Want to grow your business? Join the 20, businesses using Hello! Who are you and what business did you start? I am Jean-Loup Karst, the co-founder of Secret. Secret is the first platform of exclusive deals on services and software for startups. It's a no-brainer. We negotiated and curated amazing deals.

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Want to grow your business? Join the 20, businesses using Hello! Who are you and what business did you start? I am Jean-Loup Karst, the co-founder of Secret. Secret is the first platform of exclusive deals on services and software for startups.

It's a no-brainer. We negotiated and curated amazing deals. They help you with your cloud hosting, your growth, your marketing automation, your product… As an example, you could benefit from: What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

Back in April , I launched my first startup breaz. We basically built a copycat of Hired. Our product was a curated hiring marketplace for tech profiles soft eng, data science, design, etc. Companies were applying to candidates looking for jobs. We never raised funds. That was very little given our needs in terms of design, front-end development, etc. I remember my cofounder Edouard saying if only we could get special deals for software to save money! Define what you want to achieve and make sure all co-founders goals are aligned Still, breaz.

As we were looking for problems to solve, we remembered that pain we had in our first business and decided to tackle it and build a platform that would help startups and SMBs save money on the best software. Accelerators and incubators have perks programs. Why should it be limited to them? The idea of Secret was born. Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

The initial product consisted of two things: Edouard and I did not have any coding skills, so he decided to join a Bootcamp program Le Wagon to gain the necessary Ruby on Rails skills to build an MVP, while I would focus on getting deals with a bunch of services we thought entrepreneurs would pay for. At the end of the bootcamp, it took him around a week to build a very basic website: Below is the homepage mockup for our V1: After testing and validating our concept for months, we decided to work on our V2.

Edouard started mockuping the website and we hired 3 freelancers 2 engineers: Our goal was to launch fast and get as much feedback as possible from our users to assess to what extent our idea had potential.

We negotiated deals with 6 software applications for cloud hosting, emailing, sales automation, etc. We approached the companies by email and Linkedin. We are only asking them an exclusive deal. Our MVP was launched in April Given how basic and rustic our website was at the time, the initial feedback we gathered was pretty mixed. Some of our partners reported that a few visitors asked them directly if the deals really were true.

As we got our first paying customers, we decided to focus on the product to build a platform we would be proud of, with great design, to gain trust from potential customers and take it to the next level.

To be honest, I felt a bit ashamed of our website and got surprised as I saw the first payments were being processed. I would not have paid with a credit card myself on such a website!

It proved our hypothesis to be true: To launch our beta, we essentially relied on email marketing our Linkedin contact base and got one media article as well in French. Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers? We have tested different acquisition channels and to be honest, we are still working on figuring out what works best. You can personalize your emails through Yesware. The daily limit of several hundred emails a day works just fine. It's very hard to get replies. Reach is limited.

One group can have thousands of members but only some of them will see your post. How many? You need to add value to the community if you want to cut your way to the top of the page e. It takes time. It drove little traffic overall. There are just so many entrepreneurs posting out there looking for attention.

It just does not work. No one hangs out there. There is something that we have not tried out: It drove us dozens of signups. Niche forums are key. How are you doing today and what does the future look like? We have decided to make a bold move by switching the Secret to a free model. Essentially, we are cutting our revenue lines and focusing solely on our user growth. Our bet is that we will build a much bigger user base that will be easier to monetize in a second time through premium deals and affiliation with our key partners.

At the moment we have 10 to 20 startups signing up a day for Secret. We are looking to expand that number fast through invites to grow our user base. The startup scene worldwide is growing at an insane rate and we believe we can help every entrepreneur to launch his MVP in his bedroom, kitchen or living room. This is the key moment when you need help. Right at the start. And Secret is a natural fit for that moment.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous? I think that for our story the feedback we got from our Product Hunt launch was pretty clearly showing how much value we add to our customers. I guess they did not want us to compete. I think that overall the market just got so much crowded within a few years. Back in , it was so much easier to cut through the noise and have news articles talking about your startup in tech medium.

Mailjet users since Cloud hosting: Heroku because Edouard learned to use it in his coding school. Marketing automation: Customer support: What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources? We have been inspired by Jason Fried's business philosophy through his books Rework , Remote and It doesn't have to be crazy at work. Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Define what you want to achieve fame? Define it in the timeframe you are targeting be a millionaire in 5 years? Make sure all co-founders are aligned with your personal goal to avoid strategy disagreements on the run. Only raise when you have to eat dust VCs are not entrepreneurs, they are asset managers, they want a return.

Just do it. Users will tell their truth. Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now? We are interested in adding a third cofounder to the venture to help us grow faster.


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