own things to then working with Rob, my co founder of drip, like doing some like, part time contractor stuff with him. And then I kind of quickly moved into a full time with him. So I sort of skipped the consulting phase that a lot of a lot of us founders go through.

Colleen Schnettler  29:20  
But you had a full time job before that. I actually

Derrick Reimer  29:23  
was I was like, fresh out of college and living cheaply and nice, like competed in a startup competition and like 110 $1,000 one year that was like enough for my expenses. Yeah, basically, I was sort of just yeah, parlaying some savings and stuff like that. So it's sort of a funky little journey. Yeah.

Colleen Schnettler  29:44  
So you never had a full time job.

Derrick Reimer  29:47  
I didn't, I did. Actually, tail end of college. It was in a completely different industry. It was I was working for a small company that was selling landscape products to nurseries so It was like, it was a summer job. It was like a family friend, small business summer job turned into like a, I worked at it like full time tail end of college when I was thinking about getting an MBA. And it was actually some of the best work experience I had. Because, I mean, it's like, it's like brick and mortar business, like getting on the phone, calling truckers doing like handling, putting out fires, like in real time. It was pretty, it was pretty interesting, but not not in the tech industry.

Colleen Schnettler  30:30  
Wow. So you, so that so you've always been doing this as your career? building businesses?

Derrick Reimer  30:38  
Yeah, pretty much. But I started I mean, when I started out in when I was fresh out of college, and then trying to get stuff off the ground. I was, I was making all these classic mistakes. I was like, I was kind of a hobbyist developer, learning web development, started some things, never talked to a customer just like built a product and then was like, Oh, I need to actually think about marketing. So yes, I definitely like, like, went through school of hard knocks, learning those, learning those lessons the hard way until and I

Colleen Schnettler  31:09  
don't know if there's a different way to learn it. Right? Like, I don't know. I mean, we all okay, so like, I can use this example, this is my first product. And I had a million ideas before this, none of them got off the ground. And I don't know, sometimes, sometimes it feels like you just have to ship something like for your first product or the early days, like you just have to build something and ship something and then see what happens and then learn. learn this stuff as you go. Well, I

Derrick Reimer  31:37  
also think there's something to be said for like, especially in that early in those earlier days. For me, I was much younger, I had didn't have as many financial responsibilities. So it was a pretty low risk time for me, you know, but like, so yes, I didn't get a successful SAS app out of it. But I, what I did get was like a high degree of proficiency in Ruby on Rails, and learned a lot of like, what not to do more of what not to do than what to do camp in terms of like building a business. But that was still valuable experience that I took with me. And so even when, you know, I've built products that have not actually been commercially viable, like, yeah, building things, shipping things is still a valuable exercise. For sure. But I think I think that's not I don't think that's where you're at with this one. Honestly, I think this one is I mean, 1300 MRR, you you've proven it's, this is a, this is a business now, because you have customers, they're paying you. You've made it at least past that phase of like, Oh, no, did I build something that no one wants? So I think you're, yeah, I'm hearing in your voice that you're not sure if you've built something that like will actually that you could actually grow, I think you can grow this thing. I do think you can grow this thing.

Colleen Schnettler  32:48  
I mean that and for me, that's kind of like, what, that's what I'm really unsure about, like, you know, going from zero to 1000 makes it feel like a real business. But like 1000 to 10,000 is a whole different ballgame. Right? Like that's, that's a lot of money. I mean, so it Yeah, so that's kind of the like, man, can I grow this?

Derrick Reimer  33:10  
Well, the nice The beautiful thing about SAS though is it does compound right so so you have your you have a churn rate, we all have a churn rate. And but but they're definitely not churning out like, like, even if you stopped getting soft acquiring customers, he would still be kind of a slow progression down to zero, like these things, these things, that's why they have have this flywheel effect going. And so I mean, it kind of, you know, SAS fundamentals, you figure out where what your traffic channels are going to be, you go this is an oversimplification, but still like this is fundamentally what it is like you figure out what your traffic channels are going to be. And then you work on optimizing your conversion rate, top of the funnel to the next phase, all the way down to you know, trials, or what would have restructured all the way down to becoming a repeat paying customer. And provided you continue doing marketing activities that increase that top of funnel number of people coming to your website and trickling through like Plinko trickling through your funnel, you're gonna add customers, you know, each month, and before you know it, you know, you're gonna have 1000s of MRR 10s of 1000. Now, like that's kind of how these things grow, which is why I love SAS.

