MegaMaker 2022

We sent out invitations for early access – did anyone pay?

Show Notes

In this episode, Josh and Justin discuss when to open up a SaaS for early-access; and how they're going to use Meeps to make it better.

Show notes

Find Josh and Justin online:

Support the show:

Creators & Guests

Joshua Anderton
Justin Jackson
Interested in bootstrapping, podcasting, calm companies, business ethics

What is MegaMaker 2022?

A podcast for indie entrepreneurs: software developers, app builders, product people, creators, bootstrappers, and makers.

Justin Jackson: What's a good number of customers to get in early access.

This is a mega make our 2021 episode seven.

Justin: Hey, Josh, how's it going?

Joshua: good.

How are you doing?

Justin: Good.

So I hear we've got some customers, some paying customers.

Joshua: We do.

It's a very exciting new milestone.

Justin: We opened up early access, sent an email through Meeps to
all the waiting lists and I think there's about 750 people on there.

And yeah, we, it sounds like we got a few folks.

How many people ended up signing up for early access?

So far we set it at $99 per year.


We're not even completely clear with what people would get
when they signed up except that they would get early access to

Joshua: Whatever we're making.


Justin: Yeah.

And so how many people took us up?

Joshua: So we have 10 so far that have had,

Justin: Oh nice.

Joshua: up.


And it's been interesting, like almost all of them have gotten right in and started setting
up their accounts and had got some feedback today from one of, one of our customers.

She was saying that it's, it was really easy to get set up.

So far.

That's good feedback, but it's a little early to tell just how well it's going.

But but yeah, it's exciting.

Justin: Oh my gosh.

This is super cool because to see somebody else using it, she's got her members list already going.


If I clicked join, she's got a free plan and she's got all of her benefits listed there.

Joshua: Totally and she's actually signed up to use it.

She has two different communities.

She actually started this community so that she could get set up
with Meeps, but she's bringing over an existing community as well.

As soon as we have there's this feature that she's requested that maybe we'll talk about today.

I don't know.

Justin: let me describe how we, ended up running this, and then I want to you to let
me know if, cause my, my, my concern was that this was going to be create more stress.

And it's.

I want to know if that turned out to be true.

But the way we did it was we sent out a newsletter and w we, I actually wrote an article on this
that I will put in the show notes the best way to do early access and get pre-sales for your SaaS

so using Meeps, we built the waiting list.

We sent out early access invites.

We got people to register, fill out a member profile.

And pay $99 per year.

So this is connected to our Stripe account.

And when they sign up, they it's they sign up as a annual subscription.


Joshua: Yeah.

Justin: So they, they sign up to pay right away.

It's it's, a lot of when you're building software,
often you don't build the billings piece right away.

And this is one way for people who are building a SAS to
get payments right away to get subscriptions right away.

Then we Once people join, they are automatically invited to our
members only discord, which that part has been really interesting.

And then we've, we have an automated email sequence and MIPS that
goes out to members with instructions on how to use the product asking

them what their, why they're signing up, what they hope to accomplish.

And then we're also using Meeps to send email updates to early access member.

Joshua: Yeah, it's really, it's been really fun seeing how much we're able to do.

And it like it wasn't initially we didn't initially have this use case in mind or at least I didn't.

But we were just able to do so much it works so well
for this early access kind of waiting list process.

We ended up doing well and we're able to do so much so much of what we'd have to be doing
with a bunch of different tools where we're able to just do for ourselves through me.

So it's pretty, it feels very meta.

Justin: Yeah and that came out of a conversation with somebody who wanted to pay us.

That was like, Hey, take my money.

And the use case he described to us was why I want to
do this as a way to running early access for myself.

Joshua: Yeah.

Justin: The more I thought about it, the more I was like, there's so many startups who
want to build a community around their product, and Meeps really allows you to do this

from the get-go you, your early access members are arguably your biggest believers and
you could have these kind of crucial people form the backbone of your products community.

When it's.

That nascent stage, right from the beginning, this is going to set the tone
for the community that surrounds the Meeps product, as we move forward.

And so to have this little discord chat already there's already, how many people are in here.


Joshua: all 10 of them are in there.

Justin: Yeah.

And so just to already have these folks that are excited to be there,
excited to build either a community or do pre-orders for their SAS

or build a membership product or, whatever they're trying to do.

