Discuss Home · Bootstrapped Podcast · Scribbleton Personal Wiki · HelpSpot Customer Service Software · Thermostat NPS

Hi, I'm Victor, a web developer. I'm here to learn


#1

Hey,

I’ve been lurking for some time now, and I figured it’s about time I actually registered.

I’ve been a web developer for the past ten years. During the past couple of years, the vast majority of my clients have been SaaS owners. This gave me the opportunity to build a SaaS platform (which I’ve named TurboMVP) that has gotten more and more features with each iteration, to the point where I can now build and deploy an MVP really fast for my clients.

I am also the owner of Newtrien.com, a SaaS built on top of TurboMVP that makes it very easy for recipe website owners to create and publish nutrition labels on their blogs. Newtrien hasn’t had the success I hoped for, which is part of the reason I joined this community. I have a ton of technical knowledge and experience, but I have much to learn about building and running an actual business.

I don’t know how much I’ll be able to contribute to discussions, since I’m mainly hear to learn, but - with time - I hope to be able to give back at least part of what I take when it comes to knowledge.


#2

The Newtrien site is beautiful, so nice work on that. I wonder though, is there sufficient demand for nutrition labels on blogs to make a sustainable business? What do prospective customers use right now for their nutrition labels?


#3

Thank you! I have some experience on usability and UX, so I design my own websites (and even some for clients who don’t have the budget for a specialized designer), and even though the results aren’t going to win any design awards any time soon, I think they are serviceable.

Apparently not :smile: The truth is, when I started Newtrien I made the very first mistake in the book: I built something without actually verifying any of my assumptions. I did absolutely no market research, I simply started building for the fun of it, because I liked the idea, and I liked toying with the USDA nutritional database.

In hindsight that was pretty dumb, but it did give me the opportunity to improve the SaaS platform, and I have since used those improvements for my clients too, so it was not a complete waste.

I have since posted on a couple of Facebook groups for recipe bloggers, and asked for their opinion. A lot of them told me that they wouldn’t use a service like this because they don’t want their readers to think that they are in any way qualified to provide nutritional advice and analysis. So the answer is “nothing”. They don’t use anything for nutrition labeling, because they don’t want nutrition labels on their blog.

I have had some limited success with people that actually produce and deliver food, as well as some nutritionists who create customized meal plans for their customers. So there is a bit of potential, just not with the market I initially anticipated.


#4

That is usually the way it turns out. :smile:

PayPal famously started out as a Crypto library for PalmPilot (remember them?) and went through multiple changes of direction before they ended up as what they are now.

Talk to these unexpected customers and you might uncover some real opportunities.


#5

You’re right, of course. Problem is, reaching recipe bloggers is easy. They all have websites, naturally, and most of them have some contact method available, so I can at least do some cold emailing. They are also on dedicated Facebook groups, subreddits, etc. With people that produce or package food, however, I have no idea where to start.


#6

You have emails of customers who have purchased, don’t you? Email a few of them and ask them what you could improve about your product. Offer to phone them if they want to discuss it further. See also:

I know most developers hate picking up the phone, but I find it really isn’t that bad and it can much more fruitful than email.


#7

[quote=“Andy, post:6, topic:3196”]You have emails of customers who have purchased, don’t you? Email a few
of them and ask them what you could improve about your product.[/quote]

You’re right, I will do that. However, I feel that improving the product wouldn’t really help much when my main problem is that I can’t bring enough potential customers to even see the website, no? It’s not that people visit and leave because they’re not interested; people don’t visit at all, and I think it’s mainly because I don’t know how to reach those who would have the most reasons to become paying customers (who apparently aren’t recipe bloggers).

Heh. I am flattered that my writing is decent enough to pass for that of a native English speaker, but I’m a Romanian. I have a terrible accent, and I have to take a lot of breaks when I talk to translate my thoughts into English. Trust me, calling my customers is not an option :smile:


#8

I was surprised by this, your writing reads very fluently. Not being able to call them will definitely slow down the discovery phase.

In that case you have to do whatever you can to uncover the places where “nutritionists who create customized meal plans” hang out online. What strange niche community is there for such people? Similarly for “people that actually produce and deliver food”.

A longer-term way of attracting them is with educational content marketing. Basically blogging specific and helpful information, about not just what your product does, but about everything else that is relevant to the lives of nutritionists and or to people who produce food. But if you can find any faster approaches, go with them instead.

Having said all that – I came here to ask you about the spy-glass (aka Loupe) effect on https://newtrien.com/. How is that done? Is there a plugin? Is it open source?


#9

Oh, that’s just some simple JavaScript code. You can get it here.

All you need then is jQuery, and the following HTML structure:

<div class="image-zoom" data-width="698" data-height="689">
    <div class="zoom"></div>
    <img src="path/to/full/image.png" alt="" />
</div>

You have to set the data-width and data-height attributes to the dimensions of the full image. And you’ll also need this CSS:

.image-zoom {
    position: relative;
}
.image-zoom img {
    display: block;
    width: 100%;
}
.image-zoom .zoom {
    width: 175px;
    height: 175px;
    position: absolute;
    border-radius: 100%;
    box-shadow: 0 0 0 7px rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.85), 0 0 7px 7px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25), inset 0 0 40px 2px rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.25);
    background-repeat: no-repeat;
    background-color: white;
    display: none;
    z-index: 100;
}

That’s all there is to it. If you have any trouble implementing it, let me know, I’ll help.


#10

Getting people’s attention is the hardest part of running a business. You just have to ‘hussle’. Try lots of things and see what works.

Example: I am trying to find cost effective ways to publicise my course for people who want to start their own software business. I saw that PC Pro magazine (which I subscribe to) was doing profiles of UK tech companies. I emailed them that they should feature my company as they hadn’t done any profiles of 1-man companies. They interviewed me yesterday. Hopefully there will soon be a 2-page spread in the magazine that will mention the course. Of course, most things I tried didn’t work so well. But that’s ok.

Probably the best way to get traffic is to create lots of articles/infographics/calculators/images or other content that are of interest to the sort of people who might pay for your product.

Fair enough! On the plus side, it is probably a lot cheaper living in Romania than in the UK.


#11

Of course. That’s why a lot of folks in other EU countries outsource their development to Romanian and other Eastern European developers like myself. I can afford to provide lower prices than Western European or US developers, while also not having the cultural and timezone barriers that developers in India or Pakistan have.

However, I can’t compete with India or Pakistan on price only, since these countries have a much smaller average annual income per capita and cost of living than even Romania.


#12

I was just thinking about Victor’s plight and looking at Hacker News. Maybe you could try your question at the “Ask” tab there:

https://news.ycombinator.com/ask

You could ask something like:
“Ask HN: How can I (a startup founder) make contact with nutritionists and food producers online?”

I have built Newtrien.com, which helps people create and publish nutrition labels. Originally I targeted food bloggers, but failed to gain any traction. My research now indicates I should target people that actually produce and deliver food, as well as nutritionists who create customized meal plans for their customers. How should I go about finding such people online and making contact? (I cannot call them, due to my terrible Romanian accent and very slow English speech).