Colleen Schnettler  34:21  
Can we go back to something you said earlier that I didn't hone in on but I want to I want to revisit real quick. You said you don't think I could market to both the no code space and the Heroku space. So my reading between the end you're right like I only have one day a week and I'm still developing it's an act of development like their stuff it doesn't do yet that it needs to do. And and I read between the lines there but I just want to verbalize so I should focus on the Heroku people right because I own those keywords. Yeah, I

Derrick Reimer  34:48  
think so. I think okay, I would I would do is probably try to try to optimize the heck out of that and try to try to figure out now I know you're there. bummer. Is that like you get limited data from Heroku? I don't know. Yeah,

Colleen Schnettler  35:03  
that is really frustrating, by the way.

Derrick Reimer  35:06  
Yeah. I don't know if there's any, anything creative you could do to? Like, I would be curious how much traffic does your add on page get? Like? Do they share any kind of analytics like that?

Colleen Schnettler  35:15  
They do. So once a week, they they Oh, no, you know what? They allow me to add a Google snippet. Oh, Google Analytics snippet to the add ons page. So I do see the traffic I get there. Okay, so I don't see anything else. But like, I do see how many visitors I have?

Derrick Reimer  35:33  
Are you comfortable stating on air what the traffic number looks like?

Colleen Schnettler  35:37  
So I get, so I do weekly, weekly reports for myself for pageviews. So last week, I got 275 page views on the Heroku elements page. And I mean, I've no concept of that a lot. If that's a little like, I don't really know how you even valuate something like that? Well,

Derrick Reimer  35:59  
and it is. So it's, that's a small number, like in terms of like website traffic numbers, but but it is also like, presumably, it's pretty highly targeted, like these are people who they're searching in there specifically for a solution to this problem. So like, probably a view from Heroku is from the Heroku marketplace, like that is worth more, it's maybe worth I don't know, 10 times more than just a random like website visitor view, you know?

Colleen Schnettler  36:26  
Yeah. What does it tell you? If I'm getting 275 page of views a week, but I get on average, two new customers a week? What is that from that page? Does that right? What would you take from that information?

Derrick Reimer  36:39  
Um, so I, to me, that feels like potentially there's an opportunity to, to put some work into experiments experimenting with trying to optimize that a little bit. So it would be like, what's the kind of like, stuff you and Michelle talk about, you know, what's the? What's the language that's going to resonate the most with people? Can you you know, is there? I'm just kind of looking at your, your ad on page here. What does it do? Yes, some good images here. I like that file upload without maintaining infrastructure. That seems really good for what, for the hypothesis that we've discussed here on like, what people are really wanting, but I'd be curious, like, you know, if if, like, testing a different lead headline would potentially be a better hook? I don't know. Yeah. So I think there's some, I mean, it's, yeah, again, it's tricky, because you can't really do like a true A B test, the traffic is not traffic is not high enough, either, where you could do like a true like scientific split test. So it's gonna be a little bit more of like, just maybe a little bit of experimentation on on, kind of getting your tightening up positioning and all that kind of stuff. So I would maybe spend a little bit of time on, on playing with that. But, but aside from that, I'm not sure how much more you really have control over on this specific place. So then I would, I would probably start thinking about, I mean, still marketing to the same type of person who would be looking for this in the Heroku marketplace, but going outside of the Heroku marketplace. So right. You know, again, like I would I would kind of thumb through traction and see if see if anything jumps out as like, who I think I think that one might work for me. But like, I do think, you know, like, like, an example would be like, what if you wrote some guides on like, specifically targeting, like, keywords on uploading Heroku you know, like a guide called How to upload files in Heroku. And, and you could even funny that you could even, like, describe how to do it without using your product. And it would probably be like, it'd be a big old long article with a lot of details in it. That's, like, Oh, my gosh, is so terrible, then, like interspersed throughout you could be like, do you want to skip all this? Just click this button. You know, yeah. And,

Colleen Schnettler  39:01  
and, you know, I think as I I as a developer, like someone's content, like, we'll get me to buy their product, like I like the autoscaler I use I bought it because he had a such a great content piece on picking your dinos. I was like, Oh, this guy knows knows what's up, like, I'm gonna buy this. Yeah, so that's a great idea.

Derrick Reimer  39:19  
I like that. That makes that makes good sense. Um, have you this just came top of mind. Like, have you talked to anyone at Heroku By the way, like anyone in their sort of partnerships integrations?

Colleen Schnettler  39:33  
Yes. So they, they require you to talk to them in the beginning, but I don't have to talk to them anymore.