Having folks in there already that part.

I, in retrospect, I wish I'd done this for transistor.

I wish we'd had a members only a discord chat from the.

I think we're going to see a lot more startups doing this.

Joshua: totally.


And I think it was really exciting and I mentioned that we have that one customer who.

She's got, she's going to be doing two communities.

It was fun seeing that, like seeing that she felt that it was so it was easy enough
to build, to start a community that she just turned around and started a new one

using Meeps, like the idea that and that was, that is what we were going for.

What we're hoping for is that.

It seems like starting communities is becoming more popular.

We were hoping that we could make Meeps easy enough that it would
make that feel a little bit less daunting, I think for people.

So it was fun to see that she was like, I don't think
I'm going to bring this community over just yet.

Cause it needs this feature, but I started a new one,

Justin: yeah.

Joshua: great.

That's the point?


Justin: Oh, yeah.

That's so amazing to have somebody's imagination being ignited by the product.

Joshua: Totally.



so I'm excited to see, and we have a few people that are going to use it for for
their software products that they're launching soon or have already launched.

And, so I'm excited to see how that goes for them as well.

Justin: And even to see if this could be a proxy for there's a world in
which some products that you might be thinking of building might actually

just, you could get 80% of the way there with Meeps, plus a few other things.

Joshua: Totally.

Justin: So there's this, if you were, let's say you were starting a
product management app or you wanted to build a product management app.

Well, a great first step is to say, okay let's build a community around this specific
use case I'm thinking of, and now you've got, members, you've got a directory, you got

a searchable way of members connecting with each other, and then you have discord chat.

You can start discussing these issues and it's incredible to see what falls away
and what becomes more important as you are in conversation with real customers,

Joshua: Right.

Justin: for for example, think about, I think I'm still excited about
building this, but one, and I'm not sure maybe you've gotten feedback.

But one thing you and I were really excited about was this idea of
members being able to post to their own profile bits of content.

And then you could then roll that content up into a member
newsletter taking kind of the best bits from the community.

But it definitely feels and tell me if I'm wrong, but there's
other things that emerged almost right way as oh, wait a second.

There's some other things that people need, right now that are definitely more important than that.

Joshua: Yeah, no, totally.

It's definitely.

That's that's I think that.

The most was that's what I noticed was as soon as we, as soon as we started
transitioned into this early access, that's when the priorities, all of a

sudden kind of present themselves as to what needs to work for customers.

And also, yeah, like what now we're actually getting people
telling us what they're looking for and what's not working.

And so yeah, I think, I do think though, that feature.

It's a new concept.

So there will be a little bit of like teaching people and brand new way of,

Building out a newsletter like this.

And Yeah, so I'm still excited to give that a try, but I think I don't, it's one of those features
that I don't think people will request because they don't know you can do that, like that's

Justin: Yeah.

Joshua: but yes, probably these are definitely being presented now that we've got.


And we've

Justin: Yeah.

Joshua: that are,

Justin: And so on that topic, my, my worry in our last episode is that early
access can be stressful on developers because all of a sudden the things

that I might be willing to overlook, or you might be willing to overcome.

While we're just in our nice little sandbox.

Eh, once you get real people in there, they're like wait a second.

This doesn't load properly on windows 10.

So how has it been for you as a developer in terms of, your mental health and everything else?

Joshua: I think it was I was fine until you said it in the last call.

And then I'm like, oh my gosh, should I be worried?

What am I missing?

And so then I think.

inviting everyone into the product.

I pushed it back a day so that I could get a bunch of other things cleaned up.

But but that was also like I think that like you said as we were building
it, there are certain things that, there's certain parts of the product

that I'm, I will forgive because I know how it's supposed to work.

And so I know how to die.

Breaking anything.

But then as soon as it's oh, people are going to get in
here and I want them to feel like this is easiest set.

Like we need them to get set up and going with it as soon as possible.

So then everything started oh, I need to work on this.

The page builder is still the, I think there's this I don't know, there's a lot to talk about there,
but the page builder was the big one for me was like how are people going to expect this to work?

How and how much do they need it to do?

It turns out so far, people are more than happy with just a call
to action and some texts and place that they can send people.

But and we've had a couple of requests for features around the page builder but that part has been.

