Launching a Startup from Scratch

This is the story of how we built and
launched our new startup Processd.

Have you ever had one of those “made from scratch” biscuits from Hardee’s? Those things are just delicious. Horrible for you I’m sure. But delicious.

They market those as made from scratch because presumably that makes them better. 

Same thing with pasta. Homemade is always better than “from a box”.

The challenge with making stuff from scratch though is that it is a lot more work! But the finished product generally is better and there is certainly more of a sense of accomplishment.

Same thing with startups! But with true startups you don’t really have a choice… the only way to create them is from scratch!

This is the story of how we built and launched our new startup Processd from scratch: with just an idea and visions of grandeur!

This is just the beginning of the story though; creating a startup takes time and we want to start at the very beginning... about three months ago.

The Idea

Coming up with the idea for a product can happen in many ways. For us a current client was using a tool to manage processes and was constantly complaining about it. 

Great! We know at least one person wants a great tool for process management! Not exactly market validation, but worthy of investigation!

After looking at the tool and thinking about the general idea of managing processes I really liked the idea. I mainly liked it because it felt like it could be applied to so many things! And if done well it had the potential to really help customers be more productive.

I also felt confident we could build a better tool.

Building a process management tool is not a new idea. In fact, Business process management is a fairly old idea. Like 1900's old [1]. And in the context of software, tooling around BPM starting cropping up around the early 2000's.

But I still liked the idea for a couple reasons.

1. A process management tool is general purpose. 
2. Sometimes old markets need fresh and simple solutions

Being “general purpose” is great because the tool can be used in so many different ways. It can be used across industries and across disciplines. This means the TAM or total addressable market is generally large. I like large.

And despite being an old idea, this market does not feel over done in terms of software solutions. In contrast think about the CRM market which feels heavily saturated. In addition to having arguably the world leader in SAAS dominating this market (Salesforce), there are so many options here. From other general purpose CRM packages to products tailored to every niche you can imagine.

Quick… name a player in the market of process management? Experts in the field could name some, but many of you probably can’t even think of one.

So we liked the idea for a number of reasons:

1. We knew it was a problem for businesses (from our client and input from others)
2. It was general purpose.
3. This market seems ripe for new innovation.

Building the Product

After spending some time thinking through the idea, we decided we would build the product.

As engineers, this was the easy part for us.

We officially started building the product in late March 2016, knowing we had at least one customer that wanted this (he is also an influencer in the Internet marketing space and had indicated he knew several others who would be interested).

Solving this problem with a great software product was not rocket science, but it was not a mom & apple pie app either.

I spent a good bit of time on the data model and the backend API and my co-founder went to work on laying out the UI.

We had the most primitive of prototypes up and running within a week allowing a user to create a process template and execute the process. (The name started as ProcessFlow, but when we couldn’t get a good domain name around this idea we changed the name to Processd.)

Within about six weeks we had what we called a 0.1 version available that we started to get feedback on from our first “customer”.

After iterating on the product for about another six weeks we’ve reached today and our release of the 1.0 version of the product.

Finding our First Customers

We started the project knowing we had our first customer. But how should we go about finding the next nine?

This is the problem we are currently solving.

Our first attempt to solve this failed spectacularly. This is a story worthy of it’s own post, but the TLDR; version is:

1. We created a landing page to host a webinar
2. Bought ads to push traffic to that page ($200)
3. Got zero signups to the webinar

ZE. RO. None. Nada.

So that didn’t work.

But we learned something and are now iterating on other ideas. Currently we are focused on these areas of generating top-of-funnel leads:

1. Content marketing (writing blogs yo!).
2. Leveraging professional network (I know lots of people from being in the game a while now)
3. Building out an affiliate program to incentivize referrals

As we work through these items we will report back on what works and want doesn’t.

Pricing for First Customers

One thing we want to do is make our first customers an offer that they can’t refuse. So to do that we’ve come up with a “Founders Club” plan that offers our early customers some extras that we definitely won’t offer to everyone. 

Founders Club, $500/year

First — the Founders club will be limited to only our first ten customers. We already have one, so there are only nine slots left.

In addition to our software for up to 20 users, we are also including the following items:


  • Priority on feature requests: We will always be listening to customers and improving the product to help make their lives easier. But, for Founders Club members we will alway give their requests priority, all else being equal.

  • Priority support: anyone in the founders club will get priority phone support where they can talk to an expert with the product (early on this will be a founder!)

  • Business coaching: This is actually worth the price of the product. We are offering Founders Club members two hours of coaching focused on helping them run their business more efficiently. We’ve been consulting for long enough to have built up a lot of experience helping companies be more successful with technology. We will apply our knowledge to your business to help you increase productivity and get more leverage in your own business.

The Journey Begins

This is just the beginning of Processd. We plan on documenting all the details of this journey here on the blog and look forward to having you along for the ride. (Sign up for email updates below!)

To date we have accomplished the following things:

1) Landed on an Idea we really like.
2) We’ve built a solid 1.0 version of the Product
3) Started our marketing and customer development.
4) Started asking people to Sign up for our Founders Club. Now! :-)

Now begins the journey of finding product/market fit!

p.s. We will be writing about the complete journey of founding, launching and growing Processd from the very beginning. If you’d like to follow along with our journey and hear about what is working and avoid any mistakes we make along the way, sign up for our email list here.

[1] Frederick Taylor began fleshing out ideas around better management techniques and processes in the early 1900's. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Winslow_Taylor

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About the Author

Harris Reynolds is the CEO & Co-Founder of Processd (simple process management software for businesses).