Leo Widrich, co-founder of Buffer, explains how they began generating revenue within 7 weeks, and within their first 8 months grew to over 50,000 members! Buffer allows Twitter users to drop their tweets into Buffer, which then queues them to automatically post their tweets at specific time intervals based on when Buffer knows your audience is reading their tweets.
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About Leo Widrich
Leo Widrich is the Co-Founder of Buffer and a Marketing and Community Geek. He took Buffer to 50,000 users in 8 months. He is a blogger for Mashable, TNW and HubSpot and he loves the hustle. Feel free to hit him up @leowid anytime.
Jay: Hello everyone, I’m Jay Gould, founder and host of Behind the Web. Today’s question is: how do you take an idea to revenue within seven weeks and then within eight months, grow that business and membership to 50,000 members? Today’s guest, Leo Widrich, the co-founder of Buffer, is going to explain exactly how they did that. Leo, welcome to the show.
Leo: All right, Jay, awesome. Glad you have me on here today.
Jay: So, why don’t you take us back? You weren’t the original founder. Who’s the original founder of Buffer?
Leo: Sure. So, it was about October of 2010 that Joe came up with the original idea of Buffer. When he used Twitter he always wanted a nicer and easier way to post Tweets. He would come across a lot of startups and posts, a lot of quotes he wanted to tweet. It’s always a hassle if you tweet 5 things in a row. You mentioned earlier that it’s [inaudible], kind of clutters the screen with 5 things in 10 minutes, you’re like, “Whoa, I’ve got to unfollow this guy, right?” And so, we kind of came up with the idea of buffering these things, spreading them out over the days even. So you drop them into your Buffer and the Buffer posts them for you at good times, so no one gets annoyed from inside your screen. And Joe, on the side, had a day job by then, and cranked out Buffer in 7 weeks and then launched it in Beta in mid-December. And after 3 days, the first person started paying. So he was like, “Wow, something’s going on here.”
Jay: So he pretty much, he’s a programmer himself. He put this thing together practically overnight. He launches this thing and he gets revenue. So he knew immediately people would be willing to pay for this service? That’s how valuable it was?
Leo: Absolutely, yeah. That’s – so Joel actually followed very religiously that lead start movement on building Buffer. He really was all about testing the idea. He had a great landing page. If you Google “idea to revenue in 7 weeks” you will find, Joel wrote a long article on exactly that. Just like how important it is to test the idea exactly when it enters your mind. You know, speaking to people – “What do you think about this? Could this be helpful for you?” And he did a great job on the landing page, before it even existed.
Jay: Right. And that brings you into what you do. You’re in marketing, so, what did you do prior to Buffer. Why don’t you tell us that?
Leo: Yeah, actually I dropped out of college recently. I went to university; I went to business school in the UK. I always kind of had this drive to build a startup on the side. I tried a couple things in social media marketing. I had a small agency which made a few bucks, and then I had, I tried a website where you could read – everyone kind of has these ideas when they’re in college – I tried to do a website where you could review your college professors and that would help you to figure out what courses to go to and stuff. I pushed that live app together even though I’m not a programmer and when I launched it I got a nice email from the university saying that if I don’t shut down the site, they will kick me out of university -
Jay: It’s like Zuckerberg.
Leo: Yeah. So I said, “Well, screw that.” And then Joel just came along and said, “Well, look this is working, I could use someone to help with the marketing.” And I said, “Well, let me have a go at this.”
Jay: How’d you meet Joel? How did you guys meet?
Leo: Joel was at the same university as me as well. We met there at various entrepreneurship events. We organized a conference type of thing together. And then we just stayed in touch. Joel had a previous startup called Onepage, and I always would love to give him feedback on that, and he helped me with my projects. With Buffer it was just a really, really good fit where we said, “Well why not try this thing together?” And that’s kind of where we said we can give it a go.
Jay: Onepage sounds familiar. Tell me about Onepage briefly.
Leo: Yeah, so, Onepage is your business card in the cloud. And the idea was, similar to and About Me or [inaudible], that you can collect business cards from people you meet at conferences, like digitally. So you’d just have it in a stack, a folder online. And you never have to . . .
Jay: And what ever happened with Onepage? Did he sell that?
