Starting the journey with Tailscan
By: Erwin, 4 March 2023
This is the first in a series of articles about building Tailscan in public. I will be sharing my thoughts and experiences along the way and share updates! The time span of this post covers the end of summer 2022 until the end of 2022.
The previous SaaS product
At the end of the summer of 2022, I began to realize that my previous product called Base Styles was not going to be a success. I had been working on it for nine months, spending a lot of time and effort on it. All while not making any money or having any customers.
Sure, I've had quite a few trial users (~100), but I never got any of them to pay for the product. I fell for a classic indie-hacker pitfall: Building a product without validating the idea and market first. And worse: I continued to have hope for paying customers for a long time. All I needed to do was building that feature everyone really needed, or so I thought.
It took me a long time, a couple of friends telling me and some financial pressure to finally realize that I was not going to make it with Base Styles.
So from that point onwards, I started working on something new. But this time, with a different approach.
Tailscan is born
My goal was much more concise: Give myself a week to build something and showcase it on Twitter after to see if there is any interest.
By far the most scary thing I had done in a long time. I was prepared for the worst, but then this happened:
570 likes, 22000 views on the video and 82000 impressions! What?!
It's safe to say that exceeded my expectations by a lot! I was blown away by the response and knew I had built not to solve only my problem, but a problem many had!
There was one catch though: I did not have a name for the product yet, no website and no mailing list. Yikes..
Riding the wave
I had to act fast. I had to get a name, a website and a mailing list up and running as soon as possible. The mailing list was easy to set up and I gathered about 125 signups in total from that tweet! The website was essentially a hero section and call to action to sign up to this mailing list. Nothing fancy, but it was all I needed for the time being.
After searching for the perfect domain name, I settled on Tailscan. It's short, memorable and easy to pronounce. And perhaps most importantly: the .com domain was available!
The first version
About 4 weeks had passed since I first started working on Tailscan and the first version was good enough to be released. Honestly, I was quite embarrassed by the first version. It lacked a lot of features and was not very polished. But keeping the momentum going was more important than perfecting it.
Rushing a first version did actually bite me back afterwards, but that's a story for another time. I think that it was worth it in the end.
Where do you launch a new product? Besides Twitter, Product Hunt was the obvious choice. I had some experience launching there and knew it would result in at least some traffic. I considered Hacker News for a while, but I think it's important to polish your product more before posting there (HN can be quite critical).
The Product Hunt launch did pretty well with about 300 upvotes and 400 subscribers. I think what helped was the tweet and newsletter email that I sent out directly after. A direct consequence of verifying if there was interest a month ago!
The first customers
During the launch, about 40 people bought Tailscan. I had a discount promotion to celebrate the launch which likely helped a lot.
The week after was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so I decided to extend the launch promotion a little longer. I'm glad I did because it resulted in 44 more customers.
After Cyber Monday ended, Tailscan had a solid 84 customers. Awesome! I was very excited to continue building Tailscan and give everyone that put their trust in me and Tailscan, the best Tailwind CSS devtool out there!
I'm very excited to continue building Tailscan, and I'm looking forward a lot to the next 100 customers (and hopefully even more)! I'll continue writing more about the journey of Tailscan and sharing my thoughts and experiences along the way.