My 2023 Adventure: From Zero to 100 Users

A look back at the process of launching my first product to 100 users
Written by
Wyatt
Published on
March 26, 2024

My Story:

As a product designer, I've always wanted to launch my own product or business. Finding the right idea, though, was tough. I used to think I needed to solve some massive, world-changing problem, but that just left me feeling stuck and overwhelmed.

Other times, I'd dive into a project, work like crazy for a few weeks, then hit a wall of burnout and just drop it. Like, there was this one time I designed these cool dog leashes, got them made in China, and when they finally arrived, I had lost all interest. (Side note: I've still got like 300 of these in my closet. If you want one, hit me up!)

I was getting tired of this pattern of start-stop, feeling like I was constantly crying wolf every time I embarked on a new venture.

Changing My Habits:

Then, one weekend at a cabin in Big Bear (check out my fiancée's blog for more on that trip), I had a moment of clarity. I needed a change to really move forward.

Leaving Big Bear, I didn't have a concrete plan, but I did set a goal: read one book each month. The idea was to build the habit of doing something small but consistent every day, which could eventually lead to bigger things.

This new habit of reading daily, plus listening to podcasts, really opened my mind and got me thinking differently.

Living room
Big Bear

Finding the Idea:

Inspiration struck when I was listening to the Indie Hackers podcast. They talked about not needing to solve huge, unprecedented problems. Instead, doing something unique in an existing space could work too.

I then found a website with a massive collection of app screenshots, which was super helpful for me as a designer. That sparked an idea: what if I did something similar but with video recordings of different app flows? I got to work, bought domain names, designed prototypes, and even posted a job on Upwork to find a developer.

Webflow Website Development
Upwork Posting title

Email Emu's website
Early Concepts

The Daily Grind:

I committed to working on this project every day. I remembered a quote from Marc Randolph's book "That Will Never Work" about loving the process. I promised myself to do a bit each day and to take a break if I felt even a hint of burnout.

My Routine:

  • 5 am: Wake up & get ready
  • 5:30 am: Hydrate and read
  • 6:00-9:00 am: Work on my project
  • 9:00 am-5:00 pm: My day job as a product designer
  • 5:30-7:00 pm: Gym time
  • 7:00-9:30 pm: Dinner and chill with my fiancée
  • 9:30-10:00 pm: Bedtime

Pivoting:

As I shared my work with colleagues, I recalled struggling to find design inspiration for emails in a past job. Conversations with marketers revealed a common challenge: they all kept tabs on competitors' emails but just had them cluttering their inboxes.

That was my eureka moment! I pivoted to creating emailemu.com.

Validating the Idea:

To quickly validate my email concept, I:

  • Talked with marketers about their current solutions for email inspiration and competitor tracking
  • Set up a pre-launch site for email signups
  • Posted a "Coming Soon" notice on Product Hunt for early buzz
  • Noted a few competitors in the space, signaling a good opportunity

Getting to 100 Users:

With about 40 sign-ups from the prelaunch and some interest on Product Hunt, I was convinced there was potential. I hired a developer from Upwork, and we got to work.

While the developer was coding, I stayed active on Product Hunt and LinkedIn, building hype. A few months later, we launched on November 17, 2023, mostly through LinkedIn and word-of-mouth.

In the first week, we had 42 sign-ups. By the second week, a surprise Product Hunt launch brought us a spike in traffic and more sign-ups. Today, we've reached over 140 users with minimal marketing.

What I Learned:

  • Small daily changes can lead to powerful habits.
  • Once a routine is established, it becomes easier to maintain.
  • Love the process, not just the outcome.
  • Just start somewhere, even if you don't have all the answers.
  • There's always room for new players, even in solved problem spaces.

If you made it this far and want to improve your email marketing strategies by learning from industry leading companies, then create an account today!

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