Side project · Marketing

Any experience with

Tim Scott

February 23rd, 2015

I have a side project I launched 3 years ago which has a few thousand signups and handful of active users. Maybe with some love on the marketing side (which I never gave it) it has potential, but I don't have the bandwidth (nor the passion for marketing, to be honest). Now I ran across this:

They say they can save your side project, and it's an interesting model. Know anything about them? How does it sound to you?

BTW, the project is

Kerry Davis

February 23rd, 2015

Took a quick look at both Assembly and Slotted.

- Their taking minimum 10% for the introductions. Looks like they could take more depending on their actual participation/funding. But I don't see them guaranteeing anything beyond introductions to other developers who join their site.
- I agree with Michael that you could be spending more time managing the project than you do developing it now if you really want it to take off.

- I like the idea of a simple online sign up platform. Mostly because I manage a FB group for a resort in Mexico and I have need for a special type of rental calendar where Fractional Owners can place their available weeks (individually and securely and without me babysitting the sheet) on a single sheet that visitors to my group can look at and automagically reserve time or contact the owner of the slot. But I don't think, at least as it is, Slotted would do that.
- Given the above, I would suggest you focus on features more attuned to small business or social signup and also make it mobile so that people can show up to the event/venue they signed up for with a confirmed reservation (for services, a table, a room, a contribution etc) on their mobile device. And social so that multiple participants can contribute to the signup sheet. There are, of course, many third party services that make and market these sorts of reservations services for small businesses. So if you could somehow take them out of the picture (to some degree) and at the same time remove some of the friction/cost in their reservation process, then I think you will have something easier to market and add features too. 

It did not go over my head that you are potentially looking for feature contributors like the ones I mentioned above and dev is a part of bringing in Assembly. Just not sure you will get them from an open source contribution like Assembly. If marketing is the sole purpose for engaging Assembly, then I think you will have the same problem attracting marketing people as you have engaging customers without them.

Good luck and I hope this at least, gives you new things to think about.

Michael Brill Technology startup exec focused on AI-driven products

February 23rd, 2015

Your project needs to appeal to developers, designers, marketing people, etc. on Assembly and then you're going to need to coordinate their activities. It's probably not going to take less of your time. Also, most projects with momentum seem to be development-oriented products.

No knowing anything more about your project... I'd say that if I had a side project for three years and have a handful of active users divided by thousands of signups, then it's probably not a marketing  problem. If you can get your engagement numbers up then marketing becomes more of an issue I think. 

If you go down the Assembly route, you probably should look at it as a way to reinvigorate the idea - what could it do if you had several more people working on it? You'll need to sell the Assembly community on it. But if it's just a dirt nap for a side project you can't emotionally let go of, then I don't think it'll go well.

Liam Carolan Marketing Technologist

February 23rd, 2015

I like your product and your assessment of moving it forward. It's intriguing. It just needs marketing, laser focused through blocking and tackling with a discovered audience. Much of a successful campaign will come from leveraging the psychology of list building and trust. Regarding assembly, it might be a good vehicle to help move your product along with little or no involvement and no, I don't know much about them but I suspect that marketing guru Ed Dale may be involved at some level. The assembly business model does seem transparent and sincere. What's next in your view? -Liam

Benjamin Shyong Product Manager, Full Stack Software Engineer

February 23rd, 2015

Disclosure: I work at Assembly.

@Tim, we've had a couple of solid projects that have grown or relaunched. In addition to some of the examples on that sideprojects page, there are also a couple of new ones like Gamamia, and Minimal, which have had success making bounties for marketing tasks and redesign/branding. 

The other people in the thread are right in saying that you would still need to spend some effort reinvigorating the project or otherwise making it more attractive for users to contribute. The powerful effect of Assembly is that there is a large, supportive community that could help bootstrap a critical mass of current users. Also, for B2B apps, some of the other Assembly apps could be early customers.

Tim Scott

February 23rd, 2015

Thanks for the comments so far. A little more on where I am, and what I see as next.


 Perhaps this is a little too transparent, but what the heck.
  • Adsense says we got 12.3k impressions in the last 30 days.
  • About 110 people sign up for something each day.
  • While users and uses cases are quite diverse, we seem to be getting popular in higher ed. I have had users from almost 40 universities, many of them from the top tier, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Brown and so on.
  • We introduced advertising and a paid a tier 3 months ago. Very few paid signups yet.
A little background:

I committed two very common sins from day one. First, I was not passionate enough about the customer to persevere through the painful stuff (for me, marketing). Second, I thought it was a good thing to be all things to all people.

When I released Slotted I did just enough marketing to drive just enough traffic to refine the UX to a point where free users would stop bouncing and actually use the site. Then I kinda lost steam. I have continued to add features per user feedback or things I dream up as being cool. I've also periodically reviewed usage patterns to maybe identify an addressable niche.

On a side note, I think the product itself is pretty awesome in some ways. A few users have said so, calling it "beautiful" and "amazing." I know I'm biased, and this is mostly just ego fodder.

Where from here?

What I envision is someone taking the marketing bull by the horns and driving a growth hacking process. As long as the product changes are not monumental at first (bad idea anyway) then I can make enough time to do the development. Probably this means picking a niche. Maybe higher ed.

Liam Carolan Marketing Technologist

February 23rd, 2015

Any experience with nice. You are in an optimal position to begin engineering ways to get to know your audience. Your task from here is to "ask people what they want" and then "give it to them." This will make your Users "happy" Once you give people stuff that makes them happy, you have essentially earned the right to sell them stuff that makes them even happier. If they don't want what you offer - then you didn't do step 1 correctly. Yes, it is that simple. There is a process at work here but in simple terms when you know what people want you've already eliminated their objections. Again, you're in a great position to serve your audience by letting them tell you what they want to buy. Don't let this slip away. If what you have stated so far is accurate - you have achieved more on your own than most people who have worked much longer. -LFC

Alan Peters VP Product and Technology at BusinessBlocks

February 23rd, 2015

Haven't tried it. Knew an analyst that was looking at it. I did sign up for shobot though :)