Just launched the ugliest MVP to test the market.
I spent 1,000+ hours talking with 150+ No-code Founders, who have generated millions of dollars with their businesses without actually writing code.
How are they doing it?
I spent years researching and building on what they do. I wrote The Lean Side Project so you can build and launch your product.
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Just launched the ugliest MVP to test the market.
1. Stack used - Interesting to see this stack of Airtable used as a database for hosting all the templates in the marketplace. Additionally, Valentin uses Integromat as the glue to bring it all together. Valentin uses Webflow as a front end. If you are proficient at Webflow I recommend this approach. Based on the hours that Valentin estimated he spent on this project Webflow is a great approach for him. However if you are not comfortable with Webflow, my recommendation would be to use a starter stack, one with less of a learning curve. For example I would recommend exploring Pory.io or Sheet2site.com or just using an Airtable base embeded in a webpage if you were looking for speed and easier implementation.
One other item to point out that is interesting. A tool that I am not familiar with but can help you sort and filter on your Webflow page is F'in Sweet: https://cmsdocs.webflow.io/. I thought that this is a decent option at filtering. It did not seem to work well on the page. I don't know if that is the tool or how it was implemented. You might want to try this or Jetboost.io
Summary, go with the tools that you are comfortable with. If you are with Webflow, us it. It's a Maker advantage.
2. Distribution tactic - I really like how Valentin thought through the product distribution. In the beginning he does not have a massive amount of value to offer because the template selection is less than 100. So anticipating that in the beginning of launching his site, there may not be many templates, Valentin uses a great distribution tactic by promoting a newsletter sign up to receive 3 Notion templates per week straight to your inbox.
This is a great way to continue to add value to the user, and continue to have an opportunity to sell to them as you build out your product. Now you also have a captive audience that you can talk to understand why they like your product. I would recommend that he promotes more through twitter. I am not sure what the top of his funnel flow to the website is, but if it is just twitter, it would do him good to both promote and talk about these templates through a weekly twitter thread and link to the website or the newsletter to grow his audience. But I don't know what his exact strategy is.
3. Payment - Valentin uses a great way to quickly get validation by putting on templates for sale. What I especially like about his approach is that he did not use a native payment experience inside the Webflow app. Instead he uses a link to Gumroad to handle check out for purchasing the template.
On the surface this doesn't make sense because it looks like an unfinished product. But in actuality this is a best practice. Valentin is testing out his intuition that people will want a marketplace for Notion templates. If a user wants a template bad enough they will pay for it regardless of how slick the checkout experience is. Because the template cost is low, the appearance of the checkout experience should't matter. What's more is because Valentin is an early mover (first Notion template marketplace that I have seen) its okay that it is ugly. There is little to compare against so the users will focus more on the value they receive than something as simple as a checkout experience.
Believe it or not this, this is extremely difficult for all Makers to be this disciplined when shipping an idea. No one likes to ship something that is imperfect. But the best Makers ship fast. And in order to ship fast, you have to start small and iterate from there. Once you get some validation then you can expand and spend the time to improve the experience. Also, if you are doing good product management, you'll have validation and know exactly where you should spend your time to get the right sized return on your time and goals.
Here are more notes of things that I learned from my interview with Valentin:
TL;DR Interview with Valentin
What’s interesting about it?
✅ How can you structure your efforts to leverage shipping a newsletter and build your product at the same time?
✅Advice for what tools to use
VG: My name is Valentin, I’m 26 years old living in France. I did marketing studies and I realized at the end that I didn’t want to work in a company because I didn’t know what I wanted to do! So I started freelancing. This situation gave me the opportunity to move to Berlin in Germany where I lived for 1 year. There I did some growth marketing freelancing and then I started to create website with Webflow for french companies. I had more and more job but I deeply wanted to create my own product so I did it with Notioneverything.com, a platform for every Notion lover.
