Sramana Mitra: What were some of the mistakes?
Joshua Strebel: Not really knowing how to market. For designers and developers, I think it’s so easy to build a product. It’s really hard to get that product into the hands of your customers. If you recall in that time period, when Twitter and Facebook were new, the only way to get your product out there was PPC ads or the TechCrunch way if you’re taking VC.
So we just tried our best with social media to get out the door and going. It still took us a long time to dial in our value proposition in our messaging and understand how to talk to our target market.
Sramana Mitra: It was bootstrapping, right? When you launched Pagely, you were still bootstrapping?
Joshua Strebel: Yes. To this day, we’re entirely revenue-funded.
Sramana Mitra: Was it Google ads that got you your first early traction?
Joshua Strebel: Actually, it was the early days of Twitter. As we’re building the product, Twitter was new. It was exciting and intimate. You could actually talk to people back in the day. So we were sharing updates through Twitter of the work we were doing, showing screenshots, and engaging with the community. We essentially just built up an interest list. When we did launch and announce, we were able to get a couple hundred customers fairly quickly and off and running.
Sramana Mitra: That’s interesting. What price point are we talking about?
Joshua Strebel: Back in the day, your standard run-of-the-mill website hosting platform was a GoDaddy or Media Temple. It was around $4 or $5 a month. Pagely is managed WordPress. We thought it was a more specific, better targeted, and just a better overall value. So, we actually launched what at a price point of $14.98 a month.
Sramana Mitra: So, you have a couple of hundred customers that pay $14.98 a month. What timeframe are we talking? Six months until launch? A year until launch?
Joshua Strebel: It was about six to eight months. Within the first year, we were making roughly $20,000 a month and maybe a little shy of that. It took us about a year to get a little traction and get some volume.
Sramana Mitra: Was it just you and your wife?
Joshua Strebel: In the early days, it was. It was primarily my wife and I. She did a lot of the marketing, the outreach, and helped the positioning. I essentially did everything else – all the technical and support side. It was a lot of sleepless nights.
Sramana Mitra: How long did you go in this mode with just the two of you?
Joshua Strebel: I’d say for about 18 to 24 months. Sometime, I think, in later 2010, we did start hiring some contractors and got some help. About 2011, we really got our feet under us and had some significant revenue. We’re able to start hiring and grow a team from there.