EarlyStage

Stories of early-stage tech startups and side-projects

Freelancers, With Jack has got your back
.

Make connections online and take them offline — Foxie: The new social network

Gifts Done puts your gifting tasks on autopilot
.

The Million Dollar Homepage of the modern internet — The Button


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Tell us about a tech startup or side-project that you find really cool and we'll feature it. Also, if you are a founder and want to tell the world your story, get in touch

© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Early-stage Blog

Conversations with founders of early-stage startups and newly launched side-projects to understand : Why a startup was built | How it was built | Where it is heading


Seedproof

10th September 2018

Seedproof is a platform where entrepreneurs can grow their ideas into successful ventures. Seedproof enables makers to validate ideas, gather feedback, find inspiration, browse a list of problems, prepare a pitch deck, and earn cash grants. In conversation with Andrew Tye

"...a lot of people started using the site and joining the community, and I realized there is a huge, global community of product makers that want better support."

Why did you build Seedproof?
At first I was working on something else. This was a side-project I was building because I'd always wanted a place to validate my startup ideas. But a lot of people started using the site and joining the community, and I realized there is a huge, global community of product makers that want better support. So I'm super excited that now I can work on something near to my heart

Do you work on the idea full-time?
Yes, this is a full-time company

How did you go about building the platform?
Some of my background is technical. So I was able to do all of the early engineering on my own

How are you promoting Seedproof?
Our strategy has been to grow by launching new features. We have released nine new product features to date, and each one brings a wave of new users. But now we've reached a tipping point where current users are posting about Seedproof and telling their friends. So our promotion will come from our existing community. And that's the goal. That's the ideal source for real promotion

Where is Seedproof heading?
A few weeks ago we started giving out small cash grants every week to product makers with popular products. This is providing opportunities to people who don't have many opportunities. And it's giving part-time product makers a way to be rewarded. Long-term, these cash grants will become larger and we will give out more of them. And we will have more capital available to make seed investments in founders who execute well with their cash grant


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© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Early-stage Blog

Conversations with founders of early-stage startups and newly launched side-projects to understand : Why a startup was built | How it was built | Where it is heading


StripTogether

10th September 2018

StripTogether is an online community for social web comic makers. The platform has over 1630 comic makers who collaborate on strips and discuss comics. In conversation with Matthew Pierce

"StripTogether manages to kill two birds with one stone - I can practice art while building relationships. I know I can't be the only artist out there who has experienced such isolation while pursuing skills, thus...my burning desire to grow a collaborative community where artists can practice, play, connect, and grow"

Why did you build StripTogether?
I started www.StripTogether.co because as an artist myself, I grew increasingly tired by the isolating nature of honing my skill. That, combined with the competition of getting one's art out there in the public (Instagram, etc.) left me feeling disconnected and cynical.

So much about social media today is about consumption. In fact, that's the only part about social media that is social. This focus on one to many relationships I think has made internet communities more concerned with publishing than any real relationship building.

On StripTogether, nobody can publish content without collaborating with other artists on the website. Comic Strips are made in a improv-comic jam style where they are drawn one panel at a time, with each panel contributed by a different artist.

This focus on collaboration aims to improve the quality of relationships that can be built through social media. It's my hope that a stronger sense of community can be fostered than you would see in traditional social media.

And so, StripTogether manages to kill two birds with one stone - I can practice art while building relationships. I know I can't be the only artist out there who has experienced such isolation while pursuing skills, thus...my burning desire to grow a collaborative community where artists can practice, play, connect, and grow.

Do you work on the idea full-time?

How did you go about building the platform?
I'm building StripTogether totally solo. This can be a struggle sometimes, and things might move a bit slowly, but I really love tackling every task on the way to building a profitable web service/community. It's a fantastic way to learn!

How did you validate and promote the idea?

What's next for StripTogether?
In the short term, I'm fine-tuning the premium offering, finding more ways to engage the community, and improving the interface across devices.

In the long term, I want StripTogether to become a community that helps comic artists connect and learn every step of the way as they progress through their practice and careers. Eventually, StripTogether will be where more serious, on-going series can be collaboratively created and published all within one platform.