That feature has been on my mind the most and how versatile it should be and all those things.

But Yeah,

that definitely that, that's what I was stressed out the most about.

I think it was once we as we were getting people in there, but
everyone's been great So far, really forgivable, forgiving, sorry.

Justin: So you would have been okay if I hadn't stressed you out.

Joshua: No, I think it just would've hit me a little bit
later just when I sat down to actually start inviting people.


Justin: yeah.

And this is the, especially when you're bootstrapping something and
it's a small team and in your case, you're the only engineer the.

Th we, there's only three ways we're going to make the product better.

One, you pushing yourself, which I think you do.

And there's obviously limits to that.

You don't wanna push yourself so much that it's unhealthy.

Number two, me pushing as well saying.

Okay we've got to think about this because we got to make this better.

This has to compete with others.

Types of page builders.

And it doesn't mean that we have to have it as sophisticated as they do.

We know that it's a hard problem.

WordPress has been trying to do this for a long time now
and they seem to, they're having all sorts of problems.

And the third group that's going to push us is our early access users.

And the, yeah, that's the.

In, in, in one sense, we really want to invite that.

We want to invite that, that pushing of yes.

Like we got to make this better.

We can continue to sharpen this, but on the other hand, we also want to be careful.

We don't want to, for example make you feel overwhelmed.

Joshua: I or focus too much on.

On making it this really, robust feature when people really don't need as much or,
I it's or the other part that I'm trying to keep in mind is that we may find that

most people just want to use a different web page or like a different landing page.

And then they, in this, in the MIPS homepage is really just,
they've already seen the sales page and now they're just coming to.

The membership, like the member area or whatever, to, to register and sign up.

So I th I don't know.

So that part's tricky too.

And there's an, and like you said there's so many different existing tools
for that have page builders and I'm like, does it need to be more like a

web flow where there's so much versatility or does it, or more like card.

Where it's a lot less you can do with it, but it's very easy to use.

It's so that's Yeah.

so that parts that part's been been interesting, but yes, definitely.

Definitely now that we've got customers in there have that new
pressure to make it great or make it what they needed to be Yeah.

Justin: Yeah.

And I'm actually, there's a big part of me.

That's relieved right now.

I don't know how you feel, but too.

Before you put something out in public clicking send
on that newsletter and sending it out into the world.

And then you're just like, wow, I hope there's somebody on that list.

That's, one wants to sign up, right?

There's a bit of nervousness there.

Did you feel a little bit of that?

Joshua: Yeah, for sure.

And I think too, because, and we talked about this on the podcast this has been
a really important moment or phase that we've been building towards is actually

like we've got, we're building some hype, we're collecting, a waiting list.

We're building a waiting list, but how many of these people are actually excited enough?

Or see the value enough that they're actually gonna pay.

And and it was and it was pretty exciting just to see how,
like, how how easy it was for the people that did sign up.

They were just, they were totally sold.

Totally convinced.

And so that was exciting.

I do, I did want to ask you what it was like.

With transistor though, at this point with when you went and sent out some invites I know you were
doing a few at a time, but because I, cause I also just don't know what to expect at this point

Justin: Yeah, no, it felt similar.

It felt like, oh, wow.

Like, Okay, 10 people signed up and then John would say, okay, let's just not push this for awhile.

And we would work on stuff and then I would say, okay, I think I'm gonna just
send another email, reminding people they can sign up and then we would get

another five or 10 and it just kept rolling like that up until we launched.

And then when we launched, we had about 700 and some in MRR, monthly revenue.

And then at the time we were like, okay, if we double that at launch, that would be a big success.

Uh, Which we did, I think after launch we're at about 1500 or 1600 in MRR or so.


It feels similar for sure.

The and it was a similar, early access.

We did $10 a month or a hundred dollars for the year.


Joshua: Okay.



So I, but I definitely actually the real relief came when I
invited everyone to actually come in and access their communities.

That was like the breath of.

It lasted for half an hour but there was Yeah.

definitely feeling of relief and and for the most part, I'm
pretty sure everyone signed in right away and access there.

Like I like started to customize their communities right away.

So that was exciting too.

Justin: Oh, wow.

Joshua: Yeah, I think most of them do have like they've
signed in and they've started setting things up.

