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Marketing seeds that led to $5k MRR with Tiiny.host Episode 12

Marketing seeds that led to $5k MRR with Tiiny.host

Phil is the founder of Tiiny.host. Tiiny.host is a web hosting application that allows you to simply host & share your web project.

· 14:58


Jack: Hi, everyone. You're listening to Scaling DevTools. The show that investigates how DevTools go from zero to one. I'm joined today by a friend of mine. Phil, who is the founder of tiiny.Host. Phil is great for you to be here today.

Elston: Thanks Jack. It's great to be on your podcast finally.

Jack: Tiiny.Host is now at 5k MRI. How has growth been like a tiiny.Host?

Elston: Yeah, complete roller coaster, to be honest. I, I think with most SAS tools, you go through different trajectories. You go through, you know, the value of doom and death, where you wonder whether it's ever gonna get anywhere and you kind of struggles. But as it starts to pick up and you start to, really figure out things a bit more, Starts to snowball.

Really early in the day we launched, tiiny with basically within like, you know, three to four weeks of development time and had very little features on there. And that was just, to get something out, which I think a lot of people struggle with. And then we just spend the rest of the time, just marketing it.

It wasn't until. The product on launch, which was about four or five months after where we really got first paying customers. But before that we didn't have any way to log in. We didn't have a payment system, so you couldn't do anything except use it for free. But that was a really good period to really learn, you know, what people were using us for and why.

And I think that's really key for your launch is just, you have a thought process and you have a, pathway where you think the product should go, but it's really important to remain open, to see how your users actually will dictate your product. What we did, we launched tiiny.Host, um, and one of, you know, the really good strategies I've learned over the past when launching products is launch it, but with really close feedback from users early on.

And what you'll find is that a lot of users will. Give you feedback, which correlate to each other. So they'll say same things, but in different ways, and you realize that a lot of people want, something. For us, it was custom domains. It was like maybe place to log in. so that's what you should build next, straight off to your launch, but to monetize that, put it behind a pay wall.

And that allows you to actually start building, revenue through. And you'll see that people will use your product for free, but then they'll also have similar, needs as, as your other users and they'll pay to upgrade. We had a few features and we had payment plan and when we launched product on, on product, on, and then it's literally about basically, I call it just, you know, sprinkling your marketing seeds across the internet and seeing.

Which ones will grow. cuz it's about figuring out what are your real gross channels. So with tiiny.host, we realized it was SEO, but that took us a long time to find out. And I think with a lot of tools. SEO is useful. There's a lot of things like the jobs to do framework. But it doesn't necessarily mean it could be SEO.

It could be, you know, it could be podcasting could be YouTube, it could be a lot of different things. So figuring that out is really important next for, growth. And there's no easy way to do that, honestly. Like you literally just have to target all the different channels. So we were on Reddit, we were on YouTube slack communities, Quora, we were creating landing pages for SEO, Twitter.

And then what you'll see is some of these seeds will start to grow and get more visitors to your project faster than others. And at that point, you double down on what is actually working and you ignore the rest because you can't spread your resources, that wide. Yeah, continuously doing that, is really important.

And then you will see some growth in, in that direction. once you put that effort in which is marketing. So essentially if you, if you split your time up into, you know, hundreds, you're probably spending 15, 20% already creating a product, but the other 80 initially has to be marketing because in this world, unfortunately, there's so many products should being released that. You have to shout to be heard, through marketing and yeah, you may have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows it exists, unfortunately gonna fail. So marketing is even more important, really early stages than the product itself, because you can easily shift and change the product based on, you know, what your users say.

But just building, adding features to a product without having any users is a recipe for disaster.

Jack: Phil. My next question is tiiny.Host is a simple hosting provider. Hosting has been done. Right? Why does the world need a new hosting provider?

Elston: That's a very good question. And an existential question for tiiny.Host, but I think we can, if we step, you know, one level up, I think a lot of founders and, aspiring entrepreneurs think that when you new product or you're trying to ideate for something, it needs to be groundbreaking, new something that no one's ever seen before.

