This case study is slightly different. Veed has grown rapidly over the last 18 months and they are well beyond 100 customers (in the ten thousands). So, in addition to the first 100, we'll cover all distribution channels and customer acquisition strategies that have been effective.
Why Do People Want This
What is the problem? Who is the target customer? What is the solution, the promise? Why do people pay?
The Problem: Video editing software is complex and hard to use. Many are heavyweight desktop applications (vs. in browser) and take time to learn.
Target Users: Tool initialing optimized for those making content for social media, editing webinars, and podcasts. Light editing for YouTube videos.
The Solution: Sabba Keynejad and his co-founder Tim created a simple browser-based video editing platform veed.io to solve their own problem (then later found paying customers that have the same need.) Started off with basic features — add text, trim, color correction. Now offers many useful features like subtitles, translations, ability to draw and write, add music and complimentary tools like screen recorder. People pay for the ease of use, fast in-browser editing that saves them time.
Why Is It a Good Fit For the Founder
Why do the founders keep working on the business? What makes it a good match for their strengths, goals, and desired lifestyle?
Sabba went to art school, studied graphic design. Worked in branding and advertising and has been really interested in video making. Started making his own YouTube videos and found the editing software to be cumbersome. Figured it was even tougher for people who were not technical. Admittedly it was not a unique idea and there were many existing solutions. Focused on making their video editor browser-based (instead of desktop or mobile app) and really seamless to use.
Co-founder Tim build the tool as part of his university project initially. Early on they got side-tracked for 8 month with optimizing for winning business competitions. Then almost ran out of money (failed to raise money from investors, and got rejected from YC).
Describes himself as a "very high risk" person. All guns blazing from the start. Initial goal was to be able to work on this project full-time.
Maybe I do come across as mild mannered but I definitely have a bit of fire, when I'm on a mission and need to get something done.
When they were running out of money and got rejected from investors and YC.
A conversation I had with myself "Sabba, come on you're really not going to do this thing that you've always wanted to do. Now is the time, get on with it!"
Having a bit of fire along with being interested in the video space and having conviction for their solution has helped. Another thing that has worked well is learning skills in real-time — "crash coursing" acquisition channels, SEO, hiring for example.
First 100 Customers
Where did the very first customers come from? What channels did the founders try? What didn't work? What did work? How long did it take?
Action: Built an MVP with basic features of trim, add text, and color correction. Put it on Product Hunt.
Outcome: Small traffic, people started using the product.
Action: Co-founder Tim actually got a job and gave 1/2 his salary to Sabba to keep working on the video editor. The product wasn't particularly unique. It wasn't obvious or clear that users cared about it. Sabba got a contracting job as well but kept working on veed.
For 8 months did evenings and weekends on veed while working contract jobs. Hired someone of keep building the product on the tech side using income from contract job.
Outcome: Got to 30,000 monthly users. Not customers yet. All free users.
Action: Went full time on the product again. Applied to YC, got rejected due to lack of revenue. After being bummed and down for a day, they challenged themselves to get paying user over the weekend.
Outcome: Got 20 paid users over a weekend. Got first actual revenue.
Action: Continued charging with a paywall (that is all).
Outcome: Got 200 paying customers after 6 weeks.
That sounds simple — so they converted thousands of free users to couple hundred paying users. Easy right? Hm. How did they get those initial free users, thousands of potential customers coming to their product every month. Let's shed some light on that.
Acquisition Channels That Worked Together
- Answered questions on Quora - in the early days, searched questions that they wanted to come up for and wrote a nice response to the top results. Did this 10-20 times a day every day. (eventually got banned from Quora).
- Used Reddit in the same way. Sabba jokes about being banned from several subreddits as well.
- Content marketing and SEO - wrote blog posts and how-to guides for video editing questions.
- Side project marketing - initially made static sites that could be launched on product hunt to get more traffic and backlinks. Later made free products that are complimentary to veed.io, to get more people in the door (e.g free screen recorder which is being used by 3000 to 5000 daily users and some percent of those convert to paying).
- Hired someone to publish youtube videos. Made videos every single day for 9 months, getting 40,000 views every 48 hours. Education as well as marketing. Show people how to use the product. Strategy is to "answer the Internet's questions". Lean on people searching for other tools too. "How to edit zoom video" got 100,000 views for example.
Lastly, one reason that's hard to ignore for why veed.io grew fast is market size. There are 100M downloads of the top video editing app and iMovie is the most downloaded desktop software. So those are the numbers at the top of the funnel of potential customers. As Sabba say if you have a "lot of people looking for stuff, then you have a lot of market to go around."
As of March 2021, veed.io is doing 3.3M ARR and employs 15 to 20 people.
You can learn more about veed.io's customer acquisition story IndieHacker's podcast episode 195.