And I got, we got some feedback and I went and made a few fixes and
so yeah, it's definitely like, I do wish there was more feedback.

So I've been like this morning, I sent a message over discord.

Just how's everything going so far this week because,

Yeah, I'm fine with bugs.

I'm fine with features.

It's just nice to get.

But it's, it seems like they're it's working for people so far Yeah.

but Yeah, definitely relieved getting people invited in there.

Justin: And actually using the product.

You're right.

That's the second thing that there's th there's the marketing sales problem
and then the product usage and enjoyment problem yeah, I th yeah, that.

Seeing uh, Lydia's community that she built is so fun that's just, that's a, such
an encouragement to to have that just as a side, I pulled up transistors number.

So, In February we had one paying customer in, in March.

We got.

This is when we started.

So our first month we had one second month, we had six new people.

A third month, we had 15, fourth month, we had 13
and then fifth month we had four as we leading up to

Joshua: Oh, okay.

Justin: launch.

So yeah, w we seem to be right in that ballpark.

The other thing that was interesting is we are launching this.

During the great SAS slowdown of 2021.

There's I'll pay some links to this, but I got some DMS
as well, but there's some public tweets discussing this.

But I got some dams from some pretty big bootstrapped SaaS that you all would know.

And transistors experiencing the state a lot, lots of SaaS have noticed
they slow down June, July, and then August has been our worst month yet.

But it sounds like churn is up a little bit for people, but the
real issue is new leads like leads and new trials are way down.

Joshua: Really?


I saw a bit of the conversation

on Twitter, I know that summer around this time is
usually not great, but I don't know with that, the new,

uh, Delta variant.

I don't know how much that that's affecting things or whatever, but but Yeah.

That's interesting.

And I was concerned about that as well with with launching this right at that time, but

Justin: Yeah.

My, my theory is a lot of people who are on vacation like lots of people have taken trips.

I think uh, Ruben Gamma's was saying he was surprised
by how many out of office replies he was getting.

Joshua: Ah, yeah, I'm seeing that too.


Justin: A week ago, he says a new product features, email went out and it was interesting
to see how many out of office replies were saying, there'll be back after August 30th.

And we've been sending our emails like late at night, on a Friday.

And so like in terms of optimal time this is not an incredibly
optimal time and yet we're still getting folks signing up.

So I'm quite encouraged by that.

The fact that there were folks and there was, definitely some folks who.

Who you and I know, but also some people I have, I don't know as well or don't know at all.

Joshua: Yeah.

Justin: that was really encouraging.

Joshua: And see that everyone had specific, like they had a use case.


That was the other thing that I was worried about is it's
one thing to have this, have a bunch of people sign up.

But if they're just doing this to support it what is that gonna look like?

But everyone was signing, even if there was a little bit of
that everyone was signing up with a clear use case in mind.

So that was, yeah.

that was encouraging.

Justin: Yeah, there's momentum there in motion, not in a let's just kick the
tires since, but they're in motion in that they'd already decided they're going

to buy a car and now they're just investigating which car they want to buy.

Big change, big difference, there's a big difference between the folks that
are just visiting an open house because they want to see cool houses and

folks who want to actually buy their, they've got a down payment ready.

They've been thinking about this, they're ready to sell their house, they're in motion and yeah.

Nice to see.

Of course there's still the existential question.

How many of those folks.

Are there that are in motion, but so far we have one data point and we will
see what the series of data points shows, as we continue to move forward.

Joshua: Yeah.

Now how are so then how are you feeling then with all of this?

Justin: Yeah.

I think I'm.

Joshua: gut saying?

Justin: Yeah, nail I'm, like I said I'm reasonably encouraged.

I feel like the response so far has been good.

And now moving forward and a big sigh of relief in the sense that we've crossed the first hurdle
we've sent out, some invites, some people on the internet found that registration link visited it.

Entered their email took out their credit card, put in their
credit card number, filled out the form and became customers.

That's massive.

And then took the step to join a discord chat.

That's big as well.

And now they've taken the step to actually use the product.

So where that is, that does feel like we've just crossed a major hurdle and now.

We're going to continue to test these waters, how much energy and momentum is in this water.

And the cool part now is that we're going to discover as people use it, we're
going to discover, use cases and customers, and that we had never considered.

And like this whole pre-launch or SAS thing was such.

An interesting use case.

