Founder: Tiago Ferreira
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My background is in development, I'm a software developer and about two years ago, I decided to focus 100% on my entrepreneurship career. I've been mostly focused on being an indie maker, which means I am bootstrapping my own projects. So no VC, I'm not looking for any investments. I want to build companies that are profitable from ground zero.
I've tried a lot of things, I've done a lot of things. I have a podcast and a community, I started the podcast early on in my indie journey, so it's something that I'm really passionate about. I love podcasting. I love hearing other podcasts as well. Recently, I reconnected with a friend and he turned out to be the co-founder of Podsqueeze. He is also an entrepreneur with a background in design, so it's a good match He's a designer, I am a developer and we have complementary skills.
Why this product particularly?
I was playing around with which API and ChatGPT and was amazed. Someone said we have an API to intelligence, something that we never had before. So that was incredible, and I started looking at this technology and like everyone we thought, this is game-changing.
This can be really good or really bad for the world. We still don't know. I started brainstorming and thinking how can we use this technology to solve old problems, problems that exist but because we lack the technology to fix them? Because I have a background in podcasting, I thought okay, transcripts are not very good, they fail a lot.
They understand names and context and everything but transcripts and GPT and AIs, maybe together this can solve the problem of creating content around podcasting, or any audio file really. So we said okay, let's try this out. Let's try to join this new technology with an old problem. A problem that people previously were fixing by hiring teams, or going on Fiverr and spending a lot of money and waiting two or three days to get show notes done. Let's try to reduce the price and the time using this technology and that's the concept of Podsqueeze.
Did you launch quickly?
The plan was to do something fast and see if we get some traction that is above normal. We are used to having a little bit of traction, but really trying to pull clients in, and bring clients to our website.
We wanted to see if we would see something different, like people coming to us and throwing money at us and saying, hey, I want to use your product. So that's what we were trying to find. Probably mid-February, we built the first version, in just one week.
This version you couldn't pay for, it was just a proof of concept where you could upload your RSS feed and then convert and get results. We shared it with a few podcasts friends, and that's probably a really good way of doing it.
What have you learned along the way?
With my own podcast, I had the chance to interview a lot of makers, and I got to learn from all of them. That has been a great experience for me to be able to understand what works and what doesn't work and I'm always trying to find the patterns.
One of the patterns that I see a lot is the classic fail fast approach that works for both the startup world and VC world and especially for bootstrappers because our main asset is time. After the first week we said shall we give it one more week and implement the payment features?
We worked hard implementing payments and subscription integration with Stripe. We still have a lot of work to do but in the AI world our work is mostly adapting prompts and facing a few challenges that we had. We were able to fix it and then we launched. The beginning of March is kind of when we really started launching with payments and everything.
How do you find users?
From the start, we shared it on Reddit, and we shared it on my Twitter as well, which is around 2000 people, and we shared it on a few AI newsletters. From the start, we saw a lot of traffic coming to the website around 100 people every day, which I know is not normal from my other projects.
So we got excited about that, but were still not making a lot of money. We thought our prices were a little too high because we were getting good feedback. People liked it, but not converting so we decided to reduce the prices to not make this an entry barrier.
We decided to give a 35% discount and we call it ‘early bird’ for the whole month of March, you get this discount for life. After the first week, we got a few clients and were super excited. I think we reached around $200 MRR And then in one week went from $200 to like $600 MRI. It was crazy. Then the number of visits to the website started to grow. We went from 120, 150 to 200. Now we are around 300 and yesterday we had our Product Hunt launch, which was quite successful, we got second place.
What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome?
The biggest challenges were definitely connected to the APIs we were using to connect to Open AI. Trying to tune the prompts, trying to tune the queries. One big challenge we had is ChatGPTs limited input, you can only input around, I think 3000 words, but a podcast transcript is much more than 3000 words, so it took us a while to find a way around that.
Another challenge was the reliability of Open AI’s API, quite often they would have latency issues. Of course, we want to deliver results right away, but our clients were having issues and saying, it's loading forever, or it's throwing errors. In the first week, we had a lot of support tickets but we were able to fix them and find ways around so that our website was reliable enough to endure latency issues from Open AI.
What are your ‘go-to’ software tools?
For the past two or three months my go-to software is Chat GPT because I use it for coding as well. I think one of the reasons why we're able to launch so fast is because some of the code was written by GPT, so that's really incredible. I use it every day. Something else that I use every day is Twitter, it’s kind of my marketing channel, my way to be connected with the community and boost my projects.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start?
I have done many projects, but none have been as successful as this one. This was the first time that I saw cold emailing work. I've never seen that before with any of my projects, but we found that cold email emailing is actually a great way to get paying clients.
So that was an operational lesson. I think the main lesson is we've seen what it is to build a project or a product that people need. We had a lot of issues, especially in the beginning, and quite often when there are issues people will just turn off the website and move on. But in this case, people were sending us messages and saying like, hey, it's failing, please fix it, I need to use it.
They would give us their email and they would stay with us on the chat while we're fixing the problem. So we saw a huge difference, people really wanted to try it out, and really wanted to use it. I've never experienced this before, so now I know it's possible.
What's the plan over the long term?
Ideally, we will focus on growing Podsqueeze to pay us a good salary. That's our main goal as an indie maker. We don't want to scale it too much, but we want to make a good site that people can use and that pays our bills and fuels other projects we might want to launch.
We don't have a lot of long-term plans yet, we just know that we want to keep going. In the short term, we want to implement affiliates, because we have a lot of people asking for that, and I think it's a great way to automate the whole selling process and get more users on board.
We really believe in building our project together with our clients so we always ask for feedback. We write down feedback people give us and invest in building features, not because we think they are good, but because we get the validation beforehand from our users.
Do you listen to podcasts or read books that have been helpful?
My favorite podcast of all time around the startup world is called Startup from Gimlet Media. The first season of this podcast is Alex Bloomberg. It shares the whole process and the interviews but it's made with professional quality and the whole series is really good.
Then, Masters of Scale, which I really enjoy, and Y Combinator has a very good podcast around the VC world. In the indie world, I like called the Bootstrapped Founder and Startup to Something with Marc and Matt. They share their journey, their challenges, and their wins and I really enjoy that.
What would be your advice to a new founder?
I would start with the audience first approach, build an audience. Focus on something that you know, search your hobbies, and things you're good at, and build something where you will be your first user, so that you understand the problem that you're solving.
Also, go small, don't try to assume what people want. Just launch the Minimum Viable Product, share it, and see if you have traction. Last but not least, don't be afraid to kill your project.
This is much harder than it sounds. I made this mistake many times. Your goal is to get a paycheck fast, and if you have a lack of time and you want to live from your project you need money. If you don't see the growth you need in the first one or two months to kill the project. Put it on the back burner and start something new until you find that growth.