Starting Up in 2013: The Good Stuff


Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a lessons learned series from entrepreneur Matt Goldman. You can read part 1 here.

Although we’ve had our share of screw-ups, we’ve also managed to do a few things right. Maybe you can learn from them:

We Took Two Products to Market

Building two products took its toll on our runway by slowing us down, but it also has granted us access to a wider audience and opened many promotional opportunities.

We had no intention of launching HookFeed before Minimalytics, but figured adding a cross-promotion in the “Thanks for signing up for the beta list” email would start building the list. It did.

We also have been able to reference both products whenever writing a post, and an amazing number of people click through to check them out.

Minimalytics has always been more popular, but we were able to grow an audience for HookFeed on the coattails of Minimalytics, and that would not have been possible had we not marketed them at the same time.

And the cost? Throwing up a simple animated landing page explaining what the product would do (which has since changed).

Our beta lists for the products are currently at 2,893 for Minimalytics and 1,322 for HookFeed.

We also announced the book we’re writing with Michael Sacca far before we had time to start working on it. By mentioning it here and there on the internet, the list has grown steadily to over 300 people without a dedicated marketing push.

We Didn’t Wait to Talk to People Until We Had a Success

From the very beginning, we began reaching out to successful entrepreneurs for help. Since we had some attractive landing pages up, and reached out to them in non-sleazy ways, we had a 100% response rate. We’ve learned so much from our product chats with people, and made some amazing friends online.

Along the way, we constantly felt like impostors. Like we weren’t ready to talk to these people since we hadn’t even launched a product yet. But I’m so glad we did.

The only thing holding you back from talking to your heroes is yourself.

We Trusted Our Gut

Everything about our early-beginnings would have been advised against by most people.

  1. Joelle was my co-worker (ok, kind of my boss) when we used to work at an agency. That’s when we started dating.

  2. I left my steady job last December to start Small HQ (and start burning through savings trying to finally launch a profitable product)

  3. Joelle joined me in March and we began working together

  4. We started living together shortly after this

  5. We chose to work on 2 products instead of focusing on 1

  6. We turned down client work and burned through savings

I’ve lost count of how many people have scoffed at the fact that we work together.

“You work with your girlfriend?! I don’t know if I could do that…”

Joelle likes to say, “If you can’t stand to be around your partner most of the day, why the hell are you even dating?”

Advice, at the end of the day, is just someone else’s opinion. And sometimes needs to be ignored.

The nature of it is that the most popular advice floats to the top, and when you’re dealing with something risky like entrepreneurship, you’re going to hear advice from many who have failed.

With all these lessons in my back pocket I’m more eager than ever moving into 2014 — though I have no doubt a whole new set of failures and lessons are just around the next bend.

Where will we be next December? No idea… but I do know it’ll be one hell of a ride!

 I’m Matt Goldman. I’m building HookFeed and Minimalytics. Also writing a book about how to build a SaaS rocketship with my partner Joelle and Michael Sacca.


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