We hadn't thought of I've, my wife texted me and said, oh, she's what do you
think you could, people, my yoga class could use Mapes for yoga membership.

And I'm like, yeah it wouldn't be the same as using yoga software.

There would be some trade-offs, but they absolutely could use it.

And especially if we add events then all of a sudden
you could have a class schedule and you'd be rolling.

And so the fact that people are reaching out going, Hey, I wonder if beeps could be
good for this, I wrote that article on doing pre-sales for your SAS and the local.

Startup accelerator here in the Okanagan reached out and, oh, it'd be great if
you could do a presentation on this to our group, because a lot of people are

doing, trying to do pre-sales and it sounds like you figured out a cool way of.

so yeah, I think those things are great.

Th the real inflection point for transistors, when we found some channels
that really started cooking for us SEO affiliates, and the content engine

Joshua: far as bringing in leads.

Justin: Yeah.

And trials, I'm finishing up an article for this, for my personal newsletter.

So last week I wrote this newsletter that a lot of people loved
about how that the whole kind of convoluted marketing stack.

I don't think tracking every user through the whole funnel, trying to get last click attribution.

I think it's bullshit.

It doesn't in whatever a decade of working for software
companies and doing product marketing for them.

I'm very skeptical of of these kinds of robust, complicated,
sophisticated funnel tracking and all this stuff automation.

And people really like it and the follow-up is I'm
S I'm describing the kind of simple marketing stack.

We use that transistor and how it works.

And of course every product's going to be different.

But the, yeah, I think finding you still need a couple good channels to really reach people.

And oh yeah.

My point in that article is that.

Trials is the main thing that we look at.

It's just like I was just describing to you, like all these people in my
DMS that are concerned right now, they're not concerned about traffic.

Traffic is still, at the same level, they're not as
concerned about churn, although we're all looking at churn.

They're not even, what's concerning is trials.

Are are down not.

And the other thing, we always, we look at his trial
conversion rate and generally credit card upfront.

You want to have a trial to conversion rate that's 40 to 60%.

So if you have a hundred people sign up for a trial with
a credit card, you want to see at least 40 to 60 of them.

Actually go through and at least give you one payment and transistors is much higher than that.

Ours is about averages, 75%.

And and that's regardless of, when we have more trials or less trials, we're basically around that.

So trials, it's people at the top of the funnel that
that is the concern right now in the, in SAS land.

And especially in our category, same categories, convert kit and podia and everything else.

The w what you want is more creators, more makers, more Indie
software companies signing up as customers and or as trials.

So that's the volume we're looking for.

I'm pretty sure it's going to be different in other categories
probably, but in our category, numbers of trials is like the key KPI.

If we want to

Joshua: Right, right.



I Hopefully things change over the next

while here.

I'm sure.

Justin: think, I think people are taking a pause or,
you know, when they can, they're out on vacation.

A lot of people trying to get out of, out in front of this fourth, wave
this Delta variant expecting more there'll be more shutdowns and stuff.

So I think we're going to see September people coming back and going okay.

We want to build a community far.

Our big company MIPS is the answer.

Oh, I want to launch a side hustle.

MIPS is the answer I'm going to do.

Pre-sales for the SAS I've been building MIPS is the answer I want to switch off of sub stack.

They're taking too much of my revenue.

Meeps is the answer.

Or I want to build us a paid slack community.

MIPS is the answer.

Joshua: Yeah.

Justin: So, um, uh, That was just our first commercial.

I think I just

Joshua: Yeah.


There we go.


Yeah, that actually reminds me I realized another problem or another potential Value that
we're adding is like you can't, or maybe this is a bad thing, but she can't bring over her.

Paying customers because

she doesn't have access to that Stripe, that Stripe account.

So however they're doing that.

Whereas and yeah.

like I said, maybe this isn't a great, a good thing, but with with Meeps and I it
certainly is in the case of SAS with Meeps where you're using your Stripe account.

So if you need to go build something custom.

Or or like in the, like I said, in the case of SAS, you're going
to then go integrate a SAS product with the same Stripe account.

You can do that.

And you don't have to worry about losing all of these or having to invite
everyone in to then submit their payment information to gain and subscribe.


Justin: Yeah.

And the way you've built it, you've built it as act.

These are actual subscriptions being created in Stripe, right?