Leo: Onepage reached some popularity but the problem was that it wasn’t monetized. So there was no revenue coming from it. So, there wasn’t a chance of selling it or trying to squeeze some money out of it. Joel then decided, well it’s better just to try a completely new idea which is monetized from day one. Which he did with Buffer. So it’s still live, but it’s just no longer [inaudible].
Jay: And I apologize. I usually open up these interviews and the first question I always ask, the first one always, is: “In your own words, your ten words or less kind of pitch, describe Buffer.” Can you do that?
Leo: Sure. Absolutely. The Buffer is a smarter solution to post updates to Twitter and Facebook. You drop tweets in your buffer, which is a queue, and then Buffer posts automatically for you throughout the day to Twitter or Facebook. [inaudible]
Jay: So, okay, so let’s now go back into the story, I apologize. So let’s go back to the story now. So now you’re working with your co-founder and you guys have a business, and he has some customers. So, from the first day he launches it to 7 weeks later, how many people did they sign up? And from the very first person, did he charge the first person, or was it free? Explain the business a little.
Leo: Absolutely. Buffer is a very simple premium subscription model, so we kind of followed the [inaudible] approach. We can sign up for free, we wanted to make the free plan really good. So if you say, “Well I only need the free plan,” that’s fine with us, we hope you refer it to your friends and stuff. The idea was that you could get a certain number of tweets stored in your buffer for free, and if you need more than that you just pay 10 bucks a month to get more space in your buffer or additional features you can unlock with it. And that kind of worked really well, so Joel collected emails before he launched. When he just had the landing page up explaining what Buffer will do. And it looked like a landing page. People would think, “Whoa, Buffer exists.” So they would click sign up and it would say “Oh, we’re not quite ready yet, but if you’re interested please put your email in.” So he collected like 150 to 200 emails through that. And that was a great way to validate the idea before…
Jay: How did he get those people? Where was he finding them?
Leo: Because Joel had this previous startup he established quite an engaged Twitter following. He had about 2,000 followers on Twitter. He just tweeted it out there and a couple friends helped him.
Jay: I see. So his initial user base where people have followed him from Twitter, and those followers knew of him because of his previous company?
Leo: Exactly, yes.
Jay: So now he has this few hundred people that sign up on his service, initially, for this new service, but there’s no product, right?
Jay: A lot of people do this now, right?
Leo: Exactly, yes.
Jay: So he has like this fake dummy page – a landing page – for a product that doesn’t exist as he’s coding it at the same time?
Jay: So he finally finishes, he launches the product, and he emails those first few hundred people. And immediately it’s the subscription plan? It’s free, a freemium model?
Leo: Immediately, yeah. From day one there was a paid subscription.
Jay: That’s great. Explain the free account versus the one-tier up. What are the differences?
Leo: On the free plan you can stack up to 10 tweets in your buffer, so you can queue up 10 tweets. And if you run out, you can add more, but you can never store more than 10 at any given time. If you say, “Well, I’m doing all my reading on Sunday morning and I want to put 50 tweets in there, or 20 or 15.” If you need more than 10 to be stored, you can get the Pro Plan which gives you up to 50 tweets in your buffer and costs you 10 bucks a month. And at the same time you may say, “Well I have my own Twitter account, I have my personal Twitter account, I have my business Twitter account and I’m also handling some organization’s Twitter account.” I mean…
Jay: Do you charge per account, or can you add multiple accounts?
Leo: Up to three accounts on the Pro Plan as well.
Jay: What is it?
Leo: Up to three accounts.
Jay: You can get these business guys. That’s great. So now you’re limiting storage of the buffers. What are the levels, what are your levels?
Leo: Yeah so, you have 50 on Pro Plan per account, and then we have unlimited on the Premium which is 30 dollars a month. You can store unlimited tweets on there. Unlimited Twitter accounts and team members as well.
Jay: You went over some key statistics that were very interesting in the business when we did our pre-call. Why don’t you explain? What does the average person have in terms of the numbers of followers that they actually have?
Leo: Oh yeah, it’s kind of interesting because we’re speaking at the moment with a lot of investors and it’s kind of coming up a lot. And people say, oh yeah that’s for the power user, right. That’s for the scovos [SP] and the guy for the [??].
