Don't Release A Crappy Product
Where Are They Now?
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Don't Release A Crappy Product
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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my biggest fear has been um producing an inferior product or a product that simply that wouldn't pass muster um but what that's done is it's really it's shown me and taught me that first off don't release something unless it's at least minimal minimally viable don't release a crappy product and if you do release one you're going to have to deal with it in the future and i so that's all that's what i've learned over these last few months [Music] everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey i'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur that's grown several startups into seven and eight figure businesses as well as the ceo and founder of miller ip law where we help startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks you ever need help with years just go to strategymeeting.com and we're always happy to help now today we have another where they at now episode where you know it's always kind of fun we always have the original guest on we'll talk about what you know how they got to where they're at today kind of what their journey was and then but we never necessarily hear you know kind of what happened after that so it's fun to have people back on kind of hear how are things going did things go is according to plan did things pivot did they adjust and kind of what did you learn over the last six months and so we have another great guest on that was previously on tom milligan um that he'll be talking a little bit about um all of his journey he does uh ourdivorce.com as a reminder that helps people to streamline to how to get a divorce and use it through their system and through software side of it so he'll give us a little bit of a reminder as to where he's at six months ago and then we'll hear a little bit about what uh what's going on now so with that welcome back on to the podcast tom hey thanks devin it's great to be back with you so i gave just a very brief kind of introduction as to what we're gonna be uh chatting about but uh maybe kind of as a quick review for the the listeners kind of tell or remind everybody where you were at six months ago what was going on and then we'll talk about how it's gone since then well as a quick reminder um i started our divorce.com not because i'm an attorney which i am not um i started our divorce because um i had just i had been divorced about 20 years ago and uh it was a rough divorce cost me a lot of money and spent a lot of time doing it um but i went through a divorce about a year and a half ago and when that divorce was happening i made a vow to myself that it wasn't going to cost me so much money and it wasn't going to take so much time so i put together a plan and thankfully my now ex-wife agreed to that plan and we were able to get our divorce paperwork ready to file within 48 hours of making that decision it cost us nothing and and it's something a friend of mine at the time a divorce attorney said man if you could package this up this would be quite a business you'd help a lot of people and so an idea was born so the day after the divorce was final i started our divorce.com we started the development efforts and when last we spoke we'd had a couple a couple of fits and starts we did a launch on september 1st we kind of had to pull the product back redo a few things since then we've added another thousand or so couples i think at the time we were just at about 12 or 1300 couples that have entered the system we've added another thousand or so since then we've learned a lot about marketing which i'm sure we'll talk about um you know it's been it's been a great i think it's been about five six months since the last time we spoke so looking forward to the conversation awesome well that's a great reminder to people so yeah let's dive into it because i think last we talked um you know it may have been i'm trying to remember if you'd actually launched you were just getting ready to launch i think it was right at around the time you just launched you'd kind of gone through a bit of b or you've done a soft launch in september one and then you know i think since then and as we chatted a bit before this episode um you had to pull it back and then you did another soft lawn so maybe give us an idea what was the motivation why did you pull it back and what did you learn and then how did the the second kind of soft launch go sure uh so the reason we had to do this off the we had to pull it back and relaunch was because we want to make sure that we have a quality product and that's the bottom line i would rather have customers angry at me for not having a you know not being able to finish the product rather than being angry at me because they did finish and it didn't work um and so we we decided to pull it back because you know we went into this thinking it was going to be probably a little bit easier than it has been and i think a lot of entrepreneurs have that same uh hope and dream were you know hope spring's eternal and and we uh we just realized that you know every state is different we knew that going into it the laws are different the paperwork's different um we had to create um you know not to get you know overly technical but i'm assuming a lot of people understand the concept of a mail merge from excel to word and the concept is that we gather a bunch of data in our application and then we have to fill out the forms in each state and there are 25 000 separate variables and fields that we potentially not in every document of course but we have 25 000 variables that we have to manage and there's a lot of room for error and we had not accounted for all of that room when we did our first launch and so we had to pull it back and just make sure that everything was perfect um and i wish that i could say everything was perfect today um it's more perfect and we're and we fix things as we go now rather than launching with known issues now one question i'll ask is you know pulling back a product it's always a bit painful in the sense that you're you you know it almost feels like you're admitting defeat or at least you know temporary defeat in the sense of man we launched it we thought we had