David Tuite

Indie Hackers Podcast Notes. Andy Cook of Tettra

January 01, 2019

Andy Cook is a cofounder of Tettra. Andy was interviewed on the Indie Hackers podcast.

Tettra is a knowledge sharing system for growing teams. It allows you to take all of your scattered documents, emails, chat logs and GitHub issues and aggregate it all into one central repository. Once ingested, Tettra makes that knowledge easily accessible from Slack.

Tettra makes $40k MRR.

The notes below are not a full summary of the podcast. I just pulled out the parts that I found interesting. See the full transcript on the Indie Hackers website for more details on hiring people, finding mentors, managing your own psychology and raising money.

Key Insights

  • Once you have an idea for a problem, don’t start writing code. Instead, spend 8 weeks doing customer interviews.
  • Create fake mockups and get interviewees to agree to try your product if you build it.
  • Even with this agreement, likely nobody will use your first version. Do not give up. Go back to them and ask them why they’re not using it. It took Andy 3 tries.
  • Integrations into new platforms can be a really good way to get distribution. They launched in the Slack app store when there were very few products there and got 50 users a week.
  • Hooking into peoples daily habits and being where they already are is key for driving engagement.
  • A founders number one superpower is managing their own psychology. Don’t get too low in the lows or too high in the highs.
  • Product-market fit is not a one-and-done job. The market keeps changing so they must iterate to retain product-market fit.
  • Try to find a sustainable user acquisition channel that you don’t have to do a ton of work for so you can free up time to improve the product.
  • You don’t just need product-market fit. You need product, market, channel, model fit.
  • Two distribution channels which have worked for them are content and integrations.
  • To succeed, you need to find a problem that you can be passionate about for a really long time.
  • To test your passion, write down the problem you are experiencing. Write down your thoughts and try to forget about it. If it keeps coming up over and over for the next few months, it means it’s a problem you are passionate about.

Podcast Summary

They came up with the idea when Andy and his co-founder Nelson were working in Hubspot. It was just the two of them working together on a product called LeadIn. It got extra funding at a certain point and all of a sudden 4 more people joined their team.

They needed a way to get these 4 new people up to speed quickly. To them, it felt like chat was the best way to do this because they already hung out there all day. They couldn’t understand why there wasn’t a wiki product with chat integration.

They left Hubspot to work on this idea. They knew it was a crowded space but thought this was a good thing since there were already customers spending millions of dollars on solutions they didn’t love. It’s proof there was an opportunity.

For the first 8 weeks, they didn’t write any code at all. Instead, they spent their time figuring out the problems that people had and doing customer interviews.

They created fake mock-ups and showed them to potential customers and got people to agree to try the product when it was ready. They learned so much about the problem space that it gave them the confidence to people would actually use it if they built it.

Andy wanted to do this because he’s had many failures over the years where he spent ages building something and launching it only to learn that nobody cares. He got to the point where he decided that he didn’t want to build things for the sake of building them anymore. He wanted to actually solve customer problems.

Once they completed the interviews and decided to build the product they built an MVP on top of Wordpress. They gave this product to their interviewees and nobody used it. They asked why and everyone simply said that they had been meaning to use it but they just kept forgetting.

Fortunately, Slack had just launched their new platform at this time. They went back to their interviewees and asked them if they would use it if it was hooked up to Slack in a certain way. They got super positive responses to this where people wanted it immediately and were trying to pay for it. With this information, they decided to start from scratch.

They built a new version on top of Slack and had 200 customers sign up in the first 2 days. This was the validation they were looking for. They kept talking to people and learning about why they were even signing up for it and what they were looking for.

The problems these new users talked about were the same as the people they had interviewed but because it was happening inside Slack, people would actually remember to use it. They went all in on Slack from this point.

They started building V3 of their tool which was fully centered around Slack. As they built it, Andy started full-time sales to pre-sell the Slack version. They got 20 prepaid signups while building.

Slack continued to be an important source of new users. Every week they got new users to talk to without really having to do any extra work. If you don’t have that kind of free acquisition you have to do outbound email and calls and it will take up so much time that you won’t be able to improve the product.

This is part of what is called Product, Market, Channel, Model fit. They knew about this concept from Hubspot but messed it up for 2 years. When they got the Slack V3 product working they started doing inside sales. They hired a salesperson and started doing demos to prospects inside companies.

There were a number of issues with this

  1. Since they charged $5 per user, after the demo they would get a $15/month subscription. The economics don’t work out because demos cost so much.
  2. The top customer types, founders and engineers, don’t want a demo. They just want to start using it.

Today they reach these people with a freemium model driven from two places. Content is the most important source of leads. Founders and engineers are always learning. They’re listening to podcasts like Indie Hackers and reading on the internet. So they produce content about why you need a wiki etc.

They’ve also had success with integrations. They get listed in platform directories. This drives more qualified leads to Tettra.


David Tuite

Written by David Tuite who is a product manager at Workday and used to be a software engineer. You should follow him on Twitter