Leo: Yeah, that’s what you think naturally. And, when we analyzed our figures what we found is that over 60%, and for all of our paid users, had below 200 followers. This is kind of a huge testimonial for us saying that we’re providing value for so many people. To the casual user even. Right. And who is willing to pay ten bucks a month because we make their life so much easier. We kind of help them to create a lasting twitter presence. Right.
Leo: That’s the purpose of Buffer.
Jay: So, when you created your, let me just back up to the pricing. When he created the price plan were you involved in the company back then? You came in in the eleventh week, is that right?
Jay: He started seven weeks in. He gets the market. He’s in market. He convinces you – you know what, you got to come over and work with me. A few weeks later, it took you a while you wanted to see some traction, I guess. You’re just like investors. So, you joined, right? And, what made you guys come up with the pricing plan? What was the . . .
Leo: That’s a really good question, actually. We started out with, actually, the pro-plan was only five films a month back then. And the reason for the pricing was to look at competitive products, or products in the same space, and see which value they are providing. And even though there was no exact competitor product out there, but there was more people in the space. There was a [??] and they all charged around five to ten bucks a month. And, so we said well that’s a step we want to start out with as well. And as we improved the plans over time, we added new features, difference of networks, different ways to buffer, we said well we want to try and think we’re providing enough value to charge ten dollars for this. And we changed it.
Jay: And when you say that they’re dropping the buffering, are they just dropping links and what the tweet will say, and then you save it, and schedule it, and shoot it for them later?
Jay: You don’t really store any files, right?
Leo: No. No, we don’t store any files.
Jay: This is great. So the bandwidth cost and the storage cost is pretty low on your end.
Jay: Your have something very useful. Something that people really value, and they’re willing to pay you for that.
Leo: Exactly. A buffer is really, really a really simple product which just, still, helps people in an enormous way. So, we have one of the top social media consultants using our switch. His name is Jay Bear. And he’s coming up to us, he get’s offers from big enterprise, social media softwares, and stuff. They pay him thousands of dollars to use it, and promote it, and stuff. They have millions of features as well. He’s like, I sold you a buffer just because it’s simple and it does what needs to be done on twitter. Tweet frequently at the best times. That’s always been the idea. To really understand what’s the need for a twitter user. What does he need to do at the end of the day? And that’s why we think Buffers has taken off in the way it has.
Jay: So, people like him are using it. I mean, there are certain people who use products and then they fall off. We call that the attrition, right? What is the attrition for Buffer? What percentage of users that join become a paying subscriber eventually are falling off?
Leo: Yeah. So, we have again, vary worth in our numbers last year. And what we have is, we have roughly two percent conversion from the paid users. So, out of a hundred people that sign up about two will become paying members. This is about the industry average we found. The interesting thing here, though is and this is again very powerful and similar to, I don’t know if you come across [??], where it kind of says, at the first day, if you sign up for buffer only 0.5% of the people will become paying, right. Because they just are getting started on the free plan, right. And they say, how does it go. But looking at the same cohort, and three months later 5% of the people will become paying. This is kind of really powerful for us because if means as we provide value over time people are a lot more likely to become a paying user of Buffer.
Jay: Rewind. Let’s rewind back a little bit. So, you’re there for like, a month. Joe brings you in because you’re the marketing guy. But he’s got a great business all ready that potentially will make him millions of dollars. Why bring you in? What have you done for him? Why raise any money ever. Explain all that.
Leo: Yeah. That’s a really good question. So, when I came in the idea was validated. Joel was making a couple of hundred bucks a month from [the offer. We just sat down and asked ourselves how can we grow this faster, how can we tell more people about this. This is when we decided, well, we could just start blogging and develop a very focused comfort margin strategy. We established our own blog [inaudible] and just started to give people value without referring to our product.
We just started blogging about Twitter tips, social media tips, ways to improve your impact and so forth. That kind of really, really took off. I started blogging more and more and I started [GASP blogging] and then I started blogging for NextWeb and for [??] and for KISSmetrics and for all these bigger blogs. It gave us a huge number of back links to our site and more traffic. It just kind of kicked off the [variety] of offering more. That was kind of the marketing idea behind it and we still do that.
It just is a great way to also stay in touch with your users. If you continually publish content, the common dominant and explain what their problems are. You understand the space a lot better.
Jay: OK. So he had grown to, in the first seven weeks he gets to launch? He launches he’s got revenue now, right?