Joshua: Yeah.

So that's how I've

Justin: Because member Phil does it differently.

They manage the, unless they've changed this, but for a long time, people using memorable couldn't
use like bare metrics or any of those SAS tracking tools, because a member full just processes

them as one-time payments so that the subscription it's not an actual subscription in Stripe.

It's just a manual payment that's being triggered from the billing side.

Joshua: Okay.



No, we're, same with coupons, like when I'm using Stripe coupons as well on the backend.

So when you create a discount code in Meeps it's using that.

That strike coupon as well.


so everything, you can see everything in there.

So yeah, so that th that's that's fun.

I actually was wondering what you think about should we have?

or should we still put like a cap on the amount of people that we're letting in?

At this phase I don't know if that's What you did and where, I guess that's what
you did with transistor, where we're going to let in a few more people this month.

Justin: What do we, by the time we launched, let's just see.

So we launched on,

when we, by the time we launched transistor, we had,

89 customers.

We had yeah, 506.

Dollars in MRR in July by the end of July, I think that's right.

And so yeah, I think my guess is we'd be under a hundred at least, but a hundred people in
early access is probably where we'll cut it off, but we may decide to limit it to 50 50 and.

Create some urgency around it saying, we've got folks that are in there right now.

We're actually giving a ton of value.

I'm the more I think about that, this, especially if we decide to really focus on that homepage
builder and the subsequent page builders, like the member page and everything, there is a, there.

The w we may have to increase pricing more than we think.

Like maybe the base plan will be $49.

And then the next plan will be 99.

And then the next plan will be 1 49 or 1 99.

I, my, my guess is that I think we want to, we're still a month in, but
yeah, maybe we limit it to 50 and say, this is going to be your chance.

And and then after this, we're going to be starting at a higher price point.

Just memorable alone is.

Starts at $25 per month, but that's including a 4.9% transaction fee.

And PR premium is a hundred dollars per month.

So I, there just seems to be.

Some, there seems to be some benefits here.

And they don't even allow you to white label your member full domain on the $25 plan.

Joshua: Oh

Justin: so

Joshua: That's somebody emailed us the other day asking what features we have
currently and as well as that was actually why I brought up that roadmap.

We were talking about having a roadmap for Meeps as public or private or something.

But but I was listing out all of the features that we have already, and it's every S each of
these features are paid products out there that are charging as much as, starting at $20 a

month with newsletter and a website builder, and like all these different things that it's Yeah.

You're right.

It'll be interesting to see how what, like, where people value it as well.

Like when they look at what we're building here and we list
the features in front of them, but with events too Yeah.

like you have there's event management tools out there
that you people just sign up and pay just for that.

Justin: Yeah, like even a meetup, how much has meetup these days to use meetup as
a as an organizer costs money, let's see here and they're pushing hard right now.

They've got a big sale on right now 30% off their offering.

But I can't find their pricing, which is,

Joshua: I think it's 15.

Organize our subscription pricing.


$15 a month.

Justin: So just to get the events portion, you're

Joshua: Oh, sorry.


Justin: Okay.

Joshua: but outside of Australia, UK, Canada in the United States, it's $15 a month.

for some

Justin: Okay.



Yeah, there's some opportunity there too, but that's something we'll have to feel out as

Joshua: Yeah.

Justin: continue to.

Yeah, man.

Anything else we should chat about?

I think there's a good place to leave it.

Do you want to share maybe before we go, just share one thing.

You're thinking about building next door.

That you're you're yeah.

What's the next step on the building front?

Do you think.

Joshua: man.

I don't I'm not sure there's a few, like I'd seems seems like events has come up a lot.

And even within some of the people that have signed up and are using it
right now, they are, they communicated that they want to see events added.

So I feel like that'll be a good one.

I'm also excited to, to build in sponsors though.

Cause I, I

That seems like one that.

The communities that we have signed up may not even be taking advantage of yet because
they can't do that with their existing tools are not sure how and so to just make

that really easy, just have this other, this link in the top of their website, they
just turn on and now they can start collecting sponsors and making extra revenue.

Justin: yeah.

Making money through me.

Joshua: about too.

Justin: Yeah.

Yeah, those are two good contenders tune in next time to see what we ended up building.

Thanks everybody.

We will see you next week.