it and then we there were enough issues that we wanted to pull back so that we weren't quality issues when you did that you know how did you approach the customers you just simply say hey we you know it's not working as well as you want we're you know we're going to refund your money is it hey we can finish up what we already have we'll do it manually or we'll do it by hook or crook and get it done or kind of how did you pull it back when you figured out that there's a lot more variables to account for a great question and there was a lot of debate uh as to how to handle it but the one thing that was never up for debate was full transparency we just decided right up front that we would just be fully transparent explain the situation if we lost a few of the customers we lost a few of the customers but what uh there was no need to give a refund because we don't charge anything until until the end um so what we have done for the customers that have been that had to wait um we did give them a discount either 50 or 100 um we only charge 300 so there's not that much of a discount that we can offer so we gave a 50 or 100 discount depending on how long they had to wait for us um and it was a really i got to tell you i was nervous uh for you know as one can imagine um to make that decision but then when when we started offering updates uh daily or weekly updates depending on what was going on at the time um to the to the customers and only to the customers that had already finished the process and were just waiting for us to print the paperwork that's really the only hold up we've ever had is being able to prevent print paperwork that would be accepted by the courts which is the ultimate goal of our divorce and so we it's i've had the opportunity to speak to several of these customers not just emails and texts but actual phone conversations and one of them a few weeks ago when we were just finishing up this state i can't remember exactly which state it was but this customer had been waiting for about a month and you know they were getting frustrated and you could tell and so i picked up the phone i called this guy his name's greg we ended up talking for 30 minutes and we we we bonded we had a great time and i said look greg i'm so sorry that this has taken so long i mean it's hard this is not an easy thing we're doing here if it were easy everyone would be doing it um and that doesn't it doesn't excuse you know anything i'm not trying to make excuses i'm just telling you that's i'm trying to be open and up front and he said look thank you so much for calling we're just happy to be a part of this we're so happy that there's a service out there that that does this we're willing to wait and i it was so great and so he's actually offered to do a video testimonial as well um as soon as their divorce has been signed by the judge so he and his soon-to-be ex-wife um you'll see them on our tick tock channel soon so no and i think that you know i think that's a testament one that people want need your service but also two a lot of times you know you can either sell we're having to pull this back it's you know it's it almost feels like defeat but you can take it as an opportunity to learn about your product learn you know learn from other people it's to what it what you could change what you can make better and it gives you an opportunity to improve it as opposed to just simply just feel like you have to you know hold off or not you know not do it and it's not never an easy thing and i get that there's a lot of debates going back and forth but it sounds like out of that you got some a lot you got one you found out you had more or people who are wanting and there was the man there were loyal people that were willing to wait and then you also got some feedback so it sounds like overall it was a worthwhile endeavor now absolutely now one of the other kind of questions to follow up is you know as you're hitting all these issues and i think that you know and we chatted a little bit before the podcast you always discover it takes two or three no even if you really even build in cushion to what you think your timeline is and say okay i think it's gonna take six months i'll say it's nine months it usually still takes two or three times longer than the nine months or whatever that time frame it is and also takes two or three times the money so inevitably i think everybody thinks oh i planned this down you know i'm going to be the exception i'm always going to i'm going to be the one that actually keeps it on budget non-time and many everybody oh i don't know if i met an inventor that just unless it was so drop dead simple that there was nothing to it everybody hits into that so as you're heading into that and you're figuring out okay this take you know first of all you're having to pull it back you're having to hold off a bit you're having to deal with customers and letting them know what's going on and then you're also having to um figure out how to fund it how to do more time and money and how to you know extend the runway until you can get paying customers how did you balance all that where it's taking longer is costing more and you're still not getting revenue in well so this this project i think we mentioned this last time we were together um has been self-funded primarily i funded this myself through savings and the sale of a home after the divorce and also my business partner um jill has been funding um adding some funds as needed um we you know we we do have revenue now um so it's not that we have to fund everything anymore that's the good news we haven't uh we still haven't made a profit but we will get there here in the next month or two um and uh so so the number of days um that we're going to have to continue throwing money at this is are are quickly coming to an end and that's pretty exciting now as far as making some of those decisions i mean it really comes down to we can't afford especially at the very beginning of our business we couldn't afford any bad reviews um we certainly couldn't afford to get the word out that that we provide crappy product or that our documents aren't accepted by the courts and again like i said at the beginning i would really rather have a bunch of angry people saying wow you didn't give me documents rather than your documents suck no and i think that there's a there's a