It can be that, but it's very, very difficult. Because number one, the market is not validated because you don't really know if people want that and you need to, , educate and train people in that way, , to really, to really get great growth. But. if you take an existing product, that's, already out there.

And we all have products we use and we all have favorites and, things we don't like. And just think about how you can improve it or at least modernize it for the current state of the web. The web has changed a lot since the nineties. And when your first released and it's cons constantly evolving and it will evolve again in 15, 20 years, as we grow, and it will always need, a newer version of what the web already had previously.

So if we go back to host. Hosting I think is stuck in the nineties. And it's still exclusively reserved for technical people. So you have a lot of, you know, sea panel hostings out there. You have, you know, things like FTP, still setups and WordPress, which is, you know, not being used for what it should be used.

Originally. It was originally a blogging platform. Now it's like a website build for some reason. There's always room to disrupt and it's an easier platform to take something that already exists. Cuz the market is validated. People know what it really is and further improve it, than trying to create something brand new.

So with tiiny.Hosts, we, we did a similar thing, but we also stumbled upon the fact that we we're covering a niche in the marketing, in the web hosting space. And that's basically hosting for non-technical users. So again, as the creator economy is growing, more, people want to put content on the internet cause that's the way to distribute their content.

So, but they, they don't know what cPanel, FTP, and they, they get frustrated with WordPress. They just wanna put it on very quickly. And nobody is catering for anything like that. You have big platforms such as, AWS Netlify Versal, which developers are very familiar with. But they're very much tailored towards developers, startups, and technical founders, heavy configuration.

But if I just wanted to put a PDF online or have a small microsite, I wanna get alive in a few seconds. There actually isn't, you know, a really simple tool out there. And we've evolved across that, to different, file types in our PDFs. And it's, it's amazing. What we've discovered is how many different vertical.

Want, um, to put things online. So we cover quite a broad customer base. So it's everybody from designers to developers, to marketing and real estate hospitality for, PDFs menus, the e-learning industry, cryptos for, you know, NFT landing pages or white papers, digital artists, you know, creating 3d visualizations, also just students learning to code.

People who don't know about GitHub and again are very low technical, they really want to see, you know, their work online and wanna share it with people. They find tiiny.Host, super useful, and that's one of our first, demographics. So it's, it's, I think that's why tiiny.Host exists.

It's really about things like, saving people time and money as well. So yes, you can do what tiiny.Host does yourself. If you're a developer, you can, spend a few hours or even less, following tutorial. But I think if you're smart enough, it's why people smart developers, I think can buy a template and will buy a template rather than build it themselves because.

It's 15 bucks versus spending three hours, basically. How much do you value your time at? So again, if you're building something, if you can save people, time or money or, make people more money, people will pay for your product. And it's just about building a profit up business on, on the back of that.

Jack: That's really, really interesting. And, I can say that I've received this lesson from you at the pub previously, and it's one that, I agree wholeheartedly with that we should, we should first be thinking about improving what is already out there rather than trying to come up with these new ideas.

Even though I still fall within the trap of trying to come up with new ideas.

Elston: Yeah. And I, I think, it doesn't necessarily mean that you can't really shake up and, and, and innovate into a big standard, but. When you're starting out as bootstrap, like a, just one man developer company, you need resources, right? You don't have funding. And it's like, for example, Amazon really just put books on the internet.

That's really what they were doing. They were online books shop, but now there are huge, they, they literally offer cloud services and, they're completely shaking up the eCommerce kind of space. You can unlock those, opportunities, but only if you have the resources and you have to build your resource on the platform , to get there first.

And the easiest way to do that is literally to build something that already exists, but better, and maybe position it to a different market. , it's not actually that difficult. , but it is not as attractive as like, thinking about, I don't know, how do we, create something groundbreaking that never exists?

Like a VR, I don't know, NFT or something like that. It's, yes, this looks attractive, but you have to be realistic at the end of the day, but you could create eCommerce platform and then create a VR NFT off that, and you already have an audience and resources and tailor it the right way. So, . Yeah, I think that's really important to consider.

