How we searched for the first users and what was wrong Artemy Lebedev

    After several months of not very successful (through our fault) work with freelancers, we had in our hands a working, but sooo crude product. We did not want to continue the exercises with cheap freelancers, and we decided to bring the product to mind on our own.
    Since nobody canceled the main work with us, I had to enter a hobby in the remaining time. At 5:30 in the morning I went home to my partner and in a small room at two tables we did our dirty work. Sergey showed me the basic things on programming forms, and he himself was engaged in fine-tuning the main functionality. They usually worked up to 9 hours and went to the office. Sometimes they gathered in the evenings and almost always worked on weekends.
    In this mode, 2-3 months have passed. There was a complete belief that there was no light at the end of the tunnel, and that the early rises would ward off any desire for entrepreneurship.

    It is working!

    We didn’t have any test cases at that moment, and we just drove assignments and messages there during the working day. It is hard to describe the euphoria when some kind of complex operation completes successfully. For us, such operations were: creating a task, approving a candidate and confirming completion. Though crooked, but at some point it worked, and it was beautiful. The light at the end of the tunnel flashed, and we rushed toward it.

    Need a release

    We really wanted to make the first release, and it didn’t matter that something wasn’t working. It took about 10-11 months of our work on the project and without a positive reaction from the market we would not have been able to extend it for a long time. The system allowed you to create and confirm tasks, and this seemed to be enough. Preparation of the first release is approximately like a repair at Zhvanetsky: “the repair cannot be completed at all, it can only be stopped.”
    As a result, I put our program in the installer, Sergey put the installer on the site, and it started. The expectation began, which, of course, could not end with anything good, because marketing as a class did not exist.

    200 fake users

    Before starting the public life of our project, we decided to wind up our public counters a bit. On the main page at that time, we showed the number of registered users, the number of completed tasks per day, and the total number of completed tasks. We set this block on purpose to attract new users with good performance. And while there were no good ones, they were worth coming up with. We registered 2 or 3 hundreds of users, created several hundred tasks and every day tried to do at least a couple of tasks in order to create some kind of appearance of activity.

    First ad

    I don’t remember where, but we got a list of user emails that were registered in bucks. A list of approximately 10t addresses. We thought that if people were ready to browse other people's sites for money, they might be interested in working at WORKZILLA as personal assistants. This assumption was quite logical, especially considering that we had no other ideas for promotion.
    We compiled a sales letter on all the canons of online sales and decided to send out on this list. Here the first failure awaited us - to send to more than 100 addresses did not work. Surprisingly, Google classified our emails as SPAM. This did not stop us at all, and we began sending out from several addresses approximately 200-300 letters per day.

    First users

    After sending the advertising letters, we only did that we updated our main page, where the registration statistics were shown.
    Hurrah! There is a first registration! Hooray, there is a first client installation, which is evident by the number of users online.
    We urgently look in the database which categories the first user indicated, and place the task taking into account his choice. We place a deliberately simple and quite expensive task so that he necessarily agrees. The assignment was “Find exercises for football.” The candidate was approved, we are waiting again. A few hours later, we are sent a list of football exercises.
    Afiget really works!

    Artemy Lebedev's forecast did not materialize

    That summer, “Designer of All Russia” organized the UkrEtnoExpo and periodically talked with the public on free topics on the mobile. On one of these days, I called him and told about our then still emerging project. tema generally approved the idea; he alone doubted that people would be willing to work. In his opinion, our people really do not like to work and this could jeopardize the existence of our service.

    In the early days, we realized that this would not be a problem. There are much more people who want to earn than those who are willing to pay for services. The ratio was approximately 1 to 9. That is, 9 performers accounted for only one customer.
    This, of course, does not mean that all 9 performers will work well and meet the requirements, but it means that there is a choice and selection will allow you to select high-quality performers, without which no “Personal Assistant” can work.

    Happiness would be incomplete without money

    The WORKZILLA monetization model implies a number of virtual banknotes in user accounts, without which even numerous registrations cannot be considered a success.
    The web mani wallet to which the payment was connected emits a pleasant ringing of coins when money comes to it. Even at night, my partner set the sound on his computer to the maximum so as not to miss this event. And once it took place, it took place at night. Time on the clock did not stop us, and he called me to inform this pleasant news.
    The first amount we received was 6p. Their owner wanted to find artists who would go to his site and click on ads from Google.
    Unfortunately, he could not find the artist and he did not turn into our regular user.

    Double marketing

    It was very disappointing when the very one, 1 out of 10, the customer appeared in the system and placed the task for his hard-earned money, and no one undertook to complete it. Without tears, it was impossible to observe. We ourselves were even ready to carry out tasks so that the customer was satisfied and returned again. A couple of times we really did and thought that in extreme cases we could earn not as creators, but at least as performers.
    Here lies the main marketing complexity of the WORKZILLA project. The so-called double marketing. The idea is that you need to attract two groups of users to the site, and you need to attract them simultaneously. One user group is performers who are willing to do the work. Another is customers who are ready to entrust tasks and are willing to pay for it.
    If the performers sit idle for a long time, they leave. If no one does the work of the customer, he will not return. It is necessary to ensure that both of these groups are represented simultaneously and in sufficient numbers.

    Hang on Freelance

    One of the marketing finds for us would be to search for employees on freelance. There you could buy premium placement of your project when it hangs on the main one and has its own banner. We were constantly looking for a Delfi programmer, so we often kept our ad there. The ad worked like an ad because it had our banner that led to our landing page and hung on the main freelance. On good days, due to such an announcement, 70-80 people were registered.

    First mention in offline media

    About three months after the public launch, we received a letter from an employee of the Expert Publishing House.
    They wanted to interview us about our service. At first, we did not believe and thought that it was some kind of divorce. But when they became sure, they began in dreams to paint pictures of our success after publication. It should be understood that at that time our service was nothing at all, and the Expert is already writing about us! True, the publication was planned not in the Expert itself, but in the journal D` (D-bar). The text of the publication.
    We expected an explosive effect on attendance, but did not notice anything at all. This is again taking into account the fact that our service at that time practically did not work and no more than 100 users visited the site per day. Even with such attendance, we did not notice the effect. Disappointment knew no bounds. Later there were other publications in various offline journals, and this result was repeated again and again. Either our topic is not interesting to offline readers, or offline readers are not interested in online.

    WORKZILLE to be

    It is clear that after the first release a lot of questions were opened, the main one: what to do with double marketing and in general, where to get customers. But the release took place, people registered, downloaded and installed the program, and even sometimes tried to order something. The project began its life and did not stop.
    After that there were hard years of difficult improvements and improvements that took place against the background of various marketing experiments.


    With this post we continue a series of publications where we want to share the experience gained during the creation and work on the WORKZILLA.RU project. Previous articles:
    - How to come up with the idea for your project (WORKZILLA example)
    - As we Hosting chosen
    - As we have learned to work with freelancers
    - Bulk emails using Amazon SES

    We do not claim omniscience and universal genius, and would like to talk about your mistakes and finds - to someone they can be useful.

    An approximate list of future non-technical articles:
    - What difficulties we had and how not to give up
    - Business plan and quasi investors
    - Remote work of the whole team
    - Events of startups

    A sample list of future technical articles:
    - Preparation for a mass advertising company with JMeter
    - DR - how we solve the problem of force majeure.
    - More about backups
    - Service monitoring with Munin, Nagios and more

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