How did we make $100k using GoogleSheets after 2 failed products?

Many asked me this. So, in 14 tweets, I cover Flexiple’s 1st year comprising:
- Product 1 & its failure
- Product 2 & its failure
- What went wrong
- Why/how GoogleSheets worked


1 of 14/ Premise for Product 1

Our idea was simple: Connecting pre-vetted tech talent with companies.

Like most new entrepreneurs, we wanted to build for scale.

Manual processes just seemed foolish to us, so we decided that building a product was the answer.
2 of 14/ What was Product 1

The product would:

- Manage the entire onboarding flow of freelancers including tests, evaluations, interview scheduling, etc.

- Allow clients to share their requirements in a predictive fashion (just if-else conditions :P)

3 of 14/ What was Product 1 (contd.)

- Recommendations would be made automatically through an algorithm

- Even contracts & invoicing would be handled by the product

Essentially, we were ready for a million projects before we had handled one.
4 of 14/ Product 1's failure

- The entire user flow had become super complex - even I used to get confused!

- Meanwhile, we’d made changes in our evaluation process & many parts of the product had become redundant.

- Of course, this was beyond the bugs of a nascent product
5 of 14/ Product 1 into the bin

We tried correcting this but realised it was too tough to implement changes on the existing product.

Also, we felt the problem was that we hadn’t got a professional UX designer for Product 1.

Product 1 into the bin.
6 of 14/ Product 2 begins

Apart from hiring a designer, we agreed we’d tried to overachieve.

So, some features like the reco. algorithm, interview scheduling, etc. were removed. Many others were included though.

You see, preparing for scale was important 😑. Our revenue => $0.
7 of 14/ Product 2 fails

We made a beautiful product that easy to understand & use.

Aaaand... now, we started reaching out to customers & freelancers.

But, people weren’t using the product at all! Most of our conversations were happening over mail, phone and LinkedIn.
8 of 14/ What went wrong?

We’d done our user research while making it, so what happened?

Turns out, they couldn’t care less about our product. Freelancers wanted projects & companies wanted quality talent.

They wanted us to first deliver on that before using our product.
9 of 14/ Mistake in our thinking

Most “tech-enabled” startups confuse themselves to be “core-tech” startups.

In the former, tech only enables you to scale but isn’t key to start a business - so, it only makes sense to start it first and to infuse tech later to scale.

10 of 14/ Mistake (cond.)

Take the examples of Uber, Airbnb, Swiggy/Deliveroo - all are “tech-enabled”.

Yet, if you ask anyone to build an “Uber for X”, the first step they would suggest is building an app.

It is the mistake of thinking tech-first instead of business-first.
11 of 14/ The Flaw

- You don’t know the bottlenecks a product should solve; you try to predict it

- Building a startup is tough & we divert energy into building a product instead of making money first

- We build for scale when we don’t know what it takes to earn the 1st $
12 of 14/ Google Sheet

- Finally, we just asked freelancers to fill a simple Google Form

- Evaluation process was coordinated over mail

- Selected candidates & their contact details noted in a Google Sheet

13 of 14/ Google Sheet (contd.)

- Leveraged our personal network through LinkedIn & otherwise to get client leads

- Connected freelancers and clients over mail

- Freelancers documented the project hours in a Google Sheet

- We manually prepared the contract & invoices
14 of 14/ Continue till we made $100k

We followed this - just 3 co-founders - & made the first $100k in revenue.

We infused tech only when our bandwidth was stretched in some place & have now made $1mn in revenue.

About that, in a different thread - hope you enjoyed this!
I plan to share more of my startup experiences. If you liked this tweet thread, do like & retweet the first tweet :)

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More from @KarthikS2206

25 Jan
SEO traffic increased 5x for Flexiple from July to December.

Here’s the 8 step framework I defined to achieve that, explained in step-by-step detail.

The only tools that we use are:
- @ahrefs
- Google sheets

So, let's get started 👇🏽
Step 1/

- Type a relevant industry keyword in @ahrefs' keyword explorer tab

- Keep the keyword short - NOT long-tail

- At this stage, you are just defining the kind of articles you want to write

- For e.g. If I want to write tech articles, I'd just search "Javascript" Image
Step 2/

- This is simple - go to the "Having same terms" tab

- You will get all results which have your keyword phrase in it

- For our e.g., "Javascript" will be included each time

- You can go back to Step 1 if you think the keywords are out of whack Image
Read 13 tweets
13 Jan
Getting started with #NoCode 101:

If you have been hearing a lot about NoCode but don't know where to start, here's some guidance.

