How I Validated HeadReach With 15 Paying Customers in 12 Hours


(Kaloyan Yankulov) #1

I’m going to show you how I validated the idea for HeadReach with 15 paying customers for less than 12 hours using mainly outreach.

The post is divided into 2 sections:

  • A brief retrospection about the previous idea that I tried to validate unsuccessfully.
  • The step-by-step process of validating HeadReach

Let’s roll.

A Happy Fail

Long story short, a couple of months ago I tried to use customer development processes to validate a software idea. The idea was for an online tool that helps Facebook group owners manage and grow their groups faster.

I got in touch with 60 group owners, asking them if they could spend 15 minutes of their time for a short friendly interview. I wanted to learn more about their experience with FB groups and how they use groups in their day-to-day activities.

Oh, man, the result was painful.

From all 60 people that I asked, just 2 replied positively. One was a good friend of mine, and the other was a polite guy that couldn’t refuse because I’ve helped him before more than I should have.

2 things came to mind at that time:

“Fuck, nobody cares about my Facebook Groups software.” and “Fuck, I’m so happy.”

I was happy.

It was the first time that I could decide what to do with an idea without having to write hundreds of lines of code or design dozens of pages in Photoshop.

No landing pages, no design work, no prototypes - yet, I was able to figure out that nobody wants to spend 10 minutes to care for this idea. How am I supposed to make them pay $29/month then?

Moving Forward

An unsuccessful idea validation never stopped me from moving on.

The idea for HeadReach was born on a whim.

One day I asked myself - why not make software that generates hundreds of marketing opportunities automatically when you type a keyword or a URL?

Next day I was already working on validating the idea.

The idea:

HeadReach is an online tool that generates reliable outreach lists with targeted prospects and outreach opportunities.

#The Validation

I don’t believe you need weeks and months to validate an idea. As long as you know which is the shortest way to gain the most knowledge.

Instead of building a prototype for the tool I decided to focus on customer interactions as the shortest way to gain knowledge and validate the riskiest hypothesis.

Riskiest hypothesis that we had to validate with HeadReach was if people would care at all about that type of information (targeted outreach lists).

For this purpose, we didn’t need a working prototype, a beautiful website or business cards. We only had to do manually create 1 outreach list to demonstrate the value of the idea.

We took off everything unnecessary for our MVP.

Concierge MVP

Let’s welcome Mr. Concierge in the building.

Concierge MVp is when you validate an idea with manual labour instead of using machines or systems. The concierge MVP is always unscalable.

For HeadReach, this meant that instead of building the software that generates lists automatically - I had to create the lists with my hands and shit loads of work in Excel. That way we could validate the demand without wasting weeks on building a product.

An Example Outreach List

HeadReach is all about outreach lists.

An instrumental part of validating this idea was to create an example list.

A good friend of mine, Karl - the creator of MonetizePros marketing blog offered me to create a list for one of his posts. In exchange, I would receive the first testimonial for HeadReach.
That’s how this [spreadsheet beast] was born. Outreach list with more than 800 results. It took me 4 days!

A Landing Page

Of course, we need a landing page, too. For 1 day I designed this:

Check out the whole landing page here.

Nothing fancy, but there are few important elements that we should note:

  • The headline includes a high-level benefit.
  • The whole page has only 1 CTA
  • A social proof how I use the list
  • An example outreach list

We outsourced the HTML code for the page for $57; my developer co-founder integrated it with WooCommerce so we can accept payments and the landing page was live in 4-5 days.

The Price

We were thinking to price the lists between $10 and $50. Of course, we were wrong pricing them at $19. It was way too cheap!

Lesson learned:

Always choose the higher price. Lowering your price is a one-directional battle to the bottom. The higher price will give you a lot more space for mistakes. Even if you overprice your product you could easily cheapen it, while the opposite is much harder.

How We Define Success?

Now we had an example list, a working landing page and a price for a list.

Before we launched the page, we had to decide what success meant for us with this MVP?

20 people buying an outreach list in 2 weeks

It sounded reasonable. If 20 people buy an outreach list, we will consider this a successful validation.

#A Hypothesis Table

I created a “quant-based marketing spreadsheet”.

This is a document in which I outlined my expectations before we executed the MVP. Then I match the real outcomes with my hypothesis and decide if we’re close or far from our success benchmark.

Marketing

Let’s get to the action.

For our marketing I relied on 3 no-nonsense channels:

  • My previous email list (500 subscribers)
  • Facebook groups
  • Direct outreach marketing to influencers with cold emails or DMs.

Facebook groups

This is the post I used to promote my MVP on Facebook groups:

My belated 7-day startup: www.headreach.com
I want to build a tool that makes content outreach ridiculously easy. Imagine 1-click content promotion. You simply chuck in your URL and - Huzzah! - You get thousands of outreach opportunities. Hours of painstaking list building transformed into a neat content strategy in seconds.

For this page, I got inspired by Rob’s blab about MVPs. I’m doing a hands-on unscalable MVP to validate the idea. The landing page is: headreach.com
If you want to get more shares, links and leads for 1 of your blog posts, now I can manually create a unique content outreach list for one of your articles. For just $19.00.

You will get a complete custom build content promotion strategy with over 300 promotion opportunities and real influencers contacts to blast your post’s exposure.

