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The Cheezus Thread - A Startup Journey

Discussion in 'Careers, Employment and Professional Development' started by randomshenans, 18 Jan 2021.

  1. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    It's 2021, I always have a million ideas but my priority for this year is really to grow my Cheezus app and it's userbase. I thought putting all my goings on would be useful to someone in here, and if nothing else helps me order my processes and plans!

    Background:

    My wife and I were eating cheese, which is a typical events chez Jones, and my wife said "why isn't there a vivino for cheese?". Obviously, I am incapable of thinking about something without acting on it, so...
    I designed a rough idea for the basics of the app, from a UI perspective using Adobe XD and hit UpWork on the search to try and find someone to build it.
    Cue a long delivery time, but eventually we got to our V1.
    It's not perfect, the UI I'd like to change some things on, and I'd also like to have more images for the machine learning (we trained the app on about 10k images of cheese, which was about 10 cheeses) but that will hopefully all come...

    But, v1.0 was released and it's in both app stores.

    https://cheezus.co

    https://apps.apple.com/us/app/cheezus/id1501542846

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=co.cheezusapp.cheezus&hl=en&gl=US

    Cost to this point: $1100

    Business Model:

    The app currently is free with adsense banner at the bottom. This pulls in next to bugger all, but it's 1 stream regardless.
    In a B2C sense, each pairing on the app (e.g. fig and pear chutney is lovely with a brie) has the option on the back end for me to provide a sales link for each pairing, so I can link it to amazon affiliate links, or links from other producers (which is my aim, over amazon for sure). Amazon % is utter garbage, so the aim is to have a multitude of producers with link tracking enabled for links, so we can track the conversions and work out a % per sale/ click from Cheezus to them.
    There is a future option I'm looking at for producers of cheese (who were hit hugely last year due to the main cheese buyer - hospitality, not buying cheese!) to be able to do the same as the pairing producers in linking directly to their stores for customers to buy cheese.
    On top of this we have been exploring the above, but extended for subscription cheese boxes worldwide, using a fulfilment company (already spoken to) and producers sending directly to the fulfilment company and they send to customers. All this would be handled our side in the app. (a fair bit of dev work associated with this, so it's in the backlog right now).
    I spoke to the founder of vivino as well about pulling in wine data from an API and have it automatically populate a pairing for cheese based on the type of wine and flavour profile, which would link back to vivinos app/shop to buy. He said come back when I have 2500 users, so that's my aim.
    Other avenues include things like cheese boards, knifes and other cheesy accessories as options to purchase through our site/socials and app.

    Multi faceted, but not focusing on all of these up front.

    The rest of 2020:

    I let it slip really. I didn't focus a lot of time on building a community and this showed. I spent about $200 on advertising on app stores, which was useless to be honest with you. I got installs on android but then lost them just as fast with no feedback. This wasn't the way to build a brand and app community. I then got bogged down with my real job, and then got a new job that was working me 12hr days. I was tired and for once had no motivation for my own stuff. That changed when I took my time off in December and I built a plan.

    Cost to this point: $1700 + $1200 = $2900
    (build costs, apple dev account, business creation in UK, adverts on FB, adverts on google play store, running website for a year + $1200 for running machine learning servers)

    Stats for 2020 (as of Dec):

    - Android Users: 94
    - Apple Users: 178
    - Facebook page likes: 1650
    - Instagram follows: 622
    - Number of Types of Cheeses: 242
    - Twitter followers (haven't been using it tbh): 49


    2021 Plans:

    My wife wanted to know why we spend 100 a month on Cheezus servers if I'm not doing anything meaningful with it, which is right. I got into a better space in Dec and whilst we don't have a zero budget, we have to justify those spends and put them in the right places for the board (my wife) to approve.

    GOALS:

    - Increase active users to 2500 - User aquisition means everything. Raising money? They want to see your user base growth. Want to build a community? Need users for that? Building a brand? Yep. Everything requires more people using your app, but as I quickly realised last year, this wasn't the way to do it just slapping a sponsor on the app store and hoping it works. I need the RIGHT users. This is a slower build, but it's more valuable.

    - Launch in other countries - The app is in English right now and so I would like to make it translated to Spanish, German and French for obvious reasons. This is a dev action, so need to weigh up the costs.

    - Partner with cheese producers, industry experts and artisan producers to start increasing pairings in the app - This is obviously only useful if we have customers and users, so comes back to increasing users as above.