I cover:
- Why NoCode?
- Popular tool stacks (& other tools)
- Where to start?
- Some use cases as a showcase

Let's go 👇🏽

1/ Why NoCode?

- Obvious: you don't need to know or learn how to code

- Anyone in your team can take up product building initiatives. No more "developer bottlenecks".

2/ Why NoCode? (contd.)

- Focus shifts to the goal the tech is meant to achieve rather than the tech itself: latter is a very common misstep!

- The underlying products you use also keep improving. So what you can achieve through them also increases proportionally.
Read 16 tweets
23 Nov 20
Scale went viral - 150,000 visitors in 24 hours 🚀


❌ Well, it wasn't @ProductHunt.

✅ It was Reddit! They totally loved it :)

Let me share the details! Thread👇🏽

1/ Don't rely only on Product Hunt 🙏🏽

Got to say this:

🙌🏽 Sure, Product Hunt is great

🙄 But it is also quite unreliable

😑 Random "spam triggers", articles launched as products, etc.

👉🏽 You've got to diversify

🤦🏽‍♂️ I say this as a person who was himself too reliant on PH
2/ So, let's talk about Reddit 😍

Firstly, find the right subreddit:

😡 Most subreddits aren't supportive of link drops

🥳 But "r/InternetIsBeautiful" encourages it

💪🏽 It's massive with 15mn+ members

🤗 People are quite supportive

🎉 Many past posts had become super viral
Read 6 tweets
11 Nov 20
6 months of personal brand building on LinkedIn. Here's what I learnt👇🏽

🪙Treasure trove of inbound leads

👌🏽Needs consistent quality posts

😲Quality required, but not enough

🤕Many best practices to be followed

Let me share what those are. Thread👇🏽

#Entrepreneurship Image
1/ Quality & type of content 📰

✊🏽 Obvious, but quality is important - it defines your brand

😑 Even poor content gets loads of likes

❌ But, they are not the leads you want

So, how do you define your content? 🤔
2/ Quality & type of content 📰 (contd.)

A) Choose your niche

👉🏽Content variety is fine, if your theme is consistent

B) Your content is an intersection of:

😍What your target audience finds interesting

🤓What you're passionate about & have knowledge in
Read 9 tweets
28 Oct 20
Launched "No-VC Reports" on @ProductHunt 🥳🥳🥳

It started with a simple promise:

👉🏽 Build your startup in 6 months by reading 5-min reports.

In the past 3 months, I've written 10 reports. Let me take you through them. Thread 👇🏽

🔗 PH Link:…

1/ Idea validation by showcasing your product and driving users to it.

So, I cover:

💻 Creating landing pages with @unicornplatform

📰 Building a newsletter audience

📊 Sharing examples of how @Hubstaff & @GrowthMentorHQ validated their idea smartly.

2/ Finding a co-founder 💁🏽‍♀️

🤔 @paulg says: co-founders = critical
📊 Stats show single founders do well too


A. Define expectations
❌ Superstars
✅ Skill diversity

B. Find them
👥 Personal network
💻 LinkedIn & other platforms (in report)

Read 10 tweets
19 Oct 20
Built another workflow for Flexiple in 6 hours using #NoCode!

1. @webflow
2. @MemberstackApp
3. @airtable
4. @integromat

1. Project approved by our team
2. Details shown in a dashboard
3. Freelancers apply
4. Our team gets the list

How? Thread👇🏼

1/ Showing projects

a. Airtable is the primary database. Project details are added/edited by our team here.

b. A button in Airtable triggers Integromat which transfers all these details to Webflow.

c. A simple collection list is implemented in Webflow to showcase the projects.
2/ Freelancer flow

a. Signup is powered by Memberstack.

b. First screen: Above list of projects.

c. On clicking apply, more project details are shown along with a form.

d. Filling the form triggers Integromat which stores it back into Airtable.
Read 4 tweets

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