Today was a very exciting day. It was the first day of the 30 day journey of creating my startup. It’s called Weekendr, a notification system for weekend travelers. Essentially, it will notify you whenever there are roundtrip tickets, from Friday to Sunday, leaving from your city for under $200.
By limiting myself to 30 days, I have forced myself to really do the bare minimum to create the product. This will allow me to focus on all the parts of the business, from idea, development, refinement, marketing, sales, branding and everything else. I will be findings avenues to do the least work for the most reward.
The first thing I did was get organized. I didn’t want to overcomplicate things, but I wanted to get my thoughts down so I know what to work on. I created a Trello Board. I have experience using Trello and I personally really like it for creating To-Do lists, organizing tasks and tracking progress. I broke things up by creating two lists, Core Functionality and Marketing Efforts. I also added another list to track my budget expenses since I capped myself at $500 for this venture. Lastly, I created a Done list so I can just move my to-do items as I finish them.
I then decided to work on my Landing Page. I figured that it’s important to get users interacting with my product as soon as possible. A landing page takes very little time to make, doesn’t actually require me to think constructively about how to build my actual product, while still providing a benefit. Now that I decided to work on my landing page, I wanted to keep the idea of doing the least, while getting the most.
Landing Page. How to create one. Least effort possible. These are the thoughts running through my head. I searched for an html template that is modern and works well as a ‘Coming Soon’ style page. I landed on Eventually, a template from html5up.net, downloaded it, and started to get some travel images from Unsplash.com to put on the site.
Now that I had a landing page, I needed to send the email signups somewhere. This is when I started searching for a email provider. I knew Mailchimp was a big player in this market, but I’ve heard of some competitors and wanted to check them out. After a brief search through the marketplace, I found that most of them only had paid subscriptions, while Mailchimp offered a free tier. That was enough for me to get started. I signed up, and started to get acquainted with how it worked. This is where I ran into a couple of issues.
The first issue was the Thank You page. It sent a user to an ugly page, and gave away my address information! I was not a fan of that, so I started chasing an async solution, but found that Mailchimp doesn’t like client side cross-site scripting. I had to find something else and I did. Turns out, Mailchimp allows you to input a redirect link after sign up, so I created a new Thank You page and set it up in Mailchimp. First problem solved. Little did I know, there is another issue that will be waiting for me later.
Before I noticed the other issue, I decided that I’m almost ready to launch this landing page. I quickly created a logo and favicon by downloading an icon from The Noun Project and adjusting it a bit in Sketch. I uploaded it, and decided to launch the site. I posted it to Facebook, Instagram and told a few friends directly.
After launching it, I noticed someone mentioned that they liked the idea, but the sign up was too hard. Too hard? It’s one step, just punch in your email and hit sign up. Or so I thought. Turns out, when I posted to facebook, many people viewed it via the Facebook mobile app. Herein lies the other Mailchimp issue. When clicking on links in the Facebook mobile app, instead of opening up Safari, Chrome or any browser, it opens up its own mini Facebook browser. For some strange reason, when a user signs up from this window, Mailchimp doesn’t like it, and takes the user to a different sign up flow. This flow asks them to retype in their email, makes them verify that they are a person, and then makes them do a crappy Google Captcha picture matcher thing to prove they aren’t a robot. I googled for answers, but I couldn’t find anything discussing this issue. I just got swarmed with pages talking about Mailchimp’s facebook integration for putting a sign up form in a facebook post or how to set up my own facebook app to open links in safari by default. I can’t find a fix for this problem.
Despite this Mailchimp issue, things seem to be ok. I am still getting signups and I am getting a ton of feedback from friends and acquaintances about how they love the idea. About an hour after launching the site, I already have about 40 emails subscribed and think it should increase through the night. I’m excited to start working on some functionality tomorrow. I will do some experimentation with how I will collect the flight data and use that info to pick a software stack. I am deciding between an all JS stack, or a PHP/JS mix. Will know more tomorrow.
Day 1 off to a bit of a rocky start with the email signup mishap, but these things happen and I am still happy with how the site turned out. I am also really happy that a bunch of people have reached out to me to let me know they like the idea.
Also published on Medium.