What is KTool?
KTool is a cross-platform productivity tool for busy professionals. It allows you to send news articles, newsletters, and RSS feeds to your Kindle.
The main problem KTool trying to solve is to boost our focus with the help of a Kindle.
We knowledge workers spend too much time on computer screens. It damages our eyesight and hurts our comprehension. KTool helps us read everything on a Kindle instead.
Tell us about your background?
I'm Daniel Nguyen. I'm an entrepreneur based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
I love building things on the Internet. The first dollar I earned from the Internet was roughly 15 years ago when I was selling a plugin for an open-source forum software called Invision Power Board. Since then I mostly do software consulting & building side projects for fun.
The idea of KTool first came to my mind when I was reading "Ask HN: I'm a software engineer going blind, how should I prepare?"
I've been wearing glasses since I was 5. My right eye is basically blind. Doctors said there is no chance to cure it.
I was genuinely scared. Like holy crap, if my left eye stops working, my life is done. Since then I've been very conscious about time spent on computer screens.
That's when I started using Kindle-related products: to offload as many reading materials as possible to the Kindle.
Then I ran into multiple limitations, leading me to build KTool, a tool to send anything online to Kindle. Blog posts, Twitter threads, Hacker News discussions, RSS feeds, newsletters... you name it.
When and how did you launch?
I started building KTool in public on Twitter in Jan 2022 and soft-launched it in Feb.
And I got a couple of sales that day, completely from strangers on the Internet.
It didn’t really gain much traction until I launched KTool on Hacker News. It was a huge success for me - KTool reached the front page and stayed #2 for almost 2 days.
Tell us more about your marketing strategies, how have you been able to grow and find new customers?
In the early days, my only strategy was to build in public on Twitter. It was both for building a personal brand and to get quick feedback from early adopters.
Later I tried multiple experiments on ASO (App Store Optimization), comment marketing, email marketing, and engineering as marketing. Recently I’ve been putting more effort into SEO and newsletters sponsorship.
My goal was to find a few winning channels and double down. So far ASO and email marketing have been working great. But for a product like KTool, I believe SEO is probably the winning channel. Let’s see.
How’s the business doing today? can you share the MRR?
Growth has been slow but steady lately without me doing much. KTool is currently at $747 MRR.
I’ve been sharing all my metrics openly on Twitter (open startup movement).
What were the biggest challenges you faced and obstacles you overcame?
My biggest challenge has been juggling multiple tasks as a solo, bootstrapped founder. It can be overwhelming, especially for someone without a marketing background.
There are always so many things to learn, and so many tasks to do 😅
What’s something you know now that you wish you knew when you started?
Choosing the right market. I started KTool to “scratch my own itch” without thinking much about distribution, marketing strategies, optimal pricing models…
KTool is a consumer SaaS, for a niche (newsletters & RSS readers) within a niche (Kindle users). Turns out bootstrapping a B2C SaaS is incredibly hard for someone without a marketing background like me.
It’s quite hard to monetize even though my traffic is not that bad. Consumers are usually extremely price-sensitive and sometimes are quite demanding.
If I was to start again, I would build a B2B product instead. I’m not saying it’s easier, but it probably fits my personality and skill sets better.
Any advice for new entrepreneurs just starting out?
Getting started is always the hardest. The fear of failure is strong. Rejections hurt.
My advice is to get past that “first scary moment” as fast as you can. Ship fast, don’t wait until the product is perfect (hint: it never will be)
What does your tech stack look like?
I use NextJS + TailwindCSS on the front-end and FeathersJS, TypeScript, and PostgreSQL on the back-end.
Infrastructure-wise: I use Cloudflare Pages for front-end, Render for backend API & PostgreSQL hosting & MailerLite for email handling.
The web browser extension is a mix of TailwindCSS, Typescript, and Swift.
The mobile app is in React Native, with some native components (Swift for iOS and Java for Android).
Has there been any resources or people that have been influential in your journey?
- Startups for the rest of us
- Indie Hackers podcast
- Start small, stay small by Rob Walling
- MAKE book by Pieter Levels
- Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth by Gabriel Weinberg
What are your plans for the next 12 months?
For KTool, I’m putting more effort into SEO and maybe will try to pivot it into a B2B product.
I also plan to ship more products this year: it’s really throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks 😁
I recently soft-launched the MVP of an AI product called BoltGPT: it allows you to use ChatGPT and Stable Diffusion on any macOS app. Give it a try and let me know what you think 😁