On My Way to 100 Paying Customers

February 09, 2016

tl;dr I've decided to put the efforts Grawl deserves. Grawl is a crawler that finds broken links on your websites and alerts you.

A Two Year Pause

I've been extremely busy over the last two years. I have been freelancing with 10x Management. They bring me a lot of fun projects to work on, they are awesome! I also had a baby, she turned 2 a few days ago. For those who have had babies, you understand how time consuming it can be! I also spent about a year in Spain, which implies first moving to Spain, and then moving back to Canada.

During those two years, I have put aside pretty much every other projects I had. Building robots and electronic projects, playing music, doing kung fu, building startups.

But now! It's time to get back to building startups!

As some of you may know, in the past, I cofounded Signsquid, an electronic signature web application. I was also part of the early days of Snipcart, an HTML and JavaScript shopping cart, which is really taking off!

I'm a software developer, so when I was part of those projects, I was mostly concerned with the technical aspect. I've never spent much time doing the business part: marketing, closing deals, etc. I've always lived with the idea that I could not do it myself, that I needed other cofounders to do it. But these days are over!

Now, I'm not saying that I'm not welcoming a business guy as a cofounder! I'm saying that I don't want to wait for the perfect cofounder.

Grawl, The Project That Needed Some Love

Last week, I've read a blog post by Nathan Barry. It's called Knowing When to Quit. To summarize a little bit, he says that when a project is just sitting there and doing nothing, you should either kill it or give it the effort it deserves. It's really a great blog post that inspired me, because I have this project I did back in 2012-2013.


It was never quite the MVP I needed to test the market fit. It was abandoned. Here's a screenshot of how it looks like today (February 2016) and have been for the last few years:

Grawl, at its heart, is a SaaS that will find broken links on your websites. For example, it will find links that point to 404. The main difference with existing tools, like Google Webmaster Tools, is that Grawl will keep the list of websites you have and alert you by email when it finds broken links. It crawls all of your websites every months and it sends you an email when it's done. Also, since it's a specialized tool for broken links, it opens the door to cool features, like providing an actionable checklist of all the links to fix, etc.

It's not revolutionary, but I'm sure it has value for someone. Agencies? Big website maintainers?

The 100 First Paying Customers

At the time of writing, there are 11 users in the database. Mostly people that I told about the project in 2012-2013. We could say 0. Also, since there is currently no way to get a paying account, they are not paying customers.

Let's change that.

My first few steps toward my goal of getting 100 paying customers will be:

  • Update the code base and infrastructure to 2016 (more on that below).
  • Add the ability to charge customers: plans, credit cards, etc.
  • Build a real MVP website.

After that, I will be ready to attack the market.

Regarding updating the code base to 2016, I don't plan to rewrite anything. It's easy to fall in the trap of changing framework for the goût du jour framework. Here I'm talking about fixing stuff that broke over the few years the project was abandoned, updating libraries version, having proper backups, etc.

In Summary

This post is more or less the kickoff of my efforts to bring a new SaaS to its first 100 paying customers. I'll try to post a lot more often, about the progress, the strategies, the success and failures. Stay tuned!