Derrick Reimer  39:39  
Okay. I'm curious if there's an opportunity to to potentially get featured somewhere like I don't know if they have a blog, a newsletter, kind of like a integrations highlight thing. I feel like you know, you're, you're one of the only people right now is actually filling this gap of like, uploads for their platform. So there might be an opportunity. I'm not sure what the name of this role would be just like somebody, somebody in the market on the marketing team or the content team or something, maybe go start with, like your kind of contacts that you initially had at at Heroku. But like, it seems like, I don't know, if you could get a newsletter feature from them. That would be Yeah, potentially really high value, or some kind of feature somewhere on their site. I'm not sure all the all the different ways they have to promote their integrations. But it's, I mean, it serves their their interest to, to, like promote this thing that's solving a problem that their customers have. So there might be like, a little co marketing opportunity there.

Colleen Schnettler  40:42  
Yeah. How do you decide how to split your time between your marketing efforts and your development efforts?

Derrick Reimer  40:50  
Yeah, that's a it's a tough problem. Because the context switching is, is it's pretty heavy. Like it's very different. Very different disciplines. I, I've experimented with sort of doing like, I don't know about I think everyone has their different like, way their brains work. For me. It's like I'm, I'm at my best in the morning. And then it's kind of all downhill from there.

Colleen Schnettler  41:18  
Like, I'm a morning morning work person. Yes, yeah.

Derrick Reimer  41:20  
So I used to, I used to do like, kind of slice the day up a little bit. And I would spend, and so naturally, I would spend my mornings on engineering stuff, and then kind of give the leftovers to marketing. And I found that was kind of hard to do. Like, for me, it didn't work that great. And usually, by the end of the day, I was sort of so burned out, like, if I was really good at my job in the morning, that just meant there was almost nothing left at the end of the day. So I struggled to make progress on that. So I've been a fan of, you know, trying to, like, use the Primetime for marketing on specific days, if I'm going to, if I'm really need to, like, do a heavy task, like write something or, or do like a lot of creative work on something some, some marketing tasks are just like, they're pretty rote. And you can just sort of slot them in wherever but other things, you know, require a lot of creative energy, right? And, yeah, coming up with with a plan or whatever. So I don't know, I I've, I've kind of liked doing sort of dedicating a day or two to that. But I think it kind of, I don't know, I've never I haven't come up with something very rigid for myself, like, like, Mondays are always gonna be marketing. It's just, there's, there's too many things changing all the time, too many dynamics and an early stage company that I haven't found, like for myself a rigid kind of cadence to work. But I do feel like trying to look at like, in the span of a week, how much did I invest into marketing and kind of have at least a gauge in my head on that, you know, if you go a week without investing anything into marketing, but then again, for you, you said one day a week, so maybe it's you might need to stretch that out and say, like, you know, one day on every other week, it's like, focus on marketing versus focus on product, like, that may be what you have to do. And that's perfectly fine. I

Colleen Schnettler  43:17  
tried to do so when I was trying, I was trying to do like marketing an hour every day. And like, I do it first thing when I was fresh, but like the context switching, oh my gosh, it was killing me because like, you get into a tat and then you know, job. So I'd like get into a task. And then it was like, oh, but now I have to stop mid in this task and like, do this other thing. It just yeah, it wasn't working. So I guess I'll just play around with that. But I like to maybe every other week or something because it takes me a while to like get into the marketing. mindset, ya know?

Derrick Reimer  43:51  
Yeah. Yeah. And honestly, like, the another area like I, I feel like your product is, is in a place where Obviously, these products are never done. There's always things to add, we all have roadmaps, but maybe I'll push you on this too, like you might need to spend like the next couple of weeks, for example, like really just thinking giving your best mental energy to kind of the marketing piece like, Alright, you're sort of at this place where like, I'm not sure what to do next. And that that might mean it's the time to, to, you know, set the product work aside for a little bit for a couple of weeks, even and kind of work through, you know, maybe working through this traction book or working through some other frameworks to kind of think about because yeah, it's it's hard to when you're just thinking about like, Okay, well, what should I What should I do to grow next, but you're only giving yourself like an hour or two. It's like, that's not enough time to really like, Alright, let's just we need you to like sit, sit back, open up your mind. Really just think for hours on this and it's hard to like, just sit sit down and like be like, I'm gonna think now for three hours straight. Like that doesn't work, obviously, but like giving yourself the room to just sort of Google around a bit and just kind of let your mind go free a little bit and sort of brainstorm and jot things down on a whiteboard or whatever works for you. And sort of think, like, marketing does require a fair amount of creativity, like just doing what works for other people blindly doesn't necessarily. It's not necessarily the most efficient path, like sometimes it requires like, like sitting back and trying to come up with those insights like, yeah, maybe a sandbox account or something like that, you know, like, yeah, and yeah, but you have to give yourself time to, to come up with those insights.