    ACTIONS:
    I have started creating content on a Sunday and scheduling it out on Facebook and instagram at around a 3-4 posts a day mark. New cheeses we've had on the app, new pairings, custom branded questions for people to engage with the content etc.

    I started this last Sunday, I just did this weeks last night.

    I have joined 3 of the biggest cheese groups on FB and have started contributing to these, too.

    In the coming months Cheezus is going to be showcased on a cheese YT show, which will be cool, and I have another one I am targeting to see if we can get a spot on there too.

    With instagram, I have built up an OK group of Cheese influencers... yea I know, it's a thing. They have between 10-50k followers and really good engagement. I plan on reaching out to them to see if we can sponsor a post or showcase something with them.

    Since starting this properly this year in Jan, the numbers are now:

    - Android Users: 140
    - Apple Users: 220
    - Facebook page likes: 1780
    - Instagram follows: 639
    - Number of Types of Cheeses: 255
    - Twitter followers (haven't been using it tbh): 49 (untouched as yet!)

    Engagement is up massively on social channels. Interactions and conversations are massively up and leading to some great conversations and growth.
    This has so far cost me $0 this year but obviously my time. I put in 2-3hrs last night on creating some nice Insta/FB story templates and some post templates too.
    I am spending odd bits throughout the day managing this and replying to posts, but not a huge amount due to work commitments.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    I will continue with this approach but look at automating twitter posts, and I have today started trying to utilise my templates for use on Linkedin as well to target producers etc.

    I have just also started a $100 campaign to get more page likes on facebook. I know I said spend isn't worth it like this, but that's for app downloads. Getting more people who like cheese to your cheesy page where you post a lot on cheese and then every now and then plug your app is different!

    I'm trying to keep costs right down. I'm going to find out what it'll cost me to get the app translated and also find out how I can get the current user base email addresses from our DB and create mailing lists on best pairings/ new cheese highlights and try to get people to use the app more as well who have it.

    This is where we're at right now. I'll keep posting my updates on where we are, how I'm doing each month. I'm open to questions on the process too. I'm no expert, just trying to do what I find works and learning as I go!
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2021
  2. Martynt74

    Capodecina

    Joined: 20 Feb 2004

    Posts: 17,641

    Location: Higher Walton

    I trust no-one who can't get basic maths right :p

    I've downloaded it either way. The bottom banner seems to keep disappearing for me which makes navigation tricky (Iphone)
     
    Last edited: 18 Jan 2021
  3. Minstadave

    Caporegime

    Joined: 8 Jan 2004

    Posts: 29,025

    Location: Rutland

    Cheezus christ that's a long post.
     
  4. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    LOL I was in the middle of my wall of text man! Excel normally does my sums for me :D

    Yea, I noticed this sometimes on there. If you swipe up from the bottom of the app it stops, it's on my list to work out wtf it does it on iOS! I'll dig into it!
     
  5. dLockers

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 21 Jan 2010

    Posts: 8,230

    This is a fantastic idea. However, cheese snobs might not like the name. Vivino sounds a lot more palatable in a professional setting.

    Whose your competition?
     
  6. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    I know, massive wall of text tbf but helps me work out what I'm doing :D haha
     
  7. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    There is an app called LeCheese but that focuses on user ratings for cheese. Just gives you a feed of cheeses people have rated, you can rate them etc. but apart from the small bit of information it gives you on the cheese, it doesn't do pairings, similar cheeses or anything on that level. There is one other I found as well on my app store anyway and it wasn't very good. It was limited by what it showed the user and how you could find different cheeses, and info about them.
     
  8. dLockers

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 21 Jan 2010

    Posts: 8,230

    Ah ok.

    I'd definitely say Vivino got most of its popularity through word of mouth, especially in my circles. This would 110% go the same way but I really think the name sounds a bit Cheese String to what should be Pule (cheese pun).
     
  9. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    Yea, I get what you mean. I'm not 100% wed to it, I'd change it if it would help for sure.
     
  10. Martynt74

    Capodecina

    Joined: 20 Feb 2004

    Posts: 17,641

    Location: Higher Walton

    It's quite a good point. I like the name and it's amusing, but then as mentioned it doesn't sound as "premium" as Vivino, and i imagine ultimately that's the kind of market that you want to be attracting.

    Presumably it's a change which needs to be made sooner rather than later given word of mouth is likely to be the best part. I'm however useless at creative things so i have no improvements to offer!


    The only other design point i would make is the "Pairings" section doesn't feel very polished. The pictures don't seem to line up depending on whether they have a background or not. The "Buy Now" links could also do with being regionalised. I'm not going to be buying Louis Roederer from a place in France :p
     
  11. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    That's in the backlog too.