Jay: He’s launched with some revenue. From seven to 11, in that time frame, just a few week, how many users did he gain on his own before you came in?
Leo: There was very, very few. I think there were only about 150 users.
Jay: It was basically his Twitter followers, his friends.
Jay: And he says, “Can you help me get this thing up?” You had a plan which is to be intertwined into the community authentically commenting about . . . OK, so, that’s great. Other people I’ve talked to did the same thing. The guys at [??] did this on Reddit. A lot of people are doing this through Hacker News and stuff. You did it through communities of blogging and things of that nature? So, it seems very . . .
Jay: . . . authentic then?
Leo: Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
Jay: And then you grow that user base from just a few hundred and can you tell me like month over month how large did you grow and how . . . First of all, when did you found the business? What was that?
Leo: The launch was the first week of December. So, that was kind of . . .
Jay: That’s interesting. So, by like February or so you’re in the business and then within what? Two, three months, how many users do you have month over month while you’re there doing what you’re doing?
Leo: Yeah, so, we have a really, really strong growth from then onwards. I think we had been growing for the first six months, I think, 15% week over week. It took a while to take off. It’s really hard work, I felt to, you know, the [common marketing] to crunch up from each day. It’s a little fun as well because I kind of enjoy [racking]. It kind of took us a while to get [Rainman] profitability. We hit [Rainman] roughly at the end of April when we made roughly $4K a month from it. So, that would mean probably like $2K for each one.
That was probably not even that much then. I think it was only maybe $2K at that time. That was the time when Joel basically quit his job, and I had kind of just finished my last lectors at university. Really, I think, after a month we had, I think, a thousand users after . . .
Jay: You’re saying what percentage at that . . . Well, first of all, have the percentages of those that convert gone up over time or is that always remain the same?
Leo: That has fortunately that same 2, 2 1/2% conversion from the first week have remained the same up until now [inaudible] . . .
Leo: Very good as we see it.
Jay: So for everybody who signs up there’s about a 2 1/2% that will convert? Of all of your users about 2 1/2% or so are converted to [pay]?
Leo: Right, wow, right.
Jay: OK, let’s rewind the tape again, I apologize, because we either have ourselves, I go back and forth . . . When Joel comes up with this business, most people look at it, when they think about a business they think about what’s the market size.
Leo: Oh, yeah.
Jay: How did he know what the market size was? Does he say the market size is all of Twitter, whatever their member base is . . .
Jay: . . . and I will get some subset of that and he just kind of guesses, I guess, intuition, is that what he does?
Jay: OK. What did he do?
Leo: I think it was more of the 37 signals approach of scratching your own itch.
Leo: Kind of saying, “I have this huge pain with this problem. I can’t Tweet. I ended up Tweeting two times a day and then I don’t Tweet for five days. And you know, with my followers, I can’t feel trust with my following, and so forth. I think that was the point where he said well, usually, if you are a normal Twitter user, you’re a really good proxy for what’s going on for [inaudible].
Jay: Yeah, I agree.
Leo: And, so he kind of said, “Well, there must be a solution for this.” And I think Joel said he tested ten different services. Who could have helped him with that? Norm did it in a great way. So he said, “Well, screw this. I’m going to build it myself.” That’s kind of the point where he started developing it. At this very early stage, I think he wasn’t, or even a few months in, we weren’t thinking like, “What’s our market? What’s our target market?” Only over time, now that we are at the stage of raising money, we kind of really figured out how the whole mathematics works with business and what our target market is. Right now, with our business, what you said is true.
Jay: And now, as you’re raising money, you have to try and figure out, what is the market size? What are we going after?
Leo: Oh yes. I mean, I think that already became clear over time. I think a couple months back, we already knew who is using Twitter in the way that often makes sense for them. We researched and we found that 55% of all Tweets posted each day come from links, the news, or blog sites. These are people that have a potential use for Buffer, because they are interested in having impact in what they share. This is kind of the thought process we then developed as we went forward.
Jay: Is this also an application for your Facebook page too, so you could also schedule your Facebook updates?
Leo: Yes. We have Facebook also working internally and we are preparing for the launch of this, but we want to really build up the buzz around this. We only launched a [inaudible], so we basically did the same as when the product didn’t exist. You can now sign up for the [inaudible] at the Facebook, and we have, I think, close to 10,000 people on [inaudible].