These are the same tactics I use at WooGuru to get mentioned by people like Brian Dean and receive over 500+ shares on my posts.
See an example list here:https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xp0xEuv6uKhYOomn4ymC-XXzkK3nO22SXIpG0XVH04U/edit?usp=sharing
Check all 30 sheets at the bottom of the doc.

What do you get with this?

  • Hundreds of content promotion suggestions
  • Real contact details of people you’ve mentioned in your post
  • Relevant influencer’s contacts
  • Relevant websites, posts and the contacts of people in charge
  • Related Facebook groups and pages
  • People on Twitter that tweet about your topic
  • Twitter lists
  • LinkedIn Groups
  • Guest blogging opportunities
  • Latest journalist queries from HelpAReporterOut and journalist contacts.
  • Related Quora and Yahoo Answers questions to answer
  • Tips on how to use all of this to get shares and links
  • Much, much more

Now, because such list takes ages to put (I’m checking more than 20 channels and 5+ different tools), I can only make a very limited number of lists. First-come, first-served policy applies.

—> Get your list at: www.headreach.com

If you don’t want to buy it, please let me know why?

Hustle on!

I also did an exclusive video for one of the Facebook groups to show what the outreach list is all about:

It helped me increase the engagement in the group.

Influencers Outreach

This was the message I used to approach influencers through cold email or DMs:

Hi Nick, Thanks for accepting my friendship request. I’ve been reading a lot of your stuff on SeoNick. Haven’t got a chance to get to your eBook yet, but hopefully, will do that soon.

I’m just testing an idea for a tool that creates 1-click content promotion strategies. You can check it out here: headreach.com
Would love hearing your opinion on this if you have 2 minutes to check it out?
The goal of this tool is to make content outreach ridiculously easy. Imagine 1-click content promotion.
You simply chuck in your URL and - Huzzah! - You get thousands of outreach opportunities. Hours of painstaking list building transformed into a neat content strategy in seconds.

At the moment, the validation is all manual. I’m personally creating the list instead of an automated tool. You can see an example list here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1xp0xEuv6uKhYOomn4ymC-XXzkK3nO22SXIpG0XVH04U/edit#gid=0

Let me know

Results

What happened in the next 12 hours surprised me. 15 people bought a list. And some of them wanted to buy more than 1 list, with 1 guy wanting 8 lists.

7% CR on the landing page, 15 paying customers, 20 lists, around $400 in revenue

As a side effect, one of the top SEO players (Nick Eubanks) hired me to create an outreach list for him which brought another $200.

Conclusion

  • You don’t need a lot of money to validate an idea. The whole validation cost us $50.
  • You don’t need a lot of time to validate an idea. It took less than a week for HeadReach.
  • The idea itself is crucial. Whoever says "the idea doesn’t matter, it’s all about execution.” If an idea stinks, even the best entrepreneurs and online marketers can’t save the day.

  • You have to offer something that’s 10 times better or 10 times cheaper - or both.
  • It’s better to overprice a product than underprice it.
  • A good idea attracts people. A bad one puts them off. Notice when I tried to validate the FB software I got in touch with 60 people and just 2 replied. With HeadReach, I used no more than 1/8th of the planned marketing channels.
  • Define what success means to you before executing.

#Next: Pre-launch
As you probably know already, I’ve been working on the pre-launch for HeadReach. So feel free to sign-up for our beta or download the 150-pages FREE eBook on outreach marketing if you haven’t done it yet.

I’ll make sure to continue to keep you in the loop with our startup journey and share my best tips on outreach marketing.


From an idea to exit: How I launched, marketed and sold my first SaaS
(Wilson Hung) #2

Hey Kaloyan, this is epic!

Going to revise my own quant-based marketing spreadsheet to include some of your aspects.


(Kaloyan Yankulov) #3

Looking forward to your guide!


(Arun Basil Lal) #4

Thanks for taking the time to share this. I am trying to validate a product myself and this spoke to me. Have applied for the beta.

Good luck!


(Kaloyan Yankulov) #5

@ArunBasilLal Thanks, buddy! You should definitely share your validation experience with The Backstory community.


(Arun Basil Lal) #6

I definitely well :slight_smile:


(William Harvey) #7

Hey, i’m interested. I just signed up to the BETA and the free guide. This is definitely an area we need to improve on, it’s just way too time consuming right now.

And love the CTAs across the site.


(Albert) #8

Hi! I’d like to give it a shot. I work in a startup in a venture builder, and we go crazy when we find good solutions! How long do you think we might take to get a list?


(Kaloyan Yankulov) #9

Hey Albert,

We don’t produce any more manual lists as they take way too long and we want to focus on the development of the actual automated tool. But I’ll make sure to let you know when we get the tool up and running!


(Albert) #10

Thanks Kaloyan, a few team mates signed up so I guess we will hear from the beta list!


(Daisy Q) #11

A few months ago I was reading about how Groove built their community and relaunched their blog through outreach. I have a few projects I’m working on that could use some validation of this sort on eis a blog the other a service, I definitely like the approach. Especially since you can figure out the harsh reality of will people pay to use this service or not right away. This was a great way to build an MVP with zero coding to test your process. Signed up for the Beta, great post thanks for sharing!


(Abhi Patil) #12

I too have tried to pitch business owners via their FB pages in the past but it did not end well for me.