Post launch update

It’s 1 month since we launched Reactor, and it’s been eye-opening to say the least.

The launch didn’t go like I wanted it to, and I am not very excited about sharing our numbers. I almost didn’t publish this post, until I read these two posts. The truth is that launches don’t always go the way you planned.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s happened so far:

We had over 100 signups, and only about 35 of those have translated into paying customers.

I’m pretty happy with the amount of signups, but we have a big problem with cancellations. Too many people have cancelled, and it’s driving me nuts.

I’ve read that a normal SaaS business has about a 3% churn. Our launch month was over 50%. Ugh.

It’s hard for me to even share this with you. I’d rather be writing a post about how the launch was a great success and we are rolling in dough, but that’s not the case.

Does this mean we failed, or that our product sucks?

Absolutely not. Here’s why.

I’ve emailed everyone who has cancelled personally, and the feedback I got told a different story than just looking at the numbers.

There’s a couple of things that we got wrong, but it’s nothing that’s unfixable. We are just finding our product/market fit, and that will take some adjustment.

Y Combinator’s motto is “Make something people want.”

I believe we’ve done that, based on our initial signups. I also think our product is really good, I haven’t had a single person say that they didn’t like the product in my exit interviews.

I really believe our product is incredible, if anything it just needs a few more features. If the problem is not the product or the market’s desire for it, what is it?

It’s early

The first thing is that it’s only been a month, and that’s really early. Any data we have is probably not as statistically significant as it could be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything.

It’s best to wait a little longer before making any big decisions, but some problems are obvious.

Our product needs to be easier to use

With any product, you don’t really know how people are going to use it until after you launch. Even beta testers only give you a foggy idea.

It’s also really hard to develop a product and have an objective view of it from the first-time user’s perspective. To us it was really easy to use, but we also developed the product.

When people started getting in there and using it, we realized we had to make some changes. We’ll be working hard to improve usability.

Launching to the wrong audience

We have an existing audience of developers, and Reactor is targeted at non-developers.

Most of the people who signed up wanted a really custom app, so it’s no surprise that our product didn’t work for them. Reactor is made for small businesses like churches and restaurants, not people who should be paying someone $50K to make their app.

However, we still feel that Reactor can work great for developers, so this one is a bit of a mystery to me. We are working hard on adding features for developers, and educating them on how to use Reactor.

We are also going to work on getting in front of churches and other small businesses that can really benefit from using our product.

Not enough features

Most app builders have every feature under the sun, so naturally that’s what people expect from Reactor.

I strongly believe you should launch as soon as you have an MVP, and that’s what we did. Our feature set can’t compare to other products out there, but we are banking on our deep WordPress integrations.

We have already pushed several major features and numerous updates and bug fixes since launch, so a lack of features won’t be the case for much longer.

Reaching product/market fit

We know our product is good, but maybe it’s priced or packaged incorrectly.

We are going to try some different pricing packages, paid setup, and whatever else we think people want. I still think our pricing is good, but maybe it’s our marketing that’s falling short.

This is hard

The truth is that business is hard.

Most people who have successful products didn’t get there overnight, and we won’t either. There’s a difficult process of finding product/market fit, and no one has a shortcut.

Even though our launch didn’t go as I had hoped, I still believe in our product and I know we’ll get there.


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Posted by Scott

  1. Hang in there, buddy, it’ll get better soon. 🙂

    Also, I might suggest a free until your app is in the App Store type of setup. That way there’s no risk involved for people trying the product out. Not sure about your operating costs but it seems to make sense from the customer perspective.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Chris, that’s actually what we are going to try next. I’ve seen multiple sources say this is the way to go, we’ll see!

      Reply

  2. Disappointing but I know you will get this right. Thanks for sharing your incredibly honest and well stated insights.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Priscilla, I know we’ll get there. If it was easy everyone would do it 🙂

      Reply

  3. Hi Scott,

    I absolute believe in your product and understand that this takes some time to find his place in the market.
    Can it be, like for me, that we just signed and paid $499 for AppPresser , and out of the blue within two weeks later you launch Reactor, a brand new (targeting more or less the same market) product? So I have send an email for a refund on AppPresser, so I can have a new subscription for Reactor. (I’m a designer, not a developer)
    But this was not possible, I offered a 6 months subscription, later I see that this so called “special promotion” is also a 50% discount on Reactor, even if you don’t have a AppPresser subscription…
    I don’t have a good feeling whit this, I don’t think I will (re)subscribe for AppPresser and Reactor.
    A shame because I believe very strong in Reactor.
    All the best with you sales figures, I helped, so I think…

    Best regards,
    Rene

    Reply

    1. Hi Rene, I apologize if we didn’t handle that transition well. Please email me and I’ll make sure you get taken care of.

