From 2 Failed Shopify Apps To Making 30,000 Dollars Every Month

Who are you and what are you working on?

My name is Mat De Sousa and I’m currently working on WideBundle, a solution that helps merchants earn more on Shopify

What motivated you to get started with WideBundle?

The journey didn’t start with WideBundle. I built many projects before that. And WideBundle wasn’t the first application. I built my first app in 2017 but didn’t know much about SaaS back then.

So I learned. The first app did pretty well and we reached $1000 MRR but we had to close it because Shopify made changes to their platform.

I tried to build 2 other Shopify Apps after this one but it didn’t work so I gave up Shopify apps and went back to “normal” SaaS.

The thing is, I wasn’t that successful and in 2020 I had to do my final internship at the end of the year and I didn’t have a sustainable business. I asked my school if, instead of doing the internship, I could just create a company. And they accepted!

So I just gathered everything I had learned and asked myself: What can I build?

What problem are you solving with your startup and how are you solving it?

We help merchants earn more on Shopify. Simple as that. To do that we help them build “bundles” on their product page. It’s basically packs of products that you offer to your customers.

So if they are coming to buy a tee-shirt, they may end up buying 2 of them, or 3.

We increase this with a beautiful design on the page.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Tracking data worked. It’s probably the best thing to work on. If you have a poor conversion rate, you can try what you want you’ll never get traction.

So this was the first thing. We installed Mixpanel and started to track everything. From there we tracked important metrics like: Activation Rate, Conversion Rate, Churn

And the goal is then to improve them by taking some actions, talking to customers.

If you have 5% activation rate and you improve it to 10%, it means you’ll get 2x more customers, which is amazing!

Then I think the beauty of this market is that you have the Shopify App Store that attracts customers automatically.

Describe your business model and what makes your business unique?

We have a single monthly plan but we’re working to add more in the future with different features. So people use our apps and pay a monthly fee.

The business is unique because we built an app on top of another platform (Shopify). And thus, you have things you can do and others that you can’t.

The rules are a bit different than “classic” SaaS.

Worth Reading: My Journey to Building Preorder Alpha: A Tool That Helps Shopify Store Owners Sell Preorder Items – Tobi Ogunwande
How did you fund your business?

The business is totally bootstrapped. It means that I never had to fund it.

I’m a developer, I built the app myself and didn’t need anything else to start it.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources for you?

Probably Zero to Sold by Arvid Khal. This book explains exactly how I build my apps today. And I think that if this book was written years ago, I would have probably saved many years.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

I can think about 3 challenges. The first one was to hire my first employee. I didn’t know how to do it and was overwhelmed by customer support. I had to learn and chat with people who went through this.

But at some point, I think you figure this out when you really need something. And that’s what happened here. 

The second thing was when I had problems with servers for my app. You know, the app grew so quickly that I couldn’t follow and my technical skills were not good enough.

As we got more users, we started having server problems, crashes and bugs. And I didn’t know what to do. But thanks I met the team from Northflank, they helped me structure my servers and scale them.

The last one was when I had to hire developers. I knew how to hire people now but not developers. I was a developer myself and working with them is completely different. Your processes and the way you work have to evolve. But again, you figure this out. You try something, it doesn’t work, so you change it. And at some point, you find something good.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

I’d say reaching the $30,000 MRR mark for my business. Making $30,000 every month.

Where would you like your startup to be in five years?

I’d like to have more Shopify Apps, like a studio, helping more and more customers.

What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

The first one is probably Mixpanel. Tracking your data is so important. Then I’d say Notion, we have everything on it, our processes, etc. And finally Slack because I don’t know how I would chat with my team without it haha.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?

Probably “Start with a problem, not an idea”. When people want to build an app, they usually think about “What idea should I build”? And then they think about how they can get customers to this idea.

And that’s why it never works.

But if you first start with the customer and the problems they face, it’s easier to find a solution that people actually want.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

I built 2 Shopify apps, but I think I built the second one too early in my journey. I should have focused instead on the first app, crushed it, delegated it, and then gone to the second one.

Have you had any failed business?

Yes, I built 3 Shopify apps before the successful one. And each time I learned something new.

It takes failures to finally find success and that’s normal!

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

I think books are underestimated. You can find great information in books that never get old. So go read books in your business category!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Never stop testing, never stop validating and never stop working. Test things, track data, then iterate. Validate everything you do and never assume you know what is good. Never stop working, if you fail at some point, keep trying.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without?

My Twitter app, because I love Twitter. Whether it’s for business or personal stuff. Then I’d say the calendar app haha

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

No we’re not at the moment!

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