A Quick update:
Today’s post is about Arvid Kahl, he’s the founder of the Edtech SaaS startup Feedback Panda, and author of best selling books like Zero to Sold and The Embedded Entrepreneur.
Tomorrow I will be hosting Arvid at a virtual event where he will share his wisdom around bootstrapping a business and his embedded entrepreneur approach.
We’ve already crossed 60 signups for the event.
Will be closing down new registrations soon.
If you want in, make sure you sign up here.
It’s completely free.
(And it’s okay if you can’t make it live, we will record the session and share the Zoom link with everyone who registers.)
Now, let’s get started…
"English Teachers for Chinese Students."
That's such a narrow niche.
Can a SaaS startup survive serving a micro-audience like this?
Well, as FeedbackPanda proved, not just survive, it can well and truly thrive 📈
This is the story of Arvid Kahl, his partner Danielle Simpson and how they founded FeedbackPanda
First off, some facts about FeedbackPanda.
- Completely Bootstrapped
- 0 to $55K MRR in under 2 years
- Built by a team of 2 (only 1 developer)
- Sold to Sureswift Capital
Sureswift capital's tagline - "Dream exits for bootstrapped founders"
Yea, Arvid and Danielle got that!
💰 The Business
Now, let's get into the business.
Who is the audience here?
So there are large Chinese companies who hire native English teachers for young Chinese kids.
To teach them English remotely.
VIP Kid is a good example of such a company.
They pay teachers on an hourly basis
So the more time a teacher spends teaching, the more money they can make.
But there is one catch.
After every 1:1 class, the teacher has to provide custom feedback for the student. The time for writing this feedback doesn't count anywhere.
It's unpaid work for the teacher.
So if someone spends 10-12 hours of their day teaching kids. They have to spend another 2-3 hours just giving feedback. Without getting paid for that time.
That's a burning pain for them.
Arvid’s partner Danielle Simpson was 1 such teacher. She was teaching as a side-gig at the time.
The feedback sharing process was time suck for her. And for thousands of other teachers like her.
Danielle was part of many Facebook groups with other teachers.
And this pain point was echoed multiple times.
People had even setup temporary templates on Google sheets and docs to quicken the process of sharing feedback.
Arvid thought, he could codify the process. And build a feedback template engine that teachers could use.
So they can create once and reuse the templates forever. And even share templates amongst themselves.
Network effects were built into the product from day one.
Feedback Panda reduced their efforts by almost 2 hours everyday. Their feedback giving time was reduced by 90%.
No wonder everyone loved the product.
Growth Strategies 📈
Arvid and Danielle grew the business mostly through word of mouth.
In the FB groups she was already a part of.
But they didn't promote blatantly.
They would usually share the link to the product in the replies. When someone was talking about a problem the product could solve.
Once they got some traction, they started doing teacher interviews.
Showcasing their best users. Doing profiles of them, their workflows and lessons.
They created an important resource for the English teachers community.
This became a top of the funnel for the business.
They even introduced a referral program into the business. So teachers could get a discount if they invited their friends.
And it worked like a charm.
It kicked off the flywheel of growth for the company.
Quick Lessons 🧑🏫
There are 3 quick lessons we can learn from Feedback Panda's success...
1. Charge more.
They had a $5/month plan initially, but the customers who came in weren't worth it.
Those customers were more price conscious and wanted to extract every penny they spent. They were very difficult to serve.
Eventually they raised the price to $15/month.
2. Build a sellable company
FeedbackPanda was a sellable company from day 1
How did Arvid do that?
He documented everything - code, business process, customer service complaints
And he automated everything, at every step and every level.
3. Find "Market - Problem - Product" fit
Product market fit is a very unnatural concept.
If you know your audience, you know the market, and you can identify its problems.
Then you can build a successful business from there.
Audience research was the most important thing that Danielle and Arvid nailed with Feedback Panda.
It helped them in every stage of the business —
- Initial Idea
- Decide Features
- Decide on Marketing Messaging
That's why Arvid says, go audience first!
Thank you for reading 🙏
Hope you found this post useful.
You can read the longer version of the Feedback Panda story here:
Hope your enjoyed today's post. Do let me know in the comments or on Twitter.
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