I'm Building the Ultimate Shortcut for Startups to Boosting Online Visibility & Get Leads

I'm Building the Ultimate Shortcut for Startups to Boosting Online Visibility & Get Leads

Sushil Kumar created a platform that helps Startups and Indie hackers get quality leads & promote their products.

Founder: Sushil Kumar
Company: DirectoryHQ

What's DirectoryHQ?

DirectoryHQ is a platform that helps Startups and Indie hackers to get quality leads by increasing their online visibility by providing a curated database of premium directories to promote and sell their software products. With so many directories available online, it can be overwhelming for new companies to find the best ones to target. DirectoryHQ simplifies this process and saves time for entrepreneurs by offering a carefully selected list of directories that have proven to be effective in promoting software products.

What’s your background and how did you come up with the idea?

I have a formal background in working around Products, user research, marketing, and scaling things from 0 to 1. In January I was working on my side project StackAI. But I never launched it officially, as I was not happy with just listing AI tools and was looking for improvements. During that time I lost my job and went broke. So, didn’t have any money to support StackAI. That’s when I thought to build a mini-project to make some quick money to support my main project.

On Twitter or LinkedIn, I see a lot of founders, Indiehackers struggling with promoting and generating leads for their products to get initial traction. One day, in a Twitter comment I see a lot of people asking for directories and marketplaces to promote their startups. But only Product Hunt and a few popular directories were mentioned in that convo. That's how I got the idea of DirectoryHQ, a database of premium directories to launch, promote and sell software products.

Talk us through the early stages of the business, how did you get your first customers?

Earlier It was very difficult to keep up with job searches and building projects. So I gave a break to my job search and shifted my focus only to DirectoryHQ. As I was going through rough times I didn’t have any money to start a mini-project. So I used whatever it is available, and built the entire product with No-code tools like Airtable, Google Sheets, Canva, and Softr. All are free versions. As I didn’t even have money to buy a domain, I connected DirectoryHQ as a sub-domain to StackAI. So basically I made DirectoryHQ with 0$.

I got my first customers through the Product Hunt launch, the launch was a huge success as per my goal, so I got my initial customers through the launch itself.

Have you generated any revenue?

The business is profitable since the launch because I invested 0$ and made 350$ in 2 weeks. It’s just been a month since the launch, so I didn’t put in any extra marketing efforts as am still getting sufficient users from the Product Hunt itself. Currently updating the list with 50+ more directories and also building another resource for Founders who are building around AI.

What marketing channels are working well now to acquire customers?

As far now Product Hunt, Communities, and Twitter are working well for me. Going forward am planning to try some cold outreach through Social media and email. Currently, my goal is to get 100 users in the next 30 days.

What’s been your biggest achievement?

My biggest achievement, getting my first customer selling a digital product itself the biggest achievement for me, I even sent out a handwritten Thank you note to my first customer and to be exact the whole experience is an achievement.

What’s been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was building a product at no cost that makes money in a shorter period. It took me 3 weeks to curate a list and build it as a product. It took a lot of energy and resource. But, not even a single day I was sure that I could make money out of it. So keeping the motivation, mindset, and focus to do this and that too when you’re going through a job loss was not at all easy and it was really challenging to finish what I started.

What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

The right time is not when your product is ready to sell, but when your customers are ready to buy. Building a product at a right time or when it is most needed is very important. If you don’t have a whole product, then at least launch a waiting list landing page. and Customers don’t care about what technology you are using, they always care about the value you give. I gave too much thought to how to make listing automated. What database to use? Very lately I realized that the customers don’t care about those things, after that I just made my product with Airtable and Google Sheets.

Any advice for new entrepreneurs just starting out?

From my experience as worked in an early-stage startup and building multiple products over the years. I would advise two things,

  1. Whatever the role you are in, listen to your customers. Doing as much user research, even social listening is very important to build greater products.
  2. Don't always aim for perfection it’ll either slow your process or puts you in endless procrastination. Try to focus on the first 75%, once you reached 75% consider it’s done. Now start iterating it to 100% slowly. An absolute positive side of this is nobody can help you reach 100% but everyone can help you complete a 25%

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I have bigger dreams which seem impossible to achieve. So, doing what feels impossible is dopamine for me, and am just doing what makes me feel happy. That’s what keeps me running against all the odds and failures.

What are your plans for the next 6-12 months?

I am going to rebuild and scale StackAI into an irresistible product in the AI industry. I’m still figuring out the how but I’m confident that I’ll do it. Meanwhile, going to release another product in DirectoryHQ which will help AI founders to cut the noise and reach a wider audience for a higher conversion rate.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Visit Directory HQ here

You can reach out to me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Get high-quality leads from premium directories where your actual customers are.