Jay: Yes, I have to tell you, something that I have always wanted Facebook to do is that if I don’t log on Facebook the day of my friend’s birthday, I can’t tell him Happy Birthday. It would be great if you guys just had a birthday feature, in itself, right? I can go through all my friends that I want this, because not everybody you want to say Happy Birthday to, because they are more of an acquaintance, right? But the friends that you are really close with, the next day you log in and you’re like, “Oh, I look like the idiot that didn’t say Happy Birthday, and I have no excuse. It’s on my phone,” but, you didn’t know. You know what I mean? There are certain things that you would like to schedule.
Leo: Yes, exactly.
Jay: That’s why I asked about Facebook. Obviously you’re going to do this for every social media platform that exists over time.
Leo: Absolutely. That’s the plan. One thing which is really kind of crucial that we figured out here is that the dynamics of Twitter are very different to the dynamics of Facebook; how often you post, what types of posts, longer text, links, photos on Twitter, short text, and so forth. We want to really incorporate these things and satisfy the user because this is what got us far on Twitter. We really understood how Twitter works and now we really want to understand how Facebook works in terms of dynamics and get the experience right.
Jay: Today you have 50,000 users. Is that what it is?
Jay: Wow. And about 2% of these people are paying you $12.50 a month?
Jay: So it is already a thriving business. You guys have a real business here. How many people are in the company right now between you, Joel, inside, and then also contractors?
Leo: We are looking towards 200K run rate on real revenue, which is still very small, and we are in the process of raising money. We brought aboard another engineer from the UK. He’s very close to us. That was our first employee, Tom. We also hired a bond [SP] contractor to build our iPhone app. We hired another developer to build our Android app. We have another person aboard who does the same thing as me: just crunching out great content every day, getting us featured, and getting the buzzword. We have six people working at Buffer now.
Jay: Great. You’ve raised some money now, previously, you’re going to raise some more money right now, you’re going to expand the business, you’re going to open up an office. Are you guys out of AngelPad? Is that where you’re out of now?
Leo: Yes. We are remaining there right now, but we have [inaudible] day coming up.
Jay: And you’re in San Francisco right now?
Leo: Exactly. We are based out of San Francisco.
Jay: You moved from the UK to there, and I guess Joel did the same, or…?
Leo: Exactly. We left everything behind, we have small toothpaste, and just came out here.
Jay: And are you planning to stay? You raised the money. Are you going to stay?
Leo: Yeah, absolutely.
Jay: OK. That’s great. It’s going to make it easier to raise money, I would guess.
Jay: What’s the plans? What’s the next step? What do you do? You raise the money. What’s the market size? How big can this business get?
Leo: Yeah, that’s something which, as I’ve said, we discovered gradually, as more and more people signed up, and more and more use cases emerged, things which we couldn’t even imagine that people would use Buffer for. The rate [sp] full plus will be to bring this Buffering experience inside as many apps, as many websites and blogs, just very widespread across the web. To give you an example here, what we’ve done is we’ve built the Buffer button for blogs and websites. So similar to Tweet button, you can put the Buffer button there.
Jay: That’s cool.
Leo: The great thing for a blogger is that anyone who comes to your site and hits the Tweet button kind of has to think, “Okay, have I tweeted before?”, “Is it 1 am in the morning?”, “Does it even make sense for me to tweet now?”, “Will anyone see it?”. By Buffering you can just always go, “Oh sure, I like this, I’ll Buffer it,” and Buffer will take care of all the rest.
Jay: You know, it’s very interesting. There’s Add Me or AddThis, one of those tools that bloggers use, right? You’re going to replace that tool over time. My guess is you’re kind of competing with them, right? That’s your competitor in some ways.
Jay: You’re adding more functionality. They’re just saying click, boom, send. You’re saying click, save, or click, nope, alert “You’ve sent this once before, you don’t want to be doing it more than once.”
Leo: Exactly. We want to make the experience a lot smarter, a lot more intelligent.
Jay: So I could imagine most people are going to want to have that on their blog, at least in addition to it, right?
Leo: Yeah. Exactly.
Jay: One of the things you guys could probably do, too, is — I don’t know if you do this now — if you have it as a blog, for blogger, at the bottom you could have the button, and it could say “click Buffer”, and then if the user’s a random user, hasn’t signed in, it could say, “You could retweak this thing right now or if you’d like to schedule, sign up for a free account.”
