Hongbeom Park

Pivoting, Rebranding, and Lessons Learned: My Startup Journey

HongbeomSep 18, 2023ยทLast Updated On Oct 4, 2023โ€“Lesson
4 min read|

Personal Updates

Rebranding: Twitter changed its name to ๐•, so we changed from TweetBase to Sonic. Itโ€™s catchy and signals 'speed,' which is what we want our brand to stand for.

Pivot: TweetBase's original features weren't retaining users. Now we're making a content library for creators. It will help creators create authentic posts quickly. Once we make enough money, we plan to build an AI-powered customizable interface for social media. Imagine Superhuman but for ๐•.

Gitreport: Our first outsourced project taught us that communication between clients and contractors takes too much time. We're building Gitreport to fix this. It can also automate general team management tasks like weekly updates and even performance reviews. Beta testing starts next week. If you have either clients or manages a dev team, sign up here.

Invite-only: To better understand our users, we've made Sonic available by invitation only. The invite-only model allows us to gather targeted feedback, ensuring that Sonic evolves in a direction that genuinely helps our users. We ask four questions through Tally:

  1. Why do you want to use Sonic?
  1. How much time can Sonic save you each week?
  1. How much would you pay for that time?
  1. Would you pay for immediate beta access?

Early results: Out of 100 visitors, 20 clicked "Join Beta," 8 filled out the form, and 2 were willing to pay $10/month upfront. This will help us plan the right features and prices.

Looking Back on Failures

Demo Day: Our metrics were low, so we decided not to attend the latest Primer's Demo Day on Sep 13th. Some of our peers from Primer 22 batch have already raised a cool million USD. This sucks. My CTO co-founder left when we got into Primer and I had to rebuild the whole team. It took me more than 6 months but I met amazing team members. We're targeting a comeback in the next 3-6 months with a product that solves more urgent problems.

Stability Issues: After my CTO co-founder left a year ago, I took over development on top of everything else, leading to ongoing stability problems. I should have focused on finding good developers first. My overconfidence was the root cause. I've now handed off the engineering to more skilled team members, freeing me to focus on strategy and growth.

Wrong KPIs: For Sonic, being an early-stage product, I should have focused on qualitative metrics. I got sidetracked by less important metrics like MAU, which prevented me from fully focusing on building the right product. Moving forward, we'll be using Sonic internally to share our product updates on ๐•.

Domain Mistake: I invested $13k in a 4-year lease for the tweetbase.com domain through dan.com. I've already spent $4k, making it a poor investment due to the rebranding. I should have gotten a cheaper domain like tweetbase.ai ($50 / year). Especially given the high chance of pivoting since we were pre PMF. Again it was my overconfidence.

Lost Client: Our first outsourced client didn't renew the contract. They wanted a full-time developer. I should have diversified our client base. Iโ€™ve now registered our dev agency, valor.sh, on Korean Upworks like Kmong to get more leads.

I've learned a ton about product development, marketing, and management over the past 6 months. I donโ€™t know how long it will take me to get the financial freedom. But I can see what it takes. I will keep learning, grinding, and working my ass off.

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