An update on Tout, the web-app I built in 3-days

It’s been just about a month since I posted my article on how I built Tout and took it to market in 3 days. I think its time to do a bit of a retrospective and talk about how things are going.

To give the quick back story, I built Tout to “scratch my own itch.” I was sending out a ton of marketing and customer development emails for my other product Braintrust and I needed a way to do it more effectively. And so, I built Tout, a way to templatize my emails. Just for kicks, I added a Premium plan that would give web-site like analytics on the emails I sent.

The numbers

After about 30 days since launch, Tout has signed up a total of 334 users, processed about 1,600 pitches, and signed up 10 premium subscribers each paying $30 per month.

Changes to Tout over the first 30 days

Thanks to a rather passionate group of customers around Tout, I also received a ton of feedback around the service.

The first two weeks after launch were spent ironing out random bugs around the service, implementing things like a “Forgot Password” feature and adding some features that I wouldn’t have thought of myself such as integrating with Highrise, being able to change the greeting for templates for other languages, and ensuring people can put in HTML in their messages for customizations.

After the first two weeks or so, Tout got to a pretty humming state. It turns out the problem it was solving struck a real nerve in people. One of my customers put it best: “Copy-n-Paste is SO 1990s thanks to Tout.” With the fires put out, I started to focus more on customer development. I hooked up a Survey.io widget to gather feedback, and I also used Tout to email new users and ask them how their experience was going.

Screen Shot 2010 05 20 at 10.48.19 pm

About three weeks into the service being online, I got enough information from customers to realize that:

  1. people were looking for a slightly more polished interface for Tout (but admitted that it met their immediate need)

  2. and although some people were turned off by the $30 price tag, there were lots of people who were perfectly fine with it as long as I put in some certain features.

And so, on the three week mark, even with existing premium subscribers, I implemented the low hanging fruit of the premium features: the ability to share Tout Premium with up to 5 team members AND the ability to share the pitch templates across the team. This meant that if 5 of the team members used the same pitch template to deliver a consistent message, you’ll get 5x the amount of analytics data tracking whether your e-mail pitches (and messaging) is working with your audience.

The Premium update struck yet another nerve, followed with a set of emails saying “Perfect! I was waiting for exactly this feature…” I got yet another bump in revenues.

Over the last week or so, it seems I hit another peak, and people started to complain about slowness. And so, thanks to Heroku’s awesome infrastructure, I just dialed up the # of dynos, and added some background worker threads for synching Highrise and sending e-mails. Problem solved.

What’s next for Tout

Screen Shot 2010 04 29 at 10

At this point, I see a Premium subscriber sign up just about every other day or so. I told my self that since Braintrust is my first priority, working on Tout would not be worth it to me without the $30/month price tag. At this point, I’m pretty satisfied. Tout is more than paying for it self, and is also generating extra cash that I can feed into Braintrust.

More importantly, Tout is easily attracting the type of people that also happen to be perfect candidates for Braintrust. Which means that by placing a simple upsell link for Braintrust in Tout, I can more than recoup whatever time I’ve put into it already revenues aside.

Moving forward, I’ve got some killer feature ideas from my customers. As time permits, I’ll be implementing them over the next few weeks. If I see enough of a response from all of you, I’ll post another update reporting back in a few months or so.

  • Sounds like a good signup rate. Congrats man!

  • Thanks! It’s been an unexpected surprise.

  • I just signed up for tout and liked the concept. I think that it needs a little tweeking and you will have a great application

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  • Im very impressed, having only had it for a few short hours. I feel like my potential to reach my clientelle (web development), creative associates (start-up I’m freshly starting to help artists gain clout and momentum in the right ways and directions), and fans of my personal music. I’m thrilled to have this software, and It’s flawlessly performed everything I’ve asked of it in a very easy to navigate manner. That non-functional piece when I can feel intuitively where everything is sets this product apart from any else I’ve touched. If only video games valued gameplay over graphics in the same way… Bravo! It’s inspiring as a hobby iOS, etc. hobbyist developer to see such cleanliness that is functional, feels “right,” and is thus far bug free — that impresses me more than yet another OpenGL, identical physics engine project.. though storylines are usually more interesting than the emails I receive regularly.

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