Colleen Schnettler  45:41  
Yeah, a little space, I see exactly what you mean, like you kind of have the space in your brain? Yeah. And so I do have one more question for you. So you've sold a few companies? How have you made the decision? And I know, there's gonna be a lot of like, personal goals, and etc, etc. But like, generally speaking, how do you identify when the right time to sell is for you? And for the business? Things like that?

Derrick Reimer  46:07  
Right. Yeah, so I've just talked through the things that I have sold like. So I started a product called code tree that I did kind of in tandem, when I was working at drip. And gradually, like, My role at drip sort of increased to the point where like, I became, like, I was fully invested fully in on this on this journey. So like, What started out as a side project, I was like, maybe this will be my next, my full time job. At some point, I'll kind of move on from drips like that, the dynamics of that relationship changed, I got more serious with my commitment to drip. So then I had like this product that was on the side that I wasn't really, that I didn't feel like I could really invest the time into. And I didn't have the motivation to like to work basically two jobs and like, do the nights and weekends thing. Like I was like, No, I'm not gonna do that. And so it was sort of just sitting on the side. And I determined like, I think, I think someone could grow this, I think this is still worth something. And since it was still growing a little bit, it hadn't, like, started to like, really contract and, and shrink. I was like, this is probably an optimal time for me to get it off my plate. Right. Okay. So that was one drip was obviously a much different situation. It was a fully scaled up applications. It was a strategic acquisition. And so that's sort of in a different in a different bucket. I feel like,

Colleen Schnettler  47:30  
Yeah, I think so.

Derrick Reimer  47:32  
I product that I started, kind of before savvy cow was called static kit. And it was like a tool, toolkit of products for static site builders, and I just never really never really got good traction with that. And so that one was like, Okay, I was sort of, out of ideas and motivation on how to grow it. And I was ready to move on to something else. And so I ended up selling that one, because it's like, well, if if I happen to have a competitor, and I felt like they were kind of moving in that similar direction, and maybe it would be worth something to them to, like, have a little a little jumpstart on some, some of this some of the code that I wrote. So that worked out. So it's sort of been like, yeah, the times I've sold things, it's like, it's either not a good fit with my, with my goals in my life anymore. Yeah, or I feel like it's, it's better to capture it, harvest the value now and like cash out now, as opposed to like, continuing to try to try to move it forward.

Colleen Schnettler  48:34  
I don't know if this was your intention, but like, I'm feeling super pumped right now. Like, this feels like part advice, podcast part, like pep talk. Yeah. Like, the fact that that, you know, I just think some of the things we talked about, like seeing a path forward is is really great, because I have found through this whole journey, if you will, a lot of it just seems to be like managing my own psychology. Like, Oh, can I do this? Is this gonna work? Like Yeah, but epic failure. There's just so much of this like, like cyclical, like, Oh my gosh, I'm brilliant. I came up with the most, you know, amazing thing ever to be like, no one wants this. It's terrible. So, you know, I've really, I've really found that to be interesting, very different from like, working a traditional job is like, there's a lot of, like, personal you know, you know, personal stuff wrapped up starting a business.

Derrick Reimer  49:27  
Yep. Yeah. No, totally. I mean, that's kind of the whole name of the game, honestly. And I don't have any great answers on how to manage that. Because it's, I mean, I feel like probably every founder is kind of in the same in the same boat on this one. And it's like, yeah, that's that's a tough one to solve. But having these kinds of conversations is good. I think, you know, like being, getting getting outside perspectives and talking stuff through doing your weekly podcast. That's all hopefully helpful in that Staying sane.

Colleen Schnettler  50:02  
That's amazing. Thank you so much, Derek for coming in today. I had a wonderful time talking to you. Obviously we ran a little bit long, but like this conversation was super valuable for me. So I really appreciate it.

Derrick Reimer  50:15  
You're welcome. I love talking through this stuff. So happy to happy to do it.

Colleen Schnettler  50:19  
So that's going to wrap up this week's episode of the software social podcast, you can check out Derek's product savvy cow and please let us know what you think we love it. If you enjoyed the show, if you would leave us an iTunes review

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