Leo: Yeah, that already works actually. We already have for the scheduling. So you can either add it to your Buffer or post it now.
Jay: Wow! Do you have to join to do that as a user the first time?
Leo: Exactly. We will make this very frictionless.
Jay: Right. None of those friction points. Right.
Leo: So you just sign in with Twitter. You don’t even have to sign out. All you do is you sign it with Twitter through Buffer.
Jay: If you want to sign in right away, you can. You can do that unlimited, cause that’s instant, right? But the point of the service is to schedule or Buffer your events or your tweets.
Leo: Yeah, exactly.
Jay: Wow. So again, I like to press on this question. How big can your company be? How much can the sales be? How many users can you have? What is the size?
Leo: Yeah, definitely. So the idea for us is to be a real prosumer product. So again, we’re comparing ourselves to an Evernote[sp] here, where you need to be a little techy, you need to be a little savvy to know how to use it, but there’s still a huge user base out there. The idea is that by looking at the Twitter user base, the Facebook user base, which is the people try to build their personal brand or build their business brand, this is going insanely fast, and this is where I want to hook in and allow anyone who says “I want to build my online presence” for whatever reason (because I have a blog for my dog, or because I want to build my business, or because I’m interested in startups), you should use Buffer, because it will help you to kind of have a lasting impact on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, wherever you’re using the product. For us, it’s kind of getting to a couple million users can already render us hugely profitable as a business.
Jay: So you feel that you can do that in what kind of a timeframe? You have 50,000 users, almost overnight. You did this in almost a year, right? You got to 50,000. Your growth rate, is it continuing to grow at the same rate?
Jay: So based on the numbers we’ve talked about, let’s go back to those numbers, try to get an idea of where Buffer could be next year at this time when I talk to you for an update, right?
Jay: In the first 10 months or 9 months of the business now, you’ve gotten to 50,000 users, and you’re seeing a growth rate of what per month? What is your growth rate right now, percentage-wise?
Leo: At the moment, our growth rate is about 40% a month.
Leo: We’re adding about 5K a week.
Jay: That will accelerate? Is there virality to this that will accelerate?
Leo: Yeah. We have a viral component of Buffer, where you kind of can get extra space by referring friends, very similar to the Dropbox thing. If you are a Buffer user free and not, you post your referral link, I get more space, you get more space. We’re both happy, and there’s the next Buffer user [inaudible]. We add 10% of our user base from the fire[SP] component, and we also have a lot of affiliate deals in place, which are about 20%, where there’s a lot of reapps whom we help monetize, so they put a Buffer banner in there, and then people sign up and they get a split, which is 20% of the upgraded users.
Jay: The skeptic in me, right? Let’s play devil’s advocate a little bit. I like to do this.
Jay: There’s Meebo bar, right? You hit the button and it says you can “Share”. You’ve got the Add Me or the AddThis or the Add blah-blah. You’ve got all these guys, these businesses that are doing very similar stuff.
Jay: The barrier to entry for them…they have a huge user base…couldn’t they just offer the same service, and then maybe offer it for free?
Leo: Oh, yeah. We have thought about that complication a lot, about how the market has evolved over time. The sweet spot where we see ourselves in is that we bring an intelligent aspect to the table, so we’re also working on smarter algorithm, on improving our existing algorithm, making it better, figuring out when the best time, for you, JR, to tweet based on your followership. I think this is where we differentiate ourselves as the smartest sharing solution in the space. I think it’s good that you raise this.
Another important thing is that at ShareThis or other apps, they try to have every single social network, chuck it in and then you can share via bar, toolbar, whatever. What we aim to do is be very selective and make Buffering in itself a brand. AddThis wouldn’t make AddThis a brand, but they wouldn’t have Facebook. They promote that they have all this automatic.
But the Buffer button in itself isn’t something we have seen in the same way. So what we do is we work with apps to get a Buffer button similar to Folklog’s[SP] into the app. So just permanently saying Tweet Facebook and Buffer this. We have found about six to ten integrations with apps so far, and this is the way we want to move forward, creating this lock-in or this [inaudible] advantage. We’re already there. We already have the Buffer button inside this app.
Jay: Have you seen Badgeville?
