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Do I have the wrong market for my product?


#1

I created a product called Donald (http://getDonald.com). Donald helps teams that deal with lots of daily communication with clients, vendors, third-parties, etc. by automatically capturing and organizing the communication so the whole team can easily find what they need.

I originally marketed this product to digital agencies (web design/dev firms, marketing, advertising, etc.) as that’s where I had previously experienced the problem first hand. I started working on this in Feb 2015 by talking to agency owners about whether or not they had the problem. After I started seeing the trend that it was, I built a simple prototype and got those same folks on the phone to do a demo and get feedback.

Eventually, in June I got my first paying customer. Since then though, I’ve been unable to convert any other agencies. I’ve had some people excited about it, but once they get in the trial, they don’t end up using it and forgetting about it.

What I’ve learned after months of talking to dozens and dozens of agency owners is:

  • if they haven’t already solved the problem with another solution
    (either commercial or home grown), the problem still isn’t big enough
    to pay for a solution for
  • many agencies have solved the problem with existing project management software or a home grown email alias setup
  • digital agencies are very digital/technical and generally have the means to solve this problem by the time it’s big enough for them
  • they’re probably not the best market for this product

I started thinking about the Donald product and the pain it solves. Are there other industries out there that are less technical that have the same issue but have no idea of how to fix it?

Currently, I’m cold emailing financial planning firms, adoption agencies, and pediatric therapy firms to see if they have the issue.

My questions for the group:

  • Am I crazy? Should I just quit and move on?
  • How can I determine if there is another viable market for Donald out there?

#2

I loged in your site.
I scrolled.
I found nothing attractive interested to make me read it.

I closed it.

If you think that your product is solving an issue, try showcase that.


#3

Are you my target market though?


#4

I run an egency with 8figures MRR. Am I? :smile:

And as an agency, I demand from the services I use amazing web site, content and easy flow.


#5

Ah. You’re in the market I’m moving away from. :slight_smile: Thanks for the insight though.


#6

I’m not sure I"m your target market. We’re a microISV (me plus a few freelancers).

But my reaction was : I don’t quite know how this works.
It seems to be some “thing” in between my email account and my customers.
But I can’t wrap my head around it.

A demo video would be very helpful.


#7

Thanks for the feedback. Donald aggregates all your client emails into one place. Like a team inbox almost. Everybody can view all the emails even if they weren’t on the thread.

But I don’t think agencies are a good target market, as I mentioned.


#8

Have you talked to Stripe? IIRC they cc the entire team on all emails or at least used to do so.


#9

I had a quick browse of the home page and it sounds exactly like what an email client like Outlook does. Captures contacts and organises email. Not really sure what you app does that’s different to that.


#10

Sounds like you want customers with:
-few in-house development skills
-money
-lots of regulation (so they have to track all communication)

Perhaps small and medium sized finance/insurance companies would be a market to try? I expect the sales cycles will be long though.


#11

I have, and they do, to some degree. They have their own solution currently: https://github.com/stripe/gaps


#12

Thanks for the feedback Craig. Donald provides more value than Outlook in team situations. Outlook allows you to search your own inbox but not that of your teammates.


#13

Yeah, basically, although I’m not 100% regulations are necessary yet.

Hm, that might be worth a shot. What are some examples of medium sized finance companies?


#14

Insurance companies are my target market, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Very long sales cycles. Aside from that, where there’s a regulatory requirement to retain emails, they already do. Worse, if there’s any chance that any sensitive customer data will hit your service, they you’ll have weighty regulations to comply with.

I’ve checked out your site (I don’t think it’s so bad - reasonably clear what it does). I don’t think the pain is anywhere near sufficient. You seem to solving a problem that occurs infrequently. I might want a complete record of communication, but I extremely rarely need it. I can see how I might need to access someones emails while they’re on leave, theoretically, but I don’t plan to have to do that.

You’d be better off solving a problem that people face every day. So, for example, if people do need access to team emails day in and day out, they’ll use a shared inbox or snappy or helpscout or one of the million other ways of having a shared inbox.

One final thought: learning a new market, and making connections in that market, may be tougher than pivoting your product within the same market.


#15

I really like the idea. It makes sense to me that each team mate has it’s own inbox but that some project relevant e-mails need to be shared. It’s different than a shared team inbox where all communications are stored.

I see the value however more in having a backup of communications for a specific project. Maybe you could add a file storage feature (linked to Dropbox). Your offer could then be a solution for “Backup all files and e-mails of a project”.


#16

So after all of those comments, even if you keep saying " we are not your target " you nderstand that your web site is not enough for people to understand it.

I know we all love our childrens, but we have to make them better and not believe we have the best out there.


#17

Thanks! It actually currently does have file storage and automatically stores all file attachments.

The backup idea is definitely a big value prop of the product but so far, digital agencies don’t see the value in it.


#18

Definitely. The marketing site needs some work on the messaging. But that’s not my concern right now nor what I was requesting feedback on.

The bigger problem is that customers I’ve courted are actually using the product and just not seeing value in it. Hence my question about seeking other markets.

Appreciate all the feedback!


#19

Yes, they do not see value on the product as they can not understand it.

Dunno how we can be more clear.


#20

The customers I’m referring to understand the product. I’ve done demos with them and they completely get it. Once they start using it, they just forget about it though as it doesn’t provide enough value nor solve a big enough pain that they’re using it regularly.

You’re referring to the marketing site, which is a separate issue. I appreciate the feedback on that.