Jack: And you mentioned, maybe positioning it to a different audience and you touched on this previously, but it seems like when you first set out, it was like probably gonna be for developers, but more and more now non-technical users are using tiiny. Could you share a little bit about what that was like.

Elston: In the first few months again, I thought this was definitely a developer tool. I'm a developer. So you basically tried to, you know, market it to your own demographic. But we quickly realized that when we did market it in such a way, people compared us with existing tools, which develops already familiar with, and, know how to configure.

So they don't really see the value from tiiny.Host because it's a tool which doesn't need a lot of configuration. And so rather than go out and build on a product, what we saw and if, because of the, close analysis we did on the product and, and basically seeing, , who use this and why, and the content we uploaded.

So every single site that was uploaded in the early days and still. I clicked on and I viewed, and I tried to figure out what they were doing, why they were doing it. And we saw that there were also like a lot of non-technical users using us. And they never questioned the value of tiiny.Host. So it became more obvious that we should go in that direction because, clearly they appreciated more than another market.

And I, I think that's a really important lesson to, to learn is when you build something before you, you know, just throw it away and consider it redundant, try and see if you can repackage it up and reposition it for a different market because it's very easy to just think of a new idea, but often.

Developer, the developer market is all is actually very well catered for, and also somewhat saturated at times. Cuz you know, developers are building tools for other developers, but there are so many other industries out there that , just people don't build tools for mainly because they don't know anything about it.

Don't have the background for, but you build something that is not that great, but it serves somewhat of a purpose. They'll love you for it because it's. No one's building anything for them. Like, you know, if you build something for construction or the publishing world, or like, E learners or something like that.

So really think about if you can reposition, your product something else, and you get that data through just talking to your users, seeing, content that people uploading, , and being very, very observant from your product. And that is only possible. If you launch very. With zero plan, other than spreading the word off your product.

Because that means you'll get a lot of people from all different realms, they treat on your product to, to use it. And then you'll see, who's actually, you know, who actually values it, who thinks it's, you know, not that great. And, and then follow that direction. Your users really will dictate the product for you.

It's a mixture of. Your users dictating the product and you having, the strategy and your intuition to lead the map as well, because they're not gonna know everything they, want, but they will, point you in a direction. Um, and then just have the conviction to go in that direction and say, okay, I think this is also what they want.

Go and build it, see if people want that as well. And further, , develop it. And that's what, yeah, we've, done with tiiny.

Jack: And maybe it's something that many tool builders yeah. Can think about where it's like, if it's not succeeding, maybe that thing that you are achieving it, could you simplify it and allow someone who isn't the developer to achieve the same outcome? An angler to.

Elston: Yeah, a hundred percent.

Jack: Yeah. Although I hope that they will still be interested in listening to Scalin DevTools if they do that. So, , Phil, thank you so much for your time. Tiiny.Host is a very cool tool. And I know that you mentioned a lot of product growth teams are using. Tiiny.Host now, for instance, you said someone's built a SQL version of, Wordle SQL hurdle and launched it.

Elston: Yeah. That's one of the latest use cases we've found, which has been super interesting. So it just because of the ease of use and the speed of, you know, publishing stuff online, we had a database company recently that, someone from a product growth team used to be a software engineer then became a product manager.

So he has slight technical background. And yet just one, you know, built this app, which felt basically JavaScript framework, but couldn't figure out, you know, how to build it and host it really quickly. And he's found our video online. , I basically uploaded in a few seconds. And we had a, yeah, a call with him recently and he was like, no, this is actually perfect in product growth teams, because they want to, you know, spin up marketing sites, micro sites very quickly, and to share it, with people and we have built in analytics as well.

So we can basically, you know, analyze the traffic that you get from certain like projects. so it's, it's, been a really, you know, good tool for that, which you recently learned and we we're constantly learning up new use cases. I think that's something that we're very excited in trying to figure out how do we, how do we,

Jack: So if you're interested in Tiiny.Host, go to T i i n y dot host, check it out. Thanks for listening. And we'll see very soon.

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