🌊 Being Great for Specific People

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🌊 Being Great for Specific People
By Open Water Weekly • Issue #20 • View online
My name is Jacob Peddicord and I’m the Editor at Open Water Accelerator. Today we have an interview with Felix Gurtler, the founder of Umso. Umso is building something that a lot of listeners may be interested in, a website builder for startups. Felix has grown the company from a side-project to full-time job, hopefully you can learn something from his journey.
Here’s a summary of what we learned:
  1. 🎯 Avoid complexity by targeting a specific niche.
  2. 💼 Hiring early can trade short-term savings for mental health.
  3. 💸 Prioritize getting out of the questionable revenue zone.

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Felix Gurtler🗣️ 
What’s your ultimate vision with Umso?
We all use lots of digital products every day and don’t think much about it. However, sometimes you’ll come across something that surprises you in some way or another. You’ll think something like “wow this is amazing, I can’t wait to use this”. It might be much faster, more beautiful, more usable, or cheaper than anything else you’ve tried before. 
My vision is to build that product for people who are starting a new business or running a small company and need a website. We try to build something that’s extremely high quality and solves a real problem while at the same time also inspiring people with some pleasant surprises.
What do you get about this space that your competitors don’t get?
Websites in general can be very complex and if you want to build a complex website, the tool needed to build that website will be at least as complex, if not much more.
We make a point by purposefully limiting the kind of website you can build with Umso: a static marketing website for digital product companies. 
By focusing on a specific audience with a well-defined goal, we can avoid a lot of complexity and provide a straightforward experience. To make things even simpler, we also limit what your website can look like. Most people just want a good-looking website that follows current trends, loads fast and is easy to use. 
As a result, we have a product that’s great for a very specific kind of person and at best average for everyone else. The market is big enough for us to be very successful by serving only that niche. 
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since starting Umso?
Having employees is key. When starting out I was inspired by solo founders who’ve made it big. This gave me lots of courage and helped me get started. However, I kind of got stuck on the idea of having to do everything myself.
Despite its simplicity, the product still causes a significant number of customer support requests. Umso is also an always-online product where an hour of downtime would have far-reaching consequences. Trying to shoulder that responsibility alone wasn’t great for my mental health.
How that Umso is a team of three and still expanding, I don’t only get to share the responsibility but also the success, the milestones and the happy moments. This shared experience is more satisfying than any MRR growth. 
What have your last six months looked like and what do your next six months look like for growing this company? 
Over the last six months we’ve been entirely focused on our internal systems and have done almost nothing for growth. Now we’re at a great turning point because we are done with the overhaul and can focus on other areas again. 
Our greatest weakness as a company is definitely marketing. So far we’ve grown entirely through word of mouth which has been great but we could probably do a lot better. First and foremost we’re a product company so we tend to view growth through the product lense. 
Over the next six months we’re launching some new key features and will experiment with some creative marketing strategies. One thing we purposefully avoid is running paid ads with the tech giants and I hope we can keep it that way.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your company?
This might be a bit silly but if I could pass a note to my past self it’d just say that things are going to work out. The most stressful time was probably the year from $100-3,000 MRR. You want to do your best work but you’re not sure if it’ll still be good for anything one year down the road.
At the same time I was wondering if I should go full-time or not, which I finally did at $1k MRR. I had some savings at the time which would cover me for about half a year. That was definitely risky and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. On the other hand, working a full-time job while creating a business on the side isn’t easy either. 
If I had to start over, I’d try to get to $5k MRR as quickly as possible to get out of that questionable zone.
bay watch 🔭: Niantic CEO teases AR glasses
John Hanke
Exciting to see the progress we’re making to enable new kinds of devices that leverage our platform... https://t.co/yYglk4q89G
Years after the Pokemon Go explosion we are still waiting on the killer app and killer device for AR. The big players like Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft are competing in the space and Magic Leap already went bust. Can Niantic be the first to take wearable AR glasses mainstream?
I had no idea they had intentions of building hardware in the space, but I have long thought of the company as a leader in the space. Even though it is a game, Pokemon Go is still the largest and most active AR application to date. The company is the closest to developing Mirror World, a concept worth reading up on. Many world-changing technologies started in gaming and AR may be no different.
What do you think? The future of consumer hardware or another Google Glasses bust? Reply to this email, we’d love to hear your thoughts!
internships 🖥️ 
🤖 Facebook | Software Engineer Intern | “You’ll drive the development of systems behind Facebook’s products, create web applications that reach millions of people, build high volume servers and be a part of a team that’s working to help connect people around the globe.”
🏦 Scotiabank | IB Summer Intern | “The Analyst Internship Program at Scotiabank is designed to introduce students to the stimulating and challenging career of investment banking involving equity financings and mergers and acquisitions.”
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