Roughly this time last year, covid had just turned from a hoax to a global pandemic. Within the same week, nearly everyone at work was impacted, including our jobs which was made part-time. We were now trapped inside our homes with an abundance amount of time to either waste or make use of. We became determined to turn our situation into an opportunity to bootstrap a business.
Our idea was simple, we wanted to help non-technical founders build apps using Airtable as a content management system. We've seen it done before by a startup called Mr Yum (see video) and after research discovered a huge demand for these type of tools.
The difference? Mr Yum's app used a developer to stitch tools together. We wanted to take it a step further by going completely "no-code" using templates designed based on popular websites. No more hiring software developers to build unvalidated products and definitely no more re-hiring developers for simple changes.
Determined to move quickly, we gave ourselves 1 month to validate the idea. We knew there had to be a big market for this as we've personally met so many founders who've wasted over $50k hiring devs too early. I for one even taught myself how to code just to avoid parting ways with money years ago before "no-code" was a thing.
To validate this idea, we handpicked 6 platforms to turn into templates:
We removed the imagery and turned the websites into low fidelity templates. Suddenly the essence of every website is just a list of some sort, giving you the ability to create anything.
We built our minimal loveable product as quickly as possible, re-using as much code from previous side projects as possible and threw engineering out the window. Here's the initial version of Pory.
Giving ourselves a month to design and build Pory was a huge challenge and needless to say the outcome was FAR from perfect. You had to jump through 5 clunky steps to connect your Airtable, our subscription plans were all placeholders and if you were around from the start, you would recall your public URL looking like this (people were confused):
We were expecting a couple of upvotes only (myself shamelessly included), but surprisingly people started signing up and messages started flooding in! We stayed up the whole night hot fixing Pory and watching users from all over the world visit in disbelief.
In our first month of launching, we joined communities, shared wins on social media and did things that didn't scale by giving first.
We also replaced our placeholder plans with actual plans to try verify if we were solving a real problem. The platform was still an embarrassment, but guess what? We converted a user into our first paying customer within the same day! Humble beginnings indeed hehe…
Our efforts translated into 4.6k visitors > 635 user sign ups > 361 sites created. Roughly 13.8% conversion from visitor to user and 56% conversion from user to site.
This comic sums up everything.
However initial traction does not translate to product market fit and gruelling hours is not the right fuel for moving the needle forward. There were times so quiet we thought our upgrade button was broken!
It's tough work, but by having early evangelists and mentors amid the darker moments, they became our guiding light. Slowly our highlights reel became filled with moments like seeing products gain traction on Product Hunt, helping people save hundreds and thousands of dollars and above all making a difference during the pandemic.
Also humbled seeing the co-founder of Udemy use Pory. See why:
We're proud to say we've built up a unique foundation that has helped thousands of people from creators, founders through to operators launch products using Pory. We still remember pointing a finger at Airtable's server when Not Amazon made it on the news and hammered our servers… 🤪
Thank you all (users, mentors, programs, investors) for being a part of our wild ride. Happy Birthday, Pory️!