Now that I understand that no one needs the product I've been building, what can I do?


So, at this point I think there is no sense in waiting for some miracle. 120 people visited my site, and no one became a user, even though my application is free. What options do I have? Should I just forget this story? Is there anything else?

It's an app for memorizing educational texts in two steps - tagging keywords and then trying to fill in them after 'publishing' test.

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asked Aug 4 '13 at 04:11
Joe Half Face
188 points

6 Answers


As entrepreneurs, we get paid to solve people's problems. If you choose to "Just forget this story" without understanding why it looks like your company is off-market then you'll miss out in a learning opportunity.

You've got to solve TWO problems: 1) create value and 2) distribute the value

So at this point, it's hard to answer your question without understanding what value your service offers. If the issue is that your product doesn't create any value then, if possible, modify the product until it does. Value = Perceived benefits - Price. Since your price is free then the problem is in the perceived benefits. May be you're not explaining the product well enough.

So first, ask yourself if your product creates genuine value for users. If it does then the problem is that you're not distributing the value correctly: wrong target market, marketing message off-mark, wrong distribution channel... Distributing value is a hard problem to solve.

So, my advice would be to figure out if a) the product has a market but you're not reaching the market correctly, in which case get a biz dev person involved, or b) the product as-is doesn't solve a problem, in which case you can either evolve the current product or start over with a new product. If the latter turns out to be the course to take then I hope that as least you'll have learned to build products that solve problems and if you learn that then you'll be ahead of many people.

answered Aug 4 '13 at 04:28
4,166 points
  • thanks, that is useful answer – Joe Half Face 9 years ago
  • BTW, you say 120 people saw your website and nothing happened: I think at the very very beginning, you can't just put your site out there and wait for people to buy-in. Instead, just grab 5 people by the throat and get them to use the website to see how they use it and what adjustments you need to make. Something obvious to you the person who built it may not seem so obvious to someone seeing the site the first time; most likely that's part of what's not working with your site. – Frenchie 9 years ago
  • but it is really simple, and also there is tutorial (straight on main page). – Joe Half Face 9 years ago
  • What/whose problem do you solve? – Frenchie 9 years ago
  • I think someone who studies something - studens. Most of materials a digital now. – Joe Half Face 9 years ago
  • "Students" is a large-scale market, so that's good. Are you helping them do something they already do, but that's painful to do, or are you asking them to do something new that you think would help them? – Frenchie 9 years ago
  • Ok, my hypothesis is that most of them just read the textbook chapter and then try to recall something. I think that there is more efficient approach to memorizing and estimating - what do you remember/and what not (using my app, for example) – Joe Half Face 9 years ago
  • When you say "I think that there is more efficient approach" then that's what you've got to sell users on but that sounds more like an opinion than a fact. Neither a good or bad thing on its own but IF in fact you are right then that should be the selling point. – Frenchie 9 years ago
  • +1 Wow great answer @frenchie – Jacques 9 years ago
  • Currently I'm working on redesigning landing page and adding example for users straight for first vist so they can understand that service they are offered. Thanks again! – Joe Half Face 9 years ago


You've done an experiment, called "will people use my app if they visit my website?"

If 10% of people had signed up, you'd feel you've learned something. Because they didn't, it's painful to realize that your experiment wasn't designed to create knowledge for you.

The problem is, you've mixed up the idea of a problem, the way you tell the story on a website, the description of an app that's meant to solve the problem, and the act of signing up. You know it didn't all work, but you have gained zero insight into whether any part of that had value.

That's the bad news. Time for the good news.

Go build a website whose only job is to find out if people want to memorize educational texts. If the next 120 visitors drive on by, do something else. But if ten of them act in a way that suggests they'd value help, you could be onto something.

Good luck. You made a mistake, and you've reacted to that just the right way - to grit your teeth, and show it to people who can help. Not help you to feel better, but help you to learn, and move on.

You're already ahead of all those startups who fear failure. Learn, and step out again.

answered Aug 8 '13 at 17:17
Jeremy Parsons
5,197 points
  • Thank. You answer was very useful. I find out that I made a common mistake. You have an idea, you feel that it is good, and start making it before actually finding out if it has some sufficient market at all. Next time after several tries to pivot I will definitely avoid it – Joe Half Face 9 years ago


Do you know why they don't want your product?

What do they want?

How far away is your product from what they want?

Can you make some modifications to make it something they want?

Have you done the right market research and targeted the right clients?

Don't give up just pivot a little.

answered Aug 4 '13 at 04:17
Ross Mann
546 points


That is nonsense!

  • First, learn from this and next time do your product research before investing into a site. And now with that said here is the good news:
  • A. There is a seat for every ass! Trust me, if you market someting properly it will make money, The key is finding out if its worth your effort.
  • If its a website, then dont pull the plug, but make it a lower priority. It probably costs next to nothing to maintain. Years ago i setup a cron service (hosted). Something nobody needs with Cron on linux servers / WSH on windows servers. Guess what, I still get subscribers every month! It doesnt make millions but it nets positive without any work (2 hours a year max)
  • You have competitors. Look at luminosity. Try to figure out what they are doing to make themselves successful.
  • Do you have code you can re-use or adapt for a different application?
  • Can you make money just pushing adsense, and make your service totally free?
answered Aug 9 '13 at 10:31
2,079 points
  • I'm not going to put ads until hosting costs some sufficient money. This way it is free and without ads. – Joe Half Face 9 years ago
  • I am sure you will find a way to monetize it eventually. Sometimes just being on the web a long time is worth value in its own. My point was not to be quick to fold up. Even if you have to put it on AWS free usuage tier and move it around each year, keep it up and live. Who knows, a competitor might just buy you out to clear the field or in the future what you have built might have more value as things evolve. I have seen dumb ideas make $$$$ and good ones fail. Some of it is just luck. – Frank 9 years ago


It's almost impossible to claim that there isn't a market for your product.

I would recommend starting to get feedback on why or why not people use it. Products evolve like everything else, with constant feedback you can grow the product to somewhere between your original vision and people's wants/needs.

answered Aug 4 '13 at 08:53
111 points


Without knowing who those 120 people are, it is impossible to judge if your product is on target or not. Assuming you saw a problem in the marketplace first, then developed a solution (your product), you data suggests that the 120 visitors you are looking at were simply the wrong people.

Who is your product intended for? High Schoolers? College kids? Professionals?
Having the right audience is key. Identify who your target users/buyers are, find a handful of them to sit down with your product and "play" with it, then ask them for real feedback.

If you believe that the 120 visitors were the right people, then your immediate problem is your website, not your app.

answered Aug 8 '13 at 00:55
96 points

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