Founder: Vic Pitic
Tell us a bit about you
I made my first buck online from a game development gig, it was around $75 and I remember I felt like the richest man ever. After that, I started freelancing at 14 and then I kind of wanted to scale it up a little bit. So I turned it into an agency. I ran that agency for a year and we were profitable most of the time and making some decent revenue, maybe around $1.5-2.5k/month.
I ran that agency for around 1 year and a half, but I didn’t really like the agency business model, I felt like it was too time-consuming. So the beginning of this year, in January, I started the software, Affistash that I'm running and right now we are around $600 MRR.
Why did you choose this product?
Affistash is meant for founders, executives, and affiliate/partnership marketing managers. When I started this product I thought about AI in so many helpful ways, for dropshipping, copywriting, and others but, I hadn't seen it in affiliate marketing so I started interviewing and doing some validation.
I asked people how did you actually get recruiters for marketing, and what methods do you use. Most of them would tell me stuff like: we paid to get the database from other competitors or bought really expensive publications. So then I thought that I saw a gap in the market because everyone when they start marketing programs wants some marketers. So this is how we help.
For companies that sign up for the platform, we give them all the tools to actually find & recruit the affiliates or partners that will help grow their revenue.
We've had crazy stories where we connected customers with B2B sales companies, they became their affiliates and it helped them grow from 10k MRR to $30,000 or $40,000 MRR just by matching them with the right affiliates or partners.
But we also heard unfortunate stories from some of our customers who maybe didn’t have the right offer for their affiliate or maybe there was a lack of quality in the product. It's kind of a hit or miss with affiliate marketing if you're a software company.
Did you raise any funding & how did you acquire your first customers?
No dollars invested yet, we started around three months ago and right now, the only kind of customer acquisition type we are using is Indie Hacker’s, and sharing the product on Reddit and my Twitter account which doesn't have a big following right now. In terms of funding, there hasn't been any but once we get to a couple of 1000 MRR, I definitely see myself getting funding from VC, angel investors, or a startup accelerator.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced?
I think because I'm a technical founder, making the product wasn't the biggest challenge. It was definitely getting it out there to the world. Making my first sales was a pretty tough process and gaining clients was pretty hard. I feel really tempted to go build a product than actually market the product, which is something that I'm kind of battling with right now.
Is there anything you wish you had known at the start of building this project?
Yeah. rapidly building an audience around the product that my startup revolves around. Because I think if I had done that instead of being so focused on the building I would have maybe posted more on Twitter or LinkedIn about affiliate marketing and marketing to companies.
So that maybe some people would realise that, oh, maybe this guy knows what he's talking about. What I actually did post about was probably useless stuff. Some of those Tweets may be great for impressions but I don't think it actually gives people insight into what I actually had to offer. So you just got to get the exact target audience. But right now I'm learning more about this.
Any advice or tips for new young founders?
I think for advice, probably every entrepreneur battles with at this point, but validate your idea. I feel like even though it's mentioned by every entrepreneur, I still have to talk about it because it is so important. You can be caught in your own mind, thinking, oh, this is a good idea and start building for a few months or even a year and I've heard people give up or not even appear with a product.
What I did for that was just build a demo, no functionality, no big things. Then contacted maybe 50 to 100 people on LinkedIn, then another 100 on Reddit, from specific communities. So I would search for affiliate marketers, and I will reach out to them and do a demo call. I would just say, hey, I’m building a product to help you but I'm struggling with parts of the idea, could I get some feedback?
Obviously, the response rate isn’t 100% so you want to do 1000 calls. But even if you manage to do some you can get information that will help you improve your product and you're definitely in a better position.
Also for any startup founders out there, if you didn't explore the possibilities of affiliate marketing, you have to definitely do so. Don't get discouraged by all the negative stories that are around affiliate marketing because it's a huge missed opportunity for startups. If you actually go on the web and search startups/affiliate marketing then you'll definitely be able to learn more about it.
What software or tools do you use?
I probably update every hacker that’s low on money about Netlify. If you want to have as much revenue to invest in other things then that is the best service for hosting out there probably. Then Firebase is another really big one. Probably the one that I use most that is really important for managing user behaviour and analysing your users is Hotjar.
You can see how people interact with your site and it makes it way easier to identify bots. It also is an easy way to understand your customers better and to understand what parts of your website are effective. So these are definitely my top three.
Any books or podcasts you would recommend?
So I started maybe a week ago or two weeks ago reading a book called Lost and Founder. I have to mention it here. It’s about the founder of a really big startup and he tells a story about how he was around $200,000 in debt, and he basically turned that around and built a company that generates $46 million.
It has really good insights, about fundraising, and about how to keep your customers happy, and all of that. So I think that's my number one book, and in terms of podcasts, I really have been impressed with the Y Combinator. Really successful founders over there. Fantastic. My best recommendation
What are your plans for the future?
So for now, as I mentioned before, my only customer acquisition channels were my personal brand on Twitter and LinkedIn plus the posts that I've shared on Indie Hackers and Reddit about the product. Right now I feel like in the B2B market every owner is going to outbound their affiliate marketing and I think there’s some huge potential. So I'll definitely try that in the next few months. Also, I have to open a blog and start writing about affiliate marketing and affiliate partnerships.