Jay: Check out Badgeville. They have a community of users. What they do is they go to a website as a partner, and then they allow the users, based on the activity they use the website, to earn badges. So there’s an achievement system, game mechanics. Game mechanics creates addiction. The largest sites on the web are largely built off of game mechanics, even Facebook and YouTube and MySpace was. It’s collecting, it’s feedback, it’s a lot of the things that a game is built around is what most social media properties that are successful get built around.
It seems that one of your ways to become defensible (because that was what I was leading to is how are you defensible) may be to incorporate some kind…the users that use Buffer, maybe, as they do what they do, they earn badges, and that gets retweeted too or something. I don’t know. Have you thought about that?
Leo: Yeah. That’s a great idea, one we haven’t actually discussed yet, but we will now.
Jay: Give me some equity.
Leo: No, I really like that. I think there is an opportunity here, because we feel we have a very strong community.
Jay: Yeah, you have 50,000 people using it! That’s a community! Get them tied together. I mean you really will have stickiness then. Right now, you’re not on the blip chart, right?
Jay: I don’t think Meebo’s even thinking about Buffer. We got other things, we got our product roadmap, we’re not focused on you. But when you get a million people or half a million people, somebody in the product team’s going to say “Dude, look at these guys over at Buffer. They’re growing like a weed. We got to try to do something to combat that.” But if you have a community that is not going to leave…the barrier to exit is high because they have all this built-up achievements or badges or feedback amongst the members, they’re not going to leave you, right?
Leo: Oh, yeah.
Jay: So what that means is the websites aren’t going to stop using your button either. They’re going to say we got to leave that button there because this buffer community not only the current buffer community for the websites that have the buffer button are going to want to keep it, other websites are going to want to bring that buffer community over to them. So it’s going to help you grow on both ends.
Jay: Yeah, I see this as being a pretty viral sticky product.
Leo: Yeah, yeah. That’s definitely a great suggestion there, and we’ll definitely brainstorm on that. That’s pretty good.
Jay: OK, so I always try to give a little advice if I can, I don’t know if I’m giving any good advice, but, so the last thing I would say, you’re out there trying to raise money, right?
Jay: And you’re reading everything you can on venture hacks to do the best job you can, I’m sure, right? I say there are three things in a business that you have to overcome and I think you’ve already gotten there. Is it differentiated? I call it the DSD. Differentiated, can it scale and will it scale and how will it scale, and ultimately will it be defensible. We were taking about defensible. There’s no reason to ask why you’re different, it really is different. I think you’ve scaled, you have 50,000 users.
Jay: The question is how can you become more defensible. I think you’ll figure that out, right?
Jay: And then after you do that, you go to an investor and you’ve already proven, you’ve got investors. So you have social proof.
Jay: You’ve raised a lot of money.
Jay: And you have traction. So, good luck to you. I think you’re on your way to building a big business. This is great, you know? I mean a lot of the folks I talk to are missing something. I would think the only thing that you guys probably need to work on, but don’t, you know, you have 50,000 users, so don’t – who am I to tell you what to do, right? But I would work on the defense part, right? The defensibility.
Jay: That’s it.
Leo: Yeah. No, that’s a great point. Yeah, we definitely want to, you know, we tested, we have played around a few things, making even secure. We found that even though a few competitive products would come up, people really stick with us. Just use us in place of what we offer and the nature of the tool.
Jay: Well, thank you for coming onto the show. I really appreciate it. I always have one last question for everybody who comes on the show. The reason why I do this show is, as you know, to try to pay it forward, to give back and share your stories with other people. I always ask the last question is: why did you accept to come on this show? What was your reason for saying, yes, I’ll come on the show?
Leo: I just thought when Walter from Mike Ungers introduced me to you, I think it’s a massive way, it’s not just let’s do a couple interviews. I think the idea you have behind this is really helping entrepreneurs understand, will help them succeed. And in my case, I mean, I haven’t succeeded. I’m in the middle of creating something, and I’m enjoying myself and it’s at these stages where I think sometimes just explaining what you’re doing right now could be very useful to others. And I think the target audience is someone I would love to speak to in the future and I love to do right now already, so I just thought it’s a great way to keep in touch with other entrepreneur community.
Jay: Thanks again for coming on the show, Leo. I appreciate it. Thank you to everybody for watching.
Leo: Yeah, thanks for having me.