Hello fellow bootstrappers, I'm Brad from SubmitBox

Hello everyone, been lurking for a little while and finally decided to come out of anonymity and introduce myself.

I’ve been teaching technology and computer programming courses to high school students for about fifteen years now. I’ve just recently caught the entrepreneurial bug, and my first project SubmitBox (getsubmitbox.com) is a SAAS app designed to help teachers collect their students’ documents with Dropbox or Google Drive. It also allows teachers to have a simple paperless workflow for their assignments.

SubmitBox is slightly profitable. I have just over 40 paid users after taking it out of free beta in January of this year. I’m still trying to figure out how to market the app and drive traffic to the site. I have a lot to learn in this area, and I’ll be experimenting with content marketing, Google Adwords, and possibly some other avenues in the coming months.

I’ve learned a lot from this forum in the short time I’ve been here, and I look forward discussing bootstrapping topics more with all of you in the future.

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Congrats on launching your product, and reaching break even.

How did you get your first forty customers? How many trials per month are you getting? Is churn low? Do you think you’ve reached product/market fit?

I suppose like almost all of us, you’re interested in feedback.

  • I browsed to the website on my Nexus 7, and the text ‘Tired of collecting your students’ documents…’ appears in a very narrow column in the middle of the screen.
  • on the plans page you say ‘Your own SSL secured site to collect your students’ documents’, but I’m not sure the target audience will understand what SSL is, and what the benefits are.

Hi Frank,

Customer acquisition has been pretty slow. I rolled out the app last March as “free while in beta”. Sign ups were slow at first (usually a couple per week), but in September I posted some comments mentioning the app on blog posts about teachers using Dropbox and suddenly I was starting to get about 15 - 20 signups a week for about a month. In January I ended the free beta period and about 25 teachers paid the annual fee for the app, which I was pretty ecstatic with since looking over my database, it seemed there were maybe only 20 teachers using the app regularly so there were a few teachers willing to pay the fee in anticipation of using the app later.

Since ending the free beta, signups have trickled to about 2 - 4 per week, and I’ve converted about 15 to paying customers. I’m going to have to figure out how to market the app if it’s ever going to make any real money.

As far as product/market fit, I believe the app solves a real pain point for teachers. I originally started the project because I couldn’t find anything that allowed me to collect documents from my students in the way I wanted to. Teachers are notoriously hard to sell to, but I believe with some better marketing, I can find enough customers to make it worth my time.

Yeah, the landing page doesn’t look good on mobile devices. I naively thought building it with Bootstrap would make it automatically responsive. I’ll be fixing the landing page this week.

You’re probably right about SSL, I’ll change that soon as well.

Thanks for the feedback.

Good job!
Regarding driving new traffic - have you considered ads on Reddit?

There seems to be a very active community of (internet savvy) tecahers:

IMHO reddit can be really effective in reaching potential customers, that are not actively searching for your product.

Hi Jeff,

I hadn’t considered Reddit ads, but it definitely sounds like something I should take a look at.

Thanks for the suggestion.

Maaaaan… my son has an issue with not bringing his home work home, and I lost count on how many times I was thinking “why there is no system where the HW is published for kids and parents to see, submitted the same way, and marks are communicated to parents?!”

What I’m saying… not only teachers may pay, but eventually the parents too. May be via teachers, but still – there is a benefit for parents. Please keep it in mind. :wink:

P.S. What I think tough is the landing page needs help. “Your assignments…In the cloud” - seriously? I do not expect even a technologically advanced teacher be more familiar with “cloud” vs “dropbox” or “internet”.

The selling proposition is just not jumping at me.

Hi @rfctr, thanks for the input. I may disagree with you a bit about the “cloud” term since my experience has been that teachers have been inundated with education technology terms and apps, especially in recent years. That being said, “Your assignments…in the cloud” may not be the best headline to draw potential users in. I’ll have to think about what might be more effective.

Thanks again.

Welcome @sparkygoblue! I just went through and watched your demo video, and I think you have a great web app! Very clean UI, an intuitive workflow.

That said, I tend to agree with @rfctr about the landing page needing a bit of help, but not necessarily about the term “cloud”. I think you should try to figure out the biggest pain point that your app solves for. “Your assignments…In the cloud” doesn’t strike me as that impactful. I think the best landing pages are the ones that flat out tell you why they are valuable. Take kiss metrics for example:

        Google Analytics tells you what’s happening.
        KISSmetrics tells you who’s doing it.

They are both telling you how they are different from the competition, and the value proposition that you can expect. Personally I think they should then tell you WHY “who’s doing it” is valuable, but it at least gets me interested.

I don’t know how exactly to re-factor your headline, but try to pinpoint exactly what pain point your solving for, that will resonate with the teachers that land on your page.

Good luck!

Hello @thomas07vt, Thanks for checking out the demo video. I’ve worked hard to make SubmitBox intuitive and easy to use.

I agree with both you and @rfctr about the headline, and I also agree that it should highlight the pain point SubmitBox is remedying. I’m trying to think of a succinct – maybe even clever – headline to replace the current one. I’ll come up with something.

Thanks for the input and suggestion.