good point and i think the other lesson a bit to learn in there is you know it makes sometimes you know you always hear you know take money and take venture capital and take you know this and that and that's how you fund a company and yet sometimes when you're self-funding it when you hit those bumps on the road you know even though it hits your pocketbook you're not having investors that are frustrated why is it taking longer why is it more expensive you know and everything else because it gives you the bandwidth to do what you need to do with the product to make sure that it is it is what you promise on and what you want to deliver and you're not under the crunch of the timeline so much that you're delivering product that you can't be proud of so i think that is one that you know sometimes even though it sounds like you know venture capital money angel and there's certainly a place for that so i'm not knocking that but it also gives the flip side of when sometimes it's better to not have taken that money so that you can do what you need to with the product yep so now so and so now kind of catching up so you you know you pulled it back you you reeled it back in you take a while you fix the problems you deal with the variables you enter you know you underst you figure out what you didn't know before so that you can update it you go through all of that ex exercise and that experience now you guys have relaunched since then you had i think originally we talked to you at 1300 you even have more than that now so maybe fill us in a bit on how's the relaunch since you've done the second soft launch fix things how's it gone it's gone well i mean clearly it's not it's not perfect i wish i could say it's perfect and quite frankly it never will be yeah i've yet to meet someone that has done any project especially software but really any project where hey it's done it's perfect it's just what it needs to be because even when you've just about reached that point you have the next idea of how to improve it make it better and it starts all over again yeah well and and so we we went through and and we defined mvp the minimum viable product um and that's what we have achieved um and so we have literally hundreds of items on the software backlog in our and we're organizing into sprints now so we're doing two week sprints you know now we're into product enhancement rather than product development so that's always a really fun place to be um and so what we've also done um well let's just start at the beginning i mean the bottom line is is that this is like any sales organization which is what we are i mean let's face it um it's a funnel and it starts with number of visitors to the website and so what we did um and i can't remember exactly where we were in the process when we spoke last time i should have taken the time to listen i apologize but um we started a tick tock channel way back in september and had a couple of viral videos completely by surprise and so we decided to continue using tiktok as our primary marketing method well over time it became so effective um that we stopped all google and facebook ads entirely we literally pay nothing for advertising and we get about 20 000 uh new unique visitors a month to our site so what we decided is that in order to really focus on that traffic we actually started an affiliate program where we actually found several tick tock influencers and paid them a very small amount of money i think it was a nickel per unique visitor that they drove to their unique url and it really just drove a ton of traffic and it got us a good name well what we learned quickly though is that while eighty percent of our traffic was coming from those influencers only twenty percent of our starts that's what we call our the people who enter the program the starts only 20 of the starts came from them and so jill and i when we do our own videos that's only 20 of the volume um on our site but it's 80 of the start so it's truly the 80 20 rule so what we've learned is that while jill and i don't produce as much traffic we are far more effective um as a matter of fact we did learn that um just this last week we ran some numbers 13 conversion um so 13 of the people who go to my videos or jill's videos convert actually start the process and i don't i think most people would kill or die for a 13 conversion rate so so you start the funnel at the top with visitors on the side then they have to click get started and then their three-step process and so obviously people fall out of the process along the way but what comes out the bottom is some subset of all of those people who said get started um and it's you know it's a um it what we've recently done is we've actually just ended um yesterday we ended our affiliate program with our influencers we had to give 30 days notice per the contract and so we did and yesterday was the last day of that program not because we don't love them all but and they were driving a ton of traffic when i say 20 000 i mean just from jill and me we were getting about 80 000 with our affiliates and but they just weren't producing enough and so our cost per con completion was greater than our greater than our actual money so it cost us more than 299 dollars just to get a completion um we got a lot of name recognition but we still got to make money so every good business still needs to make money and that you know as as opposed to what you see on tv and read where they have unlimited funds and you got lots of investors and you can lose money for 99 percent of businesses if you don't make money you're going to go out of business so i definitely exactly and one of the other things you just started to touch on but i thought was interesting is you know as you guys are redoing the soft launch and you're you know getting things going again and you know kind of or seeing how it turns out you found out you know you looked at the analytics and and one of the things you found out was also um that sunday was your busiest day so tell us a little bit first on you know how did you guys start to is analytics important how did you guys start to figure out your analytics and any other insights that you guys kind of gained as you're going along that path sure so so as we like i said we kind of fell into tick tock so we didn't like do this on purpose but we do now it's it's all on purpose we