VG: I’m a huge user of Notion but it hard to find good inspiration. So I was looking on Reddit and FB group to find duplicate templates, add-on, and more. And at some point, I was like “It would be so helpful to have a platform where you can find all of these without looking everywhere”.
So I created an MVP in one day on Webflow for my landing page, Airtable as my database and Integromat to connect all of this.
I started with this stack basically because I know Webflow really well. For Airtable, it was easy to use and answer perfectly to my need. Integromat was the most difficult one but Zapier is too expensive. Gumroad was great to start affiliation with. I love Loom to create video easily (I used it every day for my freelance job).
I just try it! I found awesome Notion template and I said to the creator “Hey, would you like to share it on my platofrm? And maybe get paid for that”. Some of them were like “looks like a good idea!”.
So, for the pricing, you just need to try and you would see how people react. And always ask your community what they think!
VG: It has been really effective when I launched it. I received more than 1000 emails in one week. People love to receive free stuff. It’s awesome to start with but you need to understand that it requires a lot of time to create a newsletter. I did the mistake to stop during 2 months this newsletter. Now I’m starting again but god, it hard to find a good balance between what people are looking for and how much time you can put on it.
VG: For my newsletter, I’m dedicating at least 1 hour to do it. It’s not much mostly because I’m listing 3 new templates and talking a bit about what’s news on the platform. I’m sending this newsletter once a week.
Note from me (Michael): This is something that I want to call out as really important when making a side project. This is a great model to learn from when building your side project.
It is an example of leveraging content to be used multiple times – the content that he puts into the newsletter contributes to the content that he lists on the marketplace. So while he is building value in his newsletter he is also complimentary work towards his marketplace.
This is a huge time saver and what I recommend to think about how you structure your side project and newsletter simultaneously. Time. is not your friend when creating a side project. You have to do both as a Maker. Build and market it. If you think about it correctly you can leverage marketing for it as building for your product at the same time.
Most people think in terms of blogs or twitter threads. Those are great and have a place. But when you are building something new working to get a sizeable audience the using this tactic is a massive underused one. I used it as a bedrock to my success with Side Project Stack.
example: any insights, advantages and disadvantages, things that surprised you, disappointed you for each tool:
Webflow: copy what other people are doing. Check their code and use a duplicate template. Check the cloneable showcase of Webflow. Check also what Flowbase and Finsweet are doing, they are amazing! And finally, look at Webflow showcase search to find the perfect component/template to use.
Airtable: perfect tool to start a database. Start with easy things. Not neet to overcomplicated your database
Integromat: It’s hard. You will struggle. Check the Fb community. You need to know that their customer support is awful! So be ready, it’s a powerful tool but not accessible for everyone.
Notion: It’s awesome! Here my process: I focused on a specific problem and I create one step a the time things that I think would help me. I always start from a white page. Tell me if you need help! And of couse, look on notioneverything.com 😉
Gumroad: great platform to sell digital goods and the founder is awesome! Super easy to use.
Loom: perfect tool to create video.
VG: Decided to start small: find a product market fit first. Also because I didn’t want to put too much time into a project. So let’s start small and simple and expand if there is a market answer. I’m on this part now and I’m struggling between building many features for my marketplace or just simply improving the existing ones. I decided to focus on the second option. It’s much easier to maintain as a solopreneur and also I’m afraid to saturate my brain with this project and leave it because it’s too much. For a marketplace, I think, it also needs time for SEO and reputation to take place.
Stop to create tools/services for others no-code users. They have no money. Focus on businesses which are not digitally advanced.
I think there is a lot to do in Webflow universe. Too many businesses are struggling on WordPress or with custom code. Webflow is perfect to help them boost their performance, SEO and easy to manage.
The community. If you have a community, it’s gonna be sooo easy to launch anything in your niche.
When I launched Notion Everything, the most famous Notion creators were thinking I was trying to steal their work. I talked with them but it’s very hard to get past that first impression.
And secondly, most creators don’t understand that people can pay for their template. It’s my job to convince them that, yes, you can earn money from a passion.
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