      Reply

  4. Thanks for sharing your struggles Scott. Makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one not making bags of money.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Dan!

      Reply

  5. Hi Scott –

    As I said in the past I still think Reactor is a brilliant product.

    However from a freelancer perspective mainly focused on websites, just like a lot of your target market I fathome, the monthly cost quickly became too high for me, especially as I wanted to test lots of apps, show them to customers, do experiments – so I basicalled needed unlimited apps to play with while the latest pricing model is much more limited.

    I am losing sleep over this the too as I can still imagine the possibilities. I would hope that you can perhaps offer a model like the equally brilliant PressBooks, and perhaps talk to its head Hugh McGuire who is here in Montreal.

    I think their company is doing well – and besides offering a paid build process like yourself currently, they also offer a totally open source selflhosted version of PressBooks – which builds ebooks to a wide variety of formats from a customized skinning of a WordPress Multisite .

    Something like AppPresser Reactor seems so important to me, I would think Matt Mullenweg and Automattic should be investors, and the whole open source WordPress community should be allowed to contribute. The entire process of building apps, with PhoneGap and developer licenses, etc. is complex enough – I think having it totally open source and freely available would be the only way Reactor would get wide adoption.

    Once this is done then I feel you would be able to sell specialized services on top of Reactor – which I think could be never-ending and eventually quite lucrative, as in a sense, you could customize any plugin/theme for mobile and charge for it.

    I really hope you continue at it as this brilliance needs a wide audience.

    Sincerely,

    – Jonathan Wexler

    Reply

    1. Hey Jonathan, thanks for your feedback. I’ve been thinking about a free model with Reactor a lot lately, and I agree that it could get us a lot of traction. The problem is that it’s really hard to do as a small, bootstrapped business.

      We have hosting costs and salaries to pay, and without income from a product coming in, it’s really hard to put lots of time into it. However, it’s an interesting idea, and I think I’ll continue to kick it around in my head for a while.

      Reply

      1. Make it free for small to medium sized wordpress blogs, charge the big guys, after a certain amount of app downloads, after a certain amount of push notifications, after a certain amount of bandwidth usage, etc. You can make money connecting freelancers who can improve/customize the apps for customers. You can make money later selling more features on top of the basic free.

        Reply

  6. Hi,

    I know it’s a few months ago, and I might have completely misread, but you seem to have got about 30% trial-to-paid conversion rate. Those are great numbers! The normal is about 10% or less, depending on the market.

    Are you getting churn rate (paying customers who cancel each month) mixed up with trial to paid conversions?

    I’m about to launch a new product in the next couple of weeks, and if I get 30% trial conversions I will be ecstatic!

    Reply

    1. Hey Matt, actually our conversion rate is way lower than that, the numbers in this post may be misleading. I definitely wouldn’t expect a high initial conversion rate, that’s something that comes with optimizing and tweaking your product and messaging.

      Reply

  7. Thanks for sharing, Scott. I’ve just noticed this post and am impressed with your willingness to make public your disappointment and failed expectations. Business is not easy and most fail within a couple of years of start-up. But you seem to have the technical skills and the open resolve to make your dream succeed.

    Be encouraged, and do all the product improvement and marketing you can to keep Reactor afloat, Scott, because it is a GREAT platform. It is incredibly simple and efficient for the app owner, and produces beautiful content on phones. Why would someone use anything else!

    I’m currently waiting for Apple’s OK for my first Reactor app. It’s already out on Android and the client is VERY happy. I have more clients lined up, and I’m a big fan of this platform you have created. Thanks!

    Len

    Reply

    1. Thanks Len! Reactor has been gaining steam lately, and we have been making a lot of improvements. There’s exciting stuff coming, I think it was just a slower start than I hoped. Things are looking up!

      Reply

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