release two videos a day but what we've and we do that because we have to test when the best time of day to release is um and so in order to know what time of day we also need to know um day of week and so when are people the most likely and at what time on that day are they most likely to want to get a divorce which is it's a horrible thing to think about and i'm in such a weird position because i don't advocate for divorce i just want to make sure divorce doesn't have to suck as bad as it has in the past and so um and so we started running um we there are always two people involved of course in every divorce and we call them an instigator and a recipient because the first person actually starts the process and then invites the other person to join and so what we do is we we count um instigator um account creation date and time that's kind of how we figure everything out um and what we've learned is by the way 67 percent of our instigators are women and sunday is by far our busiest day in terms of new starts um roughly 45 of our starts happen on sundays um and so we focus a lot of our efforts on making sure that our videos are our most what we believe to be our best videos um go out on saturday and sunday to try and you know gather that um you know basically capture that weekend divorce fever for whatever reason that's when people do and i don't know if it's because they get angry at their spouse on a sunday or because they're not working um i don't know exactly why sunday is so busy it just is that's interesting so so now you you know you but but i think it's a testament at least you know you may not always know the reason behind but you know for for example you know if you're saying hey the majority of our you know the your initial contact or initial users are going to be women then you may adjust how you're going to or change your messaging or your videos or how they interact with it or what it's like and same thing if you're saying hey if sundays are the thing we may need to either have more customer service or staff up or otherwise adjust our message so if people are doing it on the weekends doing it when they have down time they're not doing it during the work day it's i think it's a testament to the reason why you need the analytics behind what you do rather than just guess and you know not pay attention to because it can have a big impact one way or the other and even with your affiliate marketing it sounds like you know all of those if if you if you're not paying attention it's easy to miss the things that are going to make the the business even more successful exactly yeah i think that you know when now that we know a lot of these things um we we know that um i and this is not to toot my own horn in any way because i i don't even know why this is true um but what we know is that the videos that i produce and put out on tick tock um tend to go more viral than jill's and it's you know i love jill's videos more than my own so it's not about that i i think it comes down to there aren't a lot of men on tick tock talking about their feelings and their divorces and stuff like that and and so our audience which is primarily women i think that they find that endearing i don't know what the right word is but um they they resonates more with them it resonates somehow with with women and so um and so we you know we try to do some really inspirational videos we try to have a lot of fun with the videos we make fun of people we make fun of ourselves quite a bit um and you know we just try to have fun and it's just the beautiful part of of tick tock now the other crazy thing by the way and not this is a commercial for tick tock but um i strongly encourage any business especially in a b2c type of a business it's free and in fact it's actually better than free because as soon as you reach a certain following you can join the creators fund so i actually get paid to make videos to advertise my own business um it's an insane it cost me negative dollars to advertise and that's like a dream um so anyway just a throw just to throw it out there if you're in the b2c business tick tock is a great place to be if you want to have some fun with it oh and that's i think that's a good good insight and good lesson learned so as we start to wrap towards the end of the podcast you know now looking you know so we we kind of had the original podcast episode that we did was looking you know kind of six months ago we talked heard about your journey now we've heard kind of the last six months how things have gone how you've pivoted adjusted looking again once again to the future you know if you're to take the next you know again six to 12 months out where do you see things headed what are kind of the plans and what's what's next for you guys well the the biggest project we're involved with right now is that we just tripled our our legal staff um literally this week um so we now have far more legal professionals involved and so we are improving the documents even though the documents are acceptable we're improving the legal documents so that they're you know better they're more efficient we're trying to reuse documents across states wherever possible or portions of documents so that we don't have to manage every piece of it individually and we can just manage a master like for example an asset division table is something that we can reuse in every single state and so we are going through all 51 jurisdictions and replacing the language about that with common language um so that's the biggest thing in terms of what's happening today what's happening going forward um over the next six to twelve months what you'll see the name our divorce was not an accident and really what it comes down to is that anyone who's ever been divorced knows that when the judge signs your decree it's not over that's actually the beginning and now you have to manage your divorce there's financial implications from alimony child support then you've got visitation and parent time you've got so many things that have to be managed to maintain an amicable divorce that we will be building out tools that allow a divorced couple to manage their kids calendar and their alimony payments and child support and we will allow you know we will have paperwork involved so that people can you know file documents to change their child support or change their alimony