    Being able to have multiple buy URLs in the back linked to regions/ countries and then the app serves up the right ones based on where you're based. That's right up behind the translating on the list to do. I agree on the images, I need to take some time on that. I think I might pay my kids to do that mind!
     
  12. dLockers

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 21 Jan 2010

    Posts: 8,230

    Just to further the point on the name and contradict myself. I do find the wine world snobbish and the Vivino app plays to that. Maybe Cheezus is your enlightenment for the non-snobs and snobs alike, but a branded version for snobs still definitely required.

    I'm using the word snobs here quite facetiously so apologies, I hope you get my intent!

    It is a seriously great idea though. Definitely get the board to unlock some funding. You could do with clearly defining your 'jobs to be done' and then getting some help from Fiver or somewhere.
     
  13. Maccy

    Commissario

    Joined: 23 Nov 2004

    Posts: 38,923

    Location: Herts

    Ban 4 self promotion tbh
     
  14. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    lol I am happy to remove links, in this case it's actually not to promote more my journey :p I know you're taking the mick (at least I think you are lol) but still :p
     
  15. dLockers

    Sgarrista

    Joined: 21 Jan 2010

    Posts: 8,230

    lol, logon to OCUK tomorrow and there is a big cheese section.

    All your IP are belong to OCUK!
     
  16. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    I've put together some basic stats on this google docs sheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1p6OY2WMJ3N3o-Nw3BrlXJFpOuE7VwPA3CsRlEGvK8gE/edit?usp=sharing

    Just to cover things that I'm trying to influence. I have seen in my search console analytics that people are searching from cheese app and cheese photo app but I'm getting impressions but not clicks, so might pay someone on fiverr to improve those rankings for me to get more out of the organic searching. Other than that I'm just trying to be consistent with content. I've added Twitter back in as I have done zero with this and need to find a way to get posts from insta. facebook to twitter. Might see if I can create a zapier thing to automate this as I can schedule all the posts on fb and insta in one. Will see what it looks like for formatting. Same with Linkedin company pages. There is a lot that can be done with these for reach and so would like to maximise that. I've increased page followers from 12 to 24 this week which is huge, so my outreach continues.

    I've created a MIRO board as well to brainstorm ideas for marketing etc.

    https://miro.com/welcomeonboard/c9IaOALtH1ukI36YJqsLl4MgdCEjVD9xayuEHExcd5EBdEbQ3rN8RwfjqVPA8uVm
     
  17. mid_gen

    Capodecina

    Joined: 20 Dec 2004

    Posts: 11,976

    Ah ha finally connect the username and face from your linkedin posts about cheese apps :)

    Interesting read!
     
  18. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    haha at least someone is seeing them :p

    So I've set up some zapier things to post cross platforms and hope that'll be OK. I'll need to make sure formatting is OK but that'll be my weekly sunday job. At least now I'm posting to Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all at once on a schedule for free.

    I setup a JIRA as well. Trello wasn't cutting it for me and the nesting I wanted to do with tickets.

    [​IMG]

    I have added app store optimization as I want the app to rank highly for "cheese", "fromage" and all the keywords you'd recommend. I'm going to FIVERR that stuff out for cheap.

    Building more of a community will help me understand more about users, but one thing I am really keen to understand is user journeys in the app, so for my job I was actually doing an analysis of a tool called amplitude that you add to your code to setup events and allows you to understand the customer journey through your app. This will help me to work out more about users and going forward understand more about new feature use etc. Apparently you can do a lot with their free plan, so I'm going to add it to the backlog and see what it'd take to add to the code. I've set up their dashboard already.

    List for today is to get estimates on time/ cost for CHEEZ-8 - localisation of language and URLs, as well as addition of amplitude SDKs. I will also reach out on FIVERR for the app store optimization and the same for SEO on the wordpress. (CHEEZ-11/ 13)

    I read that to really attract seed/ investment you're looking at about 10,000 users... better get cracking then!
     
  19. Yaayuh!

    Capodecina

    Joined: 5 Nov 2010

    Posts: 21,847

    @randomshenans
    One pretty major thing I've noticed straight off the bat is you're unable to view the Terms of Service on the sign up page. I have just signed up and given you information without being able to access terms of service.
     
  20. randomshenans

    Capodecina

    Joined: 11 Sep 2009

    Posts: 12,847

    Location: France, Alsace

    Thanks man, let me get that sorted too. Appreciate that feedback! Didn't know it didn't work.