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© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Early-stage Blog

Conversations with founders of early-stage startups and newly launched side-projects to understand : Why a startup was built | How it was built | Where it is heading


With Jack

1st September 2018

WithJack provides bespoke insurance for freelance creatives. Launched in September 2016 (with a soft-launch in August), it has surpassed £100,000 in premium written. In conversation with Ashley Baxter

"The quickest route to market was to sign up as an affiliate for an insurer. This meant I could launch quickly and gauge feedback, but it came with lots of downsides..... I was able to get 55 paying customers and a lot of positive feedback. That was enough for me to want to keep iterating on it"

Why did you build WithJack?
I noticed several problems in the insurance industry.
1. The vast majority of people don’t trust their insurance provider
2. Few insurers are investing in their technology
3. People don't enjoy the customer journey when shopping for insurance

Those problems excited me and I wondered if I could create a business people could trust, with great design and technology at its core. That lead to building With Jack

Do you work on the idea full-time?
As of this year, yes. Prior to this year I was splitting my time between other work

How did you go about building the platform?
I have some technical knowledge. I know enough HTML, CSS and Ruby on Rails to build quick prototypes and test ideas. However, I was serious about With Jack from day one, so I worked with a team of developers and designers like Simple as Milk and Scott Riley

How did you validate the idea?
Insurance is a regulated industry, so it can be difficult validating ideas. There's a lot of red tape and capital required to get started. The quickest route to market was to sign up as an affiliate for an insurer. This meant I could launch quickly and gauge feedback, but it came with lots of downsides. I had little control over the design and technology, and I couldn't build a relationship with customers because they technically weren't mine. I was able to get 55 paying customers and a lot of positive feedback. That was enough for me to want to keep iterating on it

What's next for WithJack?
Automating as much of the customer journey as possible (we’re soon rolling out instant quotes), without losing the personal touch. I’ll also be building in some value added services so freelancers are getting the complete spectrum of protection they deserve


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© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Early-stage Blog

Conversations with founders of early-stage startups and newly launched side-projects to understand : Why a startup was built | How it was built | Where it is heading


The Button

1st September 2018

The Button is a website that allows anybody to buy the button displayed on the website by outbidding the current price and linking it to a URL of their choice. Earning $450+ within 24 hours of its launch, it is the modern internet's The Million Dollar Homepage. In conversation with co-founder Stefan Gergely

"...even though we came up with the idea spontaneously, it stands firmly on its feet as a business case: it's simple to understand, very easy to use, highly "viralable" and useful. The launch has proven all of the above"

Is The Button a side-project or are you working on it full-time?
The Button is (currently) a side project. We're two tech-savvy guys who came up with a wild idea over a weekend coffee and who built it the very same weekend or so. While this may sound like it's not sturdy, our experience in the world of software, product design and entrepreneurship shortened the development timeline, not the simplicity of the project itself (Keep in mind, The Button has thousands of lines of code and quite a lot of product design, as simple as it may seem.)

Why did you build The Button?
I think we made The Button for three main reasons. Firstly, even though we came up with the idea spontaneously, it stands firmly on its feet as a business case: it's simple to understand, very easy to use, highly "viralable" and useful. The launch has proven all of the above, people are using it exactly how we hoped they would; you don't see that a lot in 48 hours after product launch. Secondly, we had the necessary experience and skills to achieve what we did (coding, design, growth hacking, attention to detail). Thirdly, who doesn't enjoy a challenge like this?

How did you go about building the platform?
Oh, building the platform was very complicated. After we came up with the idea at Starbucks, we moved to a different table which had a socket, took our laptops out, one of us started designing the button UI (me) and my co-founder (Andrei Nedelcu) began coding the webpage. That's literally it. We added a few functionalities along the way (such as button.do/history), as we started to get a feel for the product but not much. It was clear from the beginning to both of us how this had to look and feel

How are you promoting The Button?
Everyone knows that launching a product is one of the most difficult steps in a product's life. This was no different. For launch strategies, we chose Product Hunt on one end since The Button is the sort of quick and fun website you learn about on Product Hunt. We also made a little noise on Reddit. That's an ongoing plan out of which I can only reveal step 1: [bit.ly/2BVOHF9]. The rest is secret. Hint, you can find out more from that Reddit thread. We're now looking to reach mainstream media to keep the amazing growth rate we've had so far and, much more importantly, to maintain our legitimacy. One thing both Andrei and I love about the Button is that, as intended through the bidding business model, the links that are on the button are legitimate, non-spammy, cool products or interesting media, etc. This makes clicking the button a great experience

Where is The Button heading?
One of the core things that we firmly believe make The Button successful is the simplicity of it. In this regard, we will be very careful in adding new features. I can definitely say we'll be making it easier for people to share the button once they've acquired it. On top of this, who knows what the future might bring. We'll definitely find a way to shake it up, that's for sure


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© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Early-stage Blog

Conversations with founders of early-stage startups and newly launched side-projects to understand : Why a startup was built | How it was built | Where it is heading


Foxie

1st September 2018

Foxie is a social network that encourages users to find connections (based on mutual interests) outside their friends circle and meet them in real life. In conversation with founder Edison Espinosa

"I looked and looked for apps that would help me connect beyond my friends"

Why are you building Foxie?
Okay, there's actually a super long story to building Foxie. Long story short, I moved from Orlando to Miami and I just couldn't find who played soccer. So I wanted to build something in which you can find out when people were going to play, at what time and where. But as the idea progressed, I realized that this can be for anything really. Not just for soccer, but for meeting others in real life. I also feel this is much needed in this day and age. Our generation has become more isolated due to other social networks. I envision this will solve some of those issues that come with isolation and our thirst for likes and how other social networks have been made.
I looked and looked for apps that would help me connect beyond my friends

How are you building your app?Do you have a co-founder/team?
I'm building this app. Sitting around and meeting people who code around here in South Florida are few and far in between. So 9 months ago, I decided to learn Swift (Apple's programming language for iOS devices) and 6 months ago after feeling more comfortable with it, I built it. But at one point I thought about hiring a team, but it is too expensive (around $20k)

Is Foxie a side-project or are you working on it full time?
Foxie is my full time project. I code during the day and then focus on business and growth during the night. This interchanges on the mood vibe, or priority for the week. For example, this week I released a new version, so I'll be focusing on growth and getting more users

How did you validate the idea?
I validated this idea by just talking to people. Mostly everyone that I've talked to liked the idea and felt it was needed. I submitted my idea for a tech conference and everyone that came up to us really loved the idea and wanted to support and use it right away. Also I put up a landing page with a small pitch and people have been signing up

How are you promoting the app?
Right now I'm not promoting the app, per se. I'm a part of a good number of slack channels ranging from iOS developers, to designers, and I mainly just say 'Hey, does anyone want to use this?' But soon I'll start promoting it and being around college campuses. Why college campuses? Foxie needs communities like schools to grow organically and for people to trust it and see the value in it

Where is Foxie heading?
I have a long-term vision for Foxie that this will usher a much needed change in the zeitgeist when it comes to how we use technology to connect with others beyond our circle of friends and family. So short-term, right now, I feel Foxie is at like 60% fully built. While I have the beta out there, I want to use all 10k TestFlight invites, after that I really want to do a public release, and then just grow it in places that have community


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© 2018 Early-stage Blog | All rights reserved

Founder News

Get to know what's up with early-stage startups and side-projects



© 2018 Early-stage Blog

Founder News

Get to know what's up with early-stage startups and side-projects



© 2018 Early-stage Blog

Founder News

Get to know what's up with early-stage startups and side-projects


About Founder News

Startup news is all about funding, million/billion dollar valuations and acquisitions, right?
What about other milestones a startup hits in its journey? (Getting the first 100 users, generating revenue, adding new features)

At Founder News, we don't consider a milestone to be small or insignificant. We give early-stage founders and side-project makers a platform to share launch, milestone, feature and other updates about their project

“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.” - Biz Stone, Co-founder @twitter

You work tirelessly to get your idea off the ground and when you hit a milestone that is special to you, considering where you started from, you're let down because you read startup stories revolving around these topics:
'Theranoz attained unicorn status'
'Y Messenger bagged millions of $$$ in funding'
'Don't Jump Bikes has been acquired by a silicon valley tech giant'
and you feel your milestone isn't good enough to be made known to the world.

Isn't there a startup news platform where you can let the world know about a milestone (that is different from the conventional stories) that your startup hit recently?

There is,now!

At Founder News we'll be equally excited to read milestones like:
"Hey! My startup got its first 100 users"
"My side-project is now profitable"
"I finally launched a side-project"

We consider no milestone to be small or insignificant. If you're working on an early-stage startup or a side-project, send us a milestone your project hit recently.

Why, you ask?
1.) You can keep users, fans, startup enthusiasts, VCs and other makers updated on your project's progress.
2.) You stay motivated (and accountable) to keep shipping and moving forward

A milestone update is a headline (11 words or lesser) which links to a specific URL of your choice


© 2018 Early-stage Blog

Founder News

Get to know what's up with early-stage startups and side-projects


Submit an update


© 2018 Early-stage Blog