order based on new jobs or anything like that so where the plan is or like i say it'll it's a it'll be a lifetime journey but you'll see the first release of our platform over the next six to twelve months about how to manage an existing divorce so getting divorce is just the beginning now we can manage the ongoing divorce too no and i and but i think that's interesting because you know it's dip you know illegal phil they get were in the same but even i do a lot of patents trademarks intellectual property and one of the things i've noticed is you know a lot of times you know you tend to focus on just one very narrow sliver of helping somebody in that but there's always that you know things that they're doing before they come into contact through things that they're doing after they come into contact with you of which they both need help and they need assistance and so as you expand the product a lot of times you're saying hey let's help them not just along this very narrow slice of their journey but help them along as much of the journey as makes sense and as much as we're able to absolutely yeah i think that i think a lot of people have that they think that it's oh good i'm divorced it's over and it's just not and there's just too much more to it so we want to help people make that whole their whole life cycle of their divorce goes quickly and easily as possible um no i think that definitely makes sense so well one and so now as we wrap up the podcast i always have one question you know normally during the normal episodes i have two questions i always ask and you know we talk always about that with the where are they at now our episode i always try and change up the question just a bit um because you know usually once you got into it further and you got deeper into it you find things that you know they keep you up at night they keep you worried to keep you you know that you fear so to speak or the or make your concerns you always have to deal with and so i always switch the question out for a bit so now i'll ask my final question for the where are you at now episode which is along your journey what's been your biggest fear and what have you learned from it the biggest fear um really comes down to what we've already talked about i'm sorry to be boring but my biggest fear has been producing an inferior product or a product that simply that wouldn't pass muster but what that's done is it's really it's shown me and taught me that first off don't release something unless it's at least minimal minimally viable um don't release a crappy product um and and if you do release one you're gonna have to deal with it in the future and i but so that's all that's what i've learned over these last few months no i think that's a good lesson to learn and i think it's one where it is a fear that you have that hey i'm going to put this out in the world it's not going to work or it's going to fail or it's not going to you know people aren't going to receive it and it is one where you always having to constantly guard against it that you know there's two temptations one is you work you know you wait off hold off so long that the product never makes it to market because you're always fearful that it's not going to work it's gonna be a crappy product and then you have the flip side of it where you put it you know you you worried that if it you know you're if you do if you wait too long you're going to miss a market you're going to miss a window you're going to not be able to fund it you're not going to be able to keep it going and so there's always kind of those fears of when is a product good enough so i definitely understand that fear and also kind of what you've learned as you've gone along as to how to deal with that fear so very insightful so well i appreciate you coming on the podcast it's been fun it's been a pleasure to catch up with you again hear where you guys are where you're at and hopefully things continue to be successful um now for all of you that are and before i jump into that one more reminder for people if they forgot they don't remember how to reach out to you if they want to be a client a customer if they're if they're going through a divorce or they're headed in that direction if they want to be an employee they want to be an investor they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out contact you and find out more well first off if you if you want to be my customer i'm sorry to hear that i really am um but if you do want to have an amicable divorce go to ourdivorce.com um you can read all about it we have a great resources page where we have several contributing attorneys and other legal professionals that write blog posts for us there's a lot of great information if you even if you're just interested in the in this in the uh in the subject matter um if you want to contact me the best way is just uh info our divorce dot com um love to hear from you um again weird place to be i don't want you to get divorced but uh if you are going to get divorced i hope i can help help help make it a little less painful no but i think that that's fair in the sense that you know it's kind of like most time although i get to play in a different area of law where people actually are excited to see an attorney and you know they have an invention but most of the time it's like i have to go see an attorney i don't want to see it's like hey sorry that you're going through a hard thing let's see how we can best help you out in a hard time so i definitely get where that you know kind of the conflict or conflict arises but well thank you again for coming on the podcast it's been a fun it's been a pleasure now for all of you that are listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to come and be a guest on the podcast we'd love to have or share your story just go to inventiveguest.com and apply to be on the podcast two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe and your podcast please you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and two leave us a review so other people can find about find out about all of our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with patents trademarks or anything else with your business go to strategymeeting.com and we're always here to help thanks again tom and wish the next leg of your journey even better than the last thanks so much devin you