I made a mistake. I gave up on my SaaS way too soon. In fact, I spent a grand total of 6 weeks of part time development (at night) and only gave the app 3 weeks before I determined that it was no longer worth my time.
But now I’m back, and I’m on a mission to revive Kobra.io and give it a real chance at success.
I want to take you along on this journey, step by step, and show you how I’m relaunching Kobra and giving it another chance. I hope that you can use my experiences and advice to help you continue to grow or relaunch your own SaaS.
This is my writeup on “Phase 1.”
Phase 1: Renew Contact & Gain Back Trust of Users
The truth of the matter is, I hadn’t touched Kobra at all in about 5 months. And about two weeks ago I had one single emotion in regards to Kobra:
I felt like I had absolutely abandoned a project that I, at one point in time, had felt so strongly about. I felt like I had abandoned my child, and I was finally coming to that realization.
But there was something else going on as well, I felt sorry. There were people out there using Kobra, and I wasn’t paying attention to them. I wasn’t keeping track of bugs, I wasn’t watching my Twitter feed, I was barely even responding to emails. Hell, I probably just should’ve shut the site down, but I didn’t, I just left it there to die.
I wasn’t really failing in terms of Kobra, I was failing these people. These other human beings that had trusted me, that had given me a chance and tried out Kobra.
So I had to come up with a plan, one of redemption. I had to show everyone that I was truly sorry that I had abandoned the project, and try to gain their trust again as I begin working on it for a second time. And there was only one way in my mind that I could do that:
Tell the entire complete truth, and apologize directly to them.
About two months ago I went on a juice fast, where I only drank juiced vegetables for 10 days straight, and didn’t eat anything. During that time, I looked inside myself and came to the conclusion that it’s easy to change. You just have to let it happen. Ever since then I’ve tried to live my life by one word: honesty.
The thing about honesty is that sometimes it is really hard. What will people say when I tell them the truth? That I gave up?
So I wrote a blog post about the entire story. The beginnings of Kobra, how we gained traction, and ultimately how I gave up on the project. If you haven’t yet, I recommend you go read it: “How I Got 2200 Pre-SignUps for my SaaS in 2 Weeks, then Failed Hard.”
Sure, now the entire story was out there, but I needed to apologize directly to my users. I needed to let them know that I was still alive, that I still cared.
I had an email list in MailChimp of all 2200 people that had pre-signed up or actually signed up for Kobra, and I decided that even though I had not emailed them in nearly 5 months, that I would give it a try.
Here was the email I sent:
Subject: Apology & The Future of Kobra.io
First of all I would like to thank you for being a part of Kobra.io. We launched to over 2200 people about 4 months ago, and we couldn’t have done it without you!
But I want to apologize for our lack of activity. Admittedly our numbers just aren’t what we thought they would be, and therefore we are going to be making a big change in the next few weeks.
I just wanted to warn you so that you don’t get concerned if something changes on the Kobra.io site.
If you want to learn how we launched to 2200 people in just 2 weeks and then drastically failed, and what we have in store for the future of Kobra, please check out this blog post:
Thanks for your time and understanding,
Founder of Kobra.io
I held my mouse pointer above the “Send” button for a minute. Do I really want to send this? I’m going to be admitting directly to the people that I let down, that I did in fact let them down.
I needed to do this. Send.
They say that if you let an email list go stale by not actually emailing them frequently, that the list becomes ineffective. The thing I was most scared about now is that no one would care, that no one would actually open the email.
I stared at the MailChimp report, refreshing every few seconds. At first nothing happened, no one opened the email.
Then it happened, in the next 3 hours, over 900 people read my email and over 400 of them clicked to read my full story. As of right now, that email is sitting at a 57.4% open rate, with a click rate of 21.4%.
I got many email responses from people telling me that they were sorry it hadn’t worked out as best as I had hoped, but that I should truck on, they believed in me.
What happened next was something I would have never thought, someone posted my blog article on Reddit and Hacker New. Now my story of failure, my apology, was 100% out in the open. At first a trickle of people began coming and reading the blog, one or two left comments.
Then the post hit front page and traffic hit 250+ concurrent readers for over an hour. In total over 4000 people we’re reading about how I failed and gave up too soon.
I was terrified.
But just like when I sent the email, I was getting an overwhelming amount of positive responses. Over 20 people responded to the Hacker News post, I got several blog comments, and even more emails came rolling in.
My energy is renewed, and it seems like there is still a great amount of interest in Kobra. So what I would like you to take away from this is one simple thing:
If you’ve given up too soon, if you think you’ve failed: be honest and apologize.
Let people know exactly the next steps you are going to take, and why you went off the radar. People appreciate honesty, and they may even give you some insight